To the Moon

By George Sterling

Whether by starry waters westward led,
    Where foam as white as thou is on the coast,
Or when the lilies of the dawn are red,
    Ever thou seemest lonely, and a ghost.

'Mid frost of stars I saw thee pace the night,
    High over quiet field and voiceless tree,
When Sirius shook like a tear of light,
    On sapphire darker than the morning sea.

When ocean drank the dregs of sunset's wine
    I watched thy keen-horned crescent sink and go,
On islands past the vague horizon line
    Bent like a Titan's huge and golden bow,

Or like a wave that broke to stirless foam
    Upon a beach of Heaven, curved and vast—
Sands where the shades of mariners might roam
    And watch a spectral sail go dumbly past.

And I have seen thee crumbling and decayed,
    A sepulchre of beauty long unsung—
On whose chill nacre wreaths as chill were laid
    And sorrows graven in a nameless tongue.

And I have seen thee glorious and great,
    Flooding the world and walking free of bars;
Arcturus was thy captain at the gate,
    Amid thy companion were immortal stars.

Yet ever wert thou wraith and wanderer
    Within that desolation of the sky,
Gazing on realms where worlds no longer were,
    Whose death had shown thee how all worlds must die-

Wherefore our own. Is it for this that we
    Are pensive in thy melancholy light.
Guessing, from thine, the sun's mortality,
    The cold and silence of the crypts of night?

Gleamest thou symbol of oblivion,
    Showing with frozen light, but light no lees,
What swords are on the roadway of the sun,
    What Shadows gather in the Timelessness?

Or art thou pledge that recompense may be,
    And beauty, changing, still abide with death—
A crystal clearer for an icy sea,
    A snowfiake born of winter's arctic breath?

For still thou grantest to our dreams a way,
    Whether thy silver dawn is on the east,
Or where, between the starlight and the day,
    Thy feet of alabaster go released;

And ocean calls, remembering thy lure,
    And gathers jewels for thy path of flame,
Heaped diamond, unfathomable, pure,
    From age to age reshattered—and the same.

As waters follow thee in wide pursuit,
    So dost thou lead us to a dream's beyond.
Washed by thy tides of pearl the land lies mute,
    And mute our souls, touched by thy magic's wand.

So lead awhile, till we be led no more,
    Nor take, as thou, our morrows from the sun. . . .
Slowly, from mountain-peak to soundless shore.
Time's purple deepens to oblivion.

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