Cosmos by Daniel Leach


In fields of dark we lay that moonless night,
And watched a million unknown stars appear,
And in our spirit’s dreamy outward flight,
Forgot all but each other, breathing near—
The sound of our voices was like a stream
On which we sailed up through the atmosphere,
To that vast sea where countless beauties gleam,
And we no longer see with earthly eyes,
But with the mind and soul, as in a dream—
Where vision, like thought, in an instant flies
To each new world a human mind can make,
As if  there were no time, there were no ties
To bind the soul, as when we are awake. 


We sat upon the edge of that great ring
That girds the sun, as if it were a lake,
Upon whose surface luminous ripples bring
The shadow of a power, far away,
That moves, like unheard music, everything
With whose substance its bright beams interplay;
And watched in wonder, planets dancing by,
Each living in a different night and day,
And glowing with the hues of its own sky—
Some, frozen giants, where the violent storms
Of primal forces for the faint light vie,
Looming in our minds like gigantic forms
Of ancient gods whose power we once knew;
And others where the blazing sunlight warms
Them to a fiery brilliance that we view
As stars themselves, that burn in their own light;
But one, a dazzling gem, all vieled in blue,
As if a beauty half hidden from sight,
In lovely symmetry, floats in between
Those grosser forms that rule the endless night. 


And it was as if by a power unseen,
We flew down through its clouds like meteors,
Over the snow-clad mountains and the green
Of endless forests, stretching to the shores
Of moving oceans, filled with living things,
The birthplace of all that swims, crawls or soars—
And even the life-giving air that clings
Around the earth, is but the breath of one
Vast, living being, whose presence brings
To every crevice, even where the sun
Shines rarely, cold and dim—and even there,
As when the infant world had just begun,
It struggles to appear, and everywhere
Awakens dull materiality;
From tiny creatures floating in the air,
To unknown shapes that haunt the deepest sea,
The ever-changing, unrelenting force
Of Life, ever becoming what must be,
Yet over Time’s immeasurable course,
Is moving ever upward, ever more
As if its spirit seeks a common source—
All beings, as if something in their core,
An ever new dream whispered, to create
Some higher thing that never was before. 


And all that ever was, seems but to wait
On a creature that in itself contains
All of that beautiful and awesome fate—
And we looked down upon the outspread plains
Of History, and saw something emerge,
As if it grew forth from the pulsing veins
Of earth—the traces of that primal urge
That planted at the dawn of time the seed
Of that spirit to which all creatures verge—
And all creation paused, as if to heed
The presence of something it knew divine;
The principle to which all others lead,
Embodied in one being—and the sign
Of knowledge was within his wondering eyes,
Like stars reflecting on dark waters shine
And mirror the mystery of the skies;
A being that could look upon all being
And see the spirit that within it lies,
And though he is, like it, forever fleeing
Into the darkness of a creature’s grave,
His words, like shadows of the world of seeing,
A sacred memory for the future save. 


And we saw Time, like a great river, flow
From distant flickerings in a firelit cave,
Where first imagination’s magic glow
Found life in shadows dancing on the wall,
And songs which chanted ‘round the circle, grow
From the familiar sphere, narrow and small,
To tales of their ancestors’ awesome deeds,
And what becomes of our own souls, and all
The wandering thoughts on which the spirit feeds;
All art that ever higher passions stirred,
Was present in that moment, like the seeds
Of a great forest, and the living word
Became the music and the poetry
That echoing through the halls of time we heard.
And we were watching as they went to sea
With nothing but that restless, fertile mind,
And knowledge of the sky’s vast canopy,
And left all their familiar world behind;
And as into the unknown realms they sailed,
Not knowing what those distant dawns would find—
The secrets of the stars were then unveiled
In ever higher and more lovely forms,
And that unspoken language never failed
To guide them through the alien realms and storms,
As if it were a living spirit, higher
Even than the life-giving sun that warms
All things within its ken with sacred fire;
The stars, through unimagined eons wait
The spark of the immortal to inspire
In mortal hearts. And through that unseen gate
Within each soul, those sacred yearnings pass,
Which are the soul and substance of our fate. 


All this we saw as we lay on the grass
That Summer night, and as we softly spoke,
It seemed that we could see and feel the mass
Of mankind pulsing with one mighty stroke
Out into endless dazzling worlds of light!—
Then suddenly, it was as if I woke
And all had been like a clairvoyant sight
That I could with another’s spirit share—
As I felt that idea’s awesome might,
I turned and looked—and there was no one there. 

Featured in New Lyre Summer 2022

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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