by: Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909)

      AM the spirit of the morning sea,
      I am the awakening and the glad surprise;
      I fill the skies
      With laughter and with light.
      Behold the white
      Wide beams three-fold that from the hidden sun
      Rise swift and far,--
      One where Orion keeps
      His armèd watch, and one
      To the midmost heaven upleaps;
      The third blots out the steadfast Northern Star!
      I am the wind that shakes the glittering wave,
      Hurries the snowy spume along the shore,
      And dies at last in some far, murmuring cave.
      My voice thou hearest in the breakers’ roar--
      That sound that never failed since time began
      And first around the world the shining tumult ran.
      I light the sea and wake the sleeping land.
      My footsteps on the hills
      Make music, and my hand
      Plays like a harper’s on the windy pines.
      With the wind and the day
      I follow round the world -- away! away!
      Wide over lake and plain my sunlight shines,
      And every wave and every blade of grass
      Doth know me as I pass.
      And me the western-sloping mountains know, and me
      The far-off, golden sea.
      O sea, whereon the passing sun doth lie
      O man, who watchest by that golden sea!
      Weep not, -- Oh! weep not thou, but lift thine eye
      And see me radiant in the sunset sky!
      But I love not the night
      Save when the stars are bright,
      Or when the moon
      Fills the white air with silence like a tune.
      Yea, even the night is mine --
      When the Northern Lights outshine,
      And all the wild heavens throb in ecstasy divine ;--
      Yea, mine deep midnight when the black sky lowers,
      The sea burns white and breaks on the shore in starry showers.
      I am the laughter of the new-born child,
      Upon whose sleep the heavenly angels smiled.
      I am all sweet first things that are:
      First songs of birds, not perfect as at last--
      Broken and incomplete--
      But sweet, oh, sweet!
      And I the first faint glimmering of a star
      To the wrecked ship, that tells the storm is past;
      The first keen smells and stirrings of the Spring;
      First snow-flakes, and first May-flowers after snow;
      The silver glow
      Of the new moon’s ethereal ring;
      The song the morning stars together made,
      And the first kiss of lovers under the first June shade.
      My sword is quick, my arm is strong to smite
      In the dread joy and fury of the fight.
      I am with those who win, not those who fly;
      With those who live I am, not those who die.
      Nay -- nay -- that word
      Where I am is unheard;
      For I am the spirit of youth that cannot change
      Nor cease, nor suffer woe;
      And I am the spirit of beauty that doth range
      Through natural forms and motions, and each show
      Of outward loveliness. With me hath birth
      All gentleness and joy in all the earth.
      Raphael knew me, and showed the world my face;
      Me Homer knew, and all the singing race,
      For I am the spirit of light, and life, and mirth.

"Pan" is reprinted from Scribner's Monthly, vol. 13, issue 3 (January 1877).




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