The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/A Realm of Wonder

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For other versions of this work, see A Realm of Wonder.

A REALM OF WONDER[1]

Far off there is a realm of wonder,—
  Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
  Could be the same!
Dark orange groves it hath, and alleys
 With sunlit verdure covered over,
High-mounting hills, great river valleys
 Enriched by crops of maize and clover:
A Land apart, from all asunder,—
  Know you its name?


Walls hath it—two. One—of the mind,
To the outside world forever blind,
Itself within itself hath still confined;
 Wherefore its brooding and exclusive spirit
Craves but for progress in experience sown,
Noiseless as Nature's own;
 And with that reverence it doth inherit,
Hearkens obediently its sages,
Mysteriously wise from distant ages,
 And with unconscious, tireless sacrifice
 Creates a paradise.


A paradise you say,
Stretching away—and endlessly away!—
 A garden—lovelily abloom
With rice and silk and tea,
Cotton and yam and wheat, all fair to see,
 And breathing forth an exquisite perfume
Of mingled mulberry and orange-blows,
Azalea and rose:
 A garden, yet a tomb
Where myriads, sleeping, are remembered still
 By myriads more, who glad their precepts keep,
 And honour them in sleep.


What centuries of industry speak here!
What irrigating waters, silver-clear,
Skirting the uplands, rise, tier above tier!
 What thronged canals, through the Delta plain extending
Hundreds of miles!
 What junks, what bankside villages unending,
What cottages with brown and green roof-tiles!
What fanes! what wildwood temples without cease!
What unperturbed tranquility! what peace!


Far off there is a realm of wonder,—
  Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
  Could be the same!—
 So calm, productive, full of beauty;
Unto contentment so inviting!
 A Land, through service and through duty,
The past and future so uniting
 That Death itself may not them sunder!—
  Know you its name?


Back of the centuries its birth-hour lonely
  Men vainly seek:
Of its beginnings legend only
  And myth may speak:
Ere Greece of beauty dreamed, or Rome of power,
In some mysterious, unrecorded hour,
Darkling from hushed obscurity it sprung
When the Nile gods and the Vedas yet were young.

  1. See "La Cité Chinoise" of Eugène Simon.