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Best Famous George William Russell Poems

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by George William Russell | |

Unity

 ONE thing in all things have I seen:
One thought has haunted earth and air:
Clangour and silence both have been
Its palace chambers.
Everywhere I saw the mystic vision flow And live in men and woods and streams, Until I could no longer know The dream of life from my own dreams.
Sometimes it rose like fire in me Within the depths of my own mind, And spreading to infinity, It took the voices of the wind: It scrawled the human mystery— Dim heraldry—on light and air; Wavering along the starry sea I saw the flying vision there.
Each fire that in God’s temple lit Burns fierce before the inner shrine, Dimmed as my fire grew near to it And darkened at the light of mine.
At last, at last, the meaning caught— The spirit wears its diadem; It shakes its wondrous plumes of thought And trails the stars along with them.


by George William Russell | |

Light and Dark

 NOT the soul that’s whitest
 Wakens love the sweetest:
When the heart is lightest
 Oft the charm is fleetest.
While the snow-frail maiden, Waits the time of learning, To the passion laden Turn with eager yearning.
While the heart is burning Heaven with earth is banded: To the stars returning Go not empty-handed.
Ah, the snow-frail maiden! Somehow truth has missed her, Left the heart unladen For its burdened sister.


by George William Russell | |

The Well of All-Healing

 THERE’S a cure for sorrow in the well at Ballylee
 Where the scarlet cressets hang over the trembling pool:
And joyful winds are blowing from the Land of Youth to me,
 And the heart of the earth is full.
Many and many a sunbright maiden saw the enchanted land With star faces glimmer up from the druid wave: Many and many a pain of love was soothed by a faery hand Or lost in the love it gave.
When the quiet with a ring of pearl shall wed the earth, And the scarlet berries burn dark by the stars in the pool; Oh, it’s lost and deep I’ll be amid the Danaan mirth, While the heart of the earth is full.


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by George William Russell | |

Unconscious

 THE WINDS, the stars, and the skies though wrought
By the heavenly King yet know it not;
And man who moves in the twilight dim
Feels not the love that encircles him,
Though in heart, on bosom, and eyelids press
Lips of an infinite tenderness,
He turns away through the dark to roam
Nor heeds the fire in his hearth and home.


by George William Russell | |

The Garden of God

 WITHIN the iron cities
One walked unknown for years,
In his heart the pity of pities
That grew for human tears.
When love and grief were ended The flower of pity grew: By unseen hands ’t was tended And fed with holy dew.
Though in his heart were barred in The blooms of beauty blown, Yet he who grew the garden Could call no flower his own.
For by the hands that watered, The blooms that opened fair Through frost and pain were scattered To sweeten the dead air.


by George William Russell | |

Whom We Worship

 I WOULD not have the love of lips and eyes,
 The ancient ways of love:
But in my heart I built a Paradise,
 A nest there for the dove.
I felt the wings of light that fluttered through The gate I held apart: And all without was shadow, but I knew The bird within my heart.
Then, while the innermost with music beat, The voice I loved so long Seemed only the dream echo faint and sweet Of a far sweeter song.
I could not even bear the thought I felt Of Thee and Me therein; And with white heat I strove the veil to melt That love to love might win.
But ah, my dreams within their fountain fell; Not to be lost in thee, But with the high ancestral love to dwell In its lone ecstasy.


by George William Russell | |

Unknown God

 FAR up the dim twilight fluttered
 Moth-wings of vapour and flame:
The lights danced over the mountains,
 Star after star they came.
The lights grew thicker unheeded, For silent and still were we; Our hearts were drunk with a beauty Our eyes could never see.


by George William Russell | |

Rest

 ON me to rest, my bird, my bird:
 The swaying branches of my heart
Are blown by every wind toward
 The home whereto their wings depart.
Build not your nest, my bird, on me; I know no peace but ever sway: O lovely bird, be free, be free, On the wild music of the day.
But sometimes when your wings would rest, And winds are laid on quiet eves: Come, I will bear you breast to breast, And lap you close with loving leaves.


by George William Russell | |

The Message

 DO you not feel the white glow in your breast, my bird?
 That is the flame of love I send to you from afar:
Not a wafted kiss, hardly a whispered word,
 But love itself that flies as a white-winged star.
Let it dwell there, let it rest there, at home in your heart: Wafted on winds of gold, it is Love itself, the Dove.
Not the god whose arrows wounded with bitter smart, Nor the purple-fiery birds of death and love.
Do not ask for the hands of love or love’s soft eyes: They give less than love who give all, giving what wanes.
I give you the star-fire, the heart-way to Paradise, With no death after, no arrow with stinging pains.


by George William Russell | |

A Leader

 THOUGH your eyes with tears were blind,
Pain upon the path you trod:
Well we knew, the hosts behind,
Voice and shining of a god.
For your darkness was our day: Signal fires, your pains untold Lit us on our wandering way To the mystic heart of gold.
Naught we knew of the high land, Beauty burning in its spheres; Sorrow we could understand And the mystery told in tears.


by George William Russell | |

Blindness

 OUR true hearts are forever lonely:
A wistfulness is in our thought:
Our lights are like the dawns which only
Seem bright to us and yet are not.
Something you see in me I wis not: Another heart in you I guess: A stranger’s lips—but thine I kiss not, Erring in all my tenderness.
I sometimes think a mighty lover Takes every burning kiss we give: His lights are those which round us hover: For him alone our lives we live.
Ah, sigh for us whose hearts unseeing Point all their passionate love in vain, And blinded in the joy of being, Meet only when pain touches pain.


by George William Russell | |

Dusk

 DUSK wraps the village in its dim caress;
Each chimney’s vapour, like a thin grey rod,
Mounting aloft through miles of quietness,
 Pillars the skies of God.
Far up they break or seem to break their line, Mingling their nebulous crests that bow and nod Under the light of those fierce stars that shine Out of the calm of God.
Only in clouds and dreams I felt those souls In the abyss, each fire hid in its clod; From which in clouds and dreams the spirit rolls Into the vast of God.


by George William Russell | |

Forgiveness

 My heart was heavy, for its trust had been 
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong; 
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men, 
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among 
The green mounds of the village burial-place; 
Where, pondering how all human love and hate 
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late, 
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face, 
And cold hands folded over a still heart, 
Pass the green threshold of our common grave, 
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart, 
Awed for myself, and pitying my race, 
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave, 
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!


by George William Russell | |

In Memoriam

 The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.


by George William Russell | |

Frolic

 THE CHILDREN were shouting together
And racing along the sands,
A glimmer of dancing shadows,
A dovelike flutter of hands.
The stars were shouting in heaven, The sun was chasing the moon: The game was the same as the children’s, They danced to the self-same tune.
The whole of the world was merry, One joy from the vale to the height, Where the blue woods of twilight encircled The lovely lawns of the light.


by George William Russell | |

Dream Love

 I DID not deem it half so sweet
To feel thy gentle hand,
As in a dream thy soul to greet
Across wide leagues of land.
Untouched more near to draw to you Where, amid radiant skies, Glimmered thy plumes of iris hue, My Bird of Paradise.
Let me dream only with my heart, Love first, and after see: Know thy diviner counterpart Before I kneel to thee.
So in thy motions all expressed Thy angel I may view: I shall not on thy beauty rest, But beauty’s self in you.


by George William Russell | |

Waiting

 WHEN the dawn comes forth I wonder
Will our sad, sad hearts awaken,
And the grief we laboured under
From the new-in-joy be shaken?


If the night be long in going,
All our souls will fix in sadness;
And the light of morning glowing
Waken in our eyes no gladness.
All unschooled in mirth we will not Rouse forgotten joys from sleeping; And the dawn our pain shall still not: We will gaze on it with weeping.


by George William Russell | |

The Mid-World

 THIS is the red, red region
Your heart must journey through:
Your pains will here be legion
And joy be death for you.
Rejoice to-day: to-morrow A turning tide shall flow Through infinite tones of sorrow To reach an equal woe.
You pass by love unheeding To gain the goal you long— But my heart, my heart is bleeding: I cannot sing this song.


by George William Russell | |

Indian Song

 SHADOWY-PETALLED, like the lotus, loom the mountains with their snows:
Through the sapphire Soma rising such a flood of glory throws
As when first in yellow splendour Brahma from the Lotus rose.
High above the darkening mounds where fade the fairy lights of day, All the tiny planet folk are waving us from far away; Thrilled by Brahma’s breath they sparkle with the magic of the gay.
Brahma, all alone in gladness, dreams the joys that throng in space, Shepherds all the whirling splendours onward to their resting place, Where in worlds of lovely silence fade in one the starry race.


by George William Russell | |

A Prayer

 O HOLY SPIRIT of the Hazel, hearken now:
Though shining suns and silver moons burn on the bough,
And though the fruit of stars by many myriads gleam,
Yet in the undergrowth below, still in thy dream,
Lighting the monstrous maze and labyrinthine gloom
Are many gem-winged flowers with gay and delicate bloom.
And in the shade, hearken, O Dreamer of the Tree, One wild-rose blossom of thy spirit breathed on me With lovely and still light: a little sister flower To those that whitely on the tall moon-branches tower.
Lord of the Hazel, now, O hearken while I pray.
This wild-rose blossom of thy spirit fades away.


by George William Russell | |

The Earth

 God loafs around heaven,
without a shape
but He would like to smoke His cigar
or bite His fingernails
and so forth.
God owns heaven but He craves the earth, the earth with its little sleepy caves, its bird resting at the kitchen window, even its murders lined up like broken chairs, even its writers digging into their souls with jackhammers, even its hucksters selling their animals for gold, even its babies sniffing for their music, the farm house, white as a bone, sitting in the lap of its corn, even the statue holding up its widowed life, but most of all He envies the bodies, He who has no body.
The eyes, opening and shutting like keyholes and never forgetting, recording by thousands, the skull with its brains like eels-- the tablet of the world-- the bones and their joints that build and break for any trick, the genitals, the ballast of the eternal, and the heart, of course, that swallows the tides and spits them out cleansed.
He does not envy the soul so much.
He is all soul but He would like to house it in a body and come down and give it a bath now and then.


by George William Russell | |

The Message

 Wind of the gentle summer night,
Dwell in the lilac tree,
Sway the blossoms clustered light,
Then blow over to me.
Wind, you are sometimes strong and great, You frighten the ships at sea, Now come floating your delicate freight Out of the lilac tree, Wind you must waver a gossamer sail To ferry a scent so light, Will you carry my love a message as frail Through the hawk-haunted night? For my heart is sometimes strange and wild, Bitter and bold and free, I scare the beautiful timid child, As you frighten the ships at sea; But now when the hawks are piercing the air, With the golden stars above, The only thing that my heart can bear Is a lilac message of love.
Gentle wind, will you carry this Up to her window white Give her a gentle tender kiss; Bid her good-night, good-night.


by George William Russell | |

A Call of the Sidhe

 TARRY thou yet, late lingerer in the twilight’s glory:
Gay are the hills with song: earth’s faery children leave
More dim abodes to roam the primrose-hearted eve,
Opening their glimmering lips to breathe some wondrous story.
Hush, not a whisper! Let your heart alone go dreaming.
Dream unto dream may pass: deep in the heart alone Murmurs the Mighty One his solemn undertone.
Canst thou not see adown the silver cloudland streaming Rivers of faery light, dewdrop on dewdrop falling, Star-fire of silver flames, lighting the dark beneath? And what enraptured hosts burn on the dusky heath! Come thou away with them for Heaven to Earth is calling.
These are Earth’s voice—her answer—spirits thronging.
Come to the Land of Youth: the trees grown heavy there Drop on the purple wave the starry fruit they bear.
Drink: the immortal waters quench the spirit’s longing.
Art thou not now, bright one, all sorrow past, in elation, Made young with joy, grown brother-hearted with the vast, Whither thy spirit wending flits the dim stars past Unto the Light of Lights in burning adoration.


by George William Russell | |

In Connemara

 WITH eyes all untroubled she laughs as she passes,
 Bending beneath the creel with the seaweed brown,
Till evening with pearl dew dims the shining grasses
 And night lit with dreamlight enfolds the sleepy town.
Then she will wander, her heart all a laughter, Tracking the dream star that lights the purple gloom.
She follows the proud and golden races after, As high as theirs her spirit, as high will be her doom.


by George William Russell | |

Content

 WHO are exiles? As for me
Where beneath the diamond dome
Lies the light on hill or tree,
There my palace is and home.
Who are lonely lacking care? Here the winds are living, press Close on bosom, lips and hair— Well I know their soft caress.
Sad or fain no more to live? I have pressed the lips of pain; With the kisses lovers give, Ransomed ancient joys again.
Captive? See what stars give light In the hidden heart of clay: At their radiance dark and bright Fades the dreamy king of day.
Night and day no more eclipse Friendly eyes that on us shine, Speech from old familiar lips Playmates of a youth divine.
Come away, O, come away; We will quench the heart’s desire Past the gateways of the day In the rapture of the fire.