A cloud was on the mind of men
And wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul
When we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity
And art admired decay;
The world was old and ended:
But you and I were gay;
Life was a fly that faded,
And death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed
When you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin
To shapes not to be named:
Mere were ashamed of honour;
But we were not ashamed.
Children we were – our forts of sand
Were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up
To break that bitter sea.
Fools as we were in motley,
All jangling and absurd,
When all church bells were silent
Our cap and bells were heard.
This is a tale of those old fears,
Even of those emptied hells,
And none but you shall understand
The true things that it tells –
The doubts that where so plain to chase,
So dreadful to withstand –
Oh, who shall understand but you;
Yes, who shall understand?
The doubts that drove us trough the night
As we two talked amain,
And day had broken on the streets
Ere it broke upon the brain.
Between us, by the peace of God,
Such truth can now be told;
Yes, there is strength in striking root,
And good in growing old.
When men in books awake from a vision, they commonly find themselves in some place in which they might have fallen asleep; they yawn in a chair, or lift themselves with bruised limb from a field. Syme’s experience was something much more psychologically strange if there was indeed anything unreal, in the earthly sense, about the things he head gone through. For while he could always remember afterwards that he had swooned before the face of Sunday, he could not remember having ever come to at all. He could only remember that gradually and naturally he knew that he was and had been walking along a country lane with an easy and conversational companion. That companion had been a part of his recent drama; it was the red haired poet Gregory. They were walking like old friends, and were in the middle of a conversation about some triviality. But Syme could only feel an unnatural buoyancy in his body and a crystal simplicity in his mind that seemed to be superior to everything that he said or did. He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality.
Dawn was breaking over everything in colours at once clear and timid; as if Nature made a first attempt at yellow and a first at rose. A breeze blew so clean and sweet that one could not think that it blew from the sky; it blew rather through some hole in the sky. Syme felt a simple surprise when he saw rising all round him on both sides of the road the red, the irregular buildings of Saffron Park. He had no idea that he had walked so near London. He walked by instinct along one white road, on which early birds hopped and sang, and found himself outside a fenced garden. There he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl.