VAST and immaculate! No pilgrim bands,
In ecstasy before the Parian shrines,
Knew such a temple built by human hands,
With this transcendent rhythm in its lines;
Like an epic on the North Atlantic stream
It moved, and fairer than a Phidian dream.
Rich gifts unknown to kings were duly brought
At dawn and sunset and at cloudless noons,
Gifts from the sea-gods and the sun who wrought
Cascades and rainbows; flung them in festoons
Over the spires, with emerald, amethyst,
Sapphire and pearl out of their fiery mist.
And music followed when a litany,
Begun with the ring of foam bells and the purl
Of linguals as the edges cut the sea,
Crashed upon a rising storm with whirl
Of floes from far-off spaces where Death rides
The darkened belfries of his evening tides.
Within the sunlight, vast, immaculate!
Beyond all reach of earth in majesty,
It passed on southwards slowly to its fate--
To be drawn down by the inveterate sea
Without one chastening fire made to start
From altars built around its polar heart.
ITS features half-revealed in passing gleams
Which had no origin in earthly light,
Half-buried in a shifting mass of gloom
Which had no kinship with the face of night,