The Death of Dreams

What is this wanton talk of dreams, 
These tales of regions wherein screams 
Have never echoed, where all seems
Like — not a dream! — wishes come true? 
What is this word that I have found
Void of all save its shell of sound,
That when heard but serves to confound, 
And when spoken turns a strange hue?

And yet — In years gone by I see
(In corners of my memory
Untouched except by dust and lees)
A gleam, as from another sphere:
The blithe hours of another time,
The sunshine of a warmer clime
Where wayward feet and their paths rhyme — 
So distant from the now and here!

O Time! dost thou start with best days? 
O Age! dost thou grow gray always?
O my soul! How heavy it weighs —

Half life’s worth has slipped through my grasp; 
For half my life belongs to sleep
Peopled by demons from the deeps — 
A time to weep, of counting sheep
To keep awake, from nightmare’s clasp.

Yea, those dark hours bring only fear 
And spectral shapes as yet unclear:
The future’s shadow drawing near — 
And how precious seems drawing breath! 
For horror’s source is thine own breast, 
And its contents the final test — 
Woe! to be cut off from the rest
Of life, and face one’s self — ’tis Death!

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