They haunt me, they tease me with hinted
The songs that I may not utter;
They lead me, they flatter, they woo me.
I follow, I follow, I snatch
At the veils of their secrets in vain—
For lo! they have left me and vanished,
The songs that I cannot sing.
There are visions elusive that come
With a quiver and shimmer of wings;—
Shapes shadows and shapes, and the murmur
Shapes, that out of the twilight
Leap, and with gesture appealing
Seem to deliver a message,
And are gone ‘twixt a breath and a breath;—
Shapes that race in with the waves
Moving silverly under the moon,
And are gone ere they break into foam on the rocks
Breathings of love from invisible
Blown somewhere out in the tender
That die on the bosom of Silence;—
And fleeter than thought,
Vaguer than thought or emotion,
What are these visitors?
Out of the vast and uncharted
Realms that encircle the visible world,
With a glimmer of light on their pinions,
They rush . . .
They waver, they vanish,
Leaving me stirred with a dream of the ultimate
A sense of the ultimate music,
I never shall capture;—
They are Beauty,
Formless and tremulous Beauty,
Beauty as yet unappareled
Beauty that hesitates,
Withdraws from the verge of birth,
Retreats from the portals of life;—
O Beauty for ever uncaptured!
O songs that I never shall sing!