“Life’s Dream” by James Gates Percival

by Ann Neilson

Life’s Dream
By James Gates Percival
From the Knickerbocker, March, 1835, pg. 232.

“Ach! dürften wir mit Träumen nicht
Die Wirklichkeit verweben,
Wie arm an Farbe, Glanz und Licht
Wärst dann du Menschenleben?”—A. W. SCHLEGEL.
“Ah! could we not entwine
Reality with dreams,
How poor in color, glow, and light
Wert thou then, Human Life?”

“Wer trüge Lebenslast und seine Leere,
Wenn nicht der kurze Traum der Liebe wäre?”—MEYER.
“Who would bear the burden and emptiness of life, if the short dream of love were not?”

“Des Lebens Traum versehwindet,
Mit ihm des Lebens Glück.”—ERNST B*SCH*.
“Life’s dream disappears,—with it, life’s bliss.”

LIGHT and bright the vision plays,
Like the evening’s fitful blaze
Over meadow careering along.
Fairy phantoms hover; blossoms strow
Thick the verdure, as with snow;
Breathes the elfin’s magical song.

Fair the moon in azure floats,
Bending o’er the enchanting notes,
As if longing to glide from her sphere:
White wings faintly quiver; near and far
Glow-worm twinkles back to star,
Lighting a softer galaxy here.

Sweet by sparkling fountain sings,
Sweet and clear, as tone that rings
Pure from Harmony’s crystalline throne,—
Sweetly sings a spirit; still the air
Drinks the song,—its pulses bear
Far through the night the heavenly tone.

Peering quick from shadowy glades,
Glancing back to deeper shades,
Forms too bright and beautiful play:
Gentle voices whisper; snowy doves
Circle forth, as sent by loves,—
Wheel then on fanning pinions away.

Quick steps hurry to my side;
Round my heart soft touches glide,
Wreathing fetters of lily and rose.
Viewless forms embrace me; whispers say,
“Press the joys,—not long they stay:
Comes like a stream the pleasure, and flows.”

Sweetly dim the trance of love:
As through veil of roses wove,
Steals its purple light to the soul.
Break the magic slumber,—cold and bare,
Waste and dark, life meets us there:
Break the dream,—thou hast withered the whole!