A clock striking at midnight
The town looms in the winter cloud.
Spired, lanterned, peaked, amid cast snows
And darkness it keeps substance still
Tough dubious, though turned half to shade.
Now from the steeple the twelfth bell
Calls forth, as mist from the stiff shroud,
The soul as yet not loosed in sleep.
Wandering in obscurer air
Than dream, the soul, invisible
And bodiless as the bell-sound,
Mounts to the cold ultimate moon.
Beneath it shimmer, sheer as wind,
Moon-high, those mists of the bell's waking.
Now at a sigh's cost all were done:
Disaster; the dreamt belfry-stair;
The dream wherein the dreamt men hung
Manacled at the clock's hand;
Dreamt streets; the crowds like dark fog drifting;
The cries like mist; statue, fountain,
Archway softly come undone,
Drifting; the last change; the Self changing:
Now, almost, borne on the ringed sound,
Soul breaks from the bright rims of Time,
But is of its own joy betrayed
To its own anguish, and wakes, weeps,
Seeing unchanged, substantial still,
Spired, lanterned, peaked, amid cast snows,
The town within the shadowy cloud.
Elder James Olson