New York Nocturnes and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts




Behind the veil that men call sleep
   I came upon a golden land.
A golden light was in the leaves
   And on the amethystine strand.

Amber and gold and emerald

   The unimaginable wood.
And in a joy I could not name
   Beside the emerald stream I stood.

Down from a violet hill came one
   Running to meet me on the shore.

I clasped his hand. He seemed to be
   One I had long been waiting for.

All the sweet sounds I ever heard
   In his low greeting seemed to blend.
His were the eyes of my true love.

   His was the mouth of my true friend.

We spoke; and the transfigured words
   Meant more than words had ever meant.
Our lips at last forgot to speak,
   For silence was so eloquent.


We floated in the emerald stream;
   We wandered in the wondrous wood.
His soul to me was clear as light.
   My inmost thought he understood.

Only to be was to be glad.

   Life, like a rainbow, filled our eyes.
In comprehending comradeship
   Each moment seemed a Paradise.

And often, in the after years,
   I and my dream-fellow were one

For hours together in that land
   Behind the moon, beyond the sun.

At last, in the tumultuous dream
   That men call life, I chanced to be
One day amid the city throng

   Where the great piers oppose the sea.

A giant ship was swinging off
   For other seas and other skies.
Amid the voyaging companies
   I saw his face, I saw his eyes.


Oh, passionately through the crowd
   I thrust, and then—our glances met!
Across the widening gulf we gazed,
   With white set lips, and eyes grown wet.

And all day long my heart was faint

   With parting pangs and tears unwept;
Till night brought comfort, for he came
   To meet me, smiling, when I slept.

Beyond the veil that men call sleep
   We met, within that golden land.

He said—or I—"We grieved to-day.
   But now, more wise, we understand!

"Communing in the common world,
   The flesh, for us, would be a bar.
Strange would be our familiar speech;

   And earth would seem no more a star.

"We’d know no more the golden leaves
   Beside the amethystine deep;
We’d see no more each other’s thought
   Behind the veil that men call sleep!"