Bad Dreams III By Robert Browning

Bad Dreams III

THIS was my dream: I saw a Forest
Old as the earth, no track nor trace
Of unmade man. Thou, Soul, explorest-
Though in a trembling rapture- space
Immeasurable! Shrubs, turned trees,
Trees that touch heaven, support its frieze
Studded with sun and moon and star:
While- oh, the enormous growths that bar
Mine eye from penetrating past
Their tangled twine where lurks- nay, lives
Royally lone, some brute-type cast
I’ the rough, time cancels, man forgives.

On, Soul! I saw a lucid City
Of architectural device
Every way perfect. Pause for pity,
Lightning! nor leave a cicatrice
On those bright marbles, dome and spire,
Structures palatial,- streets which mire
Dares not defile, paved all too fine
For human footstep’s smirch, not thine-
Proud solitary traverser,
My Soul, of silent lengths of way-
With what ecstatic dread, aver,
Lest life start sanctioned by the stay!

Ah, but the last sight was the hideous!
A City, yes,- a Forest, true,-
But each devouring each. Perfidious
Snake-plants had strangled what I knew
Was a pavilion once: each oak
Held on his horns some spoil he broke
By surreptitiously beneath
Upthrusting: pavements, as with teeth,
Griped huge weed widening crack and split
In squares and circles stone-work erst.
Oh, Nature- good! Oh, Art- no whit
Less worthy! Both in one- accurst!

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