"This is the hour," she said, "of transmutation":
It is the eucharist of the evening, changing
All things to beauty. Now the ancient river,
That all day under the arch was polished jade,
Becomes the ghost of a river, thinly gleaming
Under a silver cloud.... It is not water:
It is that azure stream in which the stars
Bathe at the daybreak, and become immortal...."
"And the moon," said I--not thus to be outdone--
"What of the moon? Over the dusty plane-trees
Which crouch in the dusk above their feeble lanterns,
Each coldly lighted by his tiny faith;
The moon, the waxen moon, now almost full,
Creeps whitely up.... Westward the waves of cloud,
Vermilion, crimson, violet, stream on the air,
Shatter to golden flakes in the icy green
Translucency of twilight.... And the moon
Drinks up their light, and as they fade or darken,
Brightens.... O monstrous miracle of the twilight,
That one should live because the others die!"
"Strange too," she answered, "that upon this azure
Pale-gleaming ghostly stream, impalpable--
So faint, so fine that scarcely it bears up
The petals that the lantern strews upon it,--
These great black barges float like apparitions,
Loom in the silver of it, beat upon it,
Moving upon it as dragons move on air."
"Thus always," then I answered,--looking never
Toward her face, so beautiful and strange
It grew, with feeding on the evening light,--
"The gross is given, by inscrutable God,
Power to beat wide wings upon the subtle.
Thus we ourselves, so fleshly, fallible, mortal,
Stand here, for all our foolishness, transfigured:
Hung over nothing in an arch of light
While one more evening like a wave of silence
Gathers the stars together and goes out."