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Scenes Of The Mind

A poem by Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)


I have run where festival was loud

With drum and brass among the crowd

Of panic revellers, whose cries

Affront the quiet of the skies;

Whose dancing lights contract the deep

Infinity of night and sleep

To a narrow turmoil of troubled fire.

And I have found my heart’s desire

In beechen caverns that autumn fills

With the blue shadowiness of distant hills;

Whose luminous grey pillars bear

The stooping sky: calm is the air,

Nor any sound is heard to mar

That crystal silence–as from far,

Far off a man may see

The busy world all utterly

Hushed as an old memorial scene.

Long evenings I have sat and been

Strangely content, while in my hands

I held a wealth of coloured strands,

Shimmering plaits of silk and skeins

Of soft bright wool. Each colour drains

New life at the lamp’s round pool of gold;

Each sinks again when I withhold

The quickening radiance, to a wan

And shadowy oblivion

Of what it was. And in my mind

Beauty or sudden love has shined

And wakened colour in what was dead

And turned to gold the sullen lead

Of mean desires and everyday’s

Poor thoughts and customary ways.

Sometimes in lands where mountains throw

Their silent spell on all below,

Drawing a magic circle wide

About their feet on every side,

Robbed of all speech and thought and act,

I have seen God in the cataract.

In falling water and in flame,

Never at rest, yet still the same,

God shows himself. And I have known

The swift fire frozen into stone,

And water frozen changelessly

Into the death of gems. And I

Long sitting by the thunderous mill

Have seen the headlong wheel made still,

And in the silence that ensued

Have known the endless solitude

Of being dead and utterly nought.

Inhabitant of mine own thought,

I look abroad, and all I see

Is my creation, made for me:

Along my thread of life are pearled

The moments that make up the world.

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