The Poetry Corner

The Reef

By Aldous Leonard Huxley

My green aquarium of phantom fish, Goggling in on me through the misty panes; My rotting leaves and fields spongy with rains; My few clear quiet autumn days--I wish I could leave all, clearness and mistiness; Sodden or goldenly crystal, all too still. Yes, and I too rot with the leaves that fill The hollows in the woods; I am grown less Than human, listless, aimless as the green Idiot fishes of my aquarium, Who loiter down their dim tunnels and come And look at me and drift away, nought seen Or understood, but only glazedly Reflected. Upwards, upwards through the shadows, Through the lush sponginess of deep-sea meadows Where hare-lipped monsters batten, let me ply Winged fins, bursting this matrix dark to find Jewels and movement, mintage of sunlight Scattered largely by the profuse wind, And gulfs of blue brightness, too deep for sight. Free, newly born, on roads of music and air Speeding and singing, I shall seek the place Where all the shining threads of water race, Drawn in green ropes and foamy meshes. There, On the red fretted ramparts of a tower Of coral rooted in the depths, shall break An endless sequence of joy and speed and power: Green shall shatter to foam; flake with white flake Shall create an instant's shining constellation Upon the blue; and all the air shall be Full of a million wings that swift and free Laugh in the sun, all power and strong elation. Yes, I shall seek that reef, which is beyond All isles however magically sleeping In tideless seas, uncharted and unconned Save by blind eyes; beyond the laughter and weeping That brood like a cloud over the lands of men. Movement, passion of colour and pure wings, Curving to cut like knives--these are the things I search for:--passion beyond the ken Of our foiled violences, and, more swift Than any blow which man aims against time, The invulnerable, motion that shall rift All dimness with the lightning of a rhyme, Or note, or colour. And the body shall be Quick as the mind; and will shall find release From bondage to brute things; and joyously Soul, will and body, in the strength of triune peace, Shall live the perfect grace of power unwasted. And love consummate, marvellously blending Passion and reverence in a single spring Of quickening force, till now never yet tasted, But ever ceaselessly thirsted for, shall crown The new life with its ageless starry fire. I go to seek that reef, far down, far down Below the edge of everyday's desire, Beyond the magical islands, where of old I was content, dreaming, to give the lie To misery. They were all strong and bold That thither came; and shall I dare to try?