new zealand electronic poetry centre

Lola Ridge

online works

The Call of the Dream Man

’Twas his voice in the darkness calling – I heard and I dared not stay,
Though as faint as a white star falling afar from the Milky Way
Was the glimmering light he carried – too dim was the moon to guide;
And I knew that the Dream Man tarried for none on the way beside;

That in vain they might plead for pardon who strayed from his haunted wood;
Yet I stole from the scented garden where the odorous blossoms stood,
Little caring nor whither knowing; the sentinel, sombre Night,
About me her mantle throwing, I followed the Dream Man’s light.

Shadow shapes in the misty moon-rays – all sensitive, shrinking things
That are hid from the glaring noon-rays, housed under the brooding wings
Of the sheltering dark, to meet me came forth with their eyes a-shine.
For the Mother Bush bent to greet me, and gave me the secret sign,

And the pass to her hidden places and wondrous things behind –
I was free of her great, green spaces, and free of the woods and wind,
For she taught me the words they uttered in mystical unknown tongue,
Till I knew what the star-breeze muttered the fluttering leaves among.

But a moon-flower wreath to weave me, I lagged by my lover’s door ;
And the Dream Man turned to leave me as those he had left before;
“For the rapture of soft endearment to thee were all boon above,”
But I clung to his trailing cerement: “O, Master, I only love!”

And I turned from my heart’s desire, and followed him through the night,
Till he whispered in words of fire, “Go sing of thy love aright!”
And I sang as the Dream Man taught me – my love and my song grown bold,
Till the wandering night wind brought me a perfume I loved of old.

And my soul to its bonds returned, and passed from the haunted wood,
And I sought what the Dream Man spurned where odorous blossoms stood,
Till I entered the scented garden – rose-wreathed, with gates ajar . . .
I would plead for the Dream Man’s pardon; but faint is his light and far.

For pity is not for pardon, though cold are his eyes and hard,
But my soul in the scented garden is shut – and the gates are barred.

A Voice in the darkness wailing – I hear, but I dare not go!
And a light o’er the pine ridge failing drops into the night below.



‘The Call of the Dream Man,’ Bulletin 18 Jan 1906: 40. NSW.
See also Verses 1905: 87-88.

Last updated 30 May, 2013