Far Horizons

by Bliss Carman


 

SHAMBALLAH


 

HAVE you heard of the city Shamballah,
That marvellous place in the North,
The home of the Masters of Wisdom,
Whence the Sons of the Word are sent forth?
In moments of vision we see it,
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For a moment we understand,
Then it passes from sense, unsubstantial
As the shadows of gulls o’er the sand.

What Architect builded Shamballah
As frail as the wondrous new moon?

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Its walls with the rose tint of morning
From no earthly quarry were hewn.
Before Him no Builder took counsel
To fashion from dust of the ground,
In beauty and order and rhythm,
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A palace of color and sound.

It arose with the arches of heaven
When the planets were swung in a chime,
And those who look forth from its windows
Have watched the procession of time.

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By the great Northern lights and the silence
Its inviolable portals are barred.
On cold winter nights you can see them
As they countermarch changing guard.

Have you dreamed of the mystic Shamballah,

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The City under the Star,
Where the Sons of the Fire-Mist gather
And the keys of all mystery are?
When the white moon rises in splendor,
Have you said, as it lifts and gleams,
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“They have lighted the Silver Lantern
In the gate of the City of Dreams.”

Have you read of the fabled Shamballah
In symbols or letters of gold,
Whence issued the Bringers of Knowledge

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For the saving of peoples untold?
They builded no temple save beauty,
Save truth they established no creed,
Great love was their power and purpose,
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As a flower in the heart of a seed.

They heard the first flute-note in Egypt
Uplifted in longing and prayer.
When sunrise stole over the desert
To break upon Thebes, they were there.

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In Babylon, Llassa, and Sarnath,
Through Galilee, Athens and Tyre
To thresholds unnamed and unnumbered
They carried the Message of Fire.

They kindled the flame unconsuming

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In souls that were quick to receive,
They told of a truth that should follow
Had love but the will to believe.
From Patmos, Chaldea, and Cumae
Their servants were chosen anew,
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To speak as the Logos commanded,
That the Dream of the Good might come true.

The light-bearing sons of Shamballah,
They spread the ineffable word.
And spirits who mocked it were broken,

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And blessed were the spirits that heard.
The birds knew the joy of their gospel,
The windflower sprang where they trod,
And the ages were quickened to worship
Jehovah or Allah or God.
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Have you heard of the speech of Shamballah,
The language that all men know
In township, pueblo, or palace,
Wherever men rest or go?
It is clear in the tones of friendship,
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It is murmured in wind and rain,
It is writ in the painted desert,
And the sifting snow on the plain.

It blooms in the high Sierras,
It springs from the dust of the trail,

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It flowers in golden silence
When all other speeches fail.
There is never a hint of kindness,
There is never an accent of love,
But the firmament thrills to its whisper
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And the heavens are glad thereof.

Forth from that Magian City
What teachers and avatars came,
To walk through our streets in pity—
If so they might heal our shame!

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From Krishna, Gautama, and Jesus
To Swedenborg, Blake, and Delsarte,
They brought us the message of brothers,
They labored and died apart.

Untold are the sons of Shamballah,

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Who must carry the word without rest,
And pass, with the joy of their presence,
Like shadows of angels unguessed.
They carry no mark of their order,
No talisman men must obey.
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The street of the heart is their highroad,
Their mission to lighten the way.

They came with the music of Orpheus,
With the hymns of Isaiah and Job,
With the staff and bowl of the beggar

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Or the glory of Solomon’s robe.
Their task from Plotinus to Browning
Was ever and never the same,—
To replenish the altars of wisdom
And guard the impalpable flame.
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In this mortal fabric incarnate
What radiant souls have had birth!
The visions they cherished and quickened
Were not begotten of earth.
In music or language or color,
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However their rapture was caught,
Divine were the instincts they followed,
Divine was the service they wrought.

The sweep of Beethoven and Handel
In majestical triumph or dirge,

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The glories of Raphael’s genius,
The splendour of Angelo’s urge,
The soaring Te Deums of Gothic
Arrested in eloquent stone,—
What are these but the soul of the Ages
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Immortal through color and tone!

Pure wine of the spirit they gave us,—
A gladness to make us whole,—
But we trusted to cunning to save us,
And cunning has cheated our soul.

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The brand of the beast is upon us
In wantonness, folly and greed.
We have trampled the torch that should light us,
And our darkness is ours indeed.

The Nations are gathered to counsel,

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In jealousy, envy, and fear,
Forgetting the Judgment of Karma,
And the Judgment of Karma is here.
O’er Rome, over London and Paris
The morrows of destiny wait.
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Yet who now seeks word from Shamballah?
Who knocks at the Ivory Gate?