What change with happiest thrill my pulse may start,
Of all the unnumbered changes that I view
In these brief-lingering moods of heaven's deep heart,
These tireless pilgrims of the buoyant blue ?
Is it when drowsily through halcyon air
They float in pillowy fleeces chaste as snow ?
Or when against the horizon they loom fair,
In towering Alpine peak and pale plateau ?
Is it when, shadowy as the vaguest dream,
Their pearly gossamers film the skies afar?
Or when like isles in quiet seas they gleam,
Purple below the tremulous evening star?
Or yet when beauteous dawn, with rosy speed,
Sunders their drapery where it darkly falls ?
Or when from earth to sunset lands they lead,
As stately stairways to imperial halls ?
Or when, like scales on fabulous dolphins' backs,
They fleck with loveliest color evening gray ?
Or when they move in grim tempestuous wracks,
And through them javelins of hot lightning play ?
Ah, no! whatever of joy such changes wake,
That change above all others my soul sets,
Of when, beneath some full-orbed moon, they make
On sapphire calms their ghostly silhouettes.
For then, as through this dubious gloom they stray,
Spirits they seem, with garments fluttering white,
Whose noiseless feet, in some miraculous way,
Walk the great awful emptiness of the night.