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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Agnes Mary Frances Darmesteter b. 1857


WHEN first the unflowering Fern-forest

Shadowed the dim lagoons of old,

A vague unconscious long unrest

Swayed the great fronds of green and gold.

Until the flexible stems grew rude,

The fronds began to branch and bower,

And lo! upon the unblossoming wood

There breaks a dawn of apple-flower.

Then on the fruitful Forest-bough

For ages long the unquiet ape

Swung happy in his airy house

And plucked the apple and sucked the grape.

Until in him at length there stirred

The old, unchanged, remote distress,

That pierced his world of wind and bird

With some divine unhappiness.

Not Love, nor the wild fruits he sought;

Nor the fierce battles of his clan

Could still the unborn and aching thought

Until the brute became the man.

Long since.… And now the same unrest

Goads to the same invisible goal,

Till some new gift, undreamed, unguessed,

End the new travail of the soul.