“Between the pedestals of Night and Morning,
Between red death and radiant desire
With not one sound of triumph or of warning
Stands the great sentry on the Bridge of Fire.
O transient soul, thy thought with dreams adorning,
Cast down the laurel, and unstring the lyre:
The wheels of Time are turning, turning, turning,
The slow stream channels deep and doth not tire.
Gods on their bridge above
Whispering lies and love
Shall mock your passage down the sunless river
Which, rolling all its streams,
Shall take you, king of dreams,
- Unthroned and unapproachable for ever -
To where the kings who dreamed of old
Whiten in habitations monumental cold.”
James Elroy Flecker, the concluding stanza from “The Bridge of Fire.”
It is also the epigraph to The Wake, the final volume of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
Flecker is one of those poets where probably ninety percent of his work leaves me unmoved. Technically, it’s perfectly fine, of course, but it doesn’t speak to me. But then there are the poems like “The Bridge of Fire,” or “The Golden Journey to Samarkand.” And, well. Those moments pay for all.