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 Beyond, above, its signals flew
Of tossing foam the birch-trees through;
Now seen, now lost, but baffling still.
The weary seekers' slackening will.
Each called to each: “Lo here! Lo there!
Its white scarf flutters in the air!”
They climbed anew; the vision fled,
To beckon higher overhead.
So toiled they up the mountain-slope
With faint and ever fainter hope;
With faint and fainter voice the brook
Still bade them listen, pause, and look.
Meanwhile below the day was done;
Above the tall peaks saw the sun
Sink, beam-shorn, to its misty set
Behind the hills of violet.
‘Here ends our quest!’ the seekers cried,
“The brook and rumor both have lied!
The phantom of a waterfall
Has led us at its beck and call.”
But one, with years grown wiser, said:
“So, always baffled, not misled,
We follow where before us runs
The vision of the shining ones.
Not where they seem their signals fly,
Their voices while we listen die;
We cannot keep, however fleet,
The quick time of their winged feet.
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