Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

II. The Children of the Night

30. The Altar

ALONE, remote, nor witting where I went,

I found an altar builded in a dream—

A fiery place, whereof there was a gleam

So swift, so searching, and so eloquent

Of upward promise, that love’s murmur, blent

With sorrow’s warning, gave but a supreme

Unending impulse to that human stream

Whose flood was all for the flame’s fury bent.

Alas! I said,—the world is in the wrong.

But the same quenchless fever of unrest

That thrilled the foremost of that martyred throng

Thrilled me, and I awoke … and was the same

Bewildered insect plunging for the flame

That burns, and must burn somehow for the best.