Once when an honest weaver slept,
And Puck passed by, a kindly traitor,
And on his shoulders set the head
Of a Shakespearean commentator,
The man had walked proverbial ways,
Fair Science frowned not on his birth,
Nor lost in long and tangled dreams,
The mother-wit of mother-earth.
Elaborate surgeons had not found
The cobweb made the cure too brief,
Nor vegetarians taught the rule
Of eating mustard without beef.
Only in that green night of growth
Came to him, splendid, without scorn,
The lady of the dreams of men;
The rival of all women born.
And he, for all his after weaving,
Drew up from that abysmal dream
Immortal art, that proves by seeming
All things more real than they seem.
The dancing moth was in his shuttle,
The pea's pink blossom in his woof,
Your driving schools, your dying hamlets,
Go through them all and find the proof—
That you, where'er the old crafts linger,
Draw in their webs like nets of gold,
Hang up like banners for a pattern,
The leavings of the looms of old.
And even as this home-made rhyme
Drags but the speech of Shakespeare down,
These home-made patterns but repeat
The traceries of an ancient clown.
And while the modern fashions fade,
And while the ancient standards stream,
No psycho-analyst has knocked
The bottom out of Bottom's dream.
Note: Nick Bottom is a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream who provides comic relief throughout the play, and is famously known for getting his head transformed into that of a donkey by the elusive Puck.