When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees
Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.
When music sounds, out of the water rise
Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes,
Rapt in strange dreams burns each enchanted face,
With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place.
When music sounds, all that I was I am
Ere to this haunt of Brooding dust I came;
And from Time’s woods break into distant song
The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.
In the first stanza, Music renders Nature beyond flowers into “vision flame”, trees that “Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.” The word “stilled” could mean instilled which has some motion, and is shortened to ‘stilled to accommodate the rhythm. Or it could mean stilled, as in held in suspension.
The second stanza, mythical Naiads, a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks, are evoked by music’s sounds. But they are “Rapt in strange dreams”. “Burns each enchanted face.” is a suggestive image. A Flushed face looks like it is burning. Women may flush when embarrassed, perhaps, in de la Mare’s time, from the stimulation being in the company of a man she desires. But her “echoing”, which implies reflection, and could extend to a reflection of our own feelings, is “solemn”. Sad, perhaps unrequited, longing and desire burn in her strange dreams and show on her enchanted face.
The third stanza literally refers to the author, but also the reader. Music exposes the very spirit of our-self, all that “I was before I came to this body” (“haunt of brooding dust”), I now “am”, understanding through the reflection of the music our ex-corporeal selves. From “Time’s woods”, from eternity’s history, including all past and future human emotions, “swift-winged hours break into distant song as I hasten along”. Music fills the fast passing hours of our lives, and offers a connection to, the void of infinity, history, memory.