Page images

"Thine anguish will not let thee sleep,
Nor any train of reason keep:
Thou canst not think, but thou wilt weep.'

I said, "The years with change advance:
If I make dark my countenance,

I shut my life from happier chance.

"Some turn this sickness yet might take, Ev'n yet." But he: “What drug can make A wither'd palsy cease to shake?"

I wept, "Tho' I should die, I know
That all about the thorn will blow
In tufts of rosy-tinted snow;

"And men, thro' novel spheres of thought Still moving after truth long sought, Will learn new things when I am not.”

"Yet," said the secret voice, "sometime,
Sooner or later, will gray prime
Make thy grass hoar with early rime.

[ocr errors]

"Not less swift souls that yearn for light,
Rapt after heaven's starry flight,
Would sweep the tracts of day and night.

"Not less the bee would range her cells,
The furzy prickle fire the dells,
The foxglove cluster dappled bells.”

I said that "All the years invent;
Each month is various to present
The world with some development.

"Were this not well, to bide mine hour, Tho' watching from a ruin'd tower How grows the day of human power?"

"The highest-mounted mind," he said, "Still sees the sacred morning spread The silent summit overhead.

"Will thirty seasons render plain Those lonely lights that still remain, Just breaking over land and main?

"Or make that morn, from his cold crown And crystal silence creeping down, Flood with full daylight glebe and town?

"Forerun thy peers, thy time, and let Thy feet, millenniums hence, be set In midst of knowledge, dream'd not yet.

"Thou hast not gain'd a real height, Nor art thou nearer to the light, Because the scale is infinite.

"'T were better not to breathe or speak, Than cry for strength, remaining weak, And seem to find, but still to seek.

"Moreover, but to seem to find

Asks what thou lackest, thought resign'd, A healthy frame, a quiet mind.”

I said, “When I am gone away,
He dared not tarry,' men will say,
Doing dishonor to my clay."

"This is more vile," he made reply,

"To breathe and loathe, to live and sigh, Than once from dread of pain to die.

"Sick art thou a divided will

Still heaping on the fear of ill
The fear of men, a coward still.

"Do men love thee? Art thou so bound To men, that how thy name may sound Will vex thee lying underground?

"The memory of the wither'd leaf
In endless time is scarce more brief
Than of the garner'd Autumn-sheaf.

"Go, vexed Spirit, sleep in trust;
The right ear, that is fill'd with dust,
Hears little of the false or just."

"Hard task, to pluck resolve," I cried, "From emptiness and the waste wide Of that abyss, or scornful pride!



Nay -rather yet that I could raise One hope that warm'd me in the days While still I yearn'd for human praise.

When, wide in soul and bold of tongue, Among the tents I paused and sung, The distant battle flash'd and rung.

"I sung the joyful Pæan clear, And, sitting, burnish'd without fear The brand, the buckler, and the spear

"Waiting to strive a happy strife, To war with falsehood to the knife, And not to lose the good of life

"Some hidden principle to move, To put together, part and prove, And mete the bounds of hate and love

"As far as might be, to carve out Free space for every human doubt, That the whole mind might orb about

"To search thro' all I felt or saw,
The springs of life, the depths of awe,
And reach the law within the law:

"At least, not rotting like a weed,

But, having sown some generous seed,
Fruitful of further thought and deed,

"To pass, when Life her light withdraws, Not void of righteous self applause, Nor in a merely selfish cause

"In some good cause, not in mine own, To perish, wept for, honor'd, known, And like a warrior overthrown;

"Whose eyes are dim with glorious tears, When, soil'd with noble dust, he hears His country's war-song thrill his ears:

"Then dying of a mortal stroke,

What time the foeman's line is broke, And all the war is roll'd in smoke.”

"Yea!" said the voice, "thy dream was good, While thou abodest in the bud. It was the stirring of the blood.

"If Nature put not forth her power About the opening of the flower, Who is it that could live an hour?

"Then comes the check, the change, the fall, Pain rises up, old pleasures pall. There is one remedy for all.

"Yet hadst thou, thro' enduring pain, Link'd month to month with such a chain Of knitted purport, all were vain.

"Thou hadst not between death and birth
Dissolved the riddle of the earth.
So were thy labor little-worth.

"That men with knowledge merely play'd, I told thee hardly nigher made,

Tho' scaling slow from grade to grade;

[ocr errors]

"Much less this dreamer, deaf and blind, Named man, may hope some truth to find, That bears relation to the mind.

"For every worm beneath the moon

Draws different threads, and late and soon Spins, toiling out his own cocoon.

"Cry, faint not: either Truth is born.
Beyond the polar gleam forlorn,
Or in the gateways of the morn.

« PreviousContinue »