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"Thine anguish will not let thee sleep,
I said, "The years with change advance:
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
"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,
"Not less swift souls that yearn for light,
"Not less the bee would range her cells,
I said that "All the years invent;
"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,
"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
"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
"Go, vexed Spirit, sleep in trust;
"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,
"At least, not rotting like a weed,
But, having sown some generous seed,
"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
"That men with knowledge merely play'd, I told thee hardly nigher made,
Tho' scaling slow from grade to grade;
"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.