Page images
PDF
EPUB

“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.

“Cry, faint not, climb: the summits slope Beyond the furthest flights of hope, Wrapt in dense cloud from base to cope,

• Sometimes a little corner shines,
As over rainy mist inclines
A gleaming crag with belts of pines.

“I will go forward, sayest thou,
I shall not fail to find her now.
Look up, the fold is on her brow.

“ If straight thy track, or if oblique, Thou know'st not. Shadows thou dost strike, Embracing cloud, Ixion-like;

“ And owning but a little more Than beasts, abidest lame and poor, Calling thyself a little lower

“ Than angels. Cease to wail and brawl! Why inch by inch to darkness crawl ? There is one remedy for all.”

" ( dull, one-sided voice," said I,
“ Wilt thou make everything a lie,
To flatter me that I

may

die

?

" I know that age to age succeeds, Blowing a noise of tongues and deeds, A dust of systems and of creeds.

“I cannot hide that some have striven, Achieving calm, to whom was given The joy that mixes man with Heaven:

“Who, rowing hard against the stream,
Saw distant gates of Eden gleam,
And did not dream it was a dream;

“ But heard, by secret transport led, Even in the charnels of the dead, The murmur of the fountain-head

“ Which did accomplish their desire, Bore and forbore, and did not tire, Like Stephen, an unquenched fire.

“ He heeded not reviling tones, Nor sold his heart to idle moans, Though cursed and scorned, and bruised with

stones :

“But looking upward, full of grace, He prayed, and from a happy place God's glory smote him on the face.”

The sullen answer slid betwixt:
“Not that the grounds of hope were fixed,
The elements were kindlier mixed.”

I said, " I toil beneath the curse,
But, knowing not the universe,
I fear to slide from bad to worse.

“ And that, in seeking to undo One riddle, and to find the true, I knit a hundred others new:

". Or that this anguish fleeting hence,
Unmanacled from bonds of sense,
Be fixed and frozen to permanence :

“For I go, weak from suffering here;
Naked I go, and void of cheer:
What is it that I may not fear ?”

“ Consider well,” the voice replied,
“ His face, that two hours since hath died;
Wilt thou find passion, pain or pride ?

• Will he obey when one commands? Or answer should one press his hands? He answers not, nor understands.

“ His palms are folded on his breast: There is no other thing expressed But long disquiet merged in rest.

“ His lips are very mild and meek:
Though one should smite him on the cheek,
And on the mouth, he will not speak.

“His little daughter, whose sweet face He kissed, taking his last embrace, Becomes dishonor to her race

“ His sons grow up that bear his name, Some grow to honor, some to shame, But he is chill to praise or blame.

“ He will not hear the north-wind rave, Nor, moaning, household shelter crave Froin winter rains that beat his grave.

High up the vapors fold and swim: About him broods the twilight dim: The place he knew forgetteth him.”

“ If all be dark, vague voice,” I said, “These things are wrapped in doubt and dread, Nor canst thou show the dead are dead.

“ The sap dries up: the plant declines. A deeper tale my heart divines. Know I not Death ? the outward signs ?

“ I found him when my years were few; A shadow on the graves I knew, And darkness in the village yew.

“From grave to grave the shadow crept: In her still place the morning wept: Touched by his feet the daisy slept.

“ The simple senses crowned his head:

Omega ! thou art Lord,' they said, • We find no motion in the dead.”

6

• Why, if man rot in dreamless ease, Should that plain fact, as taught by these, Not make him sure that he shall cease ?

“Who forged that other influence,
That heat of inward evidence,
By which he doubts against the sense ?

“ He owns the fatal gift of eyes, That read his spirit blindly wise, Not simple as a thing that dies.

“ Here sits he shaping wings to fly;
His heart forebodes a mystery:
He names the name Eternity.

“That type of Perfect in his mind In Nature can he nowhere find, He sows himself on every wind.

“ He seems to hear a Heavenly Friend, And through thick veils to apprehend A labor working to an end.

“ The end and the beginning vex His reason: many things perplex, With motions, checks, and counter-checks.

“ He knows a baseness in his blood At such strange war with something good, He may not do the thing he would. “ Heaven opens inward, chasms yawn. Vast images in glimmering dawn, Half shown, are broken and withdrawn.

" Ah! sure within him and without, Could his dark wisdom find it out, There must be answer to his doubt.

« But thou canst answer not again. With thine own weapon art thou slain, Or thou wilt answer but in vain.

“ The doubt would rest, I dare not solve. In the same circle we revolve. Assurance only breeds resolve."

As when a billow, blown against,
Falls back, the voice with which I fenced
A little ceased, but recommenced.

“ Where wert thou when thy father played In his free field, and pastime made, A merry boy in sun and shade ? “ A merry boy they called him then. He sat upon the knees of men In days that never come again.

“ Before the little ducts began
To feed thy bones with lime, and ran
Their course, till thou wert also man:

14

VOL. I.

« PreviousContinue »