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" Who took a wife, who reared his race, Whose wrinkles gathered on his face, Whose troubles number with his days:
"A life of nothings, nothing-worth, From that first nothing ere his birth To that last nothing under earth !”
" These words," I said, “are like the rest, No certain clearness, but at best A vague suspicion of the breast:
“But if I grant, thou might'st defend The thesis which thy words intendThat to begin implies to end;
" Yet how should I for certain hold, Because my memory is so cold, That I first was in human mould ?
“ I cannot make this matter plain, But I would shoot, howe'er in vain, A random arrow from the brain.
" It may be that no life is found, Which only to one engine bound Falls off, but cycles always round.
“ As old mythologies relate, Some draught of Lethe might await The slipping through from state to state.
“ As here we find in trances, men Forget the dream that happens then, Until they fall in trance again.
“ So might we, if our state were such As one before, remember much, For those two likes might meet and touch.
“ But, if I lapsed from nobler place,
“ Some vague emotion of delight In gazing up an Alpine height, Some yearning toward the lamps of night.
“ Or if through lower lives I came Though all experience past became Consolidate in mind and frame
“I might forget my weaker lot ; For is not our first year forgot ? The haunts of memory echo not.
“And men, whose reason long was blind, From cells of madness unconfined, Oft lose whole years of darker mind.
“ Much more, if first I floated free, As naked essence, must I be Incompetent of memory :
“For memory dealing but with time, And he with matter, could she climb Beyond her own material prime ?
“ Moreover, something is or seems, That touches me with mystic gleams, Like glimpses of forgotten dreams
“Of something felt, like something here; Of something done, I know not where; Such as no language may declare.”
The still voice laughed. “I talk," said he, “Not with thy dreams. Suffice it thee Thy pain is a reality.”
“But thou," said I, “hast missed thy mark Who sought'st to wreck my mortal ark, By making all the horizon dark.
Why not set forth, if I should do
66 'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant, O life, not death, for which we pant; More life, and fuller, that I want."
I ceased, and sat as one forlorn. Then said the voice, in quiet scorn, “ Behold, it is the Sabbath morn."
And I arose, and I released
Like softened airs that blowing steal,
On to God's house the people prest:
One walked between his wife and child,
The prudent partner of his blood
And in their double love secure,
These three made unity so sweet,
I blest them, and they wandered on:
A second voice was at mine ear,
16 Be of better cheer.”
As from some blissful neighborhood,
A little hint to solace woe,
Like an Æolian harp that wakes
Such seemed the whisper at my side: “ What is it thou knowest, sweet voice ?” I
cried. “ A hidden hope," the voice replied :
So heavenly-toned, that in that hour
To feel, although no tongue can prove,
And forth into the fields I went,
I wondered at the bounteous hours,
I wondered, while I paced along:
So variously seemed all things wrought,
And wherefore rather I made choice
0, LADY FLORA, let me speak :
A pleasant hour has past away While, dreaming on your damask cheek,
The dewy sister-eyelids lay. As by the lattice you reclined,
I went through many wayward moods To see you dreaming--and, behind,
A summer crisp with shining woods. And I too dreamed, until at last
Across my fancy, brooding warm, The reflex of a legend past,
And loosely settled into form.