« PreviousContinue »
“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
“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,
“I will go forward, sayest thou,
“ 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,
" 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,
“ 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
“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:
I said, " I toil beneath the curse,
“ 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,
“For I go, weak from suffering here;
“ Consider well,” the voice replied,
• 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:
“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.”
• 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,
“ 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;
“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,
“ 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