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The momentary work of unseen hands, Which crumbles down behind us; looking back,
We see the other shore, the gulf be
And, marvelling how we won to where
We trace the wisdom to the apple's fall,
Which, for long ages in blank Chaos dumb,
Yet yearned to be incarnate, and had found
At last a spirit meet to be the womb From which it might be born to bless mankind,
Not to the soul of Newton, ripe with all The hoarded thoughtfulness of earnest years,
and waiting but one ray of sunlight
To blossom fully.
But whence came that ray? We call our sorrows Destiny, but ought Rather to name our high successes so. Only the instincts of great soulsare Fate, And have predestined sway: all other things,
Except by leave of us, could never be. For Destiny is but the breath of God Still moving in us, the last fragment left Of our unfallen nature, waking oft Within our thought, to beckon us beyond
The narrow circle of the seen and known,
And always tending to a noble end, As all things must that overrule the soul,
And for a space unseat the helmsman, Will.
The fate of England and of freedom
Seemed wavering in the heart of one plain man:
One step of his, and the great dialhand,
That marks the destined progress of the world
in the eternal round from wisdom on
Like fragile bubbles yonder in the stream,
Than in a cycle of New England sloth, Broke only by some petty Indian war, Or quarrel for a letter more or less In some hard word, which, spelt in either way, Not their most learned clerks can understand.
New times demand new measures and new men;
The world advances, and in time outgrows The laws that in our fathers' day were best;
And, doubtless, after us, some purer scheme
Will be shaped out by wiser men than we, Made wiser by the steady growth of truth.
We cannot bring Utopia by force:
No man is born into the world, whose work
Is not born with him; there is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blessed are the horny hands of toil! The busy world shoves angrily aside The man who stands with arms akimbo set,
Until occasion tells him what to do; And he who waits to have his task marked out
Shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled.
Our time is one that calls for earnest deeds:
Reason and Government, like two broad seas, Yearn for each other with outstretched
Across this narrow isthmus of the throne, And roll their white surf higher every day. One age moves onward, and the next builds up Cities and gorgeous palaces, where stood The rude log huts of those who tamed the wild,
Her mirror is turned forward to reflect The promise of the future, not the past. He who would win the name of truly
great Must understand his own age and the next,
And make the present ready to ful
The future works out great men's destinies;
The present is enough for common souls, Who, never looking forward, are indeed Mere clay, wherein the footprints of their age
Are petrified forever: better those Who lead the blind old giant by the hand From out the pathless desert where he gropes,
And set him onward in his darksome way.
I do not fear to follow out the truth,