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To which he answer'd scoffingly ; “Good soul ! suppose I grant it thee, Who'll weep for thy deficiency ?
“ Or will one beam be less intense,
I would have said, “ Thou canst not know,"
Again the voice spake unto me: “ Thou art so steep'd in misery, Surely 'twere better not to be.
“ Thine anguish will not let thee sleep,
I said, “ The years with change advance :
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, “ some time, Sooner or later, will gray prime Make thy grass hoar with early rime.
“ Not less swift souls that yearn for light, Rapt after heaven's starry flight, Would sweep the tracts of day and night.
“ Not less the bee would range her cells, The furzy prickle fire the dells, The foxglove cluster dappled bells.”
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.
“ 'Twere 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 The fear of men, a coward still.
“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 ; The right ear, that is fill’d with dust, Hears little of the false or just.”
“ 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,
“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
“ To search thro' all I felt or saw,