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But with the Nameless is nor day nor

hour; Though we, thin minds, who creep from

thought to thought, Break into “Thens” and “Whens” the

Eternal Now, This double seeming of the single

world! — My words are like the babblings in a

dream Of nightmare, when the babblings break

the dream; But thou be wise in this dream-world of

ours, Nor take thy dial for thy deity, But make the passing shadow serve thy


The prophet's beacon burned in vain,

And now is lost in cloud;
The plowman passes, bent with pain,
To mix with what he plowed;

145 The poet whom his age would quote

As heir of endless fame -
He knows not even the book he wrote,

Not even his own name:
For man has overlived his day,

150 And, darkening in the light, Scarce feels the senses break away

To mix with ancient Night.”


The shell must break before the bird can



"The years that made the stripling wise

Undo their work again,
And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,

The last and least of men,
Who clings to earth; and once would

115 Hell-heat or Arctic cold, And now one breath of cooler air

Would loose him from his hold. His winter chills him to the root,

He withers marrow and mind; 120 The kernel of the shrivelled fruit

Is jutting through the rind; The tiger spasms tear his chest,

The palsy wags his head: The wife, the sons, who love him best 125

Would fain that he were dead; The griefs by which he once was wrung

Were never worth the while"

"The years that, when my youth began, 155

Had set the lily and rose
By all my ways where'er they ran,

Have ended mortal foes:
My rose of love for ever gone,
My lily of truth and trust

160 They made her lily and rose in one,

And changed her into dust.
O rose-tree planted in my grief,

And growing, on her tomb,-
Her dust is greening in your leaf, 165

Her blood is in your bloom.
O slender lily waving there,

And laughing back the light,
In vain you tell me 'Earth is fair'
When all is dark as night.”


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My son, the world is dark with griefs and

graves, So dark that men cry out against the

heavens: Who knows but that the darkness is in

man? The doors of Night may be the gates of

Light; For wert thou born or blind or deaf, and

then Suddenly healed, how wouldst thou glory

in all The splendors and the voices of the world!

the poor earth's dying race,

Be yet but yolk, and forming in the




“The shaft of scorn, that once had stung,

But wakes a dotard smile." The placid gleam of sunset after storm!

And we,

and yet

“The statesman's brain that swayed the past Is feebler than his knees;

135 The passive sailor wrecks at last

In ever-silent seas;
The warrior hath forgot his arms,

The learned, all his lore;
The changing market frets or charms 140
The merchant's hope no more;


No phantoms, - watching from a phantom

shore, Await the last and largest sense

make The phantom walls of this illusion fade, And show us that the world is wholly fair.


Today? but what of yesterday? For oft On me, when boy, there came what then I


“But vain the tears for darkened years

As laughter over wine;
And vain the laughter as the tears, 185

O brother, mine or thine:
For all that laugh, and all that weep,

And all that breathe are one
Slight ripple on the boundless deep

That moves, and all is gone." 190


But that one ripple on the boundless deep Feels that the deep is boundless, and it

self For ever changing form, but evermore One with the boundless motion of the


Who knew no books and no philosophies, In my boy-phrase, “The Passion of the

Past.The first gray streak of earliest summer

dawn, The last long strife of waning crimson

gloom, As if the late and early were but one, A height, a broken grange, a grove, a

flower Had murmurs, “Lost and gone, and lost

and gone!” A breath, a whisper,

- some divine farewell, Desolate sweetness

far and far away; What had he loved, what had he lost, the

boy? I know not, and I speak of what has been.

“Yet wine and laughter, friends! and set 195

The lamps alight, and call For golden music; and forget

The darkness of the pall."




If utter darkness closed the day, my

son! But earth's dark forehead Alings athwart

the heavens Her shadow crowned with stars and

yonder, out To northward, some that never set, but

pass From sight and night to lose themselves in

day. I hate the black negation of the bier, And wish the dead, as happier than our

selves And higher, having climbed one step be

yond Our village miseries, — might be borne in

white To burial or to burning, hymned from

hence With songs in praise of death, and

crowned with flowers!

And more, my son! For more than once

when I Sat all alone, revolving in myself The word that is the symbol of myself, – The mortal limit of the Self was loosed, And past into the Nameless, as a cloud Melts into heaven. I touched my limbs:

the limbs Were strange, not mine - and yet no

shade of doubt, But utter clearness; and through loss of

self The gain of such large life as, matched



with ours, Were sun

to spark, unshadowable in words, Themselves but shadows of a shadow


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The high-heaven dawn of

than mortal day Strike on the Mount of Vision!

So, farewell. 285

And Day and Night are children of the

Sun, And idle gleams to thee are light to me. Some say, the Light was father of the

Night, And some, the Night was father of the

Light: No night, no day! - I touch thy world

again No ill, no good! Such counter-terms, my

son, Are border-races, holding each its own By endless war. But night enough is there In yon dark city. Get thee back; and

since The key to that weird casket, which for

thee But holds a skull, is neither thine nor

mine, But in the hand of what is more than

man, Or in man's hand when man is more than

man, Let be thy wail, and help thy fellow-men, And make thy gold thy vassal, not thy

king, And Aling free alms into the beggar's

bowl, And send the day into the darkened heart. Nor list for guerdon in the voice of men, A dying echo from a falling wall. Nor care

for Hunger hath the evil eyeTo vex the noon with fiery gems,

fold Thy presence in the silk of sumptuous

looms; Nor roll thy viands on a luscious tongue, Nor drown thyself with Aies in honeyed

wine. Nor thou be rageful, like a handled bee, And lose thy life by usage of thy sting; 270 Nor harm an adder through the lust for

harm, Nor make snail's horn shrink for

wantonness. And more: think well! Do-well will fol

low thought; And in the fatal sequence of this world


(1889) The Lord let the house of a brute to the

soul of a man, And the man said, “Am I your debtor?” And the Lord — “Not yet: but make it as

clean as you can, And then I will let you a beteer.”





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