All men and things were moving on their way,
The same old way which we call life; the Soul
Shrank from the giant grasp of Time and Space:
Yet, for it was her dreamy hour, hair yielded
To the omnipotent delusion, and looked out
On the broad glare of things, and felt herself
Dwindling before the Universe. Then came
Unto the Bard
Another Spirit with another voice,
Said he, the world is void and lonely—
A strange, vast crowd of dreams
Coming to thee only?
And that thy feeble soul
Hath such a strong control
O’er sovereign space, and sovereign time,
And all their train sublime?
Said he, thou art the Eye
Reflecting all that is—
The Ear that hears, while it creates
All sounds and harmonies—
The central sense that bides amid
All shows, and turns them to realities?
Listen, mortal, while the sound
Of this life intense is flowing!
Dost thou find all things around
Go as thou art going?
Dost thou dream that thou art free,
Making, destroying all that thou dost see,
In the unfettered might of thy soul’s liberty?
Lo, an atom troubles thee,
One bodily fibre crushes thee,
One little nerve shall madden thee,
One drop of blood be death to thee.
Art thou but a withering leaf,
For a summer season brief
Clinging to the tree,
Till the winds of circumstance
Whirling in their hourly dance
Prove too strong for thee?
Art thou but a speck, a mote,
In this system universal?
Art thou but a passing note
Woven in the great Rehearsal?
Canst thou roll back the tide of thought,
And unmake the creed of the age,
And unteach the wisdom taught
By the prophet and the sage?
Art thou but a cloudy shadow
Chasing o’er a meadow?
The great world goes on,
Spite of thy dreaming.
Not to thee alone
Hearts are making their moan,
And teardrops streaming.
And the mighty voice of Nature
Is thy parent, not thy creature,
Is no pupil, but thy teacher.
And the world would still move on
Were thy soul for ever flown.
For while thou dreamest on, enfolded
In Nature’s wide embrace,
All thy life is daily moulded
By her informing grace.
And Time and Space must reign
And rule o’er thee for ever.
And the Outworld lift its chain
From off thy spirit never—
Thou shalt be mocked with gleam and show
Of truths thou pinest for, and yet canst never know.
And then the Spirit fled, and left the Bard
Still wondering—for he felt that voices twain
Had come from different spheres with different truths,
That seemed at war, and yet agreed in one.
All Sub-Works of Poems (1844):
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