What dost thou here, O soul,
Beyond thy own control,
Under the strange wild sky?
0 stars, reach down your hands,
And clasp me in your silver bands,
I tremble with this mystery!–
Flung hither by a chance
Of restless circumstance,
Thou art but here, and wast not sent;
Yet once more mayest thou draw
By thy own mystic law
To the centre of thy wonderment.
Why wilt thou stop and start?
Draw nearer, oh my heart,
And I will question thee most wistfully;
Gather thy last clear resolution
To look upon thy dissolution.
The great God’s life throbs far and free,
And thou art but a spark
Known only in thy dark,
Or a foam-fleck upon the awful ocean,
Thyself thy slender dignity,
Thy own thy vexing mystery,
In the vast change that is not change but motion.
‘Tis not so hard as it would seem;
Thy life is but a dream–
And yet thou hast some thoughts about the past;
Let go, let go thy memories,
They are not things but wandering cries–
Wave them each one a long farewell at last:
I hear thee say–“Take them, O tide,
And I will turn aside,
Gazing with heedlessness, nay, even with laughter!
Bind me, ye winds and storms,
Among the things that once had forms,
And carry me clean out of sight thereafter!”
Thou hast lived long enough
To know thy own weak stuff,
Laughing thy fondest joys to utter scorn;
Give up the idle strife–
It is but mockery of life;
The fates had need of thee and thou wast born!
They are, in sooth, but thou shalt die.
O wandering spark! O homeless cry!
O empty will, still lacking self-intent!
Look up among the autumn trees:
The ripened fruits fall through the breeze,
And they will shake thee even like these
Into the lap of an Accomplishment!
Thou hadst a faith, and voices said:–
“Doubt not that truth, but bend thy head
Unto the God who drew thee from the night:”
Thou liftedst up thy eyes–and, lo!
A host of voices answered–“No;
A thousand things as good have seen the light!”
Look how the swarms arise
From every clod before thy eyes!
Are thine the only hopes that fade and fall
When to the centre of its action
One purpose draws each separate fraction,
And nothing but effects are left at all?
Aha, thy faith! what is thy faith?
The sleep that waits on coming death–
A blind delirious swoon that follows pain.
“True to thy nature!”–well! right well!
But what that nature is thou canst not tell–
It has a thousand voices in thy brain.
Danced all the leaflets to and fro?
–Thy feet have trod them long ago!
Sprung the glad music up the blue?
–The hawk hath cut the song in two.
All the mountains crumble,
All the forests fall,
All thy brethren stumble,
And rise no more at all!
In the dim woods there is a sound
When the winds begin to moan;
It is not of joy or yet of mirth,
But the mournful cry of our mother Earth,
As she calleth back her own.
Through the rosy air to-night
The living creatures play
Up and down through the rich faint light–
None so happy as they!
But the blast is here, and noises fall
Like the sound of steps in a ruined hall,
An icy touch is upon them all,
And they sicken and fade away.