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The Words Of Error
by [?]

Three errors there are, that forever are found
On the lips of the good, on the lips of the best;
But empty their meaning and hollow their sound–
And slight is the comfort they bring to the breast.
The fruits of existence escape from the clasp
Of the seeker who strives but those shadows to grasp–

So long as man dreams of some age in this life
When the right and the good will all evil subdue;
For the right and the good lead us ever to strife,
And wherever they lead us the fiend will pursue.
And (till from the earth borne, and stifled at length)
The earth that he touches still gifts him with strength! [1]

So long as man fancies that fortune will live,
Like a bride with her lover, united with worth;
For her favors, alas! to the mean she will give–
And virtue possesses no title to earth!
That foreigner wanders to regions afar,
Where the lands of her birthright immortally are!

So long as man dreams that, to mortals a gift,
The truth in her fulness of splendor will shine;
The veil of the goddess no earth-born may lift,
And all we can learn is–to guess and divine!
Dost thou seek, in a dogma, to prison her form?
The spirit flies forth on the wings of the storm!

O, noble soul! fly from delusions like these,
More heavenly belief be it thine to adore;
Where the ear never hearkens, the eye never sees,
Meet the rivers of beauty and truth evermore!
Not without thee the streams–there the dull seek them;–No!
Look within thee–behold both the fount and the flow!

[1] This simile is nobly conceived, but expressed somewhat obscurely. As Hercules contended in vain against Antaeus, the Son of Earth–so long as the earth gave her giant offspring new strength in every fall,–so the soul contends in vain with evil–the natural earth-born enemy, while the very contact of the earth invigorates the enemy for the struggle. And as Antaeus was slain at last, when Hercules lifted him from the earth, and strangled him while raised aloft, so can the soul slay the enemy (the desire, the passion, the evil, the earth’s offspring), when bearing it from earth itself, and stifling it in the higher air.