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My Room
by [?]

Do not open that one though.
It is real; but if you go
Careless to it, as to dance,
You’ll see nothing for your glance;
Blankness, deafness, blindness, dumbness,
Soon will stare you to a numbness.
No, my friend; it is not wise
To open doors into the skies,
As into a little study,
Where a feeble brain grows muddy.
Wait till night, and you shall be
Left alone with mystery;
Light this lamp’s white softened ray,
(Another wonder by the way,)
Then with humble faith and prayer,
Ope the door with patient care:
Yours be calmness then, and strength
For the sight you see at length.

Sometimes, after trying vainly,
With much effort, forced, ungainly,
To entice the rugged door
To yield up its wondrous lore,
With a sudden burst of thunder
All its frame is dashed asunder;
The gulfy silence, lightning-fleet,
Shooteth hellward at thy feet.
Take thou heed lest evil terror
Snare thee in a downward error,
Drag thee through the narrow gate,
Give thee up to windy fate,
To be blown for evermore
Up and down without a shore;
For to shun the good as ill
Makes the evil bolder still.
But oftener far the portal opes
With the sound of coming hopes;
On the joy-astonished eyes
Awful heights of glory rise;
Mountains, stars, and dreadful space,
The Eternal’s azure face.
In storms of silence self is drowned,
Leaves the soul a gulf profound,
Where new heavens and earth arise,
Rolling seas and arching skies.

Gathers slow a vapour o’er thee
From the ocean-depths before thee:
Lo! the vision all hath vanished,
Thou art left alone and banished;
Shut the door, thou findest, groping,
Without chance of further oping.
Thou must wait until thy soul
Rises nearer to its goal;
Till more childhood strength has given–
Then approach this gate of Heaven:
It will open as before,
Yielding wonders, yet in store
For thee, if thou wilt turn to good
Things already understood.

Why I let such useless lumber
Useful bookshelves so encumber?
I will tell thee; for thy question
Of wonders brings me to the best one.
There’s a future wonder, may be–
Sure a present magic baby;
(Patience, friend, I know your looks–
What has that to do with books?)
With her sounds of molten speech
Quick a parent’s heart to reach,
Though uncoined to words sedate,
Or even to sounds articulate;
Yet sweeter than the music’s flowing,
Which doth set her music going.
Now our highest wonder-duty
Is with this same wonder-beauty;
How, with culture high and steady,
To unfold a magic-lady;
How to keep her full of wonder
At all things above and under;
Her from childhood never part,
Change the brain, but keep the heart.
She is God’s child all the time;
On all the hours the child must climb,
As on steps of shining stairs
Leading up the path of prayers.
So one lesson from our looks,
Must be this: to honour books,
As a strange and mystic band
Which she cannot understand;
Scarce to touch them without fear,
Never, but when I am near,
As a priest, to temple-rite
Leading in the acolyte.
But when she has older grown,
And can see a difference shown,

She must learn, ’tis not appearing
Makes a book fit for revering;
To distinguish and divide
‘Twixt the form and soul inside;
That a book is more than boards,
Leaves and words in gathered hordes,
Which no greater good can do man
Than the goblin hollow woman,
Or a pump without a well,
Or priest without an oracle.
Form is worthless, save it be
Type of an infinity;
Sign of something present, true,
Though unopened to the view,
Heady in its bosom holding
What it will be aye unfolding,
Never uttering but in part,
From an unexhausted heart.
Sight convincing to her mind,
I will separate kind from kind,
Take those books, though honoured by her
Lay them on the study fire,
For their form’s sake somewhat tender,
Yet consume them to a cinder;
Years of reverence shall not save them
From the greedy flames that crave them.
You shall see this slight Immortal,
Half-way yet within life’s portal;
Gathering gladness, she looks back,
Streams it forward on her track;
Wanders ever in the dance
Of her own sweet radiance.
Though the glory cease to burn,
Inward only it will turn;
Make her hidden being bright,
Make herself a lamp of light;
And a second gate of birth
Will take her to another earth.

But, my friend, I’ve rattled plenty
To suffice for mornings twenty;
And I must not toss you longer
On this torrent waxing stronger.
Other things, past contradiction,
Here would prove I spoke no fiction,
Did I lead them up, choragic,
To reveal their nature magic.
There is that machine, glass-masked,
With continual questions tasked,
Ticking with untiring rock:
It is called an eight-day clock.
But to me the thing appears
Made for winding up the years,
Drawing on, fast as it can,
The day when comes the Son of Man.

On the sea the sunshine broods,
And the shining tops of woods;
We will leave these oracles,
Finding others ‘mid the hills.


Grief held me silent in my seat,
I neither moved nor smiled:
Joy held her silent at my feet,
My little lily-child.

She raised her face; she seemed to feel
That she was left outside;
She said one word with childish zeal
That would not be denied.

Twice more my name, with infant grace;
Sole word her lips could mould!
Her face was pulling at my face–
She was but ten months old.

I know not what were my replies–
I thought: dost Thou, O God,
Need ever thy poor children’s eyes,
To ease thee of thy load?

They find not Thee in evil case,
But, raised in sorrow wild,
Bring down from visiting thy face
The calmness of a child.

Thou art the depth of Heaven above–
The springing well in her;
Not Father only in thy love,
But daily minister.

And this is how the comfort slid
From her to me the while,–
It was thy present face that did
Smile on me from her smile.