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Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?


To man, propose this test

Thy body at its best,

How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?

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Should not the heart beat once "How good to live and learn"?

Not once beat "Praise be Thine!


I see the whole design,

I, who saw Power, see now Love perfect too:

Perfect I call Thy plan:

Thanks that I was a man!

Maker, remake, complete,-I trust what Thou shalt do!"


For pleasant is this flesh;

Our soul, in its rose-mesh

Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest:

Would we some prize might hold

To match those manifold


Possessions of the brute,-gain most, as we did best!

Let us not always say

"Spite of this flesh to-day

I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole !"


As the bird wings and sings,

Let us cry

“All good things

Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!"

Therefore I summon age

To grant youth's heritage,

52. Dole.-Share, that which is dealt.

Life's struggle having so far reached its term:

Thence shall I pass, approved

A man, for aye removed

From the developed brute; a God though in the germ.


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What weapons to select, what armor to indue.

Youth ended, I shall try


My gain or loss thereby;

Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold:

And I shall welgu the same,

Give life its praise or blame:

Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old.


For, note when evening shuts,

A certain moment cuts

The deed off, calls the glory from the gray:

A whisper from the west

Shoots-" Add this to the rest,


Take it and try its worth: here dies another day."

So, still within this life,

Though lifted o'er its strife,

Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last,

"This rage was right i' the main,

That acquiescence vain:

The Future I may face now I have proved the Past."

For more is not reserved

To man, with soul just nerved

75. Its term.-Its terminus, proper end or limit.


To act to-morrow what he learns to-day:

Here, work enough to watch

The Master work, and catch

Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.

As it was better, youth

Should strive, through acts uncouth,

Toward making, than repose on aught found made:
So, better, age, exempt

From strife, should know, than tempt

Further. Thou waitedst age: wait death, nor be afraid!

Enough now, if the Right

And Good and Infinite

Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own,
With knowledge absolute,

Subject to no dispute

From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.

Be there, for once and all,

Severed great minds from small,

Announced to each his station in the Past!

Was I, the world arraigned,

Were they, my soul disdained,

Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last!

Now, who shall arbitrate?

Ten men love what I hate,

Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;

Ten, who in ears and eyes

Match me: we all surmise,

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They, this thing, and I, that: whom shall my soul believe?

124, 125. Was I whom the world arraigned, or were they whom my sou disdained, right?

Not on the vulgar mass

Called "work," must sentence pass,

Things done, that took the eye and had the price;


O'er which, from level stand,

The low world laid its hand,

Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:

But all, the world's coarse thumb

And finger failed to plumb,

So passed in making up the main account:

All instincts immature,

All purposes unsure,


That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:

Thoughts hardly to be packed

Into a narrow act,

Fancies that broke through language and escaped:

All I could never be,

All men ignored in me,


This I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped. 150

Ay, note that Potter's wheel,

That metaphor! and feel

Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,

Thou, to whom fools propound,

When the wine makes its round,


"Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day "

Fool! All that is, at all,

Lasts ever, past recall;

Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:

What entered into thee,


That was, is, and shall be:

Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

152. That metaphor.-Compare the same metaphor, Is. lxiv. 8 and xxix. 16; Jer. xviii. 2-6; Rom. ix. 21.

He fixed thee mid this dance

Of plastic circumstance,

This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest:


Machinery just meant

To give thy soul its bent,

Try thee, and turn thee forth sufficiently impressed.

What though the earlier grooves

Which ran the laughing loves

Around thy base, no longer pause and press?
What though, about thy rim,

Skull-things in order grim


Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress?

Look not thou down but up!


To uses of a cup,

The festal board, lamp's flash, and trumpet's peal,

The new wine's foaming flow,

The Master's lips aglow !

Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what needst thou with

earth's wheel?

But I need, now as then,

Thee, God, who moldest men !


And since, not even while the whirl was worst,

Did I,-to the wheel of life

With shapes and colors rife,


Bound dizzily,-mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst:

So, take and use Thy work,

Amend what flaws may lurk,

What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim!
My times be in Thy hand!


Perfect the cup as planned!

Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!

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