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Thy story of the places, names and dates,
Where, when and how the ultimate truth had rise,
Thy prior truth, at last discovered none,
Whence now the second suffers detriment.
What good of giving knowledge if, because
O' the manner of the gift, its profit fail?
And why refuse what modicum of help
Had stopped the after-doubt, impossible

I' the face of truth — truth absolute, uniform?
Why must I hit of this and miss of that,
Distinguish just as I be weak or strong,

And not ask of thee and have answer prompt,
Was this once, was it not once? - then and now
And evermore, plain truth from man to man.

Is John's procedure just the heathen bard's?

Put question of his famous play again

How for the ephemerals' sake, Jove's fire was filched,
And carried in a cane and brought to earth:

The fact is in the fable, cry the wise,
Mortals obtained the boon, so much is fact,
Though fire be spirit and produced on earth.
As with the Titan's, so now with thy tale :
Why breed in us perplexity, mistake,
Nor tell the whole truth in the proper words?

"I answer, Have

ye yet to argue out The very primal thesis, plainest law,

Man is not God but hath God's end to serve,

A master to obey, a course to take,

Somewhat to cast off, somewhat to become?

Grant this, then man must pass from old to new,

From vain to real, from mistake to fact,

From what once seemed good, to what now proves best.
How could man have progression otherwise?
Before the point was mooted 'What is God?'
No savage man inquired What am myself?'
Much less replied,First, last, and best of things.'
Man takes that title now if he believes
Might can exist with neither will nor love,

In God's case what he names now Nature's Law
While in himself he recognizes love

No less than might and will: and rightly takes.
Since if man prove the sole existent thing
Where these combine, whatever their degree,
However weak the might or will or love,
So they be found there, put in evidence, -

He is as surely higher in the scale

Than any might with neither love nor will,
As life, apparent in the poorest midge,

(When the faint dust-speck flits, ye guess its wing,)
Is marvellous beyond dead Atlas' self-
Given to the nobler midge for resting-place!
Thus, man proves best and highest -God, in fine,
And thus the victory leads but to defeat,
The gain to loss, best rise to the worst fall,
His life becomes impossible, which is death.

"But if, appealing thence, he cower, avouch
He is mere man, and in humility
Neither may know God nor mistake himself;
I point to the immediate consequence
And say, by such confession straight he falls
Into man's place, a thing nor God nor beast,
Made to know that he can know and not more:
Lower than God who knows all and can all,
Higher than beasts which know and can so far
As each beast's limit, perfect to an end,

Nor conscious that they know, nor craving more;
While man knows partly but conceives beside,
Creeps ever on from fancies to the fact,

And in this striving, this converting air
Into a solid he may grasp and use,

Finds progress, man's distinctive mark alone,
Not God's, and not the beasts': God is, they are,

Man partly is and wholly hopes to be.

Such progress could no more attend his soul
Were all it struggles after found at first

And guesses changed to knowledge absolute,
Than motion wait his body, were all else
Than it the solid earth on every side,

Where now through space he moves from rest to rest.
Man, therefore, thus conditioned, must expect

He could not, what he knows now, know at first;

What he considers that he knows to-day,

Come but to-morrow, he will find misknown;
Getting increase of knowledge, since he learns
Because he lives, which is to be a man,
Set to instruct himself by his past self:
First, like the brute, obliged by facts to learn,
Next, as man may, obliged by his own mind,
Bent, habit, nature, knowledge turned to law.
God's gift was that man should conceive of truth

And yearn to gain it, catching at mistake,
As midway help till he reach fact indeed.
The statuary ere he mould a shape
Boasts a like gift, the shape's idea, and next
The aspiration to produce the same;

So, taking clay, he calls his shape thereout,
Cries ever Now I have the thing I see:

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Yet all the while goes changing what was wrought,
From falsehood like the truth, to truth itself.
How were it had he cried, 'I see no face,
No breast, no feet i' the ineffectual clay'?
Rather commend him that he clapped his hands,
And laughed 'It is my shape and lives again!'
Enjoyed the falsehood, touched it on to truth,
Until yourselves applaud the flesh indeed
In what is still flesh-imitating clay.

Right in you, right in him, such way be man's!
God only makes the live shape at a jet.
Will ye renounce this pact of creatureship?
The pattern on the Mount subsists no more,
Seemed awhile, then returned to nothingness;
But copies, Moses strove to make thereby,
Serve still and are replaced as time requires :
By these, make newest vessels, reach the type!
If ye demur, this judgment on your head,
Never to reach the ultimate, angels' law,
Indulging every instinct of the soul

There where law, life, joy, impulse are one thing!

"Such is the burden of the latest time.

I have survived to hear it with my ears,
Answer it with my lips: does this suffice?
For if there be a further woe than such,
Wherein my brothers struggling need a hand,
So long as any pulse is left in mine,
May I be absent even longer yet,

Plucking the blind ones back from the abyss,
Though I should tarry a new hundred years!”

But he was dead: 't was about noon, the day
Somewhat declining: we five buried him
That eve, and then, dividing, went five ways,
And I, disguised, returned to Ephesus.

By this, the cave's mouth must be filled with sand. Valens is lost, I know not of his trace;

The Bactrian was but a wild childish man,
And could not write nor speak, but only loved:
So, lest the memory of this go quite,

Seeing that I to-morrow fight the beasts,
I tell the same to Phœbas, whom believe!
For many look again to find that face,
Beloved John's to whom I ministered,
Somewhere in life about the world; they err :
Either mistaking what was darkly spoke
At ending of his book, as he relates,
Or misconceiving somewhat of this speech
Scattered from mouth to mouth, as I
Believe ye will not see him any more
About the world with his divine regard!
For all was as I say, and now the man
Lies as he lay once, breast to breast with God.


[Cerinthus read and mused; one added this :

"If Christ, as thou affirmest, be of men
Mere man, the first and best but nothing more,
Account Him, for reward of what He was,
Now and forever, wretchedest of all.
For see; Himself conceived of life as love,
Conceived of love as what must enter in,

Fill up, make one with His each soul He loved :
Thus much for man's joy, all men's joy for Him.
Well, He is gone, thou sayest, to fit reward.

But by this time are many souls set free,

And very many still retained alive :

Nay, should His coming be delayed awhile,

Say, ten years longer (twelve years, some compute),
See if, for every finger of thy hands,

There be not found, that day the world shall end,
Hundreds of souls, each holding by Christ's word
That He will grow incorporate with all,
With me as Pamphylax, with him as John,
Groom for each bride! Can a mere man do this?
Yet Christ saith, this He lived and died to do.
Call Christ, then, the illimitable God,

Or lost!"

But 't was Cerinthus that is lost.]




['WILL sprawl, now that the heat of day is best,
Flat on his belly in the pit's much mire,

With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his chin;
And, while he kicks both feet in the cool slush,
And feels about his spine small eft-things course,
Run in and out each arm, and make him laugh;
And while above his head a pompion-plant,
Coating the cave-top as a brow its eye,
Creeps down to touch and tickle hair and beard,
And now a flower drops with a bee inside,
And now a fruit to snap at, catch and crunch, -
He looks out o'er yon sea which sunbeams cross
And recross till they weave a spider-web,
(Meshes of fire, some great fish breaks at times,)
And talks to his own self, howe'er he please,
Touching that other, whom his dam called God.
Because to talk about Him, vexes - - ha,
Could He but know! and time to vex is now,
When talk is safer than in winter-time.
Moreover Prosper and Miranda sleep
In confidence he drudges at their task,

And it is good to cheat the pair, and gibe,
Letting the rank tongue blossom into speech.] 23

Setebos, Setebos, and Setebos!

'Thinketh, He dwelleth i' the cold o' the moon.

"Thinketh He made it, with the sun to match,
But not the stars; the stars came otherwise;
Only made clouds, winds, meteors, such as that:
Also this isle, what lives and grows thereon,
And snaky sea which rounds and ends the same.

"Thinketh, it came of being ill at ease:
He hated that He cannot change His cold,
Nor cure its ache. 'Hath spied an icy fish

That longed to 'scape the rock-stream where she lived,
And thaw herself within the lukewarm brine

O' the lazy sea her stream thrusts far amid,

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