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Along the furrows, ants make their ado;
Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark
Soars up and up, shivering for very joy;
Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls
Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe
Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek
Their loves in wood and plain--and God renews
His ancient rapture. Thus he dwells in all,
From life's minute beginnings, up at last
To man the consummation of this scheme
Of being, the completion of this sphere
Of life: whose attributes had here and there
Been scattered o'er the visible world before,
Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant
To be united in some wondrous whole,
Imperfect qualities throughout creation,
Suggesting some one creature yet to make,

Some point where all those scattered rays should meet
Convergent in the faculties of man.

Power-neither put forth blindly, nor controlled
Calmly by perfect knowledge; to be used

At risk, inspired or checked by hope and fear:
Knowledge-not intuition, but the slow

Uncertain fruit of an enhancing toil,

Strengthened by love: love-not serenely pure,
But strong from weakness, like a chance-sown plant
Which, cast on stubborn soil, puts forth changed buds
And softer stains, unknown in happier climes;
Love which endures and doubts and is oppressed
And cherished, suffering much and much sustained,
And blind, oft-failing, yet believing love,

A half-enlightened, often-chequered trust:-
Hints and previsions of which faculties,

Are strewn confusedly everywhere about
The inferior natures, and all lead up higher,
All shape out dimly the superior race,

The heir of hopes too fair to turn out false,
And man appears at last. So far the seal
Is put on life; one stage of being complete,
One scheme wound up: and from the grand result
A supplementary reflux of light,

Illustrates all the inferior grades, explains
Each back step in the circle. Not alone
For their possessor dawn those qualities,
But the new glory mixes with the heaven
And earth; man, once descried, imprints for ever
His presence on all lifeless things: the winds
Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout,
A querulous mutter or a quick gay laugh,
Never a senseless gust now man is born.

The herded pines commune and have deep thoughts,
A secret they assemble to discuss

When the sun drops behind their trunks which glare Like grates of hell: the peerless cup afloat

Of the lake-lily is an urn, some nymph

Swims bearing high above her head: no bird
Whistles unseen, but through the gaps above
That let light in upon the gloomy woods,
A shape peeps from the breezy forest-top,
Arch with small puckered mouth and mocking eye.
The morn has enterprise, deep quiet droops
With evening, triumph takes the sunset hour,
Voluptuous transport ripens with the corn
Beneath a warm moon like a happy face:
-And this to fill us with regard for man.
With apprehension of his passing worth,

Desire to work his proper nature out,
And ascertain his rank and final place,
For these things tend still upward, progress is
The law of life, man is not Man as yet.
Nor shall I deem his object served, his end
Attained, his genuine strength put fairly forth,
While only here and there a star dispels
The darkness, here and there a towering mind
O'erlooks its prostrate fellows: when the host
Is out at once to the despair of night,
When all mankind alike is perfected,

Equal in full-blown powers-then, not till then,
I say, begins man's general infancy.

For wherefore make account of feverish starts
Of restless members of a dormant whole,
Impatient nerves which quiver while the body
Slumbers as in a grave? Oh long ago

The brow was twitched, the tremulous lids astir,
The peaceful mouth disturbed; half-uttered speech
Ruffled the lip, and then the teeth were set,

The breath drawn sharp, the strong right-hand clenched stronger,

As it would pluck a lion by the jaw;

The glorious creature laughed out even in sleep!
But when full roused, each giant-limb awake,
Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast,
He shall start up and stand on his own earth,
Then shall his long triumphant march begin,
Thence shall his being date,-thus wholly roused,
What he achieves shall be set down to him.
When all the race is perfected alike

As man, that is; all tended to mankind,
And, man produced, all has its end thus far:

Robert Browning. III,


But in completed man begins anew
A tendency to God. Prognostics told
Man's near approach; so in man's self arise
August anticipations, symbols, types

Of a dim splendour ever on before
In that eternal circle life pursues.

For men begin to pass their nature's bound,
And find new hopes and cares which fast supplant
Their proper joys and griefs; they grow too great
For narrow creeds of right and wrong, which fade
Before the unmeasured thirst for good: while peace
Rises within them ever more and more.
Such men are even now upon the earth,

Serene amid the half-formed creatures round

Who should be saved by them and joined with them.

Such was my task, and I was born to it

Free, as I said but now, from much that chains
Spirits, high-dowered but limited and vexed

By a divided and delusive aim,

A shadow mocking a reality

Whose truth avails not wholly to disperse
The flitting mimic called up by itself,
And so remains perplexed and nigh put out
By its fantastic fellow's wavering gleam.
I, from the first, was never cheated thus;
I never fashioned out a fancied good
Distinct from man's; a service to be done,
A glory to be ministered unto

With powers put forth at man's expense, withdrawn
From labouring in his behalf; a strength

Denied that might avail him. I cared not
Lest his success ran counter to success

Elsewhere: for God is glorified in man,



And to man's glory vowed I soul and limb.
Yet, constituted thus, and thus endowed,
I failed: I gazed on power till I
Power; I could not take my eyes from that:
That only, I thought, should be preserved, increased
At any risk, displayed, struck out at once-
The sign and note and character of man.
I saw no use in the past: only a scene
Of degradation, ugliness and tears,
The record of disgraces best forgotten,
A sullen page in human chronicles
Fit to erase. I saw no cause why man
Should not stand all-sufficient even now,
Or why his annals should be forced to tell
That once the tide of light, about to break
Upon the world, was sealed within its spring:
I would have had one day, one moment's space,
Change man's condition, push each slumbering claim
Of mastery o'er the elemental world

At once to full maturity, then roll

Oblivion o'er the work, and hide from man

What night had ushered morn. Not so, dear child
Of after-days, wilt thou reject the past

Big with deep warnings of the proper tenure
By which thou hast the earth: for thee the present
Shall have distinct and trembling beauty, seen
Beside that past's own shade whence, in relief,
Its brightness shall stand out: nor yet on thee
Shall burst the future, as successive zones
Of several wonder open on some spirit
Flying secure and glad from heaven to heaven:
But thou shalt painfully attain to joy,

While hope and fear and love shall keep thee man!

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