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And still the flesh replies, “ Take no jot more
“ Than ere thou clombst the tower to look abroad !
“ Nay, so much less as that fatigue has brought
“Deduction to it.” We struggle, fain to enlarge
Our bounded physical recipiency,
Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life,
Repair the waste of age and sickness : no,
It skills not ! life 's inadequate to joy,
As the soul sees joy, tempting life to take.
They praise a fountain in my garden here
Wherein a Naiad sends the water-bow
Thin from her tube ; she smiles to see it rise.
What if I told her, it is just a thread
From that great river which the hills shut up,
And mock her with my leave to take the same?
The artificer has given her one small tube
Past power to widen or exchange—what boots
To know she might spout oceans if she could ?
She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread :
And so a man can use but a man's joy
While he sees God's. Is it, for Zeus to boast
“ See, man, how happy I live, and despair-
“ That I may be still happier—for thy use !"
If this were so, we could not thank our lord,
As hearts beat on to doing : 't is not so—
Malice it is not. Is it carelessness ?
Still, no. If care—where is the sign? I ask,
And get no answer, and agree in sum,
O king, with thy profound discouragement,
Who seest the wider but to sigh the more.
Most progress is most failure : thou sayest well.
The last point now. Thou dost except a caseHolding joy not impossible to one With artist-gifts—to such a man as I Who leave behind me living works indeed;
For, such a poem, such a painting lives.
What? dost thou verily trip upon a word,
Confound the accurate view of what joy is
(Caught somewhat clearer by my eyes than thine)
With feeling joy? confound the knowing how
And showing how to live (my faculty)
With actually living ?-Otherwise
Where is the artist's vantage o'er the king ?
Because in my great epos I display
How divers men young, strong, fair, wise, can act-
Is this as though I acted ? if I paint,
Carve the young Phobus, am I therefore young?
Methinks I 'm older that I bowed myself
The many years of pain that taught me art !
Indeed, to know is something, and to prove
How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more :
But, knowing nought, to enjoy is something too.
Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there,
Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I.
I can write love-odes : thy fair slave 's an ode.
I get to sing of love, when grown too grey
For being beloved : she turns to that young man,
The muscles all a-ripple on his back.
I know the joy of kingship : well, thou art king !
“ But,” sayest thou—and I marvel, I repeat,
To find thee tripping on a mere word) “ what
“ Thou writest, paintest, stays ; that does not die :
“ Sappho survives, because we sing her songs,
“ And Æschylus, because we read his plays !”
Why, if they live still, let them come and take
Thy slave in my despite, drink from thy cup,
Speak in my place. Thou diest while I survive ?
Say rather that my fate is deadlier still,
In this, that every day my sense of joy
Grows more acute, my soul (intensified
By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen ;
While every day my hair falls more and more,
My hand shakes, and the heavy years increase-
The horror quickening still from year to year,
The consummation coming past escape,
When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy-
When all my works wherein I prove my worth,
Being present still to mock me in men's mouths,
Alive still, in the phrase of such as thou,
I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man,
The man who loved his life so over-much,
Shall sleep in my urn. It is so horrible,
I dare at times imagine to my need
Some future state revealed to us by Zeus,
Unlimited in capability
For joy, as this is in desire for joy,
-To seek which, the joy-iunger forces us :
That, stung by straitness of our life, made strait
On purpose to make prized the life at large-
Freed by the throbbing impulse we call death,
We burst there as the worm into the fly,
Who, while a worm still, wants his wings. But no !
Zeus has not yet revealed it; and alas,
He must have done so, were it possible !
Live long and happy, and in that thought die, Glad for what was ! Farewell. And for the rest, I cannot tell thy messenger aright Where to deliver what he bears of thine To one called Paulus; we have heard his fame Indeed, if Christus be not one with himI know not, nor am troubled much to know. Thou canst not think a mere barbarian Jew As Paulus proves to be, one circumcised, Hath access to a secret shut from us? Thou wrongest our philosophy, O king, In stooping to inquire of such an one,
As if his answer could impose at all !
He writeth, doth he? well, and he may write.
Oh, the Jew findeth scholars ! certain slaves
Who touched on this same isle, preached him and
And (as I gathered from a bystander)
Their doctrine could be held by no sane man.
Of the million or two, more or less,
I rule and possess,
One man, for some cause undefined,
Was least to my mind.
I struck him, he grovelled of course-
For, what was his force?
I pinned him to earth with my weight
And persistence of hate;
And he lay, would not moan, would not curse,
As his lot might be worse.
“ Were the object less mean, would he stand
“ At the swing of my hand !
“For obscurity helps him, and blots
“ The hole where he squats."
So, I set my five wits on the stretch
To inveigle the wretch.
All in vain! Gold and jewels I threw,
Stlll he couched there perdue ;
I tempted his blood and his flesh,
Hid in roses my mesh,
Choicest cates and the flagon's best spilth : Still he kept to his filth.
IV .. Had he kith now or kin, were access To his heart, did I press : Just a son or a mother to seize ! No such booty as these. Were it simply a friend to pursue 'Mid my million or two, Who could pay me, in person or pelf, What he owes me himself ! No: I could not but smile through my chafe : For the fellow lay safe As his mates do, the midge and the nit, -Through minuteness, to wit.
Then a humour more great took its place At the thought of his face : The droop, the low cares of the mouth, The trouble uncouth 'Twixt the brows, all that air one is fain To put out of its pain. And," no !" I admonished myself, “ Is one mocked by an elf, “ Is one baffled by toad or by rat? “ The gravamen 's in that ! “ How the lion, who crouches to suit “ His back to my foot, “ Would admire that I stand in debate ! “ But the small turns the great " If it vexes you,—that is the thing ! “ Toad or rat vex the king ? “ Though I waste half my realm to unearth “ Toad or rat, 't is well worth !”