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“But thou canst answer not again. With thine own weapon art thou slain, Or thou wilt answer but in vain.
“The doubt would rest, I dare not solve. In the same circle we revolve. Assurance only breeds resolve.”
As when a billow, blown against,
“Where wert thou when thy father play'd In his free field, and pastime made, A merry boy in sun and shade ?
“ A. merry boy they called him then.
“Before the little ducts began
“ Who took a wife, who rear'd his race, Whose wrinkles gather’d on his face, Whose troubles number with his days :
“ A life of nothings, nothing-worth, From that first nothing ere his birth To that last nothing under earth !”
“ These words,” I said, “ are like the rest, No certain clearness, but at best A vague suspicion of the breast :
“But if I grant, thou might'st defend The thesis which thy words intendThat to begin implies to end ;
“ Yet how should I for certain hold, Because my memory is so cold, That I first was in human mould ?
“ I cannot make this matter plain, But I would shoot, howe'er in vain, A random arrow from the brain.
“ It may be that no life is found, Which only to one engine bound Falls off, but cycles always round.
“ As old mythologies relate, Some draught of Lethe might await The slipping thro’ from state to state.
“As here we find in trances, men Forget the dream that happens then, Until they fall in trance again.
“So might we, if our state were such As one before, remember much, For those two likes might meet and touch.
“But, if I lapsed from nobler place,
“Some vague emotion of delight In gazing up an Alpine height, Some yearning toward the lamps of night.
“ Or if thro' lower lives I cameTho' all experience past became Consolidate in mind and frame>
“ I might forget my weaker lot ; For is not our first year forgot ? The haunts of memory echo not.
“ And men, whose reason long was blind, From cells of madness unconfined, Oft lose whole years of darker mind.
“ Much more, if first I floated free, As naked essence, must I be Incompetent of memory :
“For memory dealing but with time, And he with matter, could she climb Beyond her own material prime ?
“ Moreover, something is or seems, That touches me with mystic gleams, Like glimpses of forgotten dreams
“ Of something felt, like something here ; Of something done, I know not where ; Such as no language may declare."