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Who, separate, ignored each others' arts.
And next, of what thou followest on to ask. This being with me, as I declare, O king, My works in all these varicoloured kinds, So done by me, accepted so by menThou' askest, if (my soul thus in men's hearts) I must not be accounted to attain The very crown and proper end of life? Inquiring thence how, now life closeth up, I face death with success in my right hand : Whether I fear death less than dost thyself The fortunate of men? “For" (writest thou) “ Thou leavest much behind, while I leave nought. “Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing, “ The pictures men shall study; while my life, “ Complete and whole now in its power and joy, “ Dies altogether with my brain and arm, “ Is lost indeed; since, what survives myself? " The brazen statue to o’erlook my grave,
“ Set on the promontory which I named. “ And that—some supple courtier of my
heir “ Shall use its robed and sceptred arm, perhaps “ To fix the rope to, which best drags it down.
I go then : triumph thou, who dost not go !”
Nay, thou art worthy of hearing my whole mind. Is this apparent, when thou turn'st to muse Upon the scheme of earth and man in chief, That admiration grows as knowledge grows ? That imperfection means perfection hid, Reserved in part, to grace the after-time? If, in the morning of philosophy, Ere aught had been recorded, nay perceived, Thou, with the light now in thee, couldst have looked On all earth's tenantry, from worm to bird, Ere man, her last, appeared upon the stageThou wouldst have seen them perfect, and deduced The perfectness of others yet unseen. Conceding which,—had Zeus then questioned thee “ Shall I go on a step, improve on this, " Do more for visible creatures than is done ?" Thou wouldst have answered, " Ay, by making each “ Grow conscious in himself—by that alone. “ All's perfect else : the shell sucks fast the rock, “ The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims “ And slides, forth range the beasts, the birds take flight, 66 Till life's mechanics can no further go“ And all this joy in natural life, is put, “ Like fire from off thy finger into each, “ So exquisitely perfect is the same. “ But 't is pure fire, and they mere matter are:
“ It has them, not they it; and so I choose “For man, thy last premeditated work " (If I might add a glory to the scheme) “That a third thing should stand apart from both, “A quality arise within his soul, “ Which, intro-active, made to supervise “ And feel the force it has, may view itself, “And so be happy.” Man might live at first The animal life : but is there nothing more? In due time, let him critically learn How he lives; and, the more he gets to know Of his own life's adaptabilities, The more joy-giving will his life become. Thus man, who hath this quality, is best.
But thou, king, hadst more reasonably said : “ Let progress end at once,-man make no step
Beyond the natural man, the better beast,
Using his senses, not the sense of sense!” In man there 's failure, only since he left The lower and inconscious forms of life. We called it an advance, the rendering plain Man's spirit might grow conscious of man's life, And, by new lore so added to the old, Take each step higher over the brute's head. This grew the only life, the pleasure-house, Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul, Which whole surrounding flats of natural life Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to; A tower that crowns a country. But alas, The soul now climbs it just to perish there ! For thence we have discovered ('t is no dream
We know this, which we had not else perceived)
Nay, so much less as that fatigue has brought
O king, with thy profound discouragement,
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 actIs this as though I acted ? if I paint, Carve the young Phoebus, 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!