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“ 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 ny 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 increaseThe horror quickening still from year to year, The consummation coming past escape, When I shall know most, and yet least enjoyWhen 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-hunger 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 him—
I know not, nor am troubled much to know.
Thou canst not think a nere 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, Still he couched there perdue ;
I tempted his blood and his flesh,
Hid in roses my mesh,
Choicest cates and the Alagon's best spilth:
Still he kept to his filth.
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,
66 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 !”
So, I soberly laid my last plan
To extinguish the man.
Round his creep-hole, with never a break
Ran my fires for his sake;
Over-head, did my thunder combine
With my under-ground mine:
Till I looked from my labour content
To enjoy the event.
When sudden ... how think ye, the end ?
Did I say “without friend ?”
Say rather, from marge to blue marge
The whole sky grew his targe
With the sun's self for visible boss,
While an Arm ran across
Which the earth heaved beneath like a breast
Where the wretch was safe prest !
Do you see? Just my vengeance complete,
The man sprang to his feet,
Stood erect, caught at God's skirts, and prayed !
-So, I was afraid !