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Our life is a false nature: ’tis not in The harmony of things, this hard decree, This uneradicable taint of sin, This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree, Whose root is earth, whose leaves and branches be The skies which rain their plagues on men like dew— Disease, death, bondage—all the woes we see, And worse, the woes we see not—which throb through The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.
Yet let us ponder boldly—’tis a base” Abandonment of reason to resign Our right of thought—our last and only place Of refuge; this, at least, shall still be mine: Though from our birth the faculty divine Is chain’d and tortured—cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine Too brightly on the unprepared mind, The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the blind. CXXVIII.
Arches on arches as it were that Rome, Collecting the chief trophies of her line, Would build up all her triumphs in one dome, Her Coliseum stands; the moonbeams shine As 'twere its natural torches, for divine Should be the light which streams here, to illume This long-explored but still exhaustless mine Of contemplation; and the azure gloom Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume
Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven, Floats o'er this vast and wondrous monument, And shadows forth its glory. There is given Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent, A spirit's feeling, and where he hath leant His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power And magic in the ruin’d battlement, For which the palace of the present hour Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower.
Oh Time ! the beautifier of the dead,
My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift:
Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine And temple more divinely desolate, Among thy mightier offerings here are mine, Ruins of years, though few, yet full of fate: If thou hast ever seen me too elate, Hear me not ; but if calmly I have borne Good, and reserved my pride against the hate Which shall not whelm me, let me not have worn This iron in my soul in vain—shall they not mourn ?
And thou, who never yet of human wrong
Dost thou not hear my heart —Awake thou shalt,
It is not that I may not have incurr'd For my ancestral faults or mine the wound I bleed withal, and, had it been conferr'd With a just weapon, it had flow'd unbound; But now my blood shall not sink in the ground : To thee I do devote it—thou shalt take The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and found, Which if I have not taken for the sake But let that pass—I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.
And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now I shrink from what is suffer'd : let him speak Who hath beheld decline upon my brow, Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak; But in this page a record will I seek. Not in the air shall these my words disperse, Though I be ashes; a far hour shall wreak The deep prophetic fulness of this verse, And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse 1
That curse shall be Forgiveness-Have I not— Hear me, my mother Earth ! behold it, Heaven – Have I not had to wrestle with my lot Have I not suffer'd things to be forgiven Have I not had my brain sear'd, my heart riven, Hopes sapp'd, name blighted, Life's life lied away ? And only not to desperation driven, Because not altogether of such clay As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy.”
But I have lived, and have not lived in vain: