Happy the maimed, the halt, the mad, the blind—
All who, stamped separate by curtailing birth,
Owe no duty’s allegiance to mankind
Nor stand a valuing in their scheme of worth!
But I, whom Fate, not Nature, did curtail,
By no exterior voidness being exempt,
Must bear accusing glances where I fail,
Fixed in the general orbit of contempt.
Fate, less than Nature in being kind to lacking,
Giving the ill, shows not as outer cause,
Making our mock-free will the mirror’s backing
Which Fate’s own acts as if in itself shows;
And men, like children, seeing the image there,
Take place for cause and make our will Fate bear.
He that goes back does, since he goes, advance,
Though he doth not advance who goeth back,
And he that seeks, though he on nothing chance,
May still by words be said to find a lack.
This paradox of having, that is nought
In the world’s meaning of the things it screens,
Is yet true of the substance of pure thought
And there means something by the nought it means.
For thinking nought does on nought being confer,
As giving not is acting not to give,
And, to the same unbribed true thought, to err
Is to find truth, though by its negative.
So why call this world false, if false to be
Be to be aught, and being aught Being to be?
When I have sense of what to sense appears,
Sense is sense ere ’tis mine or mine in me is.
When I hear, Hearing, ere I do hear, hears.
When I see, before me abstract Seeing sees.
I am part Soul part I in all I touch—
Soul by that part I hold in common with all,
And I the spoiled part, that doth make sense such
As I can err by it and my sense mine call.
The rest is wondering what these thoughts may mean,
That come to explain and suddenly are gone,
Like messengers that mock the message’ mien,
Explaining all but the explanation;
As if we a ciphered letter’s cipher hit
And find it in an unknown language writ.
I am older than Nature and her Time
By all the timeless age of Consciousness,
And my adult oblivion of the clime
Where I was born makes me not countryless.
Ay, and dim through my daylight thoughts escape
Yearnings for that land where my childhood dreamed,
Which I cannot recall in colour or shape
But haunts my hours like something that hath gleamed
And yet is not as light remembered,
Nor to the left or to the right conceived;
And all round me tastes as if life were dead
And the world made but to be disbelieved.
Thus I my hope on unknown truth lay; yet
How but by hope do I the unknown truth get?
I do not know what truth the false untruth
Of this sad sense of the seen world may own,
Or if this flowered plant bears also a fruit
Unto the true reality unknown.
But as the rainbow, neither earth’s nor sky’s,
Stands in the dripping freshness of lulled rain,
A hope, not real yet not fancy’s, lies
Athwart the moment of our ceasing pain.
Somehow, since pain is felt yet felt as ill,
Hope hath a better warrant than being hoped;
Since pain is felt as aught we should not feel
Man hath a Nature’s reason for having groped,
Since Time was Time and age and grief his measures,
Towards a better shelter than Time’s pleasures.
My weary life, that lives unsatisfied
On the foiled off-brink of being e’er but this,
To whom the power to will hath been denied
And the will to renounce doth also miss;
My sated life, with having nothing sated,
In the motion of moving poisèd aye,
Within its dreams from its own dreams abated—
This life let the Gods change or take away.
For this endless succession of empty hours,
Like deserts after deserts, voidly one,
Doth undermine the very dreaming powers
And dull even thought’s active inaction,
Tainting with fore-unwilled will the dreamed act
Twice thus removed from the unobtained fact.
The edge of the green wave whitely doth hiss
Upon the wetted sand. I look, yet dream.
Surely reality cannot be this!
Somehow, somewhere this surely doth but seem!
The sky, the sea, this great extent disclosed
Of outward joy, this bulk of life we feel,
Is not something, but something interposed.
Only what in this is not this is real.
If this be to have sense, if to be awake
Be but to see this bright, great sleep of things,
For the rarer potion mine own dreams I’ll take
And for truth commune with imaginings,
Holding a dream too bitter, a too fair curse,
This common sleep of men, the universe.
How yesterday is long ago! The past
Is a fixed infinite distance from to-day,
And bygone things, the first-lived as the last,
In irreparable sameness far away.
How the to-be is infinitely ever
Out of the place wherein it will be Now,
Like the seen wave yet far up in the river,
Which reaches not us, but the new-waved flow!
This thing Time is, whose being is having none,
The equable tyrant of our different fates,
Who could not be bought off by a shattered sun
Or tricked by new use of our careful dates.
This thing Time is, that to the grave will bear
My heart, sure but of it and of my fear.