A HEAVY and desolate sense of life
       Is all the Past makes mine—and still
A cold contempt of Fortune’s strife,
       Despite the dread
       Of want of bread,
’Numbs, clogs like ice, my weary will.
How little is there on the earth
       That I at length can venerate?
I see at most one world-wide dearth
       Of wisdom free,
       True piety,
Of noble love, of honest hate.
With little hope of higher good
       For Man, for me, of earthly bliss,
Yet I withstand as I’ve withstood,
       The evil plan
       Man teaches man
Of valuing all things amiss.
There’s nothing under the godlike sun
       Worth loving to be bought or sold!—
The only wealth by labour won
       Besides the food
       Supplying blood,
Is human excellence—not gold!
All other things designed or done
       Their only real value miss,
But in so far as this—each one
       And all sustain,
       Adorn, explain,
Secure and enter into this.
Beauty itself were nothing—no,
       But for Love’s golden heart and eye;
Nay Truth were dead but for the glow
       Around its shrine
       Of minds divine,
Of martyr minds that may not die.
Why pile we stone on stone to raise
       Jail, fane, or public hall—why plan
Fortress or tower for future days,
       Yet leave unbuilt
       To wrong or guilt
That nobler pile—the Mind of Man?
With finer wool the land to dower,
       Behold how strongly we are moved—
Even while a Nation’s thinking power
       Unvalued, yet
       Unnamed, we let
All bestial grow, being unimprov’d!
Can then the seed in God’s right hand
       Of Happiness, when shed below,
Find fitting nurture in a land
       Of wilding soil
       And selfish toil?
I tell ye Time shall answer, No!
I tell ye that all public good,
       All individual worth and peace,
All youthful nobleness of mood,
       Like rose-leaves thin
       Must wither in
The sordid breath of days like these.
O for a prophet’s tongue to teach
       The truths I cannot else reveal,
O for a conqueror’s power to reach
       The holy aim
       That doth inflame
And nerve me with a martyr’s zeal!
’Tis vain—the sacred wish is vain!
       Men but renew the strifes of old:
But value with a greed insane
       All devilish skill,
       All splendid ill
That fetters Truth with chains of gold!
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