The Five Nations

BEFORE a midnight breaks in storm,
Or herded sea in wrath,
Ye know what wavering gusts inform
The greater tempest’s path;
  Till the loosed wind
  Drive all from mind,
Except Distress, which, so will prophets cry,
O’ercame them, houseless, from the unhinting sky.
Ere rivers league against the land
In piratry of flood,
Ye know what waters steal and stand
Where seldom water stood.
  Yet who will note,
  Till fields afloat,
And washen carcass and the returning well,
Trumpet what these poor heralds strove to tell?
Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
(To peer by stealth on Doom),
The Shade that, shaping first of all,
Prepares an empty room.
  Then doth It pass
  Like breath from glass,
But, on the extorted Vision bowed intent,
No man considers why It came or went.
Before the years reborn behold
hemselves with stranger eye,
And the sport—making Gods of old,
Like Samson slaying, die,
  Many shall hear
  The all—pregnant sphere,
Bow to the birth and sweat, but—speech denied—
Sit dumb or—dealt in part—fall weak and wide.
Yet instant to fore—shadowed need
The eternal balance swings;
That winged men, the Fates may breed
So soon as Fate hath wings.
  These shall possess
  Our littleness,
And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay
Up our lives’ all to piece one giant Day.
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