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And up from the pits where these shiver, and up from the heights where those shine,
Twin voices and shadows swim starward, and the essence of life is divine.
Richard Realf [1834-1878]
A GRAMMARIAN'S FUNERAL
SHORTLY AFTER THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING IN EUROPE
LET us begin and carry up this corpse,
Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
Each in its tether
Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,
Cared-for till cock-crow:
Look out if yonder be not day again
That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought,
Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,
Chafes in the censer.
Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;
Seek we sepulture
On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
Crowded with culture!
All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's
Circling its summit.
Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights;
Our low life was the level's and the night's;
Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head.
This is our master, famous, calm and dead,
Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft, Safe from the weather!
He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,
He was a man born with thy face and throat,
Long he lived nameless: how should Spring take note Winter would follow?
Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!
Cramped and diminished,
Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon!
My dance is finished"?
No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side, Make for the city!)
He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride
Over men's pity;
Left play for work, and grappled with the world
Bent on escaping:
"What's in the scroll," quoth he, "thou keepest furled? Show me their shaping,
Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,—
Straight got by heart that book to its last page:
Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead,
"Time to taste life," another would have said,
This man said rather, "Actual life comes next?
Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text,
Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,
Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast,
Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,
When he had learned it,
When he had gathered all books had to give!
Image the whole, then execute the parts-
Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,
(Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place Gaping before us.)
Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace (Hearten our chorus!)
That before living he'd learn how to live
No end to learning:
Earn the means first-God surely will contrive
Others mistrust and say, "But time escapes:
Live now or never!"
He said, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! Man has Forever."
Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head:
Calculus racked him:
Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:
"Now, master, take a little rest!"—not he!
Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!)
Back to his studies, fresher than at first,
He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst)
Oh, if we draw a circle premature,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
Was it not great? did not he throw on God,
God's task to make the heavenly period
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear
He would not discount life, as fools do here,
He ventured neck or nothing-heaven's success
"Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes!
That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it and does it:
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
That low man goes on adding one to one,
This high man, aiming at a million,
Misses an unit.
That, has the world here-should he need the next,
This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed
So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar;
Still, through the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
He settled Hoti's business-let it be!
Properly based Oun
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place:
All ye highfliers of the feathered race,
Swallows and curlews!
Here's the top-peak; the multitude below
Live, for they can, there:
This man decided not to Live but Know
Bury this man there?
Here-here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form,
Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm,
Lofty designs must close in like effects:
Leave him-still loftier than the world suspects,
Robert Browning (1812-1889]
THE RUBÁLYÁT OF OMAR KHÁYYẨM
Drives Night along with them from Heaven, and strikes
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.
Before the phantom of False morning died,
"When all the Temple is prepared within, Why nods the drowsy Worshiper outside?"
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
You know how little while we have to stay,
Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshyd's Seven-ringed Cup where no one knows;
And David's lips are locked; but in divine
Red Wine!"-the Nightingale cries to the Rose
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
The Bird of Time has but a little way
Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,