Leading up the path of prayers.
So one lesson from our looks,
Must be this: to honour books,
As a strange and mystic band
Which she cannot understand;
Scarce to touch them without fear,
Never, but when I am near,
As a priest, to temple-rite
Leading in the acolyte.
But when she has older grown,
And can see a difference shown,
She must learn, ’tis not appearing
Makes a book fit for revering;
To distinguish and divide
’Twixt the form and soul inside;
That a book is more than boards,
Leaves and words in gathered hordes,
Which no greater good can do man
Than the goblin hollow woman,
Or a pump without a well,
Or priest without an oracle.
Form is worthless, save it be
Type of an infinity;
Sign of something present, true,
Though unopened to the view,
Heady in its bosom holding
What it will be aye unfolding,
Never uttering but in part,
From an unexhausted heart.
Sight convincing to her mind,
I will separate kind from kind,
Take those books, though honoured by her
Lay them on the study fire,
For their form’s sake somewhat tender,
Yet consume them to a cinder;
Years of reverence shall not save them
From the greedy flames that crave them.
You shall see this slight Immortal,
Half-way yet within life’s portal;
Gathering gladness, she looks back,
Streams it forward on her track;
Wanders ever in the dance
Of her own sweet radiance.
Though the glory cease to burn,
Inward only it will turn;
Make her hidden being bright,
Make herself a lamp of light;
And a second gate of birth
Will take her to another earth.
But, my friend, I’ve rattled plenty
To suffice for mornings twenty;
And I must not toss you longer
On this torrent waxing stronger.
Other things, past contradiction,
Here would prove I spoke no fiction,
Did I lead them up, choragic,
To reveal their nature magic.
There is that machine, glass-masked,
With continual questions tasked,
Ticking with untiring rock:
It is called an eight-day clock.
But to me the thing appears
Made for winding up the years,
Drawing on, fast as it can,
The day when comes the Son of Man.
On the sea the sunshine broods,
And the shining tops of woods;
We will leave these oracles,
Finding others ’mid the hills.
Grief held me silent in my seat,
I neither moved nor smiled:
Joy held her silent at my feet,
My little lily-child.
She raised her face; she seemed to feel
That she was left outside;
She said one word with childish zeal
That would not be denied.
Twice more my name, with infant grace;
Sole word her lips could mould!
Her face was pulling at my face—
She was but ten months old.