Am I dead to the world, that I thus disdain
Its moil and toil in the prime of life,
When perhaps a score of years remain
To win more gold in its selfish strife?
Am I foolish to choose the purer air
Of my glorious Promenade Solitaire?
Ah no! From my mountain-girdled height
I watch the game of the world go on,
And note the course of the bitter fight,
And what is lost and what is won;
And I judge of it better here than there,
As I gaze from my Promenade Solitaire.
It is ever the same old tale of greed,
Of robbing and killing the weaker race,
Of the word proved false by the cruel deed,
Of the slanderous tongue with the friendly face;
’Tis enough to make one’s heart despair
Even here in my Promenade Solitaire.
They cheer, and struggle, and beat the air
With many a stroke and thrust intense,
And urge each other to do and dare,
To gain some good they deem immense;
But they look like ants contending there
From the height of my Promenade Solitaire.
Backward and forward they run and crawl,
Houses and treasures they heap up high,
Hither and thither their booty haul, ...
Then suddenly drop in their tracks and die!
For few are wise enough to repair
In time to a Promenade Solitaire.
Meantime the Earth speeds on through space,
As the sun for a million years hath steered,
And, an eon hence, the entire race
Will have played its part and disappeared;
But what will the lifeless planet care,
As it follows its Promenade Solitaire?
I know not how, I know not where,
But from my own heart’s mystic lore
I feel that I have breathed this air,
And walked this earth before;
And that in this, its latest form
My old-time spirit once more strives,
As it has fought through many a storm
In past, forgotten lives.
Not inexperienced did my soul
This incarnation’s threshold tread;
Not recordless has proved the scroll
It brought back from the dead.
To certain, special lines of thought
My mind intuitively tends,
And old affinities have brought
Not new, but ancient friends.
What thrilled me in a previous state
Rekindles here its ancient flame;
What I by instinct love and hate
I knew before I came;
And lands, of which in youth I dreamed
And read, heart-moved, and longed to see,
When really visited, have seemed
Not strange but known to me.
When Mozart, still a child, untaught,
Ran joyous to the silent keys,
And with inspired fingers wrought
There fell upon his psychic ear
Faint echoes of a music known
Before his natal advent here,
In former lives outgrown.
In many a dumb brute’s wistful eyes
A dawning human soul aspires,
For thus from lower forms we rise,—
Ourselves our spirits’ sires.