Yet if all things that vanish in their noon
Are but the part of some eternal scheme,
Of what the nightingale may chance to dream
Or what the lotus murmurs to the moon!
Have I not heard sagacious ones repeat
An irresistibly grim argument:
That we for all our blustering content
Are as the silent shadows at our feet.
Aye, when the torch is low and we prepare
Beyond the notes of revelry to pass—
Old Silence will keep watch upon the grass,
The solemn shadows will assemble there.
No Sultan at his pleasure shall erect
A dwelling less obedient to decay
Than I, whom all the mysteries obey,
Build with the twilight for an architect.
Dark leans to dark! the passions of a man
Are twined about all transitory things,
For verily the child of wisdom clings
More unto dreamland than Arabistan.
Death leans to death! nor shall your vigilance
Prevent him from whate’er he would possess,
Nor, brother, shall unfilial peevishness
Prevent you from the grand inheritance.
Farewell, my soul!—bird in the narrow jail
Who cannot sing. The door is opened! Fly!
Ah, soon you stop, and looking down you cry
The saddest song of all, poor nightingale.
Our fortune is like mariners to float
Amid the perils of dim waterways;
Shall then our seamanship have aught of praise
If the great anchor drags behind the boat?
Ah! let the burial of yesterday,
Of yesterday be ruthlessly decreed,
And, if you will, refuse the mourner’s reed,
And, if you will, plant cypress in the way.
As little shall it serve you in the fight
If you remonstrate with the storming seas,
As if you querulously sigh to these
Of some imagined haven of delight.
Steed of my soul! when you and I were young
We lived to cleave as arrows thro’ the night,—
Now there is ta’en from me the last of light,
And wheresoe’er I gaze a veil is hung.
No longer as a wreck shall I be hurled
Where beacons lure the fascinated helm,
For I have been admitted to the realm
Of darkness that encompasses the world.