There is a palace, and the ruined wall
Divides the sand, a very home of tears,
And where love whispered of a thousand years
The silken-footed caterpillars crawl.
And where the Prince commanded, now the shriek
Of wind is flying through the court of state:
“Here,” it proclaims, “there dwelt a potentate
Who could not hear the sobbing of the weak.”
Beneath our palaces the corner-stone
Is quaking. What of noble we possess,
In love or courage or in tenderness,
Can rise from our infirmities alone.
We suffer—that we know, and that is all
Our knowledge. If we recklessly should strain
To sweep aside the solid rocks of pain,
Then would the domes of love and courage fall.
But there is one who trembles at the touch
Of sorrow less than all of you, for he
Has got the care of no big treasury,
And with regard to wits not overmuch.
I think our world is not a place of rest,
But where a man may take his little ease,
Until the landlord whom he never sees
Gives that apartment to another guest.
Say that you come to life as ’twere a feast,
Prepared to pay whatever is the bill
Of death or tears or—surely, friend, you will
Not shrink at death, which is among the least?
Rise up against your troubles, cast away
What is too great for mortal man to bear.
But seize no foolish arms against the share
Which you the piteous mortal have to pay.
Be gracious to the King. You cannot feign
That nobody was tyrant, that the sword
Of justice always gave the just award
Before these Ghassanites began to reign.
You cultivate the ranks of golden grain,
He cultivates the cavaliers. They go
With him careering on some other foe,
And your battalions will be staunch again.
The good law and the bad law disappear
Below the flood of custom, or they float
And, like the wonderful Sar’aby coat,
They captivate us for a little year.
God pities him who pities. Ah, pursue
No longer now the children of the wood;
Or have you not, poor huntsman, understood
That somebody is overtaking you?