System on system, myriad worlds on worlds,
Beyond the utmost reach of mortal ken,
Beyond the utmost flight of mortal dream,
Yet have mine eyes beheld the birth of all.
But whence I am I know not. We are three—
Known, yet unknown—unfathomable to man,
Time, Space, and Matter pregnant with all life,
Immortals older than the oldest orb.
We were and are forever: out of us
Are all things—suns and satellites, midge and man.
Worlds wax and wane, suns flame and glow and die;
Through shoreless space their scattered ashes float,
Unite, cohere, and wax to worlds again,
Changing, yet changless—new, but ever old—
No atom lost and not one atom gained,
Though fire to vapor melt the adamant,
Or feldspar fall in drops of summer rain.
And in the atoms sleep the germs of life,
Myriad and multiform and marvelous,
Throughout all vast, immeasurable space,
In every grain of dust, in every drop
Of water, waiting but the thermal touch.
Yea, in the womb of nature slumber still
Wonders undreamed and forms beyond compare,
Minds that will cleave the chaos and unwind
The web of fate, and from the atom trace
The worlds, the suns, the universal law:
And from the law, the Master; yea, and read
On yon grand starry scroll the Master’s will.”
Yea, but what Master? Lift the veil, O Time!
Where lie the bounds of Space and whither dwells
The Power unseen—the infinite Unknown?
Faint from afar the solemn answer fell:
“AEon on aeon, cycles myriad-yeared,
Swifter than light out-flashing from the suns,
My flying feet have sought the bounds of space
And found not, nor the infinite Unknown.
I see the Master only in his work:
I see the Ruler only in his law:
Time hath not touched the great All-father’s throne,
Whose voice unheard the Universe obeys,
Who breathes upon the deep and worlds are born.
Worlds wax and wane, suns crumble into dust,
But matter pregnant with immortal life,
Since erst the white-haired centuries wheeled the vast,
Hath lost nor gained. Who made it, and who made
The Maker? Out of nothing, nothing. Lo
The worm that crawls from out the sun-touched sand,
What knows he of the huge, round, rolling Earth?
Yet more than thou of all the vast Beyond,
Or ever wilt. Content thee; let it be:
Know only this—there is a Power unknown—
Master of life and Maker of the worlds.”
On the death of Captain Hiram A. Coats, my old schoolmate and friend.
Dead? or is it a dream—
Only the voice of a dream?
Dead in the prime of his years,
And laid in the lap of the dust;
Only a handful of ashes
Moldering down into dust.