A world guilty of this last and mightiest war has no right to enjoy or create until it has made the future safe from another Arkansas or Rheims. To this there is but one patent way, proved and inescapable, Education, and that not for me or for you but for the Immortal Child. And that child is of all races and all colors. All children are the children of all and not of individuals and families and races. The whole generation must be trained and guided and out of it as out of a huge reservoir must be lifted all genius, talent, and intelligence to serve all the world.
Softly, quite softly—
For I hear, above the murmur of the sea,
Faint and far-fallen footsteps, as of One
Who comes from out beyond the endless ends of Time,
With voice that downward looms thro’ singing stars;
Its subtle sound I see thro’ these long-darkened eyes,
I hear the Light He bringeth on His hands—
Softly, oh, softly, lest He pass me by,
And that unquivering Light toward which my longing soul
And tortured body through these years have writhed,
Fade to the dun darkness of my days.
Softly, full softly, let me
rise and greet
The strong, low luting of that long-awaited call;
Swiftly be all my good and going gone,
And this vast veiled and vanquished vigor of my soul
Seek somehow otherwhere its rest and goal,
Where endless spaces stretch,
Where endless time doth moan,
Where endless light doth pour
Thro’ the black kingdoms of eternal death.
Then haply I may see what
things I have not seen,
Then I may know what things I have not known;
Then may I do my dreams.
Farewell! No sound of
idle mourning let there be
To shudder this full silence—save the voice
Of children—little children, white and black,
Whispering the deeds I tried to do for them;
While I at last unguided and alone
Pass softly, full softly.
[Footnote 1: For Joseph Pulitzer, October 29, 1911.]
OF BEAUTY AND DEATH
For long years we of the world gone wild have looked into the face of death and smiled. Through all our bitter tears we knew how beautiful it was to die for that which our souls called sufficient. Like all true beauty this thing of dying was so simple, so matter-of-fact. The boy clothed in his splendid youth stood before us and laughed in his own jolly way,—went and was gone. Suddenly the world was full of the fragrance of sacrifice. We left our digging and burden-bearing; we turned from our scraping and twisting of things and words; we paused from our hurrying hither and thither and walking up and down, and asked in half-whisper: this Death—is this Life? And is its beauty real or false? And of this heart-questioning I am writing.