The streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes and gold and silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes, fair skins and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars; and all the World was mine; and I the only spectator and enjoyer of it.
News from a foreign country came,
As if my treasure and my wealth lay there;
So much it did my heart inflame,
’Twas wont to call my Soul into mine ear;
Which thither went to meet
The approaching sweet,
And on the threshold stood
To entertain the unknown Good....
What sacred instinct did inspire
My Soul in childhood with a hope to strong?
What secret force moved my desire
To expect new joys beyond the seas, so young?
Felicity I knew
Was out of view,
And being here alone,
I saw that happiness was gone
From me! For this
I thirsted absent bliss,
And thought that sure beyond the seas,
Or else in something near at hand—
I knew not yet (since naught did please
I knew) my Bliss did stand.
But little did the infant dream
That all the treasures of the world were by:
And that himself was so the cream
And crown of all which round about did lie.
Yet thus it was: the Gem,
The Ring enclosing all
That stood upon this earthly ball,
The Heavenly Eye,
Much wider than the sky,
Wherein they all included were,
The glorious Soul, that was the King
Made to possess them, did appear
A small and little thing!
And then comes the noble sentence of which I promised you that it should fall into its place:
You never enjoy the world aright till
the sea itself floweth
in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and
crowned with the stars.
Man in short—you, I, any one of us—the heir of it all!
Tot circa unum caput tumultuantes deos!
Our best privilege to sing our short lives out in tune with the heavenly concert—and if to sing afterwards, then afterwards!
But how shall Man ever attain to understand and find his proper place in this Universe, this great sweeping harmonious circle of which nevertheless he feels himself to be the diminutive focus? His senses are absurdly imperfect. His ear cannot catch any music the spheres make; and moreover there are probably neither spheres nor music. His eye is so dull an instrument that (as Blanco White’s famous sonnet reminds us) he can neither see this world in the dark, nor glimpse any of the scores of others until it falls dark:
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?
Yet the Universal Harmony is meaningless and nothing to man save in so far as he apprehends it: and lacking him (so far as he knows) it utterly lacks the compliment of an audience. Is all the great orchestra designed for nothing but to please its Conductor? Yes, if you choose: but no, as I think. And here my other quotation: