These things alone endure;
'They are the solid facts,' that we may grasp,
Leading us on and upward if we clasp
And hold them firm and sure.
In a wise fable old,
A hero sought a god who could at will
Assume all figures, and the hero still
Loosed not his steadfast hold,
For image foul or fair,
For soft-eyed nymph, who wept with pain and shame,
For threatening fiend or loathsome beast or flame,
For menace or for prayer.
Until the god, outbraved,
Took his own shape divine; not wrathfully,
But wondering, to the hero gave reply,
The knowledge that he craved.
We seize the god in youth;
All forms conspire to make us loose our grasp,—
Ambition, folly, gain,— till we unclasp
From the embrace of truth.
We grow more wise, we say,
And work for worldly ends and mock our dream,
Alas! while all life's glory and its gleam,
With that have fled away.
If thereto we had clung
Through change and peril, fire and night and storm,
Till it assumed its proper, godlike form,
We might at last have wrung
An answer to our cries—
A brave response to our most valiant hope.
Unto the light of day this word might ope
A million mysteries.
O'er each man's brow I see
The bright star of his genius shining clear;
It seeks to guide him to a nobler sphere,
Above earth's vanity.
Up to pure height of snow,
Its beckoning ray still leads him on and on;
To those who follow, lo, itself comes down
And crowns at length their brow.
The nimbus still doth gleam
On these the heroes, sages of the earth,
The few who found, in life of any worth,
Only their loftiest dream.