’Twas on a sunny summer day
I trod a mighty city’s street,
And when I started on my way
My heart was full of fancies sweet;
But soon, as nothing could be seen,
But countenances sharp and keen,
Nought heard or seen around but told
Of something bought or something sold,
And none that seemed to think or care
That any save himself was there.
Come back again, old heart! Ah me!
Methinks in those thy coward fears
There might, perchance, a courage be,
That fails in these the manlier years;
Courage to let the courage sink,
Itself a coward base to think,
Rather than not for heavenly light
Wait on to show the truly right.
Thought may well be ever ranging,
And opinion ever changing,
Task-work be, though ill begun,
Dealt with by experience better;
By the law and by the letter
Duty done is duty done
Do it, Time is on the wing!
Loving—if the answering breast
Seem not to be thus possessed,
Still in hoping have a care;
If it do, beware, beware!
But if in yourself you find it,
Above all things—mind it, mind it!
Love, Not Duty, st. 5.
When panting sighs the bosom fill,
And hands by chance united thrill
At once with one delicious pain
The pulses and the nerves of twain;
When eyes that erst could meet with ease,
Do seek, yet, seeking, shyly shun
Ecstatic conscious unison,—
The sure beginnings, say, be these
Prelusive to the strain of love
Which angels sing in heaven above?
Thy duty do? rejoined the voice,
Ah, do it, do it, and rejoice;
But shalt thou then, when all is done,
Enjoy a love, embrace a beauty
Like these, that may be seen and won
In life, whose course will then be run;
Or wilt thou be where there is none?
I know not, I will do my duty.
Go; say not in thy heart, And what then were it accomplished,
Were the wild impulse allayed, what were the use or the good!
Go, when the instinct is stilled, and when the deed is accomplished,
What thou bast done and shalt do, shall be declared to thee then.
Go with the sun and the stars, and yet evermore in thy spirit
Say to thyself: It is good: yet is there better than it.
This that I see is not all, and this that I do is but little;
Nevertheless it is good, though there is better than it.
Trust me, I’ve read your German sage
To far more purpose e’er than you did;
You find it in his wisest page,
Whom God deludes is well deluded.
Dipsychus, Pt. II, sc. ii.
I sit at my table en grand seigneur,
And when I have done, throw a crust to the poor;
Not only the pleasure, one’s self, of good living,
But also the pleasure of now and then giving.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.
Dipsychus, Pt. II, sc. ii.
“There is no God,” the wicked saith,
“And truly it’s a blessing,
For what He might have done with us
It’s better only guessing.”
Honour thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall:
Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive
Officiously to keep alive.
The Latest Decalogue, l. 9-12.
Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.
The Latest Decalogue, l. 19-20.
I watched them from the window, thy children at their play,
And I thought of all my own dear friends, who were far, oh, far away,
And childish loves, and childish cares, and a child’s own buoyant gladness
Came gushing back again to me with a soft and solemn sadness;
And feelings frozen up full long, and thoughts of long ago,
Seemed to be thawing at my heart with a warm and sudden flow.
Put forth thy leaf, thou lofty plane,
East wind and frost are safely gone;
With zephyr mild and balmy rain
The summer comes serenely on;
Earth, air, and sun and skies combine
To promise all that’s kind and fair:—
But thou, O human heart of mine,
Be still, contain thyself, and bear.
O tell me, friends, while yet we part,
And heart can yet be heard of heart,
O tell me then, for what is it
Our early plan of life we quit;
From all our old intentions range,
And why does all so wholly change?
O tell me, friends, while yet we part!
My wind is turned to bitter north,
That was so soft a south before;
My sky, that shone so sunny bright,
With foggy gloom is clouded o’er
My gay green leaves are yellow-black,
Upon the dank autumnal floor;
For love, departed once, comes back
No more again, no more.
’Tis possible, young sir, that some excess
Mars youthful judgment and old men’s no less;
Yet we must take our counsel as we may
For (flying years this lesson still convey),
’Tis worst unwisdom to be overwise,
And not to use, but still correct one’s eyes.
As ships becalmed at eve, that lay
With canvas drooping, side by side,
Two towers of sail, at dawn of day
Are scarce, long leagues apart, descried.
Qua Cursum Ventus. Compare: "Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863-1874), Pt. III, The Theologian's Tale: Elizabeth, sec. IV.