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The Sphinx is drowsy,
Her wings are furled; Her ear is heavy,
She broods on the world.
“ Who'll tell me my secret,
The ages have kept ? 1 awaited the seer,
While they slumbered and slept;
"The fate of the man-child;
The meaning of man; Known fruit of the unknown;
Out of sleeping a waking,
Out of waking a sleep; Life death overtaking ;
Deep underneath deep?
“ Erect as a sunbeam,
Upspringeth the palm ; The elephant browses,
Undaunted and calm ;
In beautiful motion
The thrush plies his wings; Kind leaves of his covert,
Your silence he sings.
“ The waves, unashamed,
In difference sweet,
Play glad with the breezes,
Old playfellows meet; The journeying atoms,
Primordial wholes, Firmly draw, firmly drive,
By their animate poles.
“ Sea, earth, air, sound, silence,
Plant, quadruped, bird, By one music enchanted,
One deity stirred,
The vapor the hill.
“ The babe by its mother
Lies bathed in joy ;
The sun is its toy;
Without cloud, in its eyes;
In soft miniature lies.
“But man crouches and blushes,
Absconds and conceals; He creepeth and peepeth,
He palters and steals;
Jealous glancing around, An oaf, an accomplice,
He poisons the ground.
“Outspoke the great mother,
Beholding his fear; -
Cold shuddered the sphere :
Who has mixed my boy's bread ? Who, with sadness and madness,
Has turned the man-child's head ?'"
I heard a poet answer,
Aloud and cheerfully, 'Say on, sweet Sphinx ! thy dirges
Are pleasant songs to me. Deep love lieth under
These pictures of time; They fade in the light of
Their meaning sublime.
“ The fiend that man harries
Is love of the Best;
Yawns the pit of the Dragon,
Lit by rays from the Blest.
The Lethe of nature
Can't trance him again, Whose soul sees the perfect,
Which his eyes seek in vain.
Man's spirit must dive; To his aye-rolling orbit
No goal will arrive; The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold, Once found, - for new heavens
He spurneth the old.
“Pride ruined the angels,
Their shame them restores; And the joy that is sweetest
Lurks in stings of remorse.