Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
520. Of One Who Seemed to Have Failed
By Silas Weir Mitchell
DEATH ’S but one more to-morrow. Thou art gray
With many a death of many a yesterday.
O yearning heart that lacked the athlete’s force
And, stumbling, fell upon the beaten course,
And looked, and saw with ever glazing eyes        5
Some lower soul that seemed to win the prize!
Lo, Death, the just, who comes to all alike,
Life’s sorry scales of right anew shall strike.
Forth, through the night, on unknown shores to win
The peace of God unstirred by sense of sin!        10
There love without desire shall, like a mist
At evening precious to the drooping flower,
Possess thy soul in ownership, and kissed
By viewless lips, whose touch shall be a dower
Of genius and of winged serenity,        15
Thou shalt abide in realms of poesy.
There soul hath touch of soul, and there the great
Cast wide to welcome thee joy’s golden gate.
Freeborn to untold thoughts that age on age
Caressed sweet singers in their sacred sleep,        20
Thy soul shall enter on its heritage
Of God’s unuttered wisdom. Thou shalt sweep
With hand assured the ringing lyre of life,
Till the fierce anguish of its bitter strife,
Its pain, death, discord, sorrow, and despair,        25
Break into rhythmic music. Thou shalt share
The prophet-joy that kept forever glad
God’s poet-souls when all a world was sad.
Enter and live! Thou hast not lived before;
We were but soul-cast shadows. Ah, no more        30
The heart shall bear the burdens of the brain;
Now shall the strong heart think, nor think in vain.
In the dear company of peace, and those
Who bore for man life’s utmost agony,
Thy soul shall climb to cliffs of still repose,        35
And see before thee lie Time’s mystery,
And that which is God’s time, Eternity;
Whence sweeping over thee dim myriad things,
The awful centuries yet to be, in hosts
That stir the vast of heaven with formless wings,        40
Shall cast for thee their shrouds, and, like to ghosts,
Unriddle all the past, till, awed and still,
Thy soul the secret hath of good and ill.


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