Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
Verse Musings on Nature, Faith, and Freedom (1889).
I. Faith.
V. Life and Thought
By John Owen (1836–1896)
UNSOUGHT came Life to me,
  And with it brought
A precious, perilous gift—
  The gift of Thought.
Life grew, and with its growth        5
  Grew also Thought,
Like twin-born beings, from birth
  To rivalry wrought.
First, Life claimed precedence,
  In that it sought        10
To merge in its own being,
  The being of Thought.
Said Life, “No useful end
  Is gained by Thought,
And all its doubts and quests        15
  Come but to nought.”
But Thought in turn replied,
  “Life cannot choose
But live; nor yet can Thought
  Its subtler being refuse.        20
“By direful stress ondriven,
  I still must quest,
Though answer full and true
  Ne’er bring me rest.
“Thou, Life, mayst easy live,        25
  Deprived of Thought,
Nay, myriads pass through life
  To think untaught.
“Yet to man’s life doth Thought,
  Though vain its quest,        30
Lend all the power that makes
  It nobly blest.”
Then, sighing, Life replied,
  “Too-bounded scope,
Poor foolish thought, gives Life        35
  For thy great hope.
“And space and time, and all
  That men call being,
Are objects much too small
  For thy far-seeing.”        40
To which Thought once more said,
  “Thus it must be,
That Thought can more than Life,
  And further see.
“Wherefore thou seest, Life,        45
  Howe’er distraught,
By her great quest—far higher
  Than Life is Thought.”
*        *        *        *        *
Then I at last, well-learned
  In power of Thought,        50
And worth of Life—to soothe
  Their rivalry sought.
Thus to the twain said I,
  “What needs this strife?
Twin mysteries are ye,        55
  Both Thought and Life.”

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