Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VII. Death: Immortality: Heaven
Matter and Man Immortal
Edward Young (1681–1765)
From “Night Thoughts,” Night VI.

AS in a wheel, all sinks, to reascend:
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
  With this minute distinction, emblems just,
Nature revolves, but man advances; both
Eternal, that a circle, this a line.        5
That gravitates, this soars. Th’ aspiring soul,
Ardent, and tremulous, like flame, ascends,
Zeal and humility her wings, to Heaven.
The world of matter, with its various forms,
All dies into new life. Life born from death        10
Rolls the vast mass, and shall for ever roll.
No single atom, once in being, lost,
With change of counsel charges the Most High.
  What hence infers Lorenzo? Can it be?
Matter immortal? And shall spirit die?        15
Above the nobler, shall less noble rise?
Shall man alone, for whom all else revives,
No resurrection know? Shall man alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Less privileged than grain, on which he feeds?
*        *        *        *        *
Look Nature through, ’t is neat gradation all.
By what minute degrees her scale ascends!
Each middle nature joined at each extreme,
To that above is joined, to that beneath;
Parts, into parts reciprocally shot,        25
Abhor divorce: what love of union reigns!
Here, dormant matter waits a call to life;
Half-life, half-death, joined there; here life and sense;
There, sense from reason steals a glimmering ray;
Reason shines out in man. But how preserved        30
The chain unbroken upward, to the realms
Of incorporeal life? those realms of bliss
Where death hath no dominion? Grant a make
Half-mortal, half-immortal; earthy, part,
And part ethereal; grant the soul of man        35
Eternal; or in man the series ends.
Wide yawns the gap; connection is no more;
Checked Reason halts; her next step wants support;
Striving to climb, she tumbles from her scheme.

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