Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. b. 1840
818. With Esther
HE who has once been happy is for aye 
  Out of destruction's reach. His fortune then 
Holds nothing secret; and Eternity, 
  Which is a mystery to other men, 
Has like a woman given him its joy.         5
  Time is his conquest. Life, if it should fret. 
Has paid him tribute. He can bear to die, 
  He who has once been happy! When I set 
The world before me and survey its range, 
  Its mean ambitions, its scant fantasies,  10
The shreds of pleasure which for lack of change 
  Men wrap around them and call happiness, 
The poor delights which are the tale and sum 
Of the world's courage in its martyrdom; 
When I hear laughter from a tavern door,  15
  When I see crowds agape and in the rain 
Watching on tiptoe and with stifled roar 
  To see a rocket fired or a bull slain, 
When misers handle gold, when orators 
  Touch strong men's hearts with glory till they weep,  20
When cities deck their streets for barren wars 
  Which have laid waste their youth, and when I keep 
Calmly the count of my own life and see 
  On what poor stuff my manhood's dreams were fed 
Till I too learn'd what dole of vanity  25
  Will serve a human soul for daily bread, 
—Then I remember that I once was young 
And lived with Esther the world's gods among. 
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