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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). An American Anthology, 1787–1900. 1900.

By Silas WeirMitchell

520 Of One Who Seemed to Have Failed

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

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!

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,

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,

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,

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

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,

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,

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.