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O LIFE profound! thine opening ways
Lay clear as light is clear to me!
But now thy least, thy least of days
Doth awe me with its mystery.


Blind, blind thy page is--I succumb,
And wait to know what thou wilt teach
In wonder; stricken blind and dumb
Before the greatness of thy speech.


For oh, thou hast thy single thread
So multiplied with myriad strands,
That none can straightly out be led,
Or followed back by searching hands.


And yet, when Hope and I were young,
No task too hard was for us twain;
No lark-song set, no carol sung,
But we rang out in gay disdain!


And we could read--why--once so well,
No page was sealed in earth's book!
Sweet syllables we could outspell,
From every seaward-running brook,


That laughing downward joyously,
Low rippled into rhyme on rhyme;
And voiced itself melodiously,
On every tuneful page of time.


The woods were chapters; leaves and vines
Their paraphrase on spring unrolled;
Where flowers enmargined, lit the lines
With sweet illumings manifold.


A smiling meadow, sunny sweet,
Her cowslips holding fair aloft,
A summer idyl was; complete
With lily couplets, lapsing oft.


Large questions read we in the sky,
And mightier answers in the sea;
Where untranslated, darkly lie
God's first great lines of Tragedy.


Aye, we oft-times could hidden sense
In Nature's Sanskrit find; construe
Old standards to new measurements
And occult meanings bring to view.


But we our skill too soon forgot!
And, O my soul, that voice benign
Is drowned in worldly noise, that brought
To thee Heaven's alphabet divine.