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Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man Time, with a gift of tears;
Grief, with a glass that ran; Pleasure, with pain for leaven;
Summer with flowers that fell; Remembrance fallen from heaven,
And madness risen from hell ; Strength without hands to smite;
Love that endures for a breath; Night, the shadow of light,
And life, the shadow of death.
And the high gods took in hand
Fire, and the falling of tears, And a measure of sliding sand
From under the feet of the years ; And froth and drift of the sea ;
And dust of the labouring earth; And bodies of things to be
In the houses of death and of birth ; And wrought with weeping and laughter,
And fashioned with loathing and love, With life before and after
And death beneath and above,
For a day and a night and a morrow,
That his strength might endure for a span With travail and heavy sorrow,
The holy spirit of man.
From the winds of the north and the south
They gathered as unto strife; They breathed upon his mouth,
They filled his body with life; Eyesight and speech they wrought
For the veils of the soul therein, A time for labour and thought,
A time to serve and to sin; They gave him light in his ways,
And love, and a space for delight, And beauty and length of days,
And night and sleep in the night. His speech is a burning fire;
With his lips he travaileth; In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death ; He weaves, and is clothed with derision ;
Sows and he shall not reap; His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep.
4. C. Swinburne.
LIFE AND DEATH.
• What is Life, Father?'
“A Battle, my child, Where the strongest lance may fail, Where the wariest eyes may be beguiled,
And the stoutest heart may quail.
And rest not day or night,
In the thickest of the fight.' • What is Death, Father?'
The rest, my child,
Says we need fight no more;
Bids the din of the battle cease ;
And proclaims an eternal Peace.' • Let me die, Father! I tremble and fear
To yield in that terrible strife !' • The crown must be won for Heaven, dear,
In the battle-field of life:
He loveth the weak and small;
And God is over all !!*
Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis cevum.
Hor. Epist. I. 2.
River, river, little river,
Bright you sparkle on your way,
Like a child at play.
River, river, swelling river,
On you rush o'er rough and smooth,
Like impetuous youth.
River, river, brimming river
Broad and deep and still as time; Seeming still, yet still in motion, Tending onward to the ocean,
Just like mortal prime.
River, river, rapid river,
Faster now you slip away,
Like life's closing day.
River, river, headlong river,
Down you dash into the sea,
Two children in two neighbour villages
Day dawned :-Within a curtained room
Spring rose :--The lady's grave was green;
Years fled:-He wore a manly face,
B. W. Procter.