IN a little thought, in a little thought,

We stand and eye thee in a grave dismay,

With sad and doubtful questioning, when first

Thou speak'st to us as men: like sons who hear

Newly their mother's history, unthought

Before, and say-" She is not as we dreamed:

Ah me! we are beguiled!" What art thou, then,

That art not our conceiving ? Art thou not

Too old for thy young children ì Or perchance,

Keep'st thou a youth perpetual-burnishable

Beyond thy sons decrepit? It is long

Since Time was first a fledgling;

Yet thou may'st be but as a pendant bulla

Against his stripling bosom swung. Alack !

For that we seem indeed

To have slipped the world's great leaping-time,


Upon thy pinched and dozing days: these weeds,

These corporal leavings, thou not cast'st us new,

Fresh from thy craftship, like the lilies' coats,

But foist'st us off

With hasty tarnished piecings negligent,

Snippets and waste

From old ancestral wearings,

That have seen sorrier usage; remainder-flesh

After our father's surfeits; nay with chinks,

Some of us, that if speech may have free leave

Our souls go out at elbows. We are sad

With more than our sites' heaviness, and with

More than their weakness weak; we shall not be

Mighty with all their mightiness, nor shall not

Rejoice with all their joy. Ay, Mother ! Mother !

What is this Man, thy darling kissed and cuffed,

Thou lustingly engender'st,

To sweat, and make his brag, and rot,

Crowned with all honour and all shamefulness ?

From nightly towers

He dogs the secret footsteps of the heavens,

Sifts in his hands the stars, weighs them as gold-dust,

And yet is he successive unto nothing

But patrimony of a little mould,

And entail of four planks. Thou hast made his mouth

Avid of all dominion and all mightiness,

All sorrow, all delight, all topless grandeurs,

All beauty, and all starry majesties,

And dim transtellar things;-even that it may,

Filled in the ending with a puff of dust,

Confess-" It is enough." The world left empty

What that poor mouthful crams. His heart is builded

For pride, for potency, infinity,

All heights, all deeps, and all immensities,

Arrased with purple like the house of kings,

To stall the grey-rat, and the carrion-worm

Statelily lodge. Mother of mysteries !

Sayer of dark sayings in a thousand tongues,

Who bringest forth no saying yet so dark

As we ourselves, thy darkest ! We the young,

In a little thought, in a little thought,

At last confront thee, and ourselves in thee,

And wake disgarmented of glory: as one

On a mount standing, and against him stands,

On the mount adverse, crowned with westering rays,

The golden sun, and they two brotherly

Gaze each on each;

He faring down

To the dull vale, his Godhead peek from him

Till he can scarcely spurn the pebble-

For nothingness of new-found mortality-

That mutinies against his galled foot.

Littly he sets him to the daily way,

With all around the valleys growing grave,

And known things changed and strange; but he holds on,

Though all the land of light be widowed,

In a little thought.

In a little dust, in a little dust,

Earth, thou reclaim'st us, who do all our lives

Find of thee but Egyptian villeinage.

Thou dost this body, this enhavocked realm,

Subject to anqent and ancestral shadows;

Descended passions sway it; it is distraught

With ghostly usurpation, dinned and fretted

With the still-tyrannous dead; a haunted tenement,

Peopled from barrows and outworn ossuaries.

Thou giv'st us life not half so willingly

As thou undost thy giving; thou that teem'st

The stealthy terror of the sinuous pard,

The lion maned with curlèd puissance,

The serpent, and all fair strong beasts of ravin,

Thyself most fair and potent beast of ravin;

And thy great eaters thou, the greatest, eat'st.

Thou hast devoured mammoth and mastodon,

And many a floating bank of fangs,

The scaly scourges of thy primai brine,

And the tower-crested plésiosaure.

Thou fill'st thy mouth with nations, gorgest slow

On purple aeons of kings; man's hulking towers

Are carcase for thee, and to modem sun

Disglutt'st their splintered bones.

Rabble of Pharaohs and Arsacidae

Keep their cold house within thee; thou hast sucked down

How many Ninevehs and Hecatompyloi

And perished cities whose great phantasmata

O'erbrow the silent citizens of Dis :-

Hast not thy fill ?

Tarry awhile, lean Earth, for thou shalt drink

Even till thy dull throat sicken,

The draught thou grow'st most fat on; hear'st thou not

Theworld's knives bickeringin their sheaths ? Opatience!

Much offal of a foui world cornes thy way,

And man's superfluous cloud shall soon be laid

In a little blood.

In a little peace, in a little peace,

Thou dost rebate thy rigid purposes

Of imposed being, and relenting, mend'st

Too much, with nought. The westering Phœbus' horse

Paws i' the lucent dust as when he shocked

The East with rising; O how may I trace

In this décline that morning when we did

Sport 'twixt the claws of newly-whelped existence,

Which had not yet learned rending? we did then

Divinely stand, not knowîng yet agaînst us

Sentence had passed of life, nor commutation

Petitioning into death. What 's he that of

The Free State argues ? Tellus ! bid him stoop,

Even where the low his jacet answers him;

Thus low, O Man ! there 's freedom's seignory,

Tellus' most révérend sole free commonweal,

And model deeply-policied: there none

Stands on precedence, nor ambitiously

Woos the impartial worm, whose favours kiss

With libéral largesse ail; there each is free

To be e'en what he must, which here did strive

So much to be he could not; there all do

Their uses just, with no flown questioning.

To be took by the hand of equal earth

They doff her livery, slip to the worm,

Which lacqueys them, their suits of maintenance

And that soiled workaday apparel cast,

Put on condition: Death's ungentle buffet

Alone makes cérémonial manumission;

So are the heavenly statutes set, and those

Uranian tables of the primai Law.

In a little peace, in a little peace,

Like- fierce beasts that a common thirst makes brothers,

We draw together to one hid dark lake;

In a little peace, in a little peace,

We drain with all our burthens of dishonour

Into the cleansing sands o' the thirsty grave.

The fiery pomps, brave exhalations,

And all the glistering shows o' the seeming world,

Which the sight aches at, we unwinking see

Through the smoked glass of Death; Death, wherewith's


The muddy wine of lif e; that earth doth purge

Of her plethora of man; Death, that doth flush

The cumbered gutters of humanity;

Nothing, of nothing king, with front uncrowned,

Whose hand holds crownets; playmate swart o' the


Tenebrous moon that flux and refluence draws

Of the high-tided man; skull-hous£d asp

That stings the heel of kings; true Fount of Youth,

Where he that dips is deathless; being's drone-pipe;

Whose nostril turns to blight the shrivelled stars,

And thicks the lusty breathing of the sun;

Pontifical Death, that doth the crevasse bridge

To the steep and trifid God; one mortal birth

That broker is of immortality.

Under this dreadful brother uterine,

This kinsman feared, Tellus, behold me come,

Thy son stern-nursed; who mortal-motherlike,

To turn thy weanlings' mouth averse, embitter'st

Thine over-childed breast. Now, mortal-sonlike,

I thou hast suckled, Mother, I at last

Shall sustenant be to thee. Here I untrammel,

Here I pluck loose the body's cerementing,

And break the tomb of life; here I shake off

The bur o' the world, man's congregation shun,

And to the antique order of the dead

I take the tongueless vows: my cell is set

Here in thy bosom; my little trouble is ended

In a little peace.