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THE Sphinx is drowsy,

Her wings are furled;

Her ear is heavy,

She broods on the world.

"Who'll tell me my secret,

The ages have kept?

I awaited the seer,

While they slumbered and slept ; ·

"The fate of the man-child;

The meaning of man;

Known fruit of the unknown;

Dædalian plan ;

Out of sleeping a waking,

Out of waking a sleep;

Life death overtaking;

Deep underneath deep?

"Erect as a sunbeam,

Upspringeth the palm;

The elephant browses,

Undaunted and calm;

In beautiful motion

The thrush plies his wings;

Kind leaves of his covert,

Your silence he sings.

"The waves, unashamed,

In difference sweet,

Play glad with the breezes,

Old playfellows meet;

The journeying atoms,

Primordial wholes,

Firmly draw, firmly drive,

By their animate poles.

"Sea, earth, air, sound, silence,

Plant, quadruped, bird,

By one music enchanted,

One deity stirred,

Each the other adorning,

Accompany still;

Night veileth the morning,
The vapor the hill.

"The babe by its mother

Lies bathed in joy;

Glide its hours uncounted,

The sun is its toy;

Shines the peace of all being,

Without cloud, in its eyes;

And the sum of the world

In soft miniature lies.

"But man crouches and blushes,

Absconds and conceals;

He creepeth and peepeth,

He palters and steals;

Infirm, melancholy,

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Jealous glancing around,

An oaf, an accomplice,

He poisons the ground.

Outspoke the great mother,
Beholding his fear;-

At the sound of her accents

Cold shuddered the sphere:

Who has drugged my boy's cup?

Who has mixed my boy's bread?

Who, with sadness and madness,

Has turned the man-child's head?'"

I heard a poet answer,

Aloud and cheerfully,

"Say on, sweet Sphinx! thy dirges

Are pleasant songs to me.

Deep love lieth under

These pictures of time;

They fade in the light of

Their meaning sublime.

"The fiend that man harries

Is love of the Best;

Yawns the pit of the Dragon,

Lit by rays from the Blest.

The Lethe of nature

Can't trance him again,

Whose soul sees the perfect,

Which his eyes seek in vain.

"Profounder, profounder,

Man's spirit must dive;

To his aye-rolling orbit

No goal will arrive;

The heavens that now draw him

With sweetness untold,

Once found, for new heavens


He spurneth the old.

"Pride ruined the angels,

Their shame them restores;

And the joy that is sweetest

Lurks in stings of remorse.

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