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“ Before the little ducts began
To feed thy bones with lime, and ran
Their course, till thou wert also man :

“ Who took a wife, who rear'd his race, Whose wrinkles gather'd on his face, Whose troubles number with his days :

A life of nothings, nothing-worth, From that first nothing ere his birth To that last nothing under earth!”

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“ These words," I said, are like the rest, No certain clearness, but at best A vague suspicion of the breast :

“ But if I grant, thou might'st defend The thesis which thy words intend That to begin implies to end ;

“ Yet how should I for certain hold, Because my memory is so cold, That I first was in human mould ?

“ I cannot make this matter plain, But I would shoot, howe'er in vain,

A random arrow from the brain.

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be that no life is found, Which only to one engine bound Falls off, but cycles always round.

“ As old mythologies relate, Some draught of Lethe might await The slipping thro' from state to state.

" As here we find in trances, men Forget the dream that happens then, Until they fall in trance again.

“ So might we, if our state were such As one before, remember much, For those two likes might meet and touch.

“ But, if I lapsed from nobler place,
Some legend of a fallen race
Alone might hint of my disgrace ;

“ Some vague emotion of delight In gazing up an Alpine height, Some yearning toward the lamps of night.

“ Or if thro’ lower lives I cameTho' all experience past became

Consolidate in mind and frame

“ I might forget my weaker lot ; For is not our first year forgot ? The haunts of memory echo not.

“ And men, whose reason long was blind, From cells of madness unconfined, Oft lose whole years of darker mind.

“ Much more, if first I floated free, As naked essence, must I be Incompetent of memory :

“ For memory dealing but with time, And he with matter, could she climb Beyond her own material prime?

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Moreover, something is or seems, That touches me with mystic gleams, Like glimpses of forgotten dreams

“Of something felt, like something here ; Of something done, I know not where ; Such as no language may declare.”

The still voice laugh’d. “ I talk,” said he, “ Not with thy dreams. Suffice it thee Thy pain is a reality.”

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“ But thou,” said I, “hast miss'd thy mark, Who sought'st to wreck my mortal ark, By making all the horizon dark.

Why not set forth, if I should do This rashness, that which might ensue With this old soul in organs new ?

“ Whatever crazy sorrow saith,
No life that breathes with human breath

Has ever truly long'd for death.

“ 'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant, Oh life, not death, for which we pant ; More life, and fuller, that I want.”

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