Through the long day the sun has burned the plain,
Now evening dims my uncompleted way;
Here on this stone I find a welcome rest,
While one by one the far-off lamps appear,
Streaming along the highways of the sky.
Thou rising moon, ye points of steady flame,
And ye that tremble deep within the blue;
How many times your fires have beaconed me
When, save for them, the vault was chill and bare!
But now, I know not why, a clearer sight
Comes to mine eyes, the quickened ear doth catch
A sound of universal, throbbing life
Filling the inter-planetary space.
I see what seems a vastly winding stair
That bridges the abyss from star to star.
Downward it turns to primal worlds which knew
Of man the small beginning, from our globe
It mounts and mounts unto a purer sphere,
Still winding, winding till my sight doth fail,
My mind, a bird presuming to out-fly
His kind, with feeble flutter backward falls.
Ever the giant stairway teems with life,
Ever th' evolving throngs move slowly higher;
Each sphere, its use fulfilled, then yieldeth up
Its hosts unto the next. The humble shape
Of crudest mineral becomes a plant,
That sluggish, unaspiring, to the rock
Doth cling and now reluctant leaves its home,
Onward impelled by some deep inner urge
That draweth all things to their hidden source.
Hark! Yonder world doth palpitate with life
In shapes diverse and manifold but still
Manu, the thinker, graces not the scene;
Our green-robed earth that daily turns to meet
Her Lord on high, cradled her own fair child,
The fitting consummation of the past.
His birth the higher spheres rejoiced to see
And sounded forth the glad harmonious notes.
Man moveth on the upward steep, the hosts
Of light, those earlier climbers, stooping low,
Fain would make smooth the well known way, guide him
To safety through the perils dire which stay
His bruised feet; but strange contrariety
Is his to spurn full oft the proffered hand.
So toileth man and many needless woes
He wears upon him, yet I see him stand,
As after weary ages of ascent,
And know the topmost stair. And now behold!
He bendeth down to strive with souls perverse.
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