Do I believe, thou ask'st, the Master's word,
The Schoolman's shibboleth that binds the herd?
To the soul's haven is there but one chart?
Its peace a problem to be learned by art?
On system rest the happy and the good?
To base the temple must the props be wood?
Must I distrust the gentle law, imprest,
To guide and warn, by Nature on the breast,
Till, squared to rule the instinct of the soul,--
Till the School's signet stamp the eternal scroll,
Till in one mold some dogma hath confined
The ebb and flow--the light waves--of the mind?
Say thou, familiar to these depths of gloom,
Thou, safe ascended from the dusty tomb,
Thou, who hast trod these weird Egyptian cells--
Say--if Life's comfort with yon mummies dwells!--
Say--and I grope--with saddened steps indeed--
But on, thro' darkness, if to Truth it lead!
Nay, Friend, thou know'st the golden time--the age
Whose legends live in many a poet's page?
When heavenlier shapes with Man walked side by side,
And the chaste Feeling was itself a guide;
Then the great law, alike divine amid
Suns bright in Heaven, or germs in darkness hid—
That silent law--(call'd whether by the name
Of Nature or Necessity, the same),
To that deep sea, the heart, its movement gave--
Sway'd the full tide, and freshened the free wave.
Then sense unerring--because unreproved--
True as the finger on the dial moved,
Half-guide, half-playmate, of Earth's age of youth,
The sportive instinct of Eternal Truth.
Then, nor Initiate nor Profane were known;
Where the Heart felt--there Reason found a throne:
Not from the dust below, but life around
Warm Genius shaped what quick Emotion found.
One rule, like light, for every bosom glowed,
Yet hid from all the fountain whence it flowed.
But, gone that blessed Age!--our wilful pride
Has lost, with Nature, the old peaceful Guide.
Feeling, no more to raise us and rejoice,
Is heard and honored as a Godhead's voice;
And, disenhallowed in its eldest cell
The Human Heart--lies mute the Oracle,
Save where the low and mystic whispers thrill
Some listening spirit more divinely still.
There, in the chambers of the inmost heart,
There, must the Sage explore the Magian's art;
There, seek the long-lost Nature's steps to track,
Till, found once more, she gives him Wisdom back!
Hast thou--(O Blest, if so, whate'er betide!)--
Still kept the Guardian Angel by thy side?
Can thy Heart's guileless childhood yet rejoice
In the sweet instinct with its warning voice?
Does Truth yet limn upon untroubled eyes,
Pure and serene, her world of Iris-dies?
Rings clear the echo which her accent calls
Back from the breast, on which the music falls?
In the calm mind is doubt yet hush'd--and will
That doubt tomorrow, as today, be still?
Will all these fine sensations in their play,
No censor need to regulate and sway?
Fear'st thou not in the insidious Heart to find
The source of Trouble to the limpid mind?
No!--then thine Innocence thy Mentor be!
Science can teach thee naught--she learns from thee!
Each law that lends lame succor to the Weak--
The cripple's crutch--the vigorous need not seek!
From thine own self thy rule of action draw;
That which thou dost--what charms thee--is thy Law,
And founds to every race a code sublime--
What pleases Genius gives a Law to Time!
The Word--the Deed--all Ages shall command,
Pure if thy lip and holy if thy hand!
Thou, thou alone mark'st not within thy heart
The inspiring God whose Minister thou art,
Know'st not the magic of the mighty ring
Which bows the realm of Spirits to their King:
But meek, nor conscious of diviner birth,
Glide thy still footsteps thro' the conquered Earth!