The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8
The wisdom of mankind creeps slowly on,
Subject to every doubt that can retard,
Or fling it back upon an earlier time;
So timid are man's footsteps in the dark,
But blindest those who have no inward light.
One mind perchance in every age contains
The sum of all before and much to come;
Much that's far distant still; but that full mind,
Companioned oft by others of like scope,
Belief, and tendency, and anxious will,
A circle small transpierces and illumes:
Expanding, soon its subtle radiance
Falls blunted from the mass of flesh and bone.
The man who for his race might supersede
The work of ages dies worn out not used,
And in his track disciples onward strive,
Some hair-breadths only from his starting point:
Yet lives he not in vain; for if his soul
Hath entered others though imperfectly,
The circle widens as the world spins round—
His sold works on while he sleeps 'neath the grass.
So let the firm Philosopher renew
His wasting lamp—the lamp wastes not in vain,
Though he no mirror for its rays may see,
Nor trace them through the darkness; let the Hand
Which feels primeval impulses, direct
A forthright plough, and make his furrow broad,
With heart untiring while one field remains;
So let the herald Poet shed his thoughts,
Like seeds that seem but lost upon the wind.
Work in the night thou Sage, while Mammon's brain
Teems with low visions on his couch of down;
Break thou the clods, while high-throned Vanity
Midst glaring lights and trumpets holds its Court;—
Then stand apart obscure to man with God.