ALAS for fame ! I saw a genius sit,
Draining full bumpers with a trembling hand,
And roll out rhapsodies of folly, lit
By soaring fancies hard to understand.
Lonely he seemed, whom all men should admire ;
And some were there who sneered a covert sneer,
Quenching with logic cold the sacred fire ;
And one who hardly checked a rising tear

Because life's order binds with chains of steel
The struggling individual soul ; because
The fair fine flower of life doth oft conceal
A hidden worm which always frets and gnaws
The inner heart from which all perfumes come,
And round the deep-set core of golden fire
Foul creeping creatures make their constant hcme
Black hatred, wild revolt, and gross desire.

What is this bar that Nature loves to place
Before the too aspiring heart and brain,
Bringing down goodly hopes to deep disgrace,
Keeping high pleasure balanced by low pain,
Pure thoughts by secret failings, subtler joys
With grosser sense or hopeless depths ' of woe,
Setting our lives in barren counter poise,
Which says, Thus far, no further shall thou go.

Is it that Nature, envious of her own,
Even as the fabled gods of primal years,
Because to too great stature it is grown,
Hates her consummate work, and inly fears
Lest the soul, once enfranchised, soar too high,
Up to some Spiritual place of Souls,
Where the world's feeble echoes faint and die,
And in fine waves a purer aether rolls?

There is no infinite in Nature. All
Is finite, set within a self-made bound.
Thought builds round space itself a brazen wall,
And hates the barren cycle's endless round.
Life grown too perfect is not life at all ;
Some hidden discords sweeten every strain ;
No virtue is, where is no power to fall,
Nor true delight without a touch of pain.

And this it is that limits evermore
The life of man to this its low estate,
And gives the soul's light pinions power to soar
Only a little space toward heaven's gate.
Creatures we are of the earth, and not the sky,
Bound down, constrained, confined ; and yet 'tis well :
No angel's wings are ours to mount on high,
No chains have power to keep our souls in hell.

And since to realms of thought we may aspire,
Higher than these in which we breathe and are,
And know within the same creative fire
As that which lights and warms the furthest star,
So should our restless spirits grow content
With what is theirs, nor covet to be free ;
Since boundless power is oft most impotent,
And narrow bonds the truest liberty.

More verses by Sir Lewis Morris

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