(S 1)
A FIXED and narrow power with rigid forms,
He saw the empire of the little life,
An unhappy corner in eternity.
(S 2)
It lived upon the margin of the Idea
5 Protected by Ignorance as in a shell.
(S 3)
Then, hoping to learn the secret of this world
He peered across its scanty fringe of sight,
To disengage from its surface-clear obscurity
The Force that moved it and the Idea that made,
10 Imposing smallness on the Infinite,
The ruling spirit of its littleness,
The divine law that gave it right to be,
Its claim on Nature and its need in Time.
(S 4)
He plunged his gaze into the siege of mist
15 That held this ill-lit straitened continent
Ringed with the skies and seas of ignorance
And kept it safe from Truth and Self and Light.
(S 5)
As when a searchlight stabs the Night’s blind breast
And dwellings and trees and figures of men appear
20 As if revealed to an eye in Nothingness,
All lurking things were torn out of their veils
And held up in his vision’s sun-white blaze.
(S 6)
A busy restless uncouth populace
Teemed in their dusky unnoted thousands there.
(S 7)
25 In a mist of secrecy wrapping the world-scene
The little deities of Time’s nether act
Who work remote from Heaven’s controlling eye,
Plotted, unknown to the creatures whom they move,
The small conspiracies of this petty reign
30 Amused with the small contrivings, the brief hopes
And little eager steps and little ways
And reptile wallowings in the dark and dust,
And the crouch and ignominy of creeping life.
(S 8)
A trepidant and motley multitude,
35 A strange pell-mell of magic artisans,
Was seen moulding the plastic clay of life,
An elfin brood, an elemental kind.
(S 9)
Astonished by the unaccustomed glow,
As if immanent in the shadows started up
40 Imps with wry limbs and carved beast visages,
Sprite-prompters goblin-wizened or faery-small,
And genii fairer but unsouled and poor
And fallen beings, their heavenly portion lost,
And errant divinities trapped in Time’s dust.
(S 10)
45 Ignorant and dangerous wills but armed with power,
Half-animal, half-god their mood, their shape.
(S 11)
Out of the greyness of a dim background
Their whispers come, an inarticulate force,
Awake in mind an echoing thought or word,
50 To their sting of impulse the heart’s sanction draw,
And in that little Nature do their work
And fill its powers and creatures with unease.
(S 12)
Its seed of joy they curse with sorrow’s fruit,
Put out with error’s breath its scanty lights
55 And turn its surface truths to falsehood’s ends,
Its small emotions spur, its passions drive
To the abyss or through the bog and mire:
Or else with a goad of hard dry lusts they prick,
While jogs on devious ways that nowhere lead
60 Life’s cart finding no issue from ignorance.
(S 13)
To sport with good and evil is their law;
Luring to failure and meaningless success,
All models they corrupt, all measures cheat,
Make knowledge a poison, virtue a pattern dull
65 And lead the endless cycles of desire
Through semblances of sad or happy chance
To an inescapable fatality.
(S 14)
All by their influence is enacted there.
(S 15)
Nor there alone is their empire or their role:
70 Wherever are soulless minds and guideless lives
And in a small body self is all that counts,
Wherever love and light and largeness lack,
These crooked fashioners take up their task.
(S 16)
To all half-conscious worlds they extend their reign.
(S 17)
75 Here too these godlings drive our human hearts,
Our nature’s twilight is their lurking-place:
Here too the darkened primitive heart obeys
That dogs our knowledge with misleading light
80 And stands between us and the Truth that saves.
(S 18)
It speaks to us with the voices of the Night:
Our darkened lives to greater darkness move;
Our seekings listen to calamitous hopes.
(S 19)
A structure of unseeing thoughts is built
85 And reason used by an irrational Force.
(S 20)
This earth is not alone our teacher and nurse;
The powers of all the worlds have entrance here.
(S 21)
In their own fields they follow the wheel of law
And cherish the safety of a settled type;
90 On earth out of their changeless orbit thrown
Their law is kept, lost their fixed form of things.
(S 22)
Into a creative chaos they are cast
Where all asks order but is driven by Chance;
Strangers to earth-nature, they must learn earth’s ways,
95 Aliens or opposites, they must unite:
They work and battle and with pain agree:
These join, those part, all parts and joins anew,
But never can we know and truly live
Till all have found their divine harmony.
(S 23)
100 Our life’s uncertain way winds circling on,
Our mind’s unquiet search asks always light,
Till they have learned their secret in their source,
In the light of the Timeless and its spaceless home,
In the joy of the Eternal sole and one.
(S 24)
105 But now the Light supreme is far away:
Our conscious life obeys the Inconscient’s laws;
To ignorant purposes and blind desires
Our hearts are moved by an ambiguous force;
Even our mind’s conquests wear a battered crown.
(S 25)
110 A slowly changing order binds our will.
(S 26)
This is our doom until our souls are free.
(S 27)
A mighty Hand then rolls mind’s firmaments back,
Infinity takes up the finite’s acts
And Nature steps into the eternal Light.
(S 28)
115 Then only ends this dream of nether life.