Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

William Wordsworth

Jesus and the Sinner

Historians say that in the ancient days,
When Jesus walked on earth (to Him be praise!)
There lived a man so bad, so sunk in sin,
That even Satan was ashamed of him;
The Book contained his name so many times,
No room was left to enter all his crimes.
Perished his tree of life, and bore no fruit,
A stupid, cruel, drunken, swinish brute.
Hard by there dwelt a holy devotee,
Known far and wide for strictest piety;
Each was the marvel of the time and place,
The first of wickedness and this of grace.
Jesus (to Him be praise!) I’ve heard one day
Forth from the desert came and passed that way;
Th’ recluse, descending from his easement high,
Fell at His feet with proud humility;
The lost one gazed with wonder at the sight
Like moth bewildered by the candle’s light;
Surely one gentle touch had reached his heart,
From Him who came to take the sinner s part!
Shrinking with shame, his conscience stricken sore,
As shrinks a beggar at a rich man’s door,
Tears of repentance rolling down his face,
For days and nights polluted with disgrace,
With fear and hope. God’s mercy to invoke,
In earnest prayer, with bated breath he spoke:
‘My precious life I’ve wasted day by day,
My opportunities I’ve thrown away;
In vice and wickedness surpassed by none,
No single act of goodness have I done;
Would that like me no mortal e’er might be,
Better by far to die than live like me!
He who in childhood dies is free from blame,
Old age comes not to bow his head with shame;
Forgive my sins, Creator of the world,
Lest I to blackest depths of hell be hurled.’
On that side, lo! the aged sinner cries,
Not daring heavenward to lift his eyes,
Repentant, weeping, sunk in deep despair:
‘Help of the helpless! hear, oh! hear my prayer.’
On this, the devotee puffed up with pride,
With visage sour from far the sinner eyed:
‘What brings this ill-starred wretch towards this place,
Dares he to think himself of man’s high race?
Headlong to fire eternal he has fallen,
His life to lusfs foul whirlwind he has given,
His sin-stained soul what good can show that he
Messiah’s company should share with me!
I loathe his hateful countenance, and dread
Lest sin’s infection to my bosom spread;
In that great day, when all must present be,
O God! I pray Thee, raise him not with me.’
From the all-glorious God a message came
To Jesus (ever blessed be His name!):
‘The ignorant and learned both are saved,
Both I accept since both to me have prayed;
The lost one, humbled, with repentant tears
Has cried to me, his cry has reached my ears;
Who helpless lowly seeks, and doth not doubt
The mercy seat, shall never be cast out;
His many wicked deeds I have forgiven,
My boundless mercy bringeth him to heaven;
And should the devotee on that great day
Think it disgrace in heaven with him to stay,
Tell him, Beware? they take thee not to hell
And him to paradise with God to dwell.’

The sinner’s bleeding heart in anguish sighs,
The saint upon his piety relies,
Doth he not know that God resisteth pride,
But takes the low in spirit to His side?
Whose heart is vile, but outside fair to see,
For him hell’s gates yawn wide, he wants no key,
Humility in His sight is more meet
Than strict religious forms and self-conceit;
Thy self-esteem but proves how bad thou art,
For egotism with God can have no part;
Boast not thyself- however swift his pace,
Not every skilful rider wins the race.
Wise men have left for all this saying true,
And Sa’di in this tale remindeth you,
The sinner penitent hath less to fear
Than he whose piety is not sincere.


Translated by W. C. Mackinnon

I am the Teacher of Athletes

I am the teacher of athletes;
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own, proves the width of my own;
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear,
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts,
First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull’s eye, to sail a skiff, to sing a song, or play on the banjo,
Preferring scars, and the beard, and faces pitted with small-pox, over all latherers,
And those well tann’d to those that keep out of the sun.

I teach straying from me—yet who can stray from me?
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present hour;
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.

I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up the time while I wait for a boat;
It is you talking just as much as myself—I act as the tongue of you;
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen’d.

I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.

If you would understand me, go to the heights or water-shore;
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves a key;
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

No shutter’d room or school can commune with me,
But roughs and little children better than they.

The young mechanic is closest to me—he knows me well;
The woodman, that takes his axe and jug with him, shall take me with him all day;
The farm-boy, ploughing in the field, feels good at the sound of my voice;
In vessels that sail, my words sail—I go with fishermen and seamen, and love them.

The soldier camp’d, or upon the march, is mine;
On the night ere the pending battle, many seek me, and I do not fail them;
On the solemn night (it may be their last,) those that know me, seek me.

My face rubs to the hunter’s face, when he lies down alone in his blanket;
The driver, thinking of me, does not mind the jolt of his wagon;
The young mother and old mother comprehend me;
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment, and forget where they are;
They and all would resume what I have told them.

Walt Whitman

The Last Invocation


At the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful, fortress’d house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks—from the keep of the well-closed doors,
Let me be wafted.


Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks—with a whisper,
Set ope the doors, O Soul!


Tenderly! be not impatient!
(Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!
Strong is your hold, O love.)

Walt Whitman

Song of the Open Road

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.

Walt Whitman


Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Gigantic Tail

Out of the bottomless profundities the gigantic tail seems spasmodically snatching at the highest heaven. So in dreams, have I seen majestic Satan thrusting forth his tormented colossal claw from the flame Baltic of Hell. But in gazing at such scenes, it is all in all what mood you are in; if in the Dantean, the devils will occur to you; if in that of Isaiah, the archangels. Standing at the mast-head of my ship during a sunrise that crimsoned sky and sea, I once saw a large herd of whales in the east, all heading towards the sun, and for a moment vibrating in concert with peaked flukes. As it seemed to me at the time, such a grand embodiment of adoration of the gods was never beheld, even in Persia, the home of the fire worshippers. As Ptolemy Philopater testified of the African elephant, I then testified of the whale, pronouncing him the most devout of all beings. For according to King Juba, the military elephants of antiquity often hailed the morning with their trunks uplifted in the profoundest silence.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick


I am the owner of the sphere,
Of the seven stars and the solar year,
of Caesar’s hand, and Plato’s brain,
Of Lord Christ’s heart, and Shakespeare’s strain.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, History