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Venture, comrades, I implore you,
On the fare I set before you,
You will like it more to-morrow,
Better still the following day:
If yet more you're then requiring,
Old success I'll find inspiring,
And fresh courage thence will borrow
Novel dainties to display.
My Good Luck.
Weary of Seeking had I grown,
So taught myself the way to Find:
Back by the storm I once was blown,
But follow now, where drives the wind.
Where you're standing, dig, dig out:
Down below's the Well:
Let them that walk in darkness shout:
[Pg 14]"Down below—there's Hell!"
A. Was I ill? and is it ended?
Pray, by what physician tended?
I recall no pain endured!
B. Now I know your trouble's ended:
He that can forget, is cured.
To the Virtuous.
Let our virtues be easy and nimble-footed in
Like unto Homer's verse ought they to come and
Stay not on level plain,
Climb not the mount too high.
But half-way up remain—
The world you'll best descry!
Attracted by my style and talk
You'd follow, in my footsteps walk?
Follow yourself unswervingly,
[Pg 15] So—careful!—shall you follow me.
The Third Sloughing
My skin bursts, breaks for fresh rebirth,
And new desires come thronging:
Much I've devoured, yet for more earth
The serpent in me's longing.
'Twixt stone and grass I crawl once more,
Hungry, by crooked ways,
To eat the food I ate before,
Earth-fare all serpents praise!
My luck's good—I'd make yours fairer,
(Good luck ever needs a sharer),
Will you stop and pluck my roses?
Oft mid rocks and thorns you'll linger,
Hide and stoop, suck bleeding finger—
Will you stop and pluck my roses?
For my good luck's a trifle vicious,
Fond of teasing, tricks malicious—
Will you stop and pluck my roses?
Many drops I waste and spill,
So my scornful mood you curse:
Who to brim his cup doth fill,
Many drops must waste and spill—
[Pg 16]Yet he thinks the wine no worse.
The Proverb Speaks.
Harsh and gentle, fine and mean,
Quite rare and common, dirty and clean,
The fools' and the sages' go-between:
All this I will be, this have been,
Dove and serpent and swine, I ween!
To a Lover of Light.
That eye and sense be not fordone
E'en in the shade pursue the sun!
To him who is a dancer nice.
The Brave Man.
A feud that knows not flaw nor break,
Rather then patched-up friendship, take.
Rust's needed: keenness will not satisfy!
"He is too young!" the rabble loves to cry.
"How shall I reach the top?" No time
[Pg 17]For thus reflecting! Start to climb!
The Man of Power Speaks.
Ask never! Cease that whining, pray!
Take without asking, take alway!
Narrow souls hate I like the devil,
Souls wherein grows nor good nor evil.
Accidentally a Seducer
He shot an empty word
Into the empty blue;
But on the way it met
A woman whom it slew.
A twofold pain is easier far to bear
Than one: so now to suffer wilt thou dare?
Brother, to puff thyself up ne'er be quick:
For burst thou shalt be by a tiny prick!
Man and Woman.
"The woman seize, who to thy heart appeals!"
[Pg 18]Man's motto: woman seizes not, but steals.
If I explain my wisdom, surely
'Tis but entangled more securely,
I can't expound myself aright:
But he that's boldly up and doing,
His own unaided course pursuing,
Upon my image casts more light!
A Cure for Pessimism.
Those old capricious fancies, friend!
You say your palate naught can please,
I hear you bluster, spit and wheeze,
My love, my patience soon will end!
Pluck up your courage, follow me—
Here's a fat toad! Now then, don't blink,
Swallow it whole, nor pause to think!
From your dyspepsia you'll be free!
Many men's minds I know full well,
Yet what mine own is, cannot tell.
I cannot see—my eye's too near—
And falsely to myself appear.
'Twould be to me a benefit
Far from myself if I could sit,
[Pg 19]Less distant than my enemy,
And yet my nearest friend's too nigh—
'Twixt him and me, just in the middle!
What do I ask for? Guess my riddle.
I must ascend an hundred stairs,
I must ascend: the herd declares
I'm cruel: "Are we made of stone?"
I must ascend an hundred stairs:
All men the part of stair disown.
"No longer path! Abyss and silence chilling!"
Thy fault! To leave the path thou wast too willing!
Now comes the test! Keep cool—eyes bright and clear!
Thou'rt lost for sure, if thou permittest—fear.
Encouragement for Beginners.
See the infant, helpless creeping—
Swine around it grunt swine-talk—
Weeping always, naught but weeping,
Will it ever learn to walk?
Never fear! Just wait, I swear it
Soon to dance will be inclined,
And this babe, when two legs bear it,
[Pg 20]Standing on its head you'll find.
Did I not turn, a rolling cask,
Ever about myself, I ask,
How could I without burning run
Close on the track of the hot sun?
Too nigh, my friend my joy doth mar,
I'd have him high above and far,
Or how can he become my star?
The Disguised Saint.
Lest we for thy bliss should slay thee,
In devil's wiles thou dost array thee,
Devil's wit and devil's dress.
But in vain! Thy looks betray thee
And proclaim thy holiness.
A. He stands and listens: whence his pain?
What smote his ears? Some far refrain?
Why is his heart with anguish torn?
B. Like all that fetters once have worn,
[Pg 21] He always hears the clinking—chain!
The Lone One.
I hate to follow and I hate to lead.
Obedience? no! and ruling? no, indeed!
Wouldst fearful be in others' sight?
Then e'en thyself thou must affright:
The people but the Terror's guidance heed.
I hate to guide myself, I hate the fray.
Like the wild beasts I'll wander far afield.
In Error's pleasing toils I'll roam
Awhile, then lure myself back home,
Back home, and—to my self-seduction yield.
Seneca et hoc Genus omne.
They write and write (quite maddening me)
Their "sapient" twaddle airy,
As if 'twere primum scribere,
Yes! I manufacture ice:
Ice may help you to digest:
If you had much to digest,
How you would enjoy my ice!
My wisdom's A and final O
[Pg 22]Was then the sound that smote mine ear.
Yet now it rings no longer so,
My youth's eternal Ah! and Oh!
Is now the only sound I hear.
In yonder region travelling, take good care!
An hast thou wit, then be thou doubly ware!
They'll smile and lure thee; then thy limbs they'll tear:
Fanatics' country this where wits are rare!
The Pious One Speaks.
God loves us, for he made us, sent us here!—
"Man hath made God!" ye subtle ones reply.
His handiwork he must hold dear,
And what he made shall he deny?
There sounds the devil's halting hoof, I fear.
In sweat of face, so runs the screed,
We e'er must eat our bread,
Yet wise physicians if we heed
"Eat naught in sweat," 'tis said.
The dog-star's blinking: what's his need?
What tells his blazing sign?
In sweat of face (so runs his screed)
[Pg 23]We're meant to drink our wine!
His look betrays no envy: and ye laud him?
He cares not, asks not if your throng applaud him!
He has the eagle's eye for distance far,
He sees you not, he sees but star on star!
Brethren, war's the origin
Of happiness on earth:
Powder-smoke and battle-din
Witness friendship's birth!
Friendship means three things, you know,—
Kinship in luckless plight,
Equality before the foe
Freedom—in death's sight!
Maxim of the Over-refined.
"Rather on your toes stand high
Than crawl upon all fours,
Rather through the keyhole spy
Than through the open doors!"
Renown you're quite resolved to earn?
My thought about it
Is this: you need not fame, must learn
[Pg 24]To do without it!
I an inquirer? No, that's not my calling
Only I weigh a lot—I'm such a lump!—
And through the waters I keep falling, falling,
Till on the ocean's deepest bed I bump.
"To-day is meet for me, I come to-day,"
Such is the speech of men foredoomed to stay.
"Thou art too soon," they cry, "thou art too late,"
What care the Immortals what the rabble say?
Verdicts of the Weary.
The weary shun the glaring sun, afraid,
And only care for trees to gain the shade.
"He sinks, he falls," your scornful looks portend:
The truth is, to your level he'll descend.
His Too Much Joy is turned to weariness,
His Too Much Light will in your darkness end.
Around my neck, on chain of hair,
[Pg 25]The timepiece hangs—a sign of care.
For me the starry course is o'er,
No sun and shadow as before,
No cockcrow summons at the door,
For nature tells the time no more!
Too many clocks her voice have drowned,
And droning law has dulled her sound.
The Sage Speaks.
Strange to the crowd, yet useful to the crowd,
I still pursue my path, now sun, now cloud,
But always pass above the crowd!
He lost his Head....
She now has wit—how did it come her way?
A man through her his reason lost, they say.
His head, though wise ere to this pastime lent,
Straight to the devil—no, to woman went!
A Pious Wish.
"Oh, might all keys be lost! 'Twere better so
And in all keyholes might the pick-lock go!"
Who thus reflects ye may as—picklock know.
I write not with the hand alone,
My foot would write, my foot that capers,
Firm, free and bold, it's marching on
[Pg 26] Now through the fields, now through the papers.
"Human, All-too-Human." ...
Shy, gloomy, when your looks are backward thrust,
Trusting the future where yourself you trust,
Are you an eagle, mid the nobler fowl,
Or are you like Minerva's darling owl?
To my Reader.
Good teeth and a digestion good
I wish you—these you need, be sure!
And, certes, if my book you've stood,
Me with good humour you'll endure.
The Realistic Painter.
"To nature true, complete!" so he begins.
Who complete Nature to his canvas wins?
Her tiniest fragment's endless, no constraint
Can know: he paints just what his fancy pins:
What does his fancy pin? What he can paint!
Glue, only glue to me dispense,
The wood I'll find myself, don't fear!
To give four senseless verses sense—
[Pg 27] That's an achievement I revere!
Taste in Choosing.
If to choose my niche precise
Freedom I could win from fate,
I'd be in midst of Paradise—
Or, sooner still—before the gate!
The Crooked Nose.
Wide blow your nostrils, and across
The land your nose holds haughty sway:
So you, unhorned rhinoceros,
Proud mannikin, fall forward aye!
The one trait with the other goes:
A straight pride and a crooked nose.
The Pen is Scratching....
The pen is scratching: hang the pen!
To scratching I'm condemned to sink!
I grasp the inkstand fiercely then
And write in floods of flowing ink.
How broad, how full the stream's career!
What luck my labours doth requite!
'Tis true, the writing's none too clear—
What then? Who reads the stuff I write?
This man's climbing up—let us praise him—
But that other we love
From aloft doth eternally move,
So above even praise let us raise him,
[Pg 28]He comes from above!
The Sceptic Speaks.
Your life is half-way o'er;
The clock-hand moves; your soul is thrilled with fear,
It roamed to distant shore
And sought and found not, yet you—linger here!
Your life is half-way o'er;
That hour by hour was pain and error sheer:
Why stay? What seek you more?
"That's what I'm seeking—reasons why I'm here!"
Yes, I know where I'm related,
Like the flame, unquenched, unsated,
I consume myself and glow:
All's turned to light I lay my hand on,
All to coal that I abandon,
Yes, I am a flame, I know!
Foredoomed to spaces vast and far,
What matters darkness to the star?
Roll calmly on, let time go by,
Let sorrows pass thee—nations die!
Compassion would but dim the light
That distant worlds will gladly sight.
To thee one law—be pure and bright!