WHAT do we know of the world, as we grow so old and wise?
Do the years, that still the heart-beats, quicken the drowsy eyes ?
At twenty we thought we knew it, — the world there, at our feet;
We thought we had found its bitter, we knew we had found its sweet.
Now at forty and fifty, what do we make of the world ?
There in her sand she crouches, the Sphinx with her gray wings furled.
Soul of a man I know not; who knoweth, can foretell,
And what can I read of fate, even of self I have learned so well? Heart of a woman I know not: how should I hope to know,
I that am foiled by a flower, or the stars of the silent snow;
I that have never guessed the mind of the bright-eyed bird,
Whom even the dull rocks cheat, and the whirlwind’s awful word ?
Let me loosen the fillet of clay from the shut and darkened lid,
For life is a blindfold game, and the Voice from view is hid.
I face him as best I can, still groping, here and there,
For the hand that has touched me lightly, the lips that have said, “ Declare! ”
Well, I declare him my friend, — the friend of the whole sad race;
And oh, that the game were over, and I might see his face!
But ’t is much, though I grope in blindness, the Voice that is hid from view
May be heard, may be even loved, in a dream that may come true.
Andrew Hedbrooke.