BY wisdom that cometh at night and by stealth
The soul of a man is made free;
It is not in the giving of learning or wealth, —
The divine gift, liberty;
But these things shall bind on him chain on chain
Of inward slavery;
He shall lay earthly things on an earthen altar,
And go out from all gods, nor turn back, nor falter,
And he shall follow me.
He shall do the deeds of the great life-will
That is manifest under the sun;
He shall not repine though he doeth ill
It repenteth him to have done;
Behold, he is brother to thousands
Who before was brother to none;
And because all his deeds are done in the spirit,
Great is the love that he shall inherit,
And all other gain shall he shun.
He shall not take note what another hath,
Or what to himself is due;
He shall not give heed what another saith,
Or to doctrines false or true;
He shall lead the life, he shall follow the path,
And all things shall come to him new;
And he shall pluck from the life in his bosom,
Flower by flower, the eternal blossom,
Rose, rosemary, and rue.
He shall not make narrow his heart with truth,
Nor wall for another the way;
He shall not give a bond in the days of his youth
Against his manhood’s day;
And he shall go out from all aloof,
And alone in his heart shall he pray;
And to him in the fullness of time shall be given
To have no master on earth or in heaven,
But he shall be master alway.
He shall do the will that is stronger than his;
He shall act in the infinite;
He shall not draw back from sorrow or bliss,—
He shall bear the embrace of it;
So shall he create all things anew, —
Not parcel the old, bit by bit;
And to him shall be known that the glory of living
Is to love, be it receiving or giving,
And his heart with the whole shall knit.
In the dark of the dawn we are waifs blown forth,
Above great oceans to roll,
Of powers that never measured the worth
Of bird, or beast, or soul;
And bridals of contingency
The fires of our youth control;
But whether we soar, or swoop, or hover,
Only the lover all the world over
Hath the freedom of the whole.
For I wandered forth without a mate
My bread with the poor to find;
The learned, the rich, the good, the great,
I left in their niches behind;
I had only a lover’s heart in my breast
, And a world’s dead lies in my mind;
In the life of the poor I escaped my prison,
Like a soul from the grave had my free soul arisen
To live in the unconfined.