Once, Only Once

ONCE, only once, never again, never,
The idle curve my hand traces in air,
The first flush on the cloud, lost in the morning’s height,
Meeting of the eyes and tremble of delight,
Before the heart is aware
Gone! to return, never again, never!
Futurity flows toward me, all things flow
Full-streaming, and ere a pulse beat they are bound
In fixity that no repenting Power can free;
They are with Egypt and with Nineveh,
Cold as a grave in the ground:
And still, undated, all things toward me flow.
Why is all strange? Why do I not grow used?
The ripple upon the stream that nothing stays,
The bough above, in glory of warm light waving slow,
Trouble me, enchant me, as with the stream I flow
Lost into the endless days.
Why is all strange? Why do I not grow used?
Eternity! Where heard I that still word?
Like one that passing through a foreign street
Has felt upon him bent from far some earnest look,
Yet sees not whence, and feigns that he mistook,
I marvel at my own heartheat.
Eternity! How learnt I that far word?