(1815-1892 / the USA)

A Word To Philosophers

COLD philosophers, so apt
With your formulas exacting,
In your problems so enwrapt,
And your theories distracting;
Webs of metaphysic doubt
On your wheels forever spinning,
Turning Nature inside out
From its end to its beginning;
Drawing forth from matter raw
Protoplasmic threads, to fashion
What Creation never saw —
Mind apart from faith or passion;
Faculties that know no wants
But a logical position —
Intellectual cormorants
Fed on facts of pure cognition; —
Like Arachne's is your task,
By Minerva's wisdom baffled.
Defter weavers we must ask;
Tissues less obscurely ravelled.
Larger vision you must find
Ere your evolution-plummets
Sound the abysses of the mind,
Or your measure reach its summits.
Not from matter crude and coarse
Comes this delicate creation.
Twinned with it a finer force
Rules it to its destination.
All beliefs, affections, deeds
Feed its depths as streams a river,
Every purpose holds the seeds
Of a fruit that grows forever.
Souls outsoar your schoolmen's wit,
In a loftier heaven wheeling.
Lights ideal o'er them flit.
Every thought is wing'd with feeling.
Conscience born of heavenly light
Mingles with their lofty yearning;
Phantasy and humor bright
Cheer their toilsome path of learning.
Poesy with dreamy eyes
Lures them into fairy splendor,
Music's magic harmonies
Thrill with touches deep and tender.
Love, that shapes their mental moods,
Offers now its warm oblations,
Now the heart's dark solitudes
Glow with solemn adorations.
Vain your biologic strife,
Your asserting, your denying;
Ygdrasil the Tree of Life
Flouts your narrow classifying.
Every living leaf and bud
On its mighty branches growing,
Palpitates with will and blood
Past primordial foreknowing.
Your dissecting-knives can show
Less than half these wondrous natures,
In these beating hearts there glow
Flames that scorch your nomenclatures, —
Lights that make your axioms fine
Fade like stars when day is breaking; —
Splendors, hopes, and powers divine,
New born with each day's awaking.
Raise your scientific lore,
Grant us larger definitions;
Souls are surely something more
Than mere bundles of cognitions.
Take the sum — the mighty whole —
Man, this sovereign Protean creature,
Follow the all-embracing soul,
If you can, through form and feature.
Whence it came in vain you guess,
Where it goes you cannot measure,
And its depths are fathomless;
And exhaustless flows its treasure.
And its essence holds the world
In abeyance and solution,
For the gods themselves are furled
In its mystic involution.

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