THE old lives are dead and gone and rotten,
by Sir Lewis Morris
The old thoughts shall never more be thought,
The old faiths have failed and are forgotten,
The old strifes are done, the fight is fought.
And with a clang and roll, the new creation
Bursts forth 'mid tears and blood and tribulation.
Sweet they were, the old days that are ended,
The golden years, the happy careless hours
Then, like Pagan gods on the asphodel extended,
Dreaming, men wove them fancies fair as flowers.
Love laid near them, Art to cheer them, youthful Beauty
Sitting crowned upon the marble throne of Duty.
All good things were theirs to cherish lives grown finer
From the heritage of long ancestral ease,
And a nobler port, and temperate mien diviner
Than their labours and their vigils leave to these ;
Gentler voices, smiles more gracious, and the fashion
Of their soft lives tuned to pity and compassion.
Naught men knew of science, now grown rigid
With its teaching of inexpiable sin ;
Nor the dull pedantic gospel, dead and frigid,
Of a heaven where mind alone may enter in,
Doom awaiting, stern and silent, all transgression,
And no saint with power to make an intercession.
For a Ruler, as men thought they saw above them,
More than earthly rulers, pitiful and mild,
A Father with a stronger love to love them
Than the love an earthly father bears his child—
God above them, and for pleader and defender
Christ's face stooping, like his mother's, true and tender.
But now there seems no place for the Creator
To hold his long unbroken chain of law,
Nor any need for heaven-sent Mediator,
Nor the Providence our fathers thought they saw.
Only a dull world-system, always tending
To a blind goal, by a blind rule unbending.
And for the courtesy and tender graces,
The chivalries and charities of old,
A dull and equal arrogance effaces
Soft sympathies by hard demands and cold ;
And the giver giveth not, lest any blame him,
And the taker may not take, lest taking shame him.
Be still, oh ye of little faith, repining
That the purpose of the Eternal will is dead.
The silent stars forget not yet their shining,
Daily the full sun journeys overhead.
How shall mind's realm alone forget its reason,
When the sure years roll season after season ?
There shall rise from this confused sound of voices
A firmer faith than that our fathers knew,
A deep religion, which alone rejoices
In worship of the Infinitely True,
Not built on rite or portent, but a finer
And purer reverence for a Lord diviner.
There shall come from out this noise of strife and groaning
A broader and a juster brotherhood,
A deep equality of aim, postponing
All selfish seeking to the general good.
There shall come a time when each shall to another
Be as Christ would have him brother unto brother.
There shall come a time when knowledge wide extended,
Sinks each man's pleasure in the general health,
And all shall hold irrevocably blended
The individual and the commonwealth,
When man and woman in an equal union
Shall merge, and marriage be a true communion.
There shall come a time when brotherhood shows stronger
Than the narrow bounds which now distract the world ;
When the cannons roar and trumpets blare no longer,
And the ironclad rusts, and battle flags are furled ;
When the bars of creed and speech and race, which sever,
Shall be fused in one humanity for ever.
Oh, glorious end ! oh, blessed consummation!
Oh, precious day ! for which we wait and yearn.
Thou shalt come, and knit men nation unto nation.
But not for us, who watch to day and burn,
Thou shalt come, but after what long years of trial,
Weary watchings, baffled longings, dull denial !