I Have Lived with Shades

I have lived with Shades so long,
So long have talked to them,
Since from the forest's hem
I sped to street and throng,
That sometimes they
In their dim style
Will pause awhile
To hear my say;

And take me by the hand,
And lead me through their rooms
In the To-be, where Dooms
Half-wove and shapeless stand:
And show from there
The dwindled dust
And rot and rust
Of things that were.

"Now turn," they said to me
One day: "Look whence we came,
And signify his name
Who gazes thence at thee."--
--"Nor name nor race
Know I, or can,"
I said, "Of man
So commonplace.

"He moves me not at all;
I note no ray or jot
Of rareness in his lot,
Or star exceptional.
Into the dim
Dead throngs around
He'll sink, nor sound
Be left of him."

"Yet," said they, "his frail speech,
Hath accents pitched like thine--
Thy mould and his define
A likeness each to each--
But go! Deep pain
Alas, would be
His name to thee,
And told in vain!"
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