Prologue

O SELF in self en-isled 'mid all mankind!
What greater marvel shewed the Eternal Light
To Dante than the Angelic Doctor's sight
Passing thro' open doors from mind to mind?

Could man with man be friends so one in heart
To hear confession of his doubt and hope;
So justly levell'd to his spirit's scope
That speech and thought might never shrink apart!

Yet here's a solace too, for who can fashion
His discomposèd thought in rhythmic page,
And by confession to the world assuage
The intimate unrest of mind and passion.

Confession to the world?—For sympathy
Rather divide himself, and so present
The humbler to the noblest element
In all his natural multiplicity:

Which worthier self within himself must be
Courted with harmonies, cajoled with numbers,
As born immune of what for us encumbers
Universal number and harmony.

For tho' the measures tinkle in his hands
Blindly (who knows the hidden spring of Muses
Whereout his thread of holy secret oozes?);
And, singing, least of all he understands

What antemundane ordinance of Time
In these sweet necessary intervals
Questions and answers, climbs and floods and falls:
Yet by the rounded verse and pairing rime,

The petty atom binds his thoughts and sorrows
In with the Highest and the One Unseen,
And, least remotest planet, a serene
Luminous motion of the great sun borrows.
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