Xenophanes, the Monist of Colophon

Ann: aet: suae XCII.-A: C: CCCCLXXX

‘Are You groping Your way?
Do You do it unknowing?—
Or mark Your wind blowing?
Night tell You from day,
O Mover? Come, say!’
  Cried Xenophanes.

‘I mean, querying so,
Do You do it aware,
Or by rote, like a player,
Or in ignorance, nor care
Whether doing or no?’
  Pressed Xenophanes.

‘Thus strive I to plumb
Your depths, O Great Dumb!—
Not a god, but the All
(As I read); yet a thrall
To a blind ritual,’
  Sighed Xenophanes.

‘If I only could bring
You to own it, close Thing,
I would write it again
With a still stronger pen
To my once neighbour-men!’
  Said Xenophanes.

—Quoth the listening Years:
‘You ask It in vain;
You waste sighs and tears
On these callings inane,
Which It grasps not nor hears,
  O Xenophanes!

‘When you penned what you thought
You were cast out, and sought
A retreat over sea
From aroused enmity:
So it always will be,
  Yea, Xenophanes!

‘In the lone of the nights
At Elea unseen,
Where the swinging wave smites
Of the restless Tyrrhene,
You may muse thus, serene,
  Safe, Xenophanes.

‘But write it not back
To your dear Colophon;
Brows still will be black
At your words, “All is One,”
From disputers thereon,
  Know, Xenophanes.

‘Three thousand years hence,
Men who hazard a clue
To this riddle immense,
And still treat it as new,
Will be scowled at, like you,
  O Xenophanes!

‘“Some day I may tell,
When I've broken My spell,”
It snores in Its sleep
If you listen long, deep
At Its closely-sealed cell,
  Wronged Xenophanes!

‘Yea, on, near the end,
Its doings may mend;
Aye, when you're forgotten,
And old cults are rotten,
And bulky codes shotten,
  Xenophanes!’

 1921
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