And the strong swift river my shrine below,
It runs, like man, its unending course
To the boundless sea from eternal snow;
Mine is the Fountain—and mine the Force
That spurs all nature to ceaseless strife;
And my image is Death at the gates of Life.
In many a legend and many a shape,
In the solemn grove and the crowded street,
I am the Slayer whom none escape;
I am Death trod under a fair girl's feet;
I govern the tides of the sentient sea
That ebbs and flows to eternity.
And the sum of the thought and the knowledge of man
Is the secret tale that my emblems tell;
Do ye seek God's purpose, or trace His plan?
Ye may read your doom in my parable:
For the circle of life in its flower and its fall
Is the writing that runs on my temple wall.
O Race that labours, and seeks, and strives,
With thy faith, thy wisdom, thy hopes and fears,
Where now is the future of myriad lives?
Where now is the creed of a thousand years?
Far as the Western spirit may range,
It finds but the travail of endless change;
For the earth is fashioned by countless suns,
And planets wander, and stars are lost,
As the rolling flood of existence runs
From light to shadow, from fire to frost.
Your search is ended, ye hold the keys
Of my inmost ancient mysteries.
Now that your hands have lifted the veil,
And the crowd may know what my symbols mean,
Will not the faces of men turn pale
At the sentence heard, and the vision seen
Of strife and sleep, of the soul's brief hour,
And the careless tread of unyielding Power?
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SIR ALFRED COMYN LYALL.