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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/335

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MY FIRE.

feelings and aims with which Newton and Goethe respectively approached Nature were radically different, but they had an equal warrant in the constitution of man. As regards our tastes and tendencies, our pleasures and pains, physical and mental, our action and passion, our sorrows, sympathies, and joys, we are the heirs of all the ages that preceded us; and, of the human nature thus handed down, poetry is an element just as much as science. The emotions of man are older than his understanding, and the poet who brightens, purifies, and exalts these emotions, may claim a position in the world at least as high and as well-assured as that of the man of science. They minister to different but to equally permanent needs of human nature; and the incompleteness of which I complain consists in the endeavor on the part of either to exclude the other. There is no fear that the man of science can ever destroy the glory of the lilies of the field; there is no hope that the poet can ever successfully contend against our right to examine, in accordance with scientific method, the agent to which the lily owes its glory. There is no necessary encroachment of the one field upon the other. Nature embraces them both, and man, when he is complete, will exhibit as large a toleration.

 

MY FIRE.
By Professor F. W. CLARKE.

WITHIN my grate a cheerful blaze
Lights up the room with ruddy rays,
That blunt the winter's sharpest stings
With bygone summer's offerings.
I sit and watch the leaping flame,
In wonder whence its beauty came;
And trace it back to days of old,
When Earth's hard crust was scarcely cold,
And tropic trees in arctic zones
Taught the north-wind those subtile tones,
Which, now and then, its weary blast
Seems to regather from the past,
To murmur in a mystic song
The secret-keeping pines among.
And, as I gaze, I somehow see
Strange things that long have ceased to be:
The sooty carbon seems to glow
With memories of long ago,
And in the flickering lines of gold
The story of its past is told.