Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also call’d No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
Cast up thy Life’s foam-fretted feet between;
Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
Which had Life’s form and Love’s, but by my spell
Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
Of ultimate things unutter’d the frail screen.
Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart
One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
Of that wing’d Peace which lulls the breath of sighs,—
Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.
WHEN all is done and said, in the end this shall you find:
He most of all doth bathe in bliss that hath a quiet mind;
And, clear from worldly cares, to dream can be content
The sweetest time in all this life in thinking to be spent.
The body subject is to fickle Fortune’s power,
And to a million of mishaps is casual every hour;
And death in time doth change it to a clod of clay;
Whenas the mind, which is divine, runs never to decay.
Companion none is like unto the mind alone,
For many have been harmed by speech,—through thinking, few or none;
Fear oftentimes restraineth words, but makes not thought to cease;
And he speaks best that hath the skill when for to hold his peace.
Our wealth leaves us at death, our kinsmen at the grave;
But virtues of the mind unto the heavens with us we have:
Wherefor, for Virtue’s sake, I can be well content
The sweetest time of all my life to deem in thinking spent.
There is a gentle thought that often springs
to life in me, because it speaks of you.
Its reasoning about love’s so sweet and true,
the heart is conquered, and accepts these things.
‘Who is this’ the mind enquires of the heart,
‘who comes here to seduce our intellect?
Is his power so great we must reject
every other intellectual art?
The heart replies ‘O, meditative mind
this is love’s messenger and newly sent
to bring me all Love’s words and desires.
His life, and all the strength that he can find,
from her sweet eyes are mercifully lent,
who feels compassion for our inner fires.’