Think ye, that if the living crystal tide
That leaps against the shore could only guess
By what foul sewers it shall be mortified,
How filled with death, and every loathsomeness,
And could the tinted weeds that swing below
The laughing bubbles at the bay’s blue mouth
Foresee the sickly, slimy things they grow
When drawn to perish in the ebb-tide’s drought,
Could any life retain its vital force
If it but knew the thing it shall become ?
Could the bold future step upon her course
Were not the past so mercifully dumb ?
Aha! the wisdom of the hooded eyes,
Aha! the force that drives so blindly on.
Here’s to the silent mouth that utters lies,
Here’s to the dark that never says it shone !
What blossom fears to break its sheath of green
Because of fallen petals in the dust ?
What fears to be, because so much has been,
And is not, food for time’s unfailing lust ?
What human heart restrains its passion thrill
Because of other hearts that thrilled and died ?
Who falters as he climbs ambition’s hill,
Because the path leads down the other side ?
This is the bush that drugs creation’s wine,
This is the poppy fume of nature’s breath
Whereby she drowns, in lusty life, the sign
Of ultimate and universal death.
And whereunto this zeal that never fails ?
And to what goal doth she so sternly press ?
What purpose is pursued, and what avails
This endless stream of human nothingness ?
Ah! does the leaf that falls when it is meet
Rebel ? or do the parting atoms chide ?
Do withered moons remonstrate ? or the feet
Of ordered processes refuse to glide
On their appointed paths because so soon
They shall be but a road for others’ tread ?
From all the long array of morn and noon
And night, and seasons born, and seasons dead,
Has one voice cried resistance ? Then shalt thou
Who only of created things can know
Some glimmering sense of God, refuse to bow
Submission ? Fill thy little niche and go.
Agnes L. Storrie. Poems, J. W. Kettlewell, Sydney, 1909, pages 14-16