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النشر الإلكتروني

183

DUTY.

DUTY-that's to say, complying,
With whate'er's expected here;
On your unknown cousin's dying,
Straight be ready with the tear;
Upon etiquette relying,

Unto usage nought denying,
Lend your waist to be embraced,
Blush not even, never fear;
Claims of kith and kin connection,
Claims of manners honour still,

Ready money of affection

Pay, whoever drew the bill.
With the form conforming duly,
Senseless what it meaneth truly,
Go to church-the world require you,
To balls-the world require you too,
And marry-papa and mamma desire you,
And your sisters and schoolfellows do.
Duty-'tis to take on trust

What things are good, and right, and just;
And whether indeed they be or be not,
Try not, test not, feel not, see not:
'Tis walk and dance, sit down and rise
By leading, opening ne'er your eyes;

Stunt sturdy limbs that Nature gave,

And be drawn in a Bath chair along to the grave. 'Tis the stern and prompt suppressing,

As an obvious deadly sin,

All the questing and the guessing

Of the soul's own soul within :

'Tis the coward acquiescence

In a destiny's behest,
To a shade by terror made,

Sacrificing, aye, the essence

Of all that's truest, noblest, best: 'Tis the blind non-recognition

Or of goodness, truth, or beauty, Save by precept and submission; Moral blank, and moral void, Life at very birth destroyed. Atrophy, exinanition !

Duty!

Yea, by duty's prime condition
Pure nonentity of duty!

LIFE IS STRUGGLE.

TO WEAR out heart, and nerves, and brain,
And give oneself a world of pain;
Be eager, angry, fierce, and hot,
Imperious, supple-God knows what,
For what's all one to have or not;
O false, unwise, absurd, and vain!
For 'tis not joy, it is not gain,
It is not in itself a bliss,

Only it is precisely this

That keeps us all alive.

To say we truly feel the pain,

And quite are sinking with the strain ;

Entirely, simply, undeceived,

Believe, and say we ne'er believed

The object, e'en were it achieved,

A thing we e'er had cared to keep ;
With heart and soul to hold it cheap,
And then to go and try it again;
O false, unwise, absurd, and vain!
O, 'tis not joy, and 'tis not bliss,
Only it is precisely this

That keeps us still alive.

IN THE GREAT METROPOLIS.

EACH for himself is still the rule:

We learn it when we go to schoolThe devil take the hindmost, O!

And when the schoolboys grow to men, In life they learn it o'er again—

The devil take the hindmost, O!

For in the church, and at the bar,
On 'Change, at court, where'er they are,
The devil takes the hindmost, O!

Husband for husband, wife for wife,
Are careful that in married life

The devil takes the hindmost, O!

From youth to age, whate'er the game,
The unvarying practice is the same-
The devil take the hindmost, O!

And after death, we do not know,
But scarce can doubt, where'er we go,
The devil takes the hindmost, O!

Ti rol de rol, ti rol de ro,

The devil take the hindmost, O!

THE LATEST DECALOGUE.

THOU shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency:
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At church on Sunday to attend

Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honour thy parents; that is, all

From whom advancement may befall;
Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive :

Do not adultery commit;

Advantage rarely comes of it:

Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,

When it's so lucrative to cheat:

Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:
Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.

THE QUESTIONING SPIRIT.

THE human spirits saw I on a day,
Sitting and looking each a different way;
And hardly tasking, subtly questioning,

Another spirit went around the ring

To each and each: and as he ceased his say, Each after each, I heard them singly sing,

Some querulously high, some softly, sadly low,
We know not-what avails to know?
We know not-wherefore need we know?
This answer gave they still unto his suing,
We know not, let us do as we are doing.

Dost thou not know that these things only seem ?—
I know not, let me dream my dream.

Are dust and ashes fit to make a treasure?—

I know not, let me take my pleasure.

What shall avail the knowledge thou hast sought?—

I know not, let me think my thought.
What is the end of strife?—

I know not, let me live my life.

How many days or e'er thou mean'st to move ?—
I know not, let me love my love.
Were not things old once new ?—

I know not, let me do as others do.
And when the rest were over past,

I know not, I will do my duty, said the last.

Thy duty do rejoined the voice,

Ah, do it, do it, and rejoice;

But shalt thou then, when all is done,
Enjoy a love, embrace a beauty
Like these, that may be seen and won
In life, whose course will then be run;
Or wilt thou be where there is none?
I know not, I will do my duty.

And taking up the word around, above, below,
Some querulously high, some softly, sadly low,

We know not, sang they all, nor ever need we know ! We know not, sang they, what avails to know? Whereat the questioning spirit, some short space, Though unabashed, stood quiet in his place.

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