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Seekers for a City

"Believe me, if that blissful, that beautiful place, were set on a hill visible to all the world, I should long ago have journeyed thither. . . But the number and variety of the ways! For you know, THERE IS BUT ONE ROAD THAT LEADS TO CORINTH."

HERMOTIMUS (Mr Pater's Version).

"The Poet says, DEAR CITY OF CECROPS, and wilt thou not say, DEAR CITY OF ZEUS?"


Is there a Corinth, or a way?
Each bland or blatant preacher hath
His painful or his primrose path,
And not a soul of all of these
But knows the city 'twixt the seas,
Her fair unnumbered homes and all
Her gleaming amethystine wall!

Blind are the guides who know the way, The guides who write, and preach, and pray, I watch their lives, and I divine They differ not from yours and mine!

One man we knew, and only one, Whose seeking for a city's done, For what he greatly sought he found, A city girt with fire around, A city in an empty land Between the wastes of sky and sand, A city on a river-side, Where by the folk he loved, he died.

Alas! it is not ours to tread That path wherein his life he led, Not ours his heart to dare and feel, Keen as the fragrant Syrian steel; Yet are we not quite city-less, Not wholly left in our distress-- Is it not said by One of old, "Sheep have I of another fold?" Ah! faint of heart, and weak of will, For us there is a city still!

"Dear city of Zeus," the Stoic says, The Voice from Rome's imperial days, In Thee meet all things, and disperse, In Thee, for Thee, O Universe! To me all's fruit thy seasons bring, Alike thy summer and thy spring; The winds that wail, the suns that burn, From Thee proceed, to Thee return.

"Dear city of Zeus," shall WE not say, Home to which none can lose the way! Born in that city's flaming bound, We do not find her, but are found. Within her wide and viewless wall The Universe is girdled all. All joys and pains, all wealth and dearth, All things that travail on the earth, God's will they work, if God there be, If not, what is my life to me?

Seek we no further, but abide Within this city great and wide, In her and for her living, we Have no less joy than to be free; Nor death nor grief can quite appal The folk that dwell within her wall, Nor aught but with our will befall!

Andrew Lang