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The Lost Soul

Brothers, look there!

What! see ye nothing yet?
Knit your eyebrows close, and stare;
Send your souls forth in the gaze,
As my finger-point is set,
Through the thick of the foggy air.
Beyond the air, you see the dark;
(For the darkness hedges still our ways;)
And beyond the dark, oh, lives away!
Dim and far down, surely you mark
A huge world-heap of withered years
Dropt from the boughs of eternity?
See ye not something lying there,
Shapeless as a dumb despair,
Yet a something that spirits can recognise
With the vision dwelling in their eyes?
It hath the form of a man!
As a huge moss-rock in a valley green,
When the light to freeze began,
Thickening with crystals of dark between,
Might look like a sleeping man.
What think ye it, brothers? I know it well.
I know by your eyes ye see it--tell.


'Tis a poor lost soul, alack!
It was alive some ages back;
One that had wings and might have had eyes
I think I have heard that he wrote a book;
But he gathered his life up into a nook,
And perished amid his own mysteries,
Which choked him, because he had not faith,
But was proud in the midst of sayings dark
Which God had charactered on his walls;
And the light which burned up at intervals,
To be spent in reading what God saith,
He lazily trimmed it to a spark,
And then it went out, and his soul was dark.


Is there aught between thee and me,
Soul, that art lying there?
Is any life yet left in thee,
So that thou couldst but spare
A word to reveal the mystery
Of the banished from light and air?

Alas, O soul! thou wert once
As the soul that cries to thee!
Thou hadst thy place in the mystic dance
From the doors of the far eternity,
Issuing still with feet that glance
To the music of the free!

Alas! O soul, to think
That thou wert made like me!
With a heart for love, and a thirst to drink
From the wells that feed the sea!
And with hands of truth to have been a link
'Twixt mine and the parent knee;
And with eyes to pierce to the further brink
Of things I cannot see!

Alas, alas, my brother!
To thee my heart is drawn:
My soul had been such another,
In the dark amidst the dawn!
As a child in the eyes of its mother
Dead on the flowery lawn!

I mourn for thee, poor friend!
A spring from a cliff did drop:
To drink by the wayside God would bend,
And He found thee a broken cup!
He threw thee aside, His way to wend
Further and higher up.

Alack! sad soul, alack!
As if I lay in thy grave,
I feel the Infinite sucking back
The individual life it gave.
Thy spring died to a pool, deep, black,
Which the sun from its pit did lave.

Thou might'st have been one of us,
Cleaving the storm and fire;
Aspiring through faith to the glorious,
Higher and ever higher;
Till the world of storms look tremulous,
Far down, like a smitten lyre!

A hundred years! he might
Have darted through the gloom,
Like that swift angel that crossed our flight
Where the thunder-cloud did loom,
From his upcast pinions flashing the light
Of some inward word or doom.


It heareth not, brothers, the terrible thing!
Sounds no sense to its ear will bring.
Hath God forgotten it, alas!
Lost in eternity's lumber room?
Will the wave of his Spirit never pass
Over it through the insensate gloom?
It lies alone in its lifeless world,
As a frozen bud on the earth lies curled;
Sightless and soundless, without a cry,
On the flat of its own vacuity.

Up, brothers, up! for a storm is nigh;
We will smite the wing up the steepest sky;
Through the rushing air
We will climb the stair
That to heaven from the vaults doth leap;
We will measure its height
By the strokes of our flight,
Its span by the tempest's sweep.
What matter the hail or the clashing winds!
We know by the tempest we do not lie
Dead in the pits of eternity.
Brothers, let us be strong in our minds,
Lest the storm should beat us back,
Or the treacherous calm sink from beneath our wings,
And lower us gently from our track
To the depths of forgotten things.
Up, brothers, up! 'tis the storm or we!
'Tis the storm or God for the victory!



George MacDonald