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by Robert Browning


GROW old along with me!

The best is yet to be

The last of lifefor which the first was made:

Our times are in his hand

Who saith"A whole I planned

Youth shows but half; trust God: see allnor be afraid!" -

Not thatamassing flowers

Youth sighed"Which rose make ours

Which lily leave and then as best recall?"

Not thatadmiring stars

It yearned"Nor Jovenor Mars;

Mine be some figured flame which blendstranscends them all!" -

Not for such hopes and fears

Annulling youth's brief years

Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!

Rather I prize the doubt

Low kinds exist without

Finished and finite clodsuntroubled by a spark. -

Poor vaunt of life indeed

Were man but formed to feed

On joyto solely seek and find a feast:

Such feasting endedthen

As sure an end to men;

Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast? -

Rejoice we are allied

To that which doth provide

And not partakeeffect and not receive!

A spark disturbs our clod;

Nearer we hold of God

Who givesthan of his tribes that takeI must believe. -

Thenwelcome each rebuff

That turns earth's smoothness rough

Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!

Be our joys three-parts pain!

Striveand hold cheap the strain;

Learnnor account the pang; darenever grudge the throe! -

For thence- a paradox

Which comforts while it mocks-

Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:

What I aspired to be

And was notcomforts me;

A brute I might have beenbut would not sink i' the scale. -

What is he but a brute

Whose flesh has soul to suit

Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?

To manpropose this test-

Thy body at its best

How far can that project thy soul on its lone way? -

Yet gifts should prove their use:

I own the Past profuse

Of power each sideperfection every turn:

Eyesears took in their dole

Brain treasured up the whole;

Should not the heart beat once "How good to live and learn"? -

Not once beat "Praise be thine!

I see the whole design

Iwho saw powersee now Love perfect too:

Perfect I call thy plan:

Thanks that I was a man!

Makerremakecomplete- I trust what thou shalt do!" -

For pleasant is this flesh;

Our soulin its rose-mesh

Pulled ever to the earthstill yearns for rest:

Would we some prize might hold

To match those manifold

Possessions of the brute- gain mostas we did best! -

Let us not always say

"Spite of this flesh to-day

I strovemade headgained ground upon the whole!"

As the bird wings and sings

Let us cry"All good things

Are oursnor soul helps flesh morenowthan flesh helps soul!" -

Therefore I summon age

To grant youth's heritage

Life's struggle having so far reached its term:

Thence shall I passapproved

A manfor aye removed

From the developed brute; a God though in the germ. -

And I shall thereupon

Take restere I be gone

Once more on my adventure brave and new:

Fearless and unperplexed

When I wage battle next

What weapons to selectwhat armor to indue. -

Youth endedI shall try

My gain or loss thereby;

Leave the fire asheswhat survives is gold:

And I shall weigh the same

Give life its praise or blame:

Youngall lay in dispute; I shall knowbeing old. -

For notewhen evening shuts

A certain moment cuts

The deed offcalls the glory from the gray:

A whisper from the west

Shoots- "Add this to the rest

Take it and try its worth: here dies another day." -

Sostill within this life

Though lifted o'er its strife

Let me discerncomparepronounce at last

"This rage was right i' the main

That acquiescence vain:

The Future I may face now I have proved the Past." -

For more is not reserved

To manwith soul just nerved

To act to-morrow what he learns to-day:

Herework enough to watch

The Master workand catch

Hints of the proper crafttricks of the tool's true play. -

As it was betteryouth

Should strivethrough acts uncouth

Toward makingthan repose on aught found made:


From strifeshould knowthan tempt

Further. Thou waitedst age: wait death nor be afraid! -

Enough nowif the Right

And Good and Infinite

Be named hereas thou callest thy hand thine own

With knowledge absolute

Subject to no dispute

From fools that crowded youthnor let thee feel alone. -

Be therefor once and all

Severed great minds from small

Announced to each his station in the Past!

Was Ithe world arraigned

Were theymy soul disdained

Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last! -

Nowwho shall arbitrate?

Ten men love what I hate

Shun what I followslight what I receive;

Tenwho in ears and eyes

Match me; we all surmise

They this thingand I that: whom shall my soul believe? -

Not on the vulgar mass

Called "work" must sentence pass

Things donethat took the eye and had the price;

O'er whichfrom level stand

The low world laid its hand

Found straightway to its mindcould value in a trice: -

But allthe world's coarse thumb

And finger failed to plumb

So passed in making up the main account;

All instincts immature

All purposes unsure

That weighed not as his workyet swelled the man's amount: -

Thoughts hardly to be packed

Into a narrow act

Fancies that broke through language and escaped;

All I could never be

Allmen ignored in me

ThisI was worth to Godwhose wheel the pitcher shaped. -

Aynote that Potter's wheel

That metaphor! and feel

Why time spins fastwhy passive lies our clay-

Thouto whom fools propound

When the wine make its round

"Since life fleetsall is change; the Past goneseize to-day!" -

Fool! All that isat all

Lasts everpast recall;

Earth changesbut thy soul and God stand sure:

What entered into thee

That wasisand shall be:

Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure. -

He fixed thee 'mid this dance

Of plastic circumstance

This Presentthouforsoothwould fain arrest:

Machinery just meant

To give thy soul its bent

Try thee and turn thee forthsufficiently impressed. -

What though the earlier grooves

Which ran the laughing loves

Around thy baseno longer pause and press?

What thoughabout thy rim

Skull-things in order grim

Grow outin graver moodobey the sterner stress? -

Look not thou down but up!

To uses of a cup

The festal boardlamp's flashand trumpet's peal

The new wine's foaming flow

The master's lips aglow!

Thouheaven's consummate cupwhat needst thou with earth's wheel? -

But I neednow as then

TheeGodwho moldest men;

And sincenot even while the whirl was worst

Did I- to the wheel of life

With shapes and colors rife

Bound dizzily- mistake my endto slake thy thirst: -

Sotake and use thy work:

Amend what flaws may lurk

What strain o' the stuffwhat warpings past the aim!

My times be in thy hand!

Perfect the cup as planned!

Let age approve of youthand death complete the same! - -