By Charles Harpur
A heavy and desolate sense of Life
Is all the Past makes mine—and still
A cold contempt for Fortune’s strife,
Despite the dread of want of bread,
Numbs, clogs, like ice, my weary will.
How little is there on the Earth
That I at length can venerate?
I see at most one world-wide dearth
Of wisdom free, true piety,
Of noble love, of honest hate.
With little hope of higher good
For Man—for me, of earthly bliss,
I yet withstand as I’ve withstood,
The evil plan man teaches man
Of valuing all things amiss.
There’s nothing under the godlike Sun
Worth loving, to be bought or sold!
The only wealth by Labour won,
Besides the food supplying blood,
Is Human Excellence—not Gold!
All other things designed or done
Their only real value miss,
But in so far as they, each one,
And all sustain, adorn, explain,
Secure, and enter into this.
Beauty itself were nothing—no,
But for Love’s golden heart and eye:
Nay, Truth were dead but for the glow
Around its shrine of minds divine—
Of martyr minds that may not die.
Why pile we stone on stone, to raise
Jail, Fane, or Public Hall;—why plan
Fortress or Tower for future days;
Yet leave unbuilt, to wrong or guilt,
The nobler pile—the Mind of Man?
With finer wool the Land to dower,
Behold how strongly we are moved!
Even while a Nation’s thinking power,
Unvalued yet;—unnamed, we let
Grow bestial—because unimproved!
Can then the seed in God’s right hand
Of Happiness, when shed below,
Find fitting nurture in a Land
Of wilding soil and selfish toil?—
I tell ye, Time shall answer—No!
I tell ye, that all public good,
All individual worth and peace,
All youthful nobleness of mood,
Like rose-leaves thin must wither in
The sordid breath of days like these.
’Tis vain—the sacred wish is vain!
Men but renew the strifes of old:
But value with a greed insane
All devilish skill—all splendid ill
That fetters Truth with chains of gold!
O for a Prophet’s tongue, to teach
The truths I cannot else reveal!
O for a Conqueror’s power, to reach
The holy aim that doth inflame
And nerve me with a Martyr’s zeal!
Harpur’s Notes on “The True Finality”
The “best condition for the development of the full majesty of man, were one in which the personal freedom and sovereignty of savage life should co-exist with all the artistic beneficences and moral security of civilized society…. Hence ‘the greatest good to the greatest number’ is not a final principle of human community, and is fast giving place to another that is: namely, the greatest good to each and all. Hence too, men can be no longer the creatures of Governments: these can no longer mould them characteristically into masses; ….individual education upon the most liberal and adaptive scale must be speedily resorted to; so that all men … may become more and more, to the destined extent;—each and all of them, Governments in themselves.”