Triumph of Eternity
WHEN I had seen that nothing under heaven
Is firm and stable, in dismay I turned
To my heart, and asked: "Wherein hast thou thy trust?"
"In the Lord," the answer came, "Who keepeth ever
His covenant with one who trusts in Him.
Well do I see the mockery of the world,
And know what I have been, and what I am,
And see Time marching, nay more, flying on;
Yet there is none of whom I may complain.
For the fault is mine: long since I should have opened
Mine eyes, instead of waiting to the end,
And true it is that I have delayed too long.
But divine mercies never come too late:
In them I hope, that they may work in me
A transformation deep and excellent."
'Twas thus my heart made answer. If all things
That are beneath the heavens are to fail,
How, after many circlings, will they end?
So ran my thought; and as I pondered it
More and more deeply, I at last beheld
A world made new and changeless and eternaL
I saw the sun, the heavens, and the stars
And land and sea unmade, and made again
More beauteous and more joyous than before.
Greatly I marveled, seeing time itself
Come to an end, that ne' er before had ceased,
But had been wont in its course to change all things.
Past, present, future: these I saw combined
In a single term, and that unchangeable:
No swiftness now, as there had been before.
As on an empty plain, I now could see
No "sha11 be" or "has been," "ne.er" or .before.
Or .after,. filling life with doubtfulness.
Thought passes as a ray of the sun through glass?
More swiftly still, for there is nought to impede.
What grace, if I am worthy, shall be mine,
If I may there behold the Highest Good,
And none of the harm that is poured out by Time,
And comes with Time, and disappears with Time!
The sun no more will pause in the Bull or the Fish,
Through whose diversities the work of man
Is born or dies, increases, or grows less.
Blest are the spirits who in the choir supreme
Shall be or are already honored so
That memory eternal holds their names!
Happy indeed is he who finds the ford
To cross the torrent, mountainous and swift,
That is called life, to many men so dear!
Wretched indeed the blind and common folk
Who set their hopes upon the things of earth,
That Time so suddenly doth bear away!
0 truly deaf and naked and infirm,
Poor in consideration and in sense,
Ye mortals, ever miserable and ill!
Yet He who rules by motion of His brow,
Who quiets or perturbs the elements,
And to whose wisdom I may not attain?
Even the angels are content and glad
To comprehend a thousandth part of it,
And set desire and are intent thereon?
0 wandering mind, ever an hunger'd still,
Wherefore so many thoughts? An hour dispels
What may be gathered in a thousand years.
All that encumbers us and weighs us down,
.Yesterday. and .tomorrow, .morn. and .eve.,
"Before" and "soon," will pass like fleeting shadows.
"Has been., .shall be,. and .was. exist no more,
But .is. and .now., the .present. and .today.,
"Eternity" alone, one and complete.
Future and past, like hills that hid our view,
Are leveled now, and nothing still remains
Whereupon hope or memory may lean,
Their variation leading men astray,
Thinking "What have I been?" "What shall I be?"
As if their lives were but an empty game.
No more will time be broken into bits,
No summer now, no winter: all will be
As one, time dead, and all the world transformed.
The years no longer in their hands will hold
The governance of fame: the glorious
Will glorious be to all eternity.
Blessed the souls that now are on the way,
Or will be soon, to reach the final goal,
Whereof I speak, whenever it may be;
And among all the rare and beauteous ones,
Most blessed she, who long before she came
To the bound that nature sets was slain by death.
Then will be manifest the angelic modes,
The honorable words, and the chaste thoughts
That nature set within her youthful heart.
The countenances hurt by death and time
Will now appear in perfect flowering,
The bond wherewith Love bound me will be seen,
And pointing toward me will be some who say:
"He ever wept, and yet amid his tears
Was blest above the joys of other men."
And she of whom, still weeping, still I sing,
Will find it very wonderful that she
Should have the highest praise among them all.
When this shall be, I know not; not to those
Who were His trusted comrades was the hour
Of death made known: who then may seek to know?
I think the day is coming near when gains,
Both good and evil, will be judged at last,
As clearly seen as through a spider's web.
Then 'twill appear how vain are human cares,
How uselessly we labor and we sweat,
How easily we mortals are deceived.
No secret shall be covered or be hid,
And every conscience, be it clear or dark,
Will then be open before all the world.
There will be One whose judgment will be sure,
And we shall see each sinner go his way
Like a driven beast seeking a forest cave.
Then shall we see how slight the greatness is
That we are proud of, and that gold and land
Have brought to us not benefit, but harm,
And, at the right, those who, beneath the check
Of modest fortune, have been well content
To live without display, in homely peace.
Five of these Triumphs on the earth below
We have beheld, and at the end, the sixth,
God willing, we shall see in heaven above.
Time, ever ready to destroy all things,
And Death, so greedy in her evil power,
One and the other, shall together die.
And those who merited illustrious fame
That Time had quenched, and countenances fair
Made pale and wan by Time and bitter Death,
Becoming still more beauteous than before
Will leave to raging Death and thieving Time
Oblivion, and aspects dark and sad.
In the full flower of youth they shall possess
Immortal beauty and eternal fame.
Before them all, who go to be made new,
Is she for whom the world is weeping still,
Calling her with my tongue and weary pen,
But heaven too desires her, body and soul.
Beside a stream that rises in the Alps
Love gave to me for her a war so long
My heart still bears the memory thereof.
Happy the stone that covers her fair face!
And now that she her beauty hath resumed,
If he was blest who saw her here on earth,
What then will it be to see her again in heaven!