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James Russell Lowell (Джеймс Расселл Лоуэлл)


Sphinx


                   I.

     Why mourn we for the golden prime
  When our young souls _were_ kingly, strong, and true?
     The soul is greater than all time,
  It changes not, but yet is ever new.

                  II.

     But that the soul _is_ noble, we
  Could never know what nobleness had been;
     Be what ye dream! and earth shall see
  A greater greatness than she e'er hath seen.

                 III.

     The flower pines not to be fair,
  It never asketh to be sweet and dear,
     But gives itself to sun and air,
  And so is fresh and full from year to year.

                  IV.

     Nothing in Nature weeps its lot,
  Nothing, save man, abides in memory,
     Forgetful that the Past is what
  Ourselves may choose the coming time to be.

                   V.

     All things are circular; the Past
  Was given us to make the Future great;
     And the void Future shall at last
  Be the strong rudder of an after fate.

                  VI.

     We sit beside the Sphinx of Life,
  We gaze into its void, unanswering eyes,
     And spend ourselves in idle strife
  To read the riddle of their mysteries.

                 VII.

     Arise! be earnest and be strong!
  The Sphinx's eyes shall suddenly grow clear,
     And speak as plain to thee ere long,
  As the dear maiden's who holds thee most dear.

                VIII.

     The meaning of all things in _us_--
  Yea, in the lives we give our souls--doth lie;
     Make, then, their meaning glorious
  By such a life as need not fear to die!

                  IX.

     There is no heart-beat in the day,
  Which bears a record of the smallest deed,
     But holds within its faith alway
  That which in doubt we vainly strive to read.

                   X.

     One seed contains another seed,
  And that a third, and so for evermore;
     And promise of as great a deed
  Lies folded in the deed that went before.

                  XI.

     So ask not fitting space or time,
  Yet could not dream of things which could not be;
     Each day shall make the next sublime,
  And Time be swallowed in Eternity.

                 XII.

     God bless the Present! it is |ALL|;
  It has been Future, and it shall be Past;
     Awake and live! thy strength recall,
  And in one trinity unite them fast.

                XIII.

     Action and Life--lo! here the key
  Of all on earth that seemeth dark and wrong;
     Win this--and, with it, freely ye
  May enter that bright realm for which ye long.

                 XIV.

     Then all these bitter questionings
  Shall with a full and blessèd answer meet;
     Past worlds, whereof the Poet sings,
  Shall be the earth beneath his snow-white fleet.



James Russell Lowell's other poems:
  1. The Lost Child
  2. The Lover
  3. “Goe, Little Booke!“
  4. Song (All things are sad)
  5. To E. W. G.


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