Robert Browning

OVER the ball of it,
    Peering and prying,
How I see all of it,
    Life there, outlying!
Roughness and smoothness,
    Shine and defilement,
Grace and uncouthness:
    One reconcilement.

Orbed as appointed,
    Sister with brother
Joins, ne’er disjointed
    One from the other.
All’s lend-and-borrow;
    Good, see, wants evil,
Joy demands sorrow,
    Angel weds devil!

“Which things must—why be?”
    Vain our endeavor!
So shall things aye be
    As they were ever.
“Such things should so be!”
    Sage our desistence!
Rough-smooth let globe be,
    Mixed—man’s existence!

Man—wise and foolish,
    Lover and scorner,
Docile and mulish—
    Keep each his corner!
Honey yet gall of it!
    There’s the life lying,
And I see all of it,
    Only, I’m dying!

Could I but live again
    Twice my life over,
Would I once strive again?
    Would not I cover
Quietly all of it—
    Greed and ambition—
So, from the pall of it,
    Pass to fruition?

“Soft!” I’d say, “Soul mine!
    Three-score and ten years,
Let the blind mole mine
    Digging out deniers!
Let the dazed hawk soar,
    Claim the sun’s rights tool
Turf ’tis thy walk’s o’er,
    Foliage thy flight’s to.”

Only a learner,
    Quick one or slow one,
Just a discerner,
    I would teach no one.
I am earth’s native:
    No rearranging it!
I be creative,
    Chopping and changing it?

March, men, my fellows!
    Those who, above me,
(Distance so mellows)
    Fancy you love me:
Those who, below me,
    (Distance makes great so)
Free to forego me,
    Fancy you hate so!

Praising, reviling,
    Worst head and best head,
Past me defiling,
    Never arrested,
Wanters, abounders,
    March, in gay mixture,
Men, my surrounders!
    I am the fixture.

So shall I fear thee,
    Mightiness yonder!
Mock-sun—more near thee,
    What is to wonder?
So shall I love thee,
    Down in the dark,—lest
Glowworm I prove thee,
    Star that now sparklest

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