IN sea and air, in leaf and stone,
Where’er Truth’s magic words are writ,
Where thousands throng, or rapt and lone,
Life was his book. He pondered it.
Through page of earth and sun and star
He heard the swift sweep of the Song
Of Law and Motion, streaming far,
Which seemed to sing, “The world is wrong.”
Men passed him by. They brushed aside
The dreamer in his dreams of law.
They laughed and left him, open-eyed,
Fixed on the point that no man saw.
“Life is to scheme, to love, to play.
Strike out for plunder in the fight
Our fathers did so,” answered they,
“And they have said, ‘The world is right.’”
Men took the baubles at the call,
Men rose to wealth and power and state,
But he—the mightiest of them all—
Remained, because his heart was great.
The fool cried: “Life is but a jest,”
The schemer: “Earth is for the strong,”
The thoughtless: “Why think for the rest?”
But he cried: “Nay. The world is wrong.”
And friends declined, and fortune frowned,
And hope grew dim with health’s decay,
The thorns of hardship hedged him round,
But still he toiled from day to day—
From clue to clue, from year to year,
From law to law, from light to light,
Till came the triumph flashing clear—
“The world is wrong and I am right!”
“The Laws of Life, eternal, true,
Swerve not by prayer for that or this.
A Power hath given the world to you
And ye have made it what it is.
Why see worth perish, what accrue
Why see greed flourish day by day?
A Power hath given the world to you,
And ye can make it what ye may.”
No mourners wept beside his bier,
Scant homage to his grave was brought.
He left no wealth behind him here,
Only the splendour of his thought.
And as the brown earth, heaping slow,
Shut the rude coffin from the sight,
One who had known him long ago
Cried: “After all, the world was right!”
But Thought is king no clowns can bind,
And Genius, in its crowning hour,
Sows deep the seed that, for Mankind,
Springs, centuries hence, to splendid flower,
When, by that lonely stone of white,
With heads uncovered, men shall say:
“The world was wrong and he was right
Who died for what we reap to-day!”