And fifty paces I took,
And moved a little ground ahead--
Only to see two paths before me--
So doubtful, on which to tread...
I sat awhile, to rest and see,
Cursing this life of work and pain:
My eyes fell first on one of the roads,
Next upon the other lane...
Uncertain and perplexed I was,
For one was smooth--the other bra'en;
One called me on comfortingly,
The other prompted further pain;
This had the sight of a mount in the dist,
That led to fog and mist...
Thus I sat, but thus,
Much I couldn't think nor do,
When all askance, I saw approach
Fairest of the fair, maidens two:
One spake before another
And this she had to say:
''O noble youth, come hold my hand,
I'll lead you on your way...
No longer bowed-down with toil
Wilt thou be and live in ease:
A day-dream of gladness life will be--
No more pains to tease...''
''I have no promise'', said the other,
''Of such fancies or zest,
As this path I'll lead you on,
Should put your strength to test;
I shall not promise pleasures to you,
Nor a hope of mirthful rejoice:
You'll need to carve a path in life--
With labour, your sole choice.
But, I assure, I'll 'company you
To the Blue Mount yonder you see...
Come, take my hand, I'll take you far
To the Mountain of eternal Glory..''
A while, I stood to consider
That I had just heard,
''Tell me'', said I, ''What'd be thy names?''
(I craved a Truth beyond all word)
''I am Labour--they call me Virtue''
(I saw her countenance pure)
''I am Lust, or Pleasure, they say''--
A bewitching smile she wore--
And clear in mind, I grabbed the hand,
''I'll be thine, Virtue'', I said,
''Lead me away--on the forbidding aisle
Upon which, now I choose to tread..''