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The Thread of Life

by
 I
The irresponsive silence of the land, 
The irresponsive sounding of the sea, 
Speak both one message of one sense to me:--
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?--
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
II Thus am I mine own prison.
Everything Around me free and sunny and at ease: Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing And where all winds make various murmuring; Where bees are found, with honey for the bees; Where sounds are music, and where silences Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew, And smile a moment and a moment sigh Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you? But soon I put the foolish fancy by: I am not what I have nor what I do; But what I was I am, I am even I.
III Therefore myself is that one only thing I hold to use or waste, to keep or give; My sole possession every day I live, And still mine own despite Time's winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanitive; Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve; And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me; Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing A sweet new song of His redeemed set free; he bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting? And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?

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