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I Have Lived With Shades


I have lived with shades so long, 
And talked to them so oft, 
Since forth from cot and croft 
I went mankind among, 
 That sometimes they 
 In their dim style 
 Will pause awhile 
 To hear my say; 


And take me by the hand, 
And lead me through their rooms 
In the To-be, where Dooms 
Half-wove and shapeless stand: 
 And show from there 
 The dwindled dust 
 And rot and rust 
 Of things that were.
III "Now turn," spake they to me One day: "Look whence we came, And signify his name Who gazes thence at thee.
" - --"Nor name nor race Know I, or can," I said, "Of man So commonplace.
IV "He moves me not at all; I note no ray or jot Of rareness in his lot, Or star exceptional.
Into the dim Dead throngs around He'll sink, nor sound Be left of him.
" V "Yet," said they, "his frail speech, Hath accents pitched like thine - Thy mould and his define A likeness each to each - But go! Deep pain Alas, would be His name to thee, And told in vain!" "O memory, where is now my youth, Who used to say that life was truth?" "I saw him in a crumbled cot Beneath a tottering tree; That he as phantom lingers there Is only known to me.
" "O Memory, where is now my joy, Who lived with me in sweet employ?" "I saw him in gaunt gardens lone, Where laughter used to be; That he as phantom wanders there Is known to none but me.
" "O Memory, where is now my hope, Who charged with deeds my skill and scope?" "I saw her in a tomb of tomes, Where dreams are wont to be; That she as spectre haunteth there Is only known to me.
" "O Memory, where is now my faith, One time a champion, now a wraith?" "I saw her in a ravaged aisle, Bowed down on bended knee; That her poor ghost outflickers there Is known to none but me.
" "O Memory, where is now my love, That rayed me as a god above?" "I saw him by an ageing shape Where beauty used to be; That his fond phantom lingers there Is only known to me.

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