Life, like a marble block, is given to all,
A blank, inchoate mass of years and days,
Whence one with ardent chisel swift essays
Some shape of strength or symmetry to call;
One shatters it in bits to mend a wall;
One in a craftier hand the chisel lays,
And one, to wake the mirth in Lesbia’s gaze,
Carves it apace in toys fantastical.
But least is he who, with enchanted eyes
Filled with high visions of fair shapes to be,
Muses which god he shall immortalize
In the proud Parian’s perpetuity,
Till twilight warns him from the punctual skies
That the night cometh wherein none shall see.
On a sheer peak of joy we meet;
Below us hums the abyss;
Death either way allures our feet
If we take one step amiss.
One moment let us drink the blue
Transcendent air together—
Then down where the same old work's to do
In the same dull daily weather.
We may not wait . . . yet look below!
How part? On this keen ridge
But one may pass. They call you—go!
My life shall be your bridge.