Darwin

Original Text: 
Robert Norwood, The Modernists (New York: George H. Doran, 1918): 138-42. Internet Archive
2Breath as of vapour crimsoning to flame;
3Far constellations moving in the same
4Invariable order and the pace
5That times the sun, or earth's elliptic race
6Among the planets: Life--dumb, blind and lame--
7Creeping from form to form, until her shame
8Blends with the beauty of a human face!
9Death can not claim what Life so hardly won
10Out of her ancient warfare with the Void--
11O Man! whose day is only now begun,
12Go forth with her and do what she hath done;
13Till thy last enemy--Death--be destroyed,
14And earth outshine the splendour of the sun.
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16Dry of the sap; yet how I love the picture!
17Is heaven less blue because the stellar dust
18Veils night eternal from all human eyes?
19Life is, though forms pass: well, I will regard
20One moment filled with wonder of the world,
21Forever worth the passing, when this jar
22Crumbles! ... Why do you nod in protest, friend?
23I am serene and patient, grateful, glad--
24Asking no more of life than what it gives:
25Eyes quick to see the march out of the mist,
26And into mist once more; ears that are tuned
27To music of the many strings of joy
28And sorrow; tongue so wistful of the word
29Telling the truth; obedient hands and feet;
30And over all, the mind with wings that soar!
31I trust, ask nothing, watch meanwhile, and wait;
32Whatever is for me to win, no one
33Can take: if there be not some afterword,
34Some music and a flower from the feast,
35A going up the hall with Him, my Host,
36In conversation as of comrades--well,
37Enough that I was called to sup with Him,
38Drank from His cup and pledged the world with wine!
39My fundamentals are misunderstood--
40Is the fault mine? 'Tis not a ready pen
42Of melody were never mine; I saw
43More than I had the skill to tell, confused
44The music. This my meaning: Chaos bears
45To that eternal Energy called God,
46A child whose name is Form, swaddled with clouds,
48Of thunder, telling of vast, molten seas
49Which clamour, till the child becomes a star--
50This planet--swinging through the zodiac
51Among his brethren who come, crying: Hail,
52Child of our mother Chaos! From the sea
53Huge shapes appear, plunging to rocky shores
54Forbidding them the land, till tail and fin
55By aspiration change to foot and wing.
56Hoarse trumpetings of anger or of pain;
57Red ooze of blood on bracken; now tell the tale:
58Struggle of Form with Form--experiment
59Of Nature working blindly but in faith
60To one end: Mind! Love dominates the chords;
61There is a song upon the star-lit hills:
62GLORY TO GOD! ON EARTH, PEACE AND GOOD WILL!
63Brave are your words of war; and yet I think
64Survival of the worst, not best, is in
65Those passioned hymns of praise: war's work was done,
66Through struggle of the fittest brute, when Form
67Was found for Mind. You say that always war
68Genders the noblest? calls a god from clay?
69That work was done before the glacial glare
70Rivalled the redness of yon setting sun!
71You are at odds with Nature, who destroy
72Man's body. Is there not some higher test
73Of greatness in the patience of that faith
74Which dares adventure on forgotten roads,
75Or hidden trails unfound by human feet,
76To find God cradled where the cattle are?
77Must we who sought and found, go lonely back
78Without Love's offering of gold and myrrh--
79Back to the place we knew before the star
80Came softly from the silences of night?
81How worth the painful journeying, to cry:
82I have seen God upon His mother's breast!
84Hath said within his heart, there is no God!
85God may hide in the mass; may look on life
86Through eyes that slowly opened, until man
87Gazed in the artist and the seer, and said:
88How beautiful! how good! but I hold not
89With those who cry: Behold God in the Book!
90If there be God, He must be always One;
91Must not be hid by this, revealed in that;
92Must be unchanging, like unchanging law
93Which keeps the constellations in their place,
94Holds atom unto atom. Bud and blade,
95Frond, leaf and petal are obedient
96Each to its character; and, like the suns,
97Depart not from the course, by law ordained,
98Up the ascent of life. God is in Nature--
99There only may we find Him. Did she fail
100To make Him known to man, then would man be
101Apart from her and alien to the earth.
102God has not ceased to walk down garden paths.
103He has not grown a-weary of the rose.
104He is not deaf to lifted song of leaves,
105What time the artist comes for tinting them
106Out of his ample shards of autumn-tones.
107God is the lover of all open wings,
108Of all who glorify the world with song.
109There are no moments of the infinite;
110All things come to their growth by Nature's law--
111A star, a planet, species or the soul;
112Therefore, I wait, make no assertions, stand
113Humble before the mystery of life and death--
114The pillars of that portico whose doors
115Are shut; though from the steps I may look down
116To trace the winding path up which I toiled,
117And view my halting places: There I slept,
118Dreaming a while; there I rose with a laugh,
119Made strong by what I dreamed, and took the road.
120How many mile-stones we have passed, my friend,
121In our long journey to the double-door!
122Will that door open, Alfred? shall we see,
123One day, the Good Host standing in the hall
124With waiting hands and lips of love that smile?

Notes

1] Charles Robert Darwin (1809-82), the discoverer of natural selection in evolution. Back to Line
15] Alfred: Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), early evolutionary thinker whose work on natural selection predated Darwin's. Back to Line
47] "And with no language but a cry!": from Tennyson's "In Memoriam", no. 54. Back to Line
83] Psalm 14.1: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1918
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: