The Metempsychosis

By T. B. Aldrich

I know my own creation was divine.
Strewn on the breezy continents I see
The veined shells and burnished scales which once
Enclosed my being — husks that I had.
I brood on all the shapes I must attain
Before I reach the perfect, which is God.
For I am of the mountains and the sea
The deserts and the caverns in the earth
The catacombs and fragments of old worlds.
I was a spirit on the mountain tops,
A perfume in the valleys, a nomadic wind
Roaming the universe, a tireless voice.
I was ere Romulus and Remus were;
I was ere Nineveh and Babylon.
I was and am and evermore shall be
Progressing, never reaching to the end.
A hundred years I trembled in the grass
The delicate trefoil that muffled warm
A slope on Ida; for a hundred years
Moved in the purple gyre of those dark flowers
The Grecian woman strew upon the dead.
Under the earth in fragrant glooms I dwelt,
Then in the veins and sinews of a pine
On a lone isle, where from the Cyclades
A mighty wind like a leviathan
Ploughed through the brine and from those solitudes
Sent silence frightened.
A century was as a single day.
What is a clay to an immortal soul?
A breath, no more. And yet I hold one hour
Beyond all price, — that hour when from the sky
A bird, I circled nearer to the earth
Nearer and nearer till I brushed my wings
Against the pointed chestnuts, where a stream
Leapt headlong down a precipice; and there
Gathering wild flowers in the cool ravine
Wandered a woman more divinely shaped
Than any of the creatures of the air.
I charmed her thought. I sang and gave her dreams,
Then nestled in her bosom. There I slept
From morn to noon, while in her eyes a thought
Grew sweet and sweeter, deepening like the dawn.
One autumn night I gave a quick low cry
As infants do: we weep when we are born,
Not when we die: and thus came I here
To walk the earth and wear the form of man,
To suffer bravely as becomes my state,
One step, one grade, one cycle nearer God.