How can I think, or edge my thoughts to action,
When the miserly press of each day’s need
Aches to a narrowness of spilled distraction
My soul appalled at the world’s work’s time-greed?
How can I pause my thoughts upon the task
My soul was born to think that it must do
When every moment has a thought to ask
To fit the immediate craving of its cue?
The coin I’d heap for marrying my Muse
And build our home i’th’ greater Time-to-be
Becomes dissolved by needs of each day’s use
And I feel beggared of infinity,
Like a true-Christian sinner, each day flesh-driven
By his own act to forfeit his wished heaven.
As a bad orator, badly o'er-book-skilled,
Doth overflow his purpose with made heat,
And, like a clock, winds with withoutness willed
What should have been an inner instinct's feat;
Or as a prose-wit, harshly poet turned,
Lacking the subtler music in his measure,
With useless care labours but to be spurned,
Courting in alien speech the Muse's pleasure;
I study how to love or how to hate,
Estranged by consciousness from sentiment,
With a thought feeling forced to be sedate
Even when the feeling's nature is violent;
As who would learn to swim without the river,
When nearest to the trick, as far as ever.