THREE times have I beheld
Fear leap in a babe's face, and take his breath,
Fear, like the fear of eld
That knows the price of life, the name of death.
What is it justifies
This thing, this dread, this fright that has no tongue,
The terror in those eyes
When only eyes can speak—they are so young?
Not yet those eyes had wept.
What does fear cherish that it locks so well?
What fortress is thus kept?
Of what is ignorant terror sentinel?
And pain in the poor child,
Monstrously disproportionate, and dumb
In the poor beast, and wild
In the old decorous man, caught, overcome?
Of what the outposts these?
Of what the fighting guardians? What demands
That sense of menaces,
And then such flying feet, imploring hands?