The poetical works of Matthew Arnold/Self-Deception

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Say, what blinds us, that we claim the glory
Of possessing powers not our share?
—Since man woke on earth, he knows his story;
But, before we woke on earth, we were.

Long, long since, undowered yet, our spirit
Roamed, ere birth, the treasuries of God;
Saw the gifts, the powers it might inherit,
Asked an outfit for its earthly road.

Then, as now, this tremulous, eager being
Strained and longed, and grasped each gift it saw;
Then, as now, a Power beyond our seeing
Staved us back, and gave our choice the law.

Ah! whose hand that day through heaven guided
Man's new spirit, since it was not we?
Ah! who swayed our choice, and who decided
What our gifts and what our wants should be?

For, alas! he left us each retaining
Shreds of gifts which he refused in full;
Still these waste us with their hopeless straining,
Still the attempt to use them proves them null.

And on earth we wander, groping, reeling;
Powers stir in us, stir and disappear.
Ah! and he, who placed our master-feeling,
Failed to place that master-feeling clear.

We but dream we have our wished-for powers;
Ends we seek, we never shall attain.
Ah! some power exists there, which is ours?
Some end is there, we indeed may gain?