by: Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)

      E who has once been happy is for aye
      Out of destruction's reach. His fortune then
      Holds nothing secret; and Eternity,
      Which is a mystery to other men,
      Has like a woman given him its joy.
      Time is his conquest. Life, if it should fret,
      Has paid him tribute. He can bear to die,
      He who has once been happy! When I set
      The world before me and survey its range,
      Its mean ambitions, its scant fantasies,
      The shreds of pleasure which for lack of change
      Men wrap around them and call happiness,
      The poor delights which are the tale and sum
      Of the world's courage in its martyrdom;
      When I hear laughter from a tavern door,
      When I see crowds agape and in the rain
      Watching on tiptoe and with stifled roar
      To see a rocket fired or a bull slain,
      When misers handle gold, when orators
      Touch strong men's hearts with glory till they weep,
      When cities deck their streets for barren wars
      Which have laid waste their youth, and when I keep
      Calmly the count of my own life and see
      On what poor stuff my manhood's dreams were fed
      Till I too learn'd what dole of vanity
      Will serve a human soul for daily bread,
      --Then I remember that I once was young
      And lived with Esther the world's gods among.

"With Esther" is reprinted from The Oxford book of English Verse. Ed. Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch. Oxford: Clarendon, 1919.




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