I HOLD that when a person dies His soul returns again to earth; Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise Another mother gives him birth. With sturdier limbs and brighter brain The old soul takes the road again.
Such is my own belief and trust; This hand, this hand that holds the pen, Has many a hundred times been dust And turned, as dust, to dust again; These eyes of mine have blinked and shown In Thebes, in Troy, in Babylon.
All that I rightly think or do, Or make, or spoil, or bless, or blast, Is curse or blessing justly due For sloth or effort in the past. My life's a statement of the sum Of vice indulged, or overcome.
I know that in my lives to be My sorry heart will ache and burn, And worship, unavailingly, The woman whom I used to spurn, And shake to see another have The love I spurned, the love she gave.
And I shall know, in angry words, In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear, A carrion flock of homing-birds, The gibes and scorns I uttered here. The brave word that I failed to speak Will brand me dastard on the cheek.
And as I wander on the roads I shall be helped and healed and blessed; Dear words shall cheer and be as goads To urge to heights before unguessed. My road shall be the road I made; All that I gave shall be repaid.
So shall I fight, so shall I tread, In this long war beneath the stars; So shall a glory wreathe my head, So shall I faint and show the scars, Until this case, this clogging mould, Be smithied all to kingly gold.