By an Evolutionist
Alfred TENNYSON (1809-1892)
The Lord let the house of a brute to the soul of a man,
And the man said, "Am I your debtor?"
And the Lord–"Not yet; but make it as clean as you can,
And then I will let you a better."
If my body come from brutes, my soul uncertain or a fable,
Why not bask amid the senses while the sun of morning shines,
I, the finer brute rejoicing in my hounds, and in my stable,
Youth and health, and birth and wealth, and choice of women and of wines?
What hast thou done for me, grim Old Age,
save breaking my bones on the rack?
Would I had past in the morning that looks so bright from afar!
Done for thee? starved the wild beast that was linkt with thee eighty years back.
Less weight now for the ladder-of-heaven that hangs on a star.
If my body come from brutes, tho’ somewhat finer than their own,
I am heir, and this my kingdom. Shall the royal voice be mute?
No, but if the rebel subject seek to drag me from the throne,
Hold the sceptre, Human Soul, and rule thy province of the brute.
I have climb’d to the snows of Age, and I gaze at a field in the Past.
Where I sank with the body at times in the sloughs of a low desire,
But I hear no yelp of the beast, and the Man is quiet at last,
As he stands on the heights of his life with a glimpse of a height that is higher.