Processional

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Universes are the pages
Of that book whose words are ages;
Of that book which destiny
Opens in eternity.

There each syllable expresses
Silence; there each thought a guess is;
In whose rhetoric's cosmic runes
Roll the worlds and swarming moons.

There the systems, we call solar,
Equatorial and polar,
Write their lines of rushing light
On the awful leaves of night.

There the comets, vast and streaming,
Punctuate the heavens' gleaming
Scroll; and suns, gigantic, shine,
Periods to each starry line.

There, initials huge, the Lion
Looms and measureless Orion;
And, as 'neath a chapter done,
Burns the Great-Bear's colophon.

Constellated, hieroglyphic,
Numbering each page terrific,
Fiery on the nebular black,
Flames the hurling zodiac.

In that book, o'er which Chaldean
Wisdom pored and many an eon
Of philosophy long dead,
This is all that man has read:--

He has read how good and evil,--
In creation's wild upheaval,--
Warred; while God wrought terrible
At foundations red of Hell.

He has read of man and woman;
Laws and gods, both beast and human;
Thrones of hate and creeds of lust,
Vanished now and turned to dust.

Arts and manners that have crumbled;
Cities buried; empires tumbled:
Time but breathed on them its breath;
Earth is builded of their death.

These but lived their little hour,
Filled with pride and pomp and power;
What availed them all at last?
We shall pass as they have past.

Still the human heart will dream on
Love, part angel and part demon;
Yet, I question, what secures
Our belief that aught endures?

In that book, o'er which Chaldean
Wisdom pored and many an eon
Of philosophy long dead,
This is all that man has read.

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