("Non, l'avenir n'est à personne!")
[V. ii., August, 1832.]
Sire, beware, the future's range
Is of God alone the power,
Naught below but augurs change,
E'en with ev'ry passing hour.
Future! mighty mystery!
All the earthly goods that be,
Fortune, glory, war's renown,
King or kaiser's sparkling crown,
Victory! with her burning wings,
Proud ambition's covetings, -
These may our grasp no more detain
Than the free bird who doth alight
Upon our roof, and takes its flight
High into air again.
Nor smile, nor tear, nor haughtiest lord's command,
Avails t' unclasp the cold and closèd hand.
Thy voice to disenthrall,
Dumb phantom, shadow ever at our side!
Veiled spectre, journeying with us stride for stride,
Whom men "To-morrow" call.
Oh, to-morrow! who may dare
Its realities to scan?
God to-morrow brings to bear
What to-day is sown by man.
'Tis the lightning in its shroud,
'Tis the star-concealing cloud,
Traitor, 'tis his purpose showing,
Engine, lofty tow'rs o'erthrowing,
Wand'ring star, its region changing,
"Lady of kingdoms," ever ranging.
To-morrow! 'Tis the rude display
Of the throne's framework, blank and cold,
That, rich with velvet, bright with gold,
Dazzles the eye to-day.
To-morrow! 'tis the foaming war-horse falling;
To-morrow! thy victorious march appalling,
'Tis the red fires from Moscow's tow'rs that wave;
'Tis thine Old Guard strewing the Belgian plain;
'Tis the lone island in th' Atlantic main:
To-morrow! 'tis the grave!
Into capitals subdued
Thou mayst ride with gallant rein,
Cut the knots of civil feud
With the trenchant steel in twain;
With thine edicts barricade
Haughty Thames' o'er-freighted trade;
Fickle Victory's self enthrall,
Captive to thy trumpet call;
Burst the stoutest gates asunder;
Leave the names of brightest wonder,
Pale and dim, behind thee far;
And to exhaustless armies yield
Thy glancing spur, - o'er Europe's field
A glory-guiding star.
God guards duration, if lends space to thee,
Thou mayst o'er-range mundane immensity,
Rise high as human head can rise sublime,
Snatch Europe from the stamp of Charlemagne,
Asia from Mahomet; but never gain
Power o'er the Morrow from the Lord of Time!