· THE FORERUNNER
· GOD'S FOOL
· THE KING−HERMIT
· THE LION'S DAUGHTER
· THE SAINT
· THE PLUTOCRAT
· THE GREATER SELF
· WAR AND THE SMALL NATIONS
· THE WEATHER−COCK
· THE KING OF ARADUS
· OUT OF MY DEEPER HEART
· KNOWLEDGE AND HALF−KNOWLEDGE
· "SAID A SHEET OF SNOW−WHITE PAPER...
· THE SCHOLAR AND THE POET
· OTHER SEAS
· THE DYING MAN AND THE VULTURE
· BEYOND MY SOLITUDE
· THE LAST WATCH
You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have builded are but the foundation of your giant−self. Andthat self too shall be a foundation.And I too am my own forerunner, for the long shadow stretching before me at sunrise shall gather under myfeet at the noon hour. Yet another sunrise shall lay another shadow before me, and that also shall be gatheredat another noon.Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be. And all that we have gathered and shallgather shall be but seeds for fields yet unploughed. We are the fields and the ploughmen, the gatherers and thegathered.When you were a wandering desire in the mist, I too was there a wandering desire. Then we sought oneanother, and out of our eagerness dreams were born. And dreams were time limitless, and dreams were spacewithout measure.And when you were a silent word upon life's quivering lips, I too was there, another silent word. Then lifeuttered us and we came down the years throbbing with memories of yesterday and with longing for tomorrow,for yesterday was death conquered and tomorrow was birth pursued.And now we are in God's hands. You are a sun in His right hand and I an earth in His left hand. Yet you arenot more, shining, than I, shone upon.And we, sun and earth, are but the beginning of a greater sun and a greater earth. And always shall we be thebeginning.You are your own forerunner, you the stranger passing by the gate of my garden.And I too am my own forerunner, though I sit in the shadows of my trees and seem motionless.
Once there came from the desert to the great city of Sharia a man who was a dreamer, and he had naught buthis garment and staff.And as he walked through the streets he gazed with awe and wonder at the temples and towers and palaces,for the city of Sharia was of surpassing beauty. And he spoke often to the passers−by, questioning them abouttheir city−−but they understood not his language, nor he their language.At the noon hour he stopped before a vast inn. It was built of yellow marble, and people were going in andcoming out unhindered."This must be a shrine,' he said to himself, and he too went in. But what was his surprise to find himself in ahall of great splendour and a large company of men and women seated about many tables. They were eatingand drinking and listening to the musicians.'Nay,' said the dreamer. 'This is no worshipping. It must be a feast given by the prince to the people, incelebration of a great event.'At that moment a man, whom he took to be the slave of the prince, approached him, and bade him be seated.And he was served with meat and wine and most excellent sweets.When he was satisfied, the dreamer rose to depart. At the door he was stopped by a large man magnificentlyarrayed.'Surely this is the prince himself,' said the dreamer in his heart, and he bowed to him and thanked him.Then the large man said in the language of the city:'Sir, you have not paid for your dinner.' And the dreamer did not understand, and again thanked him heartily.Then the large man bethought him, and he looked more closely upon the dreamer. And he saw that he was astranger, clad in but a poor garment, and that indeed he had not wherewith to pay for his meal. Then the large
man clapped his hands and called−−and there came four watchmen of the city. And they listened to the largeman. Then they took the dreamer between them, and they were two on each side of him. And the dreamernoted the ceremoniousness of their dress and of their manner and he looked upon them with delight. 'These,'said he, 'are men of distinction.'And they walked all together until they came to the House of Judgement and they entered.The dreamer saw before him, seated upon a throne, a venerable man with flowing beard, robed majestically.And he thought he was the king. And he rejoiced to be brought before him.Now the watchmen related to the judge, who was the venerable man, the charge against the dreamer, and thejudge appointed two advocates, one to present the charge and the other to defend the stranger. And theadvocates rose, the one after the other, and delivered each his argument. And the dreamer thought himself tobe listening to addresses of welcome, and his heart filled with gratitude to the king and the prince for all thatwas done for him.Then sentence was passed upon the dreamer, that upon a tablet about his neck his crime should be written, andthat he should ride through the city on a naked horse, with a trumpeter and a drummer before him. And thesentence was carried out forthwith.Now as the dreamer rode through the city upon the naked horse, with the trumpeter and the drummer beforehim, the inhabitants of the city came running forth at the sound of the noise, and when they saw him theylaughed one and all, and the children ran after him in companies from street to street. And the dreamer's heartwas filled with ecstasy, and his eyes shone upon them. For to him the tablet was a sign of the king's blessingand the procession was in his honour.Now as he rode, he saw among the crowd a man who was from the desert like himself and his heart swelledwith joy, and he cried out to him with a shout:'Friend! Friend! Where are we? What city of the heart's desire is this? What race of lavish hosts, who feast thechance guest in their palaces, whose princes companion him, whose kings hangs a token upon his breast andopens to him the hospitality of a city descended from heaven?'And he who was also of the desert replied not. He only smiled and slightly shook his head. And theprocession passed on.And the dreamer's face was uplifted and his eyes were overflowing with light.
They say the jackal and the moleDrink from the selfsame streamWhere the lion comes to drink.And they say the eagle and the vultureDig their beaks into the same carcass,And are at peace, one with the other,In the presence of the dead thing.O love, whose lordly handHas bridled my desires,And raised my hunger and my thirstTo dignity and pride,Let not the strong in me and the constantEat the bread or drink the wineThat tempt my weaker self.Let me rather starve,And let my heart parch with thirst,And let me die and perish,Ere I stretch my handTo a cup you did not fill,Or a bowl you did not bless.
They told me that in a forest among the mountains lives a young man in solitude who once was a king of avast country beyond the Two Rivers. And they also said that he, of his own will, had left his throne and theland of his glory and come to dwell in the wilderness.And I said, "I would seek that man, and learn the secret of his heart; for he who renounces a kingdom mustneeds be greater than a kingdom."On that very day I went to the forest where he dwells. And I found him sitting under a white cypress, and inhis hand a reed as if it were a sceptre. And I greeted him even as I would greet a king. And he turned to meand said gently, "What would you in this forest of serenity? Seek you a lost self in the green shadows, or is it ahome−coming in your twilight?"And I answered, "I sought but you −−for I fain would know that which made you leave a kingdom for aforest."And he said, "Brief is my story, for sudden was the bursting of the bubble. It happened thus: one day as I satat a window in my palace, my chamberlain and an envoy from a foreign land were walking in my garden. Andas they approached my window, the lord chamberlain was speaking of himself and saying, 'I am like the king;I have a thirst for strong wine and a hunger for all games of chance. And like my lord the king I have stormsof temper.' And the lord chamberlain and the envoy disappeared among the trees. But in a few minutes theyreturned, and this time the lord chamberlain was speaking of me, and he was saying, 'My lord the king is likemyself −−a good marksman; and like me he loves music and bathes thrice a day.' "After a moment he added, "On the eve of that day I left my palace with but my garment, for I would no longerbe ruler over those who assume my vices and attribute to me their virtues."And I said, "This is indeed a wonder, and passing strange."And he said, "Nay, my friend, you knocked at the gate of my silences and received but a trifle. For who wouldnot leave a kingdom for a forest where the seasons sing and dance ceaselessly? Many are those who havegiven their kingdom for less than solitude and the sweet fellowship of aloneness. Countless are the eagles whodescend from the upper air to live with moles that they may know the secrets of the earth. There are those whorenounce the kingdom of dreams that they may not seem distant from the dreamless. And those who renouncethe kingdom of nakedness and cover their souls that others may not be ashamed in beholding truth uncoveredand beauty unveiled. And greater yet than all of these is he who renounces the kingdom of sorrow that he maynot seem proud and vainglorious."Then rising he leaned upon his reed and said, "Go now to the great city and sit at its gate and watch all thosewho enter into it and those who go out. And see that you find him who, though born a king, is withoutkingdom; and him who though ruled in flesh rules in spirit −−though neither he nor his subjects know this;and him also who but seems to rule yet is in truth slave of his own slaves."After he had said these things he smiled on me, and there were a thousand dawns upon his lips. Then heturned and walked away into the heart of the forest.And I returned to the city, and I sat at its gate to watch the passers−by even as he had told me. And from thatday to this numberless are the kings whose shadows have passed over me and few are the subjects over whommy shadow passed.
THE LION'S DAUGHTER
Four slaves stood fanning an old queen who was asleep upon her throne. And she was snoring. And upon thequeen's lap a cat lay purring and gazing lazily at the slaves.The first slave spoke, and said, "How ugly this old woman is in her sleep. See her mouth droop; and shebreathes as if the devil were choking her."Then the cat said, purring, "Not half so ugly in her sleep as you in your waking slavery."And the second slave said, "You would think sleep would smooth her wrinkles instead of deepening them.She must be dreaming of something evil."And the cat purred, "Would that you might sleep also and dream of your freedom."And the third slave said, "Perhaps she is seeing the procession of all those that she has slain."And the cat purred, "Aye, she sees the procession of your forefathers and your descendants."And the fourth slave said, "It is all very well to talk about her, but it does not make me less weary of standingand fanning."And the cat purred, "You shall be fanning to all eternity; for as it is on earth, so it is in heaven."At this moment the old queen nodded in her sleep, and her crown fell to the floor.And one of the slaves said, "That is a bad omen."And the cat purred, "The bad omen of one is the good omen of another."And the second slave said, "What if she should wake, and find her crown fallen! She would surely slay us."And the cat purred, "Daily from your birth she has slain you and you know it not."And the third slave said, "Yes, she would slay us and she would call it making a sacrifice to the gods."And the cat purred, "Only the weak are sacrificed to the gods."And the fourth slave silenced the others, and softly he picked up the crown and replaced it, without wakingher, on the old queen's head.And the cat purred, "Only a slave restores a crown that has fallen."And after a while the old queen woke, and she looked about her and yawned. Then she said, "Methought Idreamed, and I saw four caterpillars chased by a scorpion around the trunk of an ancient oak tree. I like notmy dream."Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep again. And she snored. And the four slaves went on fanning her.And the cat purred, "Fan on, fan on, stupids. You fan but the fire that consumes you."
Thus sings the she−dragon that guards the seven caves by the sea:"My mate shall come riding on the waves. His thundering roar shall fill the earth with fear, and the flames ofhis nostrils shall set the sky afire. At the eclipse of the moon we shall be wedded, and at the eclipse of the sunI shall give birth to a Saint George, who shall slay me."Thus sings the she−dragon that guards the seven caves by the sea.
In my youth I once visited a saint in his silent grove beyond the hills; and as we were conversing upon thenature of virtue a brigand came limping wearily up the ridge. When he reached the grove he knelt downbefore the saint and said, "O saint, I would be comforted! My sins are heavy upon me."And the saint replied, "My sins, too, are heavy upon me."And the brigand said, "But I am a thief and a plunderer."And the saint replied, "I too am a thief and a plunderer."And the brigand said, "But I am a murderer, and the blood of many men cries in my ears."And the saint replied, " I am a murderer, and in my ears cries the blood of many men."And the brigand said, "I have committed countless crimes."And the saint replied, "I too have committed crimes without number."Then the brigand stood up and gazed at the saint, and there was a strange look in his eyes. And when he left ushe went skipping down the hill.And I turned to the saint and said, "Wherefore did you accuse yourself of uncommitted crimes? See you notthis man went away no longer believing in you?"And the saint answered, "It is true he no longer believes in me. But he went away much comforted."At that moment we heard the brigand singing in the distance, and the echo of his song filled the valley withgladness.
In my wanderings I once saw upon an island a man−headed, iron−hoofed monster who ate of the earth anddrank of the sea incessantly. And for a long while I watched him. Then I approached him and said, "Have younever enough; is your hunger never satisfied and your thirst never quenched?"And he answered saying, "Yes, I am satisfied, nay, I am weary of eating and drinking; but I am afraid thattomorrow there will be no more earth to eat and no more sea to drink."
THE GREATER SELF
This came to pass. After the coronation of Nufsibaal King of Byblus, he retired to his bed−chamber −−thevery room which the three hermit−magicians of the mountains had built for him. He took off his crown andhis royal raiment, and stood in the centre of the room thinking of himself, now the all−powerful ruler ofByblus.Suddenly he turned; and he saw stepping out of the silver mirror which his mother had given him, a nakedman.The king was startled, and he cried out to the man, "What would you?"And the naked man answered, "Naught but this: Why have they crowned you king?"And the king answered, "Because I am the noblest man in the land."Then the naked man said, "If you were still more noble, you would not be king."And the king said, "Because I am the mightiest man in the land they crowned me."
WAR AND THE SMALL NATIONS
Once, high above a pasture, where a sheep and a lamb were grazing, an eagle was circling and gazing hungrilydown upon the lamb. And as he was about to descend and seize his prey, another eagle appeared and hoveredabove the sheep and her young with the same hungry intent. Then the two rivals began to fight, filling the skywith their fierce cries.The sheep looked up and was much astonished. She turned to the lamb and said:"How strange, my child, that these two noble birds should attack one another. Is not the vast sky large enoughfor both of them? Pray, my little one, pray in your heart that God may make peace between your wingedbrothers."And the lamb prayed in his heart.
One nightfall a man travelling on horseback towards the sea reached an inn by the roadside. He dismountedand, confident in man and night like all riders towards the sea, he tied his horse to a tree beside the door andentered into the inn.At midnight, when all were asleep, a thief came and stole the traveller's horse.In the morning the man awoke, and discovered that his horse was stolen. And he grieved for his horse, andthat a man had found it in his heart to steal.Then his fellow lodgers came and stood around him and began to talk.And the first man said, "How foolish of you to tie your horse outside the stable."And the second said, " Still more foolish, without even hobbling the horse!"And the third man said, "It is stupid at best to travel to the sea on horseback."And the fourth said, "Only the indolent and the slow of foot own horses."Then the traveller was much astonished. At last he cried, "My friends, because my horse was stolen, you havehastened one and all to tell me my faults and my shortcomings. But strange, not one word of reproach haveyou uttered about the man who stole my horse."And the naked man said, "If you were mightier yet, you would not be king."Then the king said, "Because I am the wisest man they crowned me king."And the naked man said, "If you were still wiser you would not choose to be king."Then the king fell to the floor and wept bitterly.The naked man looked down upon him. Then he took up the crown and with tenderness replaced it upon theking's bent head.And the naked man, gazing lovingly upon the king, entered into the mirror.And the king roused, and straightway he looked into the mirror. And he saw there but himself crowned.
Four poets were sitting around a bowl of punch that stood on a table.Said the first poet, "Methinks I see with my third eye the fragrance of this wine hovering in space like a cloudof birds in an enchanted forest."The second poet raised his head and said, "With my inner ear I can hear those mist−birds singing. And themelody holds my heart as the white rose imprisons the bee within her petals."The third poet closed his eyes and stretched his arm upwards, and said, "I touch them with my hand. I feeltheir wings, like the breath of a sleeping fairy, brushing against my fingers."Then the fourth poet rose and lifted up the bowl, and he said, "Alas, friends! I am too dull of sight and ofhearing and of touch. I cannot see the fragrance of this wine, nor hear its song, nor feel the beating of itswings. I perceive but the wine itself. Now therefore must I drink it, that it may sharpen my senses and raiseme to your blissful heights."And putting the bowl to his lips, he drank the punch to the very last drop.The three poets, with their mouths open, looked at him aghast, and there was a thirsty yet unlyrical hatred intheir eyes.
Said the weather−cock to the wind, "How tedious and monotonous you are! Can you not blow any other waybut in my face? You disturb my God−given stability."And the wind did not answer. It only laughed in space.
THE KING OF ARADUS
Once the elders of the city of Aradus presented themselves before the king, and besought of him a decree toforbid to men all wine and all intoxicants within their city.And the king turned his back upon them and went out from them laughing.Then the elders departed in dismay.At the door of the palace they met the lord chamberlain. And the lord chamberlain observed that they weretroubled, and he understood their case.Then he said, "Pity, my friends! Had you found the king drunk, surely he would have granted you your petition.
OUT OF MY DEEPER HEART
Out of my deeper heart a bird rose and flew skywards.Higher and higher did it rise, yet larger and larger did it grow.At first it was but like a swallow, then a lark, then an eagle, then as vast as a spring cloud, and then it filled thestarry heavens.Out of my heart a bird flew skywards. And it waxed larger as it flew. Yet it left not my heart.O my faith, my untamed knowledge, how shall I fly to your height and see with you man's larger selfpencilled upon the sky?How shall I turn this sea within me into mist, and move with you in space immeasurable?How can a prisoner within the temple behold its golden domes?How shall the heart of a fruit be stretched to envelop the fruit also?O my faith, I am in chains behind these bars of silver and ebony, and I cannot fly with you.Yet out of my heart you rise skyward, and it is my heart that holds you, and I shall be content.
The queen of Ishana was in travail of childbirth; and the king and the mighty men of his court were waiting inbreathless anxiety in the great hall of the Winged Bulls.At eventide there came suddenly a messenger in haste and prostrated himself before the king, and said, "Ibring glad tidings unto my lord the king, and unto the kingdom and the slaves of the king. Mihrab the Cruel,thy life−long enemy, the king of Bethroun, is dead."When the king and the mighty men heard this, they all rose and shouted for joy; for the powerful Mihrab, hadhe lived longer, had assuredly overcome Ishana and carried the inhabitants captive.At this moment the court physician also entered the hall of Winged Bulls, and behind him came the royalmidwives. And the physician prostrated himself before the king, and said, "My lord the king shall live forever, and through countless generations shall he rule over the people of Ishana. For unto thee, O King, is bornthis very hour a son, who shall be thy heir."Then indeed was the soul of the king intoxicated with joy, that in the same moment his foe was dead and theroyal line was established.
KNOWLEDGE AND HALF−KNOWLEDGE
Four frogs sat upon a log that lay floating on the edge of a river. Suddenly the log was caught by the currentand swept slowly down the stream. The frogs were delighted and absorbed, for never before had they sailed.At length the first frog spoke, and said, "This is indeed a most marvellous log. It moves as if alive. No suchlog was ever known before."Then the second frog spoke, and said, "Nay, my friend, the log is like other logs, and does not move. It is theriver that is walking to the sea, and carries us and the log with it."And the third frog spoke, and said, "It is neither the log nor the river that moves. The moving is in ourthinking. For without thought nothing moves."And the three frogs began to wrangle about what was really moving. The quarrel grew hotter and louder, butthey could not agree.Then they turned to the fourth frog, who up to this time had been listening attentively but holding his peace,and they asked his opinion.And the fourth frog said, "Each of you is right, and none of you is wrong. The moving is in the log and thewater and our thinking also."And the three frogs became very angry, for none of them was willing to admit that his was not the wholetruth, and that the other two were not wholly wrong.Then a strange thing happened. The three frogs got together and pushed the fourth frog off the log into theriver.
"SAID A SHEET OF SNOW−WHITE PAPER...
"Said a sheet of snow−white paper, "Pure was I created, and pure will I remain for ever. I would rather be burntand turn to white ashes than suffer darkness to touch me or the unclean to come near me."
The ink−bottle heard what the paper was saying, and it laughed in its dark heart; but it never dared toapproach her. And the multicoloured pencils heard her also, and they too never came near her.And the snow−white sheet of paper did remain pure and chaste for ever, pure and chaste −−and empty.
THE SCHOLAR AND THE POET
Said the serpent to the lark, "Thou flyest, yet thou canst not visit the recesses of the earth where the sap of lifemoveth in perfect silence."And the lark answered, "Aye, thou knowest over much, nay thou art wiser then all things wise −−pity thoucanst not fly."And as if he did not hear, the serpent said, "Thou canst not see the secrets of the deep, nor move among thetreasures of the hidden empire. It was but yesterday I lay in a cave of rubies. It is like the heart of a ripepomegranate, and the faintest ray of light turns into a flame−rose. Who but me can behold such marvels?"And the lark said, "None, none but thee can lie among the crystal memories of the cycles −−pity thou canstnot sing."And the serpent said, "I know a plant whose root descends to the bowels of the earth, and he who eats of thatroot becomes fairer than Ashtarte."And the lark said, "No one, no one but thee could inveil the magic thought of the earth −−pity thou canst notfly."And the serpent said, "There is a purple stream that runneth under a mountain, and he who drinketh of it shallbecome immortal even as the gods. Surely no bird or beast can discover that purple stream."And the lark answered, "If thou willest thou canst become deathless even as the gods −−pity thou canst notsing."And the serpent said, "I know a buried temple, which I visit once a moon. It was built by a forgotten race ofgiants, and upon its walls are graven the secrets of time and space, and he who reads them shall understandthat which passeth all understanding."And the lark said, "Verily, if thou so desirest thou canst encircle with thy pliant body all knowledge of timeand space −−pity thou canst not fly."Then the serpent was disgusted, and as he turned and entered into his hole he muttered, "Empty−headedsongster!"And the lark flew away singing, "Pity thou canst not sing. Pity, pity, my wise one, thou canst not fly."
Once a man unearthed in his field a marble statue of great beauty. And he took it to a collector who loved allbeautiful things and offered it to him for sale, and the collector bought it for a large price. And they parted.And as the man walked home with his money he thought, and he said to himself, "How much life this moneymeans! How can anyone give all this for a dead carved stone buried and undreamed of in the earth for athousand years?"And now the collector was looking at his statue, and he was thinking, and he said to himself, "What beauty!What life! The dream of what a soul! −−and fresh with the sweet sleep of a thousand years. How can anyonegive all this for money, dead and dreamless?"
A fish said to another fish, "Above this sea of ours there is another sea, with creatures swimming in it −−andthey live there even as we live here."The fish replied, "Pure fancy! Pure fancy! When you know that everything that leaves our sea by even aninch, and stays out of it, dies. What proof have you of other lives in other seas?"
On a moonless night a man entered into his neighbour's garden and stole the largest melon he could find andbrought it home.He opened it and found it still unripe.Then behold a marvel!The man's conscience woke and smote him with remorse; and he repented having stolen the melon.
THE DYING MAN AND THE VULTURE
Wait, wait yet awhile, my eager friend.I shall yield but too soon this wasted thing,Whose agony overwrought and uselessExhausts your patience.I would not have your honest hungerWait upon these moments:But this chain, though made of breath,Is hard to break.And the will to die,Stronger than all things strong,Is stayed by a will to liveFeebler than all things feeble.Forgive me, comrade; I tarry too long.It is memory that holds my spirit;A procession of distant days,A vision of youth spent in a dream,A face that bids my eyelids not to sleep,A voice that lingers in my ears,A hand that touches my hand.Forgive me that you have waited too long.It is over now, and all is faded:The face, the voice, the hand and the mist that brought them hither.The knot is untied.The cord is cleaved.And that which is neither food nor drink is withdrawn.Approach, my hungry comrade;The board is made ready.And the fare, frugal and spare,Is given with love.Come, and dig your beak here, into the left side,And tear out of its cage this smaller bird,Whose wings can beat no more:I would have it soar with you into the sky.Come now, my friend, I am your host tonight,And you my welcome guest.
BEYOND MY SOLITUDE
Beyond my solitude is another solitude, and to him who dwells therein my aloneness is a crowdedmarket−place and my silence a confusion of sounds.Too young am I and too restless to seek that above−solitude. The voices of yonder valley still hold my earsand its shadows bar my way and I cannot go.Beyond these hills is a grove of enchantment and to him who dwells therein my peace is but a whirlwind andmy enchantment an illusion.Too young am I and too riotous to seek that sacred grove. The taste of blood is clinging in my mouth, and thebow and the arrows of my fathers yet linger in my hand and I cannot go.Beyond this burdened self lives my freer self; and to him my dreams are a battle fought in twilight and mydesires the rattling of bones.Too young am I and too outraged to be my freer self.And how shall I become my freer self unless I slay my burdened selves, or unless all men become free?How shall the eagle in me soar against the sun until my fledglings leave the nest which I with my own beakhave built for them?
THE LAST WATCH
At high tide of night, when the first breath of dawn came upon the wind, the forerunner, he who calls himselfecho to a voice yet unheard, left his bed−chamber and ascended to the roof of his house. Long he stood andlooked down upon the slumbering city. Then he raised his head, and even as if the sleepless spirits of all thoseasleep had gathered around him, he opened his lips and spoke, and he said:"My friends and neighbours and you who daily pass my gate, I would speak to you in your sleep, and in thevalley of your dreams I would walk naked and unrestrained; for heedless are your waking hours and deaf areyour sound−burdened ears."Long did I love you and overmuch."I love the one among you as though he were all, and all as if you were one. And in the spring of my heart Isang in your gardens, and in the summer of my heart I watched at your threshing−floors."Yea, I loved you all, the giant and the pygmy, the leper and the anointed, and him who gropes in the darkeven as him who dances his days upon the mountains."You, the strong, have I loved, though the marks of your iron hoofs are yet upon my flesh; and you the weak,though you have drained my faith and wasted my patience."You the rich have I loved, while bitter was your honey to my mouth; and you the poor, though you knew myempty−handed shame."You the poet with the bowed lute and blind fingers, you have I loved in self−indulgence; and you the scholarever gathering rotted shrouds in potters' fields."You the priest I have loved, who sit in the silences of yesterday questioning the fate of my tomorrow; andyou the worshippers of gods the images of your own desires."You the thirsting woman whose cup is ever full, I have loved in understanding; and you the woman ofrestless nights, you too I have loved in pity."You the talkative have I loved, saying, 'Life hath much to say'; and you the dumb have I loved, whispering tomyself, 'Says he not in silence that which I fain would hear in words?""And you the judge and the critic, I have loved also; yet when you have seen me crucified, you said, 'Hebleeds rhythmically, and the pattern his blood makes upon his white skin is beautiful to behold.'"Yea, I have loved you all, the young and the old, the trembling reed and the oak."But, alas, it was the over−abundance of my heart that turned you from me. You would drink love from a cup,but not from a surging river. You would hear love's faint murmur, but when love shouts you would muffleyour ears."And because I have loved you all you have said, 'Too soft and yielding is his heart, and too undiscerning ishis path. It is the love of a needy one, who picks crumbs even as he sits at kingly feasts. And it is the love of aweakling, for the strong loves only the strong.""And because I have loved you overmuch you have said, 'It is but the love of a blind man who knows not thebeauty of one nor the ugliness of another. And it is the love of the tasteless who drinks vinegar even as wine.And it is the love of the impertinent and the overweening, for what stranger could be our mother and fatherand sister and brother?'This you have said, and more. For often in the market−place you pointed your fingers at me and saidmockingly, 'There goes the ageless one, the man without seasons, who at the noon hour plays games with ourchildren and at eventide sits with our elders and assumes wisdom and understanding.'"And I said, 'I will love them more. Aye, even more. I will hide my love with seeming to hate, and disguisemy tenderness as bitterness. I will wear an iron mask, and only when armed and mailed shall I seek them.'"Then I laid a heavy hand upon your bruises, and like a tempest in the night I thundered in your ears."From the housetop I proclaimed you hypocrites, Pharisees, tricksters, false and empty earth−bubbles."The short−sighted among you I cursed for blind bats, and those too near the earth I likened to soulless moles."The eloquent I pronounced fork−tongued, the silent, stone−lipped, and the simple and artless I called thedead never weary of death."The seekers after world knowledge I condemned as offenders of the holy spirit and those who would naughtbut the spirit I branded as hunters of shadows who cast their nets in flat waters and catch but their ownimages."Thus with my lips have I denounced you, while my heart, bleeding within me, called you tender names."It was love lashed by its own self that spoke. It was pride half slain that fluttered in the dust. It was myhunger for your love that raged from the housetop, while my own love, kneeling in silence, prayed yourforgiveness."But behold a miracle!"It was my disguise that opened your eyes, and my seeming to hate that woke your hearts."And now you love me."You love the swords that stroke you and the arrows that crave your breast. For it comforts you to be woundedand only when you drink of your own blood can you be intoxicated."Like moths that seek destruction in the flame you gather daily in my garden; and with faces uplifted and eyesenchanted you watch me tear the fabric of your days. And in whispers you say the one to the other, 'He seeswith the light of God. He speaks like the prophets of old. He unveils our souls and unlocks our hearts, and likethe eagle that knows the way of foxes he knows our ways.'"Aye, in truth, I know your ways, but only as an eagle knows the ways of his fledglings. And I fain woulddisclose my secret. Yet in my need for your nearness I feign remoteness, and in fear of the ebb tide of yourlove I guard the floodgates of my love."After saying these things the forerunner covered his face with his hands and wept bitterly. For he knew in hisheart that love humiliated in its nakedness is greater than love that seeks triumph in disguise; and he wasashamed.But suddenly he raised his head, and like one waking from sleep he outstretched his arms and said, "Night isover, and we children of night must die when dawn comes leaping upon the hills; and out of our ashes amightier love shall rise. And it shall laugh in the sun, and it shall be deathless."