Author: Owen Meredith


In the budding of youth, ere wild winds can deflower
The shut leaves of man’s life, round the germ of his power
Yet folded, his life had been earnest. Alas!
In that life one occasion, one moment, there was
When this earnestness might, with the life-sap of youth,
Lusty fruitage have borne in his manhood’s full growth;
But it found him too soon, when his nature was still
The delicate toy of too pliant a will,
The boisterous wind of the world to resist,
Or the frost of the world’s wintry wisdom.
He miss’d
That occasion, too rathe in its advent.
Since then,
He had made it a law, in his commerce with men,
That intensity in him, which only left sore
The heart it disturb’d, to repel and ignore.
And thus, as some Prince by his subjects deposed,
Whose strength he, by seeking to crush it, disclosed,
In resigning the power he lack’d power to support
Turns his back upon courts, with a sneer at the court,
In his converse this man for self-comfort appeal’d
To a cynic denial of all he conceal’d
In the instincts and feelings belied by his words.
Words, however, are things: and the man who accords
To his language the license to outrage his soul,
Is controll’d by the words he disdains to control.
And, therefore, he seem’d in the deeds of each day
The light code proclaim’d on his lips to obey;
And, the slave of each whim, follow’d wilfully aught
That perchance fool’d the fancy, or flatter’d the thought.
Yet, indeed, deep within him, the spirits of truth,
Vast, vague aspirations, the powers of his youth,
Lived and breathed, and made moan—stirr’d themselves—strove to start
Into deeds—though deposed, in that Hades, his heart.
Like those antique Theogonies ruin’d and hurl’d,
Under clefts of the hills, which, convulsing the world,
Heaved, in earthquake, their heads the rent caverns above,
To trouble at times in the light court of Jove
All its frivolous gods, with an undefined awe,
Of wrong’d rebel powers that own’d not their law.
For his sake, I am fain to believe that, if born
To some lowlier rank (from the world’s languid scorn
Secured by the world’s stern resistance) where strife,
Strife and toil, and not pleasure, gave purpose to life,
He possibly might have contrived to attain
Not eminence only, but worth. So, again,
Had he been of his own house the first-born, each gift
Of a mind many-gifted had gone to uplift
A great name by a name’s greatest uses.
But there
He stood isolated, opposed, as it were,
To life’s great realities; part of no plan;
And if ever a nobler and happier man
He might hope to become, that alone could be when
With all that is real in life and in men
What was real in him should have been reconciled;
When each influence now from experience exiled
Should have seized on his being, combined with his nature,
And form’d as by fusion, a new human creature:
As when those airy elements viewless to sight
(The amalgam of which, if our science be right,
The germ of this populous planet doth fold)
Unite in the glass of the chemist, behold!
Where a void seem’d before, there a substance appears,
From the fusion of forces whence issued the spheres!


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Chicago: Owen Meredith, "6," Lucile, ed. Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902 and trans. Seaton, R. C. in Lucile (New York: George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Meredith, Owen. "6." Lucile, edited by Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902, and translated by Seaton, R. C., in Lucile, New York, George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Meredith, O, '6' in Lucile, ed. and trans. . cited in ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Lucile, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from