A Creed

I hold that when a person dies       His soul returns again to earth;

Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise       Another mother gives him birth.

With sturdier limbs and brighter brain The old soul takes the road again.

Such is my own belief and trust;       This hand, this hand that holds the pen,

Has many a hundred times been dust       And turned, as dust, to dust again;

These eyes of mine have blinked and shown In Thebes, in Troy, in Babylon.

All that I rightly think or do,       Or make, or spoil, or bless, or blast,

Is curse or blessing justly due       For sloth or effort in the past.

My life's a statement of the sum Of vice indulged, or overcome.

I know that in my lives to be       My sorry heart will ache and burn,

And worship, unavailingly,       The woman whom I used to spurn,

And shake to see another have The love I spurned, the love she gave.

And I shall know, in angry words,       In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,

A carrion flock of homing-birds,       The gibes and scorns I uttered here.

The brave word that I failed to speak Will brand me dastard on the cheek.

And as I wander on the roads       I shall be helped and healed and blessed;

Dear words shall cheer and be as goads       To urge to heights before unguessed.

My road shall be the road I made;

All that I gave shall be repaid.

So shall I fight, so shall I tread,       In this long war beneath the stars;

So shall a glory wreathe my head,       So shall I faint and show the scars,

Until this case, this clogging mould,

Be smithied all to kingly gold.

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