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WITH OMAR I sat with Omar by the Tavern door,Musing the mystery of mortals o'er,And soon with answers alternate we stroveWhether, beyond death, Life hath any shore. "Come, fill the cup," said he. "In the fire of SpringYour Winter-garment of Repentance fling.The Bird of Time has but a little wayTo flutter—and the Bird is on the Wing." "The Bird of Time?" I answered. "Then have INo heart for Wine. Must we not cross the SkyUnto Eternity upon his wings—Or,failing, fall into the Gulf and die?" "Ay; so, for the Glories of this World sigh some,And some for the Prophet's Paradise to come;But you, Friend, take the Cash—the Credit leave,Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!" "What! take the Cash and let the Credit go?Spend all upon the Wine the while I knowA possible To-morrow may bring thirstFor Drink but Credit then shall cause to flow?" "Yea, make the most of what you yet may spend,Before we too into the Dust descend;Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and—sans End!" "Into the Dust we shall descend—we must.But can the soul not break the crumbling CrustIn which he is encaged? To hope or toDespair he will—which is more wise or just?" "The worldly hope men set their hearts uponTurns Ashes—or it prospers: and anon,Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face,Lighting a little hour or two—is gone." "Like Snow it comes—to cool one burning Day;And like it goes—for all our plea or sway.But flooding tears nor Wine can ever purgeThe Vision it has brought to us away." "But to this world we come and Why not knowing,Nor Whence, like water willy-nilly flowing;And out of it, as Wind along the waste,We know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing." "True, little do we know of Why or Whence.But is forsooth our Darkness evidenceThere is no Light?—the worm may see no starTho' heaven with myriad multitudes be dense." "But, all unasked, we're hither hurried Whence?And, all unasked, we're Whither hurried hence?O, many a cup of this forbidden WineMust drown the memory of that insolence." "Yet can not—ever! For it is forbidStill by that quenchless Soul within us hid,Which cries, 'Feed—feed me not on Wine alone,For to Immortal Banquets I am bid.'" "Well oft I think that never blows so redThe Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled:That every Hyacinth the Garden wearsDropt in her lap from some once lovely Head." "Then if, from the dull Clay thro' with Life's throes,More beautiful spring Hyacinth and Rose,Will the great Gardener for the uprooted soulFind Use no sweeter than—useless Repose?" "We cannot know—so fill the cup that clearsTo-day of past regret and future fears:To-morrow!—Why, To-morrow we may beOurselves with Yesterday's sev'n thousand Years." "No Cup there is to bring oblivionMore during than Regret and Fear—no, none!For Wine that's Wine to-day may change and beMarah before to-morrow's Sands have run." "Myself when young did eagerly frequentDoctor and Saint, and heard great argumentAbout it and about: but evermoreCame out by the same Door where in I went." "The doors of Argument may lead Nowhither,Reason become a Prison where may witherFrom sunless eyes the Infinite, from heartsAll Hope, when their sojourn too long is thither." "Up from Earth's Centre thro' the Seventh GateI rose, and on the throne of Saturn sate,And many a Knot unravelled by the Road—But not the Master-knot of Human fate." "The Master-knot knows but the Master-handThat scattered Saturn and his countless BandLike seeds upon the unplanted heaven's Air:The Truth we reap from them is Chaff thrice fanned." "Yet if the Soul can fling the Dust asideAnd naked on the air of Heaven ride,Wer't not a shame—wer't not a shame for himIn this clay carcase crippled to abide?" "No, for a day bound in this Dust may teachMore of the Sáki's Mind than we can reachThrough æons mounting still from Sky to Sky—May open through all Mystery a breach." "You speak as if Existence closing yourAccount, and mine, should know the like no more;The Eternal Sáki from that Bowl has pouredMillions of bubbles like us, and will pour." "Bubbles we are, pricked by the point of Death....