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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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396                        Poems




Who paints a picture, writes a play or book

Which others read while he's asleep in bed

O' the other side of the world—when they overlook

His page the sleeper might as well be dead;

What knows he of his distant unfelt life ?

What knows he of the thoughts his thoughts are raising,

The life his life is giving, or the strife

Concerning, him—some cavilling, some praising ?

Yet which is most alive, he who's asleep

Or his quick spirit in some other place,

Or score of other places, that doth keep

Attention fixed and sleep from others chase ?

Which is the " he "—the " he " that sleeps, or " he "
That his own " he " can neither feel nor see ?


Wha,t is't to live, if not to pull the strings

Of thought that pull those grosser strings whereby

We pull our limbs to pull material things

Into such shape as in our thoughts doth lie ?

Who pulls the strings that pull an agent's hand,

The action's counted his, so, we being gone,

The deeds that others do by our command,

Albeit we know them not, are still our own.

He lives who does and he who does still lives,

Whether he wots of his own deeds or no.

Who knows the beating of his heart, that drives

Blood to each part, or how his limbs did grow ?

If life be naught but knowing, then each breath
We draw unheeded must be reckon'd death.


11 Men's work we have," quoth one, " but we want them—-
Them, palpable to touch and clear to view."
Is it so nothing, then, to have the gem
But we must weep to have the setting too ?