Things and the Man

IN MEMORIAM
JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN

1904




“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren
and they hated him yet the more.” —Genesis xxxvii. 5.


OH YE who hold the written clue
To all save all unwritten things,
And, half a league behind, pursue
The accomplished Fact with flouts and flings,
Look! To your knee your baby brings
The oldest tale since Earth began—
The answer to your worryings:
“Once on a time there was a Man.”

He, single-handed, met and slew
Magicians, Armies, Ogres, Kings.
He lonely ’mid his doubting crew—
“In all the loneliness of wings”—
He fed the flame, he filled the springs,
He locked the ranks, he launched the van
Straight at the grinning Teeth of Things.
“Once on a time there was a Man.”

The peace of shocked Foundations flew
Before his ribald questionings.
He broke the Oracles in two,
And bared the paltry wires and strings.
He headed desert wanderings;
He led his soul, his cause, his clan
A little from the ruck of Things.
“Once on a time there was a Man.”

Thrones, Powers, Dominions block the view
With episodes and underlings—
The meek historian deems them true
Nor heeds the song that Clio sings—
The simple central truth that stings
The mob to boo, the priest to ban;
Things never yet created things—
“Once on a time there was a Mean.”

A bolt is fallen from the blue.
A wakened realm full circle swings
Where Dothan’s dreamer dreams anew
Of vast and farborne harvestings;
And unto him an Empire clings
That grips the purpose of his plan.
My Lords, how think you of these things?
Once—in our time—is there a Man?