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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

I. The Man Against the Sky

15. Siege Perilous

LONG warned of many terrors more severe

To scorch him than hell’s engines could awaken,

He scanned again, too far to be so near,

The fearful seat no man had ever taken.

So many other men with older eyes

Than his to see with older sight behind them

Had known so long their one way to be wise,—

Was any other thing to do than mind them?

So many a blasting parallel had seared

Confusion on his faith,—could he but wonder

If he were mad and right, or if he feared

God’s fury told in shafted flame and thunder?

There fell one day upon his eyes a light

Ethereal, and he heard no more men speaking;

He saw their shaken heads, but no long sight

Was his but for the end that he went seeking.

The end he sought was not the end; the crown

He won shall unto many still be given.

Moreover, there was reason here to frown:

No fury thundered, no flame fell from heaven.