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

II. The Children of the Night

24. Two Sonnets


JUST as I wonder at the twofold screen

Of twisted innocence that you would plait

For eyes that uncourageously await

The coming of a kingdom that has been,

So do I wonder what God’s love can mean

To you that all so strangely estimate

The purpose and the consequent estate

Of one short shuddering step to the Unseen.

No, I have not your backward faith to shrink

Lone-faring from the doorway of God’s home

To find Him in the names of buried men;

Nor your ingenious recreance to think

We cherish, in the life that is to come,

The scattered features of dead friends again.


Never until our souls are strong enough

To plunge into the crater of the Scheme—

Triumphant in the flash there to redeem

Love’s handsel and forevermore to slough,

Like cerements at a played-out masque, the rough

And reptile skins of us whereon we set

The stigma of scared years—are we to get

Where atoms and the ages are one stuff.

Nor ever shall we know the cursed waste

Of life in the beneficence divine

Of starlight and of sunlight and soul-shine

That we have squandered in sin’s frail distress,

Till we have drunk, and trembled at the taste,

The mead of Thought’s prophetic endlessness.