What you call sin and what you call goodness, to think how wide a difference—
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
We stand amid evil and good,
The dark problem of evil, forming half of the infinite scheme.
All swings around us, there is as much darkness as light—
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with good, the sounding and resounding, keep on.
Do you suppose wickedness also does not mean something?
Great is wickedness—I find I often admire it just as much as I admire goodness,
There can be no greatest and sublimest character without having passed through sin.
Do you call that a paradox? It certainly is a paradox.
But not for nothing does evil play its part among us;
I say there is in fact no evil,
Or if there is I say it is just as important to you, to the earth, or to me, as any thing else.
Evil is not a law in itself, but a sickness, a perversion of the good, and the other side of the good,
Nothing in its place is bad, nothing out of its place is good.
I do not doubt that shallowness, meanness, malignance, are provided for,
The devilish and the dark, the dying and diseas’d,
The countless (nineteen-twentieths) low and evil, crude and savage, horrible, rank, malignant,
Venom and filth, poisons, serpents, newts, crawling things in slime and mud,
The barren soil, the evil men, the slag and hideous rot.
Man, whose folly and wickedness are in nothing else existent,
This nineteen-twentieths of us all!
What a stumbling-block it remains for poets and metaphysicians—
What can be its purpose in the God-scheme of this universe, and all?
What a chance it offers yet for being translated;
Every precious gift to man is linked with a curse, and each pollution has some sparkle from heaven,
It is strange how, out of evil, good continually comes.
In the silence and darkness,
Among murderers and cannibals and traders in slaves,
Stepped my spirit with light feet, and pried among their heads and made fissures to look through,
And there saw folded foetuses of twins like the foetuses of twins in the womb,
Mute with bent necks, waiting to be born—
And one was sympathy and one was truth.
Roaming in thought over the universe,
I saw the little that is good steadily hastening towards immortality,
And the vast all that is call’d evil I saw hastening to merge itself, and become lost and dead;
So the utile, so truth, so health are the continuous-immutable laws of the moral universe,
And vice and disease, with all their perturbations, are but transient, even if ever so prevalent, expressions.
Out of the bad majority,
Electric, antiseptic yet, cleaving, suffusing all,
Only the good is universal.
What is prudence, is indivisible,
Declines to separate one part of life from every part,
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Not the right only justified, what we call evil also justified,
Good and evil! O all dear to me!
I tell you I love all—I love what you call vice just the same as I love virtue.
O to be relieved of distinctions!
To divide not the righteous from the unrighteous!
To make as much of vices as virtues!
If once the conventional distinctions were dispelled from our eyes,
We should see just as much, or more.
I do not expect to dispel them by arguing against them,
I sweep them away by advancing to a new phase of development (where they fail of themselves,)
What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect,
All is clean forever and forever.