The Eternal Present


I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end—

We live here from year to year, and at the end of one we find ourselves at about the same place which we filled in the beginning.
The revolving cycles in their wide sweep having brought me again,
O present, I return, while yet I may, to you.

Past and present and future are not disjoined,
Time and events are compact,
I know that the past was great and the future will be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the present time.

We call one the past, and we call another the future, but both are alike the present,
It is not the past, though we call it so—nor the future, though we call it so,
All the while it is the present only—both future and past are the present only—
Real objects today, symptoms of the past and future,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river—
Strands of a trio twining, present, future, past.

I was looking a long while for the poem of the past and now I have found it,
It is the present—it is this Earth today.
I raise the present on the past,
O days of the present, I adorn you, I will attire you in beauty,
I will attire you in as much beauty as the days that are past.

Still the gliding present I raise aloft, the unsurpassed grandeur of the present times,
Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.
It is good to live in this age—there never was any better,
This minute that comes to me over the past decillions, there is no better than it and now.

Where I am or you are this present resplendent day, the present scene, there is the centre of all days, all races,
And there is the meaning to us of all that has ever come of races and days, or ever will come.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than now.

The clock indicates the moment—but what does eternity indicate?
Something more immortal even than the stars,
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter,
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
That which is endless as it was beginningless, and can never cease.
We stand amid time beginningless and endless,
One age is but a part—ages are but a part,
O all, all inseparable—ages, ages, ages!

Eternity gives similitude to all periods and locations and processes and animate and inanimate forms, and is the bond of time, and rises up from its inconceivable vagueness and infiniteness in the swimming shape of today, and is held by the ductile anchors of life, and makes the present spot the passage from what was to what shall be.
Eternity lies in bottomless reservoirs,
Its buckets are rising for ever and ever,
They pour and pour.

NEXT: MATTER AND SPIRIT