The past and present wilt,
I have fill’d them, emptied them, and proceed to fill my next fold of the future,
Chant not of the past only but the future.
The perform’d grow dim, retiring in shadow behind me,
The unperform’d, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon me,
What has been done is consumed,
Ever, out of its ashes, let new, sweeter, more amicable fruits ripen,
Drawing from the very decay of the past a vigorous life for the future.
To think of today, and the ages continued henceforward—
Life and nature are not great with reference to the present only, but greater still from what is yet to come,
This year, sending itself ahead countless years to come,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence,
Sweeping the present to the infinite future.
I am the bard of the future, the future is in me as a seed or nascent thought,
Thoughts of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time has become supplied—and of what will yet be supplied,
Because all I see and know I believe to have its main purport in what will yet be supplied.
Outlining what is yet to be, I project the history of the future,
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me—
New history! New heroes! I project you!
Still the future I harbinge,
Select, adorn the future, glad and sublime,
Lead the present with friendly hand toward the future.
I am well aware what floats suspended in you, you future, as qualities float suspended in the air,
O future too immense, O heights too swift and dizzy yet!
(Sometimes I see in ye, disease and death,
The fear of evolution, knowledge, growth, reaching beyond the bounds—
And so cut short.)
Of men or states, few realize how much they live in the future. That, rising like pinnacles, gives its main significance to all you and I are doing today. Without it, there were little meaning or purport in human lives;
What, even of the best and most successful, would be justified by itself alone? by the present, or the material ostent alone?
How many hold despairingly yet to the models departed,
How few see the arrived models—how all triumphs and glories are complete in themselves, to lead onward.
While many were supposing things established and completed, really the grandest things always remain,
When all the future, the unknown, is waiting for you.
O days of the future I believe in you,
I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it cannot fail,
Each who passes is consider’d, each who stops is consider’d, not a single one can it fail.
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?
Is today nothing? is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing they are just as surely nothing;
The future is no more uncertain than the present—
None has begun to think how certain the future is.
Of course all will be well.
The enclosing purport of us here is not something which by luck may turn out well for us, and without luck must be a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in a certain contingency.
What will be will be well, for what is is well,
Whatever has grown, has grown well—
Every hour the semen of centuries, and still of centuries,
Do you fancy there is some water in the semen of perpetual copulation?
What is is well, for, of any fact or condition whatever, nothing but such as they could have come out of such as underlay or underlies them,
They are also to underlie what could be built upon nothing better than them.
Sure as the geological developments follow each other in steady and beautiful order,
Anything is as good as established, when that is established that will produce it and continue it.
The sum, concluding all we know of old or modern learning, intuitions deep,
Is that we all are onward, onward, speeding slowly, surely bettering,
The world, the human race, the soul—in space and time, the universes,
All bound as is befitting each—all surely going somewhere.
Amelioration is the blood that runs through the body of the universe.
I do not lag, I do not hasten, (it appears to say,)
I bide my hour over billions of billions of years,
I exist in the void that takes uncounted time,
I could be balked no how, not if all worlds and living beings were this minute reduced back into the impalpable film of chaos,
I should surely bring up again where we now stand, and go as much further and thence on and on.
The great idea of humanity is progress,
An unbroken chain of sequence, causes and effects, runs through the progress of history and man—
Change the form, but the substance always remains,
The foot of man unstay’d, the hands never at rest.
Sometimes a long interregnum—sometimes a retrogression—
But still by degrees, a sure resistless progress has been made, no matter how slow;
Sure as man was prepared for upon the earth,
He makes his resistless progress through time, over all impediments, and coming on with renewed vigor from all retrogrades and delays.
We cannot be stopped at a given point—that is no satisfaction,
I think the soul will never stop, nor attain to any growth beyond which it shall not go.
A main part of the greatness of humanity is that it never is able to say, Now, as I stand, I am fixed forever,
(If anyone has the feeling to say, I am fixed, and retains that feeling, then a longer or shorter farewell to the greatness of that humanity.)
To show us a good thing or a few good things for a space of time—that is no satisfaction,
We must have the indestructible breed of the best, regardless of time.
The idea which looms and towers over the rest is the idea of totality, of the all-successful, final certainties of each individual man, as well as of the world he inhabits.
All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth’d,
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told,
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook’d and link’d together,
The whole earth shall be completely justified, the wrong’d made right—
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.