James Kenneth Stephen

The Philosopher and the Philantropist

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Searching an infinite Where,
Probing a bottomless When,
Dreamfully wandering,
Ceaselessly pondering,
What is the Wherefore of men:
Bartering life for a There,
Selling his soul for a Then,
Baffling obscurity,
Conning futurity,
Usefulest, wisest of men!

Grasping the Present of Life,
Seizing a definite Now,
Labouring thornfully,
Banishing scornfully
Doubts of his Whither and How:
Spending his substance in Strife,
Working a practical How,
Letting obscurity
Rest on futurity,
Usefuler, wiser, I trow.

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James Kenneth Stephen