Maurice Thompson

The Final Thought

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What is the grandest thought
Toward which the soul has wrought?
Has it the epic form,
And the power of a storm?
Comes it of prophecy
(That borrows light of uncreated fires),
Or of transmitted strains of memory
Sent down through countless sires?

I tiptoe on the verge
Of the Future, and I urge
Into vast space the cry of my despair
(Which, like a sea-gull lost in upper air,
Glides weakly on and on);
But whither is it gone,
This straying cry with human anguish fraught?
What is the final thought?

Which way are my feet set?
Through infinite changes yet
Shall I go on,
Nearer and nearer drawn
To Thee,
God of eternity?
How shall the human grow,
By changes fine and slow,
To Thy perfection from the life-dawn sought?
What is the highest thought?

Ah, these dim memories
Of when Thy voice spake lovingly to me,
Under the Eden trees,
Saying: "Lord of all creation thou shalt be,"
How they haunt me and elude--
How they hover, how they brood,
On the horizon, fading yet dying not!
What is the final thought?

What if I once did dwell
In the lowest dust germ-cell,
A faint fore-hint of life called forth of God,
Waxing and struggling on,
Through the long, flickering dawn,
The awful while His feet earth's bosom trod?

What if He shaped me so,
And caused my life to blow
Into the full soul-flower in Eden-air?
Lo! now I am not good,
And I stand in solitude,
Calling to Him (and yet He answers not):
What is the final thought?

What myriads of years up from the germ!
What countless ages back from man to worm!
And yet from man to God, oh help me now!
A cold despair is beading on my brow!
I may see Him, and seeing know Him not!
What is the highest thought?

Oh, higher than the skies
My ecstatic prayers arise!
The stars hear them go by
Into the regions of Eternity--
The angels meet them wandering after Him,
Begging for just one ray
Of perfect light across the spaces dim
To guide me on my long and lonely way.

Oh, lead me, I am blind!
Back, back, until I find
The rapture-haunted spot,
Where still the all-creative Essence fills
Forms (out of dead clay wrought)
With godlike souls and heaven-aspiring wills--
Back to the highest thought!

A fragrant breath goes by;
A subtile waft, from some far paradise,
Blows on me fitfully,
And colors, half unseen, allure my eyes,
All sightless though they be;
And so my heart is filled with wild desire,
And all my soul is like a flaring fire!
What is this flame in which my life is caught?
Is it the highest thought?

"Blasphemer, hush!
The universe would rush
To be a part of thee, if thou couldst know
The garden where God's flowers of wisdom blow!
Cry not to Him
Across the spaces dim;
Dare not to touch His ether with thy breath,
Thou bearer of the ancient curse of death!
Prayer shall avail thee not:
Shrink from the final thought!"

So comes, at last,
The answer from the Vast....
Not so, there is a rush of wings--
Earth feels the presence of invisible things,
Closer and closer drawn
In fragrant mists of dawn!
One dies to conquer Death
And to burst the awful tomb,--
Lo, with His dying breath
He blows love into bloom!
Love! faith is born of it!
Death is the scorn of it!
It fills the earth and thrills the heaven above,
And God is love,
And life is love, and, though we heed it not,
Love is the final thought.

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Maurice Thompson