George John Romanes (1848-1894)
Text from A Century of Canadian Sonnets.
When I look back upon my childish years,
And think how little then I thought at all,
Sometimes to me it now almost appears,
So great the change has been, 'twere but a small
Increase of change that might transform a man
Into a spirit, standing at the throne
Of God, to see in full the mighty plan
Divine, and know as also he is known.
For why should thus so vast a growth have been,
Which all but tops the verge of earthly skies,
If, at the end, all that a man hath seen
Be blotted out before his closing eyes?
So were it better still a child to be,
And shout young laughter through a world of glee.
Why should I chafe and fret myself to find
Some pebble still untouched upon the beach,
Where struggling wavelets follow each on each
Upon the tide-mark of advancing Mind?
If, one with them and urged by those behind,
My utmost energy at last should reach
A stone unwetted by a bubble's breach,
What gain were it to me or to my kind?
Though I should fail that further inch to go,
Some other soon will creep its rugged floor,
While, resting on the conquered strand below,
I calmly watch the rivalry before,
Rejoicing at the steady onward flow,
But at my new-found peace rejoicing more.