This Infinite Invisible

From Death’s Jest-Book, Act IV, by Thomas Lovell Beddoes

How strange it is that I can live to day;
Nay look like other men, who have been sleeping
On quiet pillows and not dreamt! Methinks
The look of the world’s a lie, a face made up
O’er graves and fiery depths; and nothing’s true
But what is horrible. If man could see
The perils and diseases that he elbows,
Each day he walks a mile; which catch at him,
Which fall behind and graze him as he passes;
Then would he know that Life’s a single pilgrim,
Fighting unarmed amongst a thousand soldiers.
It is this infinite invisible
Which we must learn to know, and yet to scorn,
And, from the scorn of that, regard the world
As from the edge of a far star. Now then
I feel me in the thickest of the battle;
The arrow-shower pours down, swords hew, mines open
Their ravenous mouths about me; it rains death;
But cheerly I defy the braggart storm,
And set my back against a rock, to fight
Till I am bloodily won.

deaths jest book


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