"Such wretches live: they take their share Of common earth and common air: We come across them here and there:

"We grant them--there is no escape - A sort of semi-human shape Suggestive of the man-like Ape."

"In all such theories," said he, "One fixed exception there must be. That is, the Present Company."

Baffled, she gave a wolfish bark: He, aiming blindly in the dark, With random shaft had pierced the mark.

She felt that her defeat was plain, Yet madly strove with might and main To get the upper hand again.

Fixing her eyes upon the beach, As though unconscious of his speech, She said "Each gives to more than each."

He could not answer yea or nay: He faltered "Gifts may pass away." Yet knew not what he meant to say.

"If that be so," she straight replied, "Each heart with each doth coincide. What boots it? For the world is wide."

"The world is but a Thought," said he: "The vast unfathomable sea Is but a Notion--unto me."

And darkly fell her answer dread Upon his unresisting head, Like half a hundredweight of lead.

"The Good and Great must ever shun That reckless and abandoned one Who stoops to perpetrate a pun.

"The man that smokes--that reads the Times - That goes to Christmas Pantomimes - Is capable of ANY crimes!"

He felt it was his turn to speak, And, with a shamed and crimson cheek, Moaned "This is harder than Bezique!"

But when she asked him "Wherefore so?" He felt his very whiskers glow, And frankly owned "I do not know."

While, like broad waves of golden grain, Or sunlit hues on cloistered pane, His colour came and went again.

Pitying his obvious distress, Yet with a tinge of bitterness, She said "The More exceeds the Less."

"A truth of such undoubted weight," He urged, "and so extreme in date, It were superfluous to state."

Roused into sudden passion, she In tone of cold malignity: "To others, yea: but not to thee."

But when she saw him quail and quake, And when he urged "For pity's sake!" Once more in gentle tones she spake.

"Thought in the mind doth still abide That is by Intellect supplied, And within that Idea doth hide:

"And he, that yearns the truth to know, Still further inwardly may go, And find Idea from Notion flow:

"And thus the chain, that sages sought, Is to a glorious circle wrought, For Notion hath its source in Thought."

So passed they on with even pace: Yet gradually one might trace A shadow growing on his face.

The Second Voice

They walked beside the wave-worn beach; Her tongue was very apt to teach, And now and then he did beseech

She would abate her dulcet tone, Because the talk was all her own, And he was dull as any drone.

She urged "No cheese is made of chalk": And ceaseless flowed her dreary talk, Tuned to the footfall of a walk.

Her voice was very full and rich, And, when at length she asked him "Which?" It mounted to its highest pitch.

He a bewildered answer gave, Drowned in the sullen moaning wave, Lost in the echoes of the cave.

He answered her he knew not what: Like shaft from bow at random shot, He spoke, but she regarded not.

She waited not for his reply, But with a downward leaden eye Went on as if he were not by

Sound argument and grave defence, Strange questions raised on "Why?" and "Whence?" And wildly tangled evidence.

When he, with racked and whirling brain, Feebly implored her to explain, She simply said it all again.

Wrenched with an agony intense, He spake, neglecting Sound and Sense, And careless of all consequence:

"Mind--I believe--is Essence--Ent - Abstract--that is--an Accident - Which we--that is to say--I meant--"

When, with quick breath and cheeks all flushed, At length his speech was somewhat hushed, She looked at him, and he was crushed.

It needed not her calm reply: She fixed him with a stony eye, And he could neither fight nor fly.

While she dissected, word by word, His speech, half guessed at and half heard, As might a cat a little bird.

Then, having wholly overthrown His views, and stripped them to the bone, Proceeded to unfold her own.

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems Page 11

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