The Burning Book

Or the Contented Metaphysician

To the lore of no manner of men
  Would his vision have yielded
When he found what will never again
  From his vision be shielded, --
Though he paid with as much of his life
  As a nun could have given,
And to-night would have been as a knife,
  Devil-drawn, devil-driven.

For to-night, with his flame-weary eyes
  On the work he is doing,
He considers the tinder that flies
  And the quick flame pursuing.
In the leaves that are crinkled and curled
  Are his ashes of glory,
And what once were an end of the world
  Is an end of a story.

But he smiles, for no more shall his days
  Be a toil and a calling
For a way to make others to gaze
  On God's face without falling.
He has come to the end of his words,
  And alone he rejoices
In the choiring that silence affords
  Of ineffable voices.

To a realm that his words may not reach
  He may lead none to find him;
An adept, and with nothing to teach,
  He leaves nothing behind him.
For the rest, he will have his release,
  And his embers, attended
By the large and unclamoring peace
  Of a dream that is ended.