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Short poem

James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892)

The Philosopher and the Philanthropist

              1Searching an infinite Where,
              2Probing a bottomless When,
              3  Dreamfully wandering,
              4  Ceaselessly pondering,
              5What is the Wherefore of men:
              6Bartering life for a There,
              7Selling his soul for a Then,
              8  Baffling obscurity,
              9  Conning futurity,
            10Usefulest, wisest of men!

            11Grasping the Present of Life,
            12Seizing a definite Now,
            13  Labouring thornfully,
            14  Banishing scornfully
            15Doubts of his Whither and How:
            16Spending his substance in Strife,
            17Working a practical How,
            18  Letting obscurity
            19  Rest on futurity,
            20Usefuler, wiser, I trow.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: J. K. Stephen, Lapsus Calami, new edn. (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891), p. 43. PR 5473 S4L3 1891 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1891
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: abccbabddb efddfefddf

Other poems by James Kenneth Stephen