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Handout 1: The Ancient Sage

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

This is an excerpt from the poem "Ancient Sage"

Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son,

Nor canst thou prove the world thou movest in,

Thou canst not prove that thou art body alone,

Nor canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone,

Nor canst thou prove that thou art both in one:

Thou canst not prove thou art immortal, no

Nor yet that thou art mortal—nay my son,

Thou canst not prove that I, who speak with thee,

Am not thyself in converse with thyself,

For nothing worthy proving can be proven,

Nor yet disproven: wherefore thou be wise,

Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt,

And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith

She reels not in the storm of warring words,

She brightens at the clash of 'Yes' and 'No',

She sees the Best that glimmers thro' the Worst,

She feels the Sun is hid but for a night,

She spies the summer thro' the winter bud,

She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,

She hears the lark within the songless egg,

She finds the fountain where they wail'd 'Mirage'!

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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