Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 247. At the End of Things
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
247. At the End of Things
By Arthur Edward Waite  (b. 1860)
  
THE WORLD uprose as a man to find Him—
  Ten thousand methods, ten thousand ends—
Some bent on treasure; the more on pleasure;
  And some on the chaplet which fame attends:
But the great deep’s voice in the distance dim        5
Said: Peace, it is well; they are seeking Him.
 
When I heard that all the world was questing,
  I look’d for a palmer’s staff and found,
By a reed-fringed pond, a fork’d hazel-wand
  On a twisted tree, in a bann’d waste-ground;       10
But I knew not then what the sounding strings
Of the sea-harps say at the end of things.
 
They told me, world, you were keen on seeking;
  I cast around for a scrip to hold
Such meagre needs as the roots of weeds—       15
  All weeds, but one with a root of gold;
Yet I knew not then how the clangs ascend
When the sea-horns peal and the searchings end.
 
An old worn wallet was that they gave me,
  With twelve old signs on its seven old skins;       20
And a star I stole for the good of my soul,
  Lest the darkness came down on my sins;
For I knew not who in their life had heard
Of the sea-pipes shrilling a secret word.
 
I join’d the quest that the world was making,       25
  Which follow’d the false ways far and wide,
While a thousand cheats in the lanes and streets
  Offer’d that wavering crowd to guide;
But what did they know of the sea-reed’s speech
When the peace-words breathe at the end for each?       30
 
The fools fell down in the swamps and marshes;
  The fools died hard on the crags and hills;
The lies which cheated, so long repeated,
  Deceived, in spite of their evil wills,
Some knaves themselves at the end of all—       35
Though how should they hearken when sea-flutes call?
 
But me the scrip and the staff had strengthen’d;
  I carried the star; that star led me:
The paths I’ve taken, of most forsaken,
  Do surely lead to an open sea:       40
As a clamour of voices heard in sleep,
Come shouts through the dark on the shrouded deep.
 
Now it is noon; in the hush prevailing
  Pipes, harps and horns into flute-notes fall;
The sea, conceding my star’s true leading,       45
  In tongues sublime at the end of all
Gives resonant utterance far and near:—
  ‘Cast away fear;
  Be of good cheer;
  He is here,       50
  Is here!’
 
And now I know that I sought Him only
  Even as child, when for flowers I sought;
In the sins of youth, as in search for truth.
  To find Him, hold Him alone I wrought.       55
The knaves too seek Him, and fools beguiled—
So speak to them also, sea-voices mild!
 
Which then was wisdom and which was folly?
  Did my star more than the cozening guide?
The fool, as I think, at the chasm’s brink,       60
  Prone by the swamp or the marsh’s side,
Did, even as I, in the end rejoice,
Since the voice of death must be His true voice.

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