Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: III. Memory
Pre-Existence
Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)
 
WHILE sauntering through the crowded street,
Some half-remembered face I meet,
 
Albeit upon no mortal shore
That face, methinks, has smiled before.
 
Lost in a gay and festal throng,        5
I tremble at some tender song,—
 
Set to an air whose golden bars
I must have heard in other stars.
 
In sacred aisles I pause to share
The blessings of a priestly prayer,—        10
 
When the whole scene which greets mine eyes
In some strange mode I recognize
 
As one whose every mystic part
I feel prefigured in my heart.
 
At sunset, as I calmly stand,        15
A stranger on an alien strand,
 
Familiar as my childhood’s home
Seems the long stretch of wave and foam.
 
One sails toward me o’er the bay,
And what he comes to do and say        20
 
I can foretell. A prescient lore
Springs from some life outlived of yore.
 
O swift, instinctive, startling gleams
Of deep soul-knowledge! not as dreams
 
For aye ye vaguely dawn and die,        25
But oft with lightning certainty
 
Pierce through the dark, oblivious brain,
To make old thoughts and memories plain,
 
Thoughts which perchance must travel back
Across the wild, bewildering track        30
 
Of countless æons; memories far,
High-reaching as yon pallid star,
 
Unknown, scarce seen, whose flickering grace
Faints on the outmost rings of space!
 
 
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