The Man And The Echo

Man.  In a cleft that's christened Alt
   Under broken stone I halt
   At the bottom of a pit
   That broad noon has never lit,
   And shout a secret to the stone.
   All that I have said and done,
   Now that I am old and ill,
   Turns into a question till
   I lie awake night after night
   And never get the answers right.
   Did that play of mine send out
   Certain men the English shot?
   Did words of mine put too great strain
   On that woman's reeling brain?
   Could my spoken words have checked
   That whereby a house lay wrecked?
   And all seems evil until I
   Sleepless would lie down and die.

Echo.  Lie down and die.

Man.                              That were to shirk
   The spiritual intellect's great work,
   And shirk it in vain. There is no release
   In a bodkin or disease,
   Nor can there be work so great
   As that which cleans man's dirty slate.
   While man can still his body keep
   Wine or love drug him to sleep,
   Waking he thanks the Lord that he
   Has body and its stupidity,
   But body gone he sleeps no more,
   And till his intellect grows sure
   That all's arranged in one clear view,
   pursues the thoughts that I pursue,
   Then stands in judgment on his soul,
   And, all work done, dismisses all
   Out of intellect and sight
   And sinks at last into the night.

Echo.  Into the night.

Man.                                O rocky voice,
   Shall we in that great night rejoice?
   What do we know but that we face
   One another in this place?
   But hush, for I have lost the theme,
   Its joy or night-seem but a dream;
   Up there some hawk or owl has struck,
   Dropping out of sky or rock,
   A stricken rabbit is crying out,
   And its cry distracts my thought.