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No grief's sharp knife, no pain's most cruel sawing,
Self and the soul can sever : The surface, that in joy sometimes seems thawing,
Soon freezes worse than ever.
Thus we are never men, self's wretched swathing
Not letting virtue swell; Thus is our whole life numbed, for ever bathing
Within this frozen well.
O miserable omnipresence, stretching
Over all time and space, How have I run from thee, yet found thee reaching
The goal in every race.
Inevitable self ! vile imitation
Of universal light, — Within our hearts a dreadful usurpation
Of God's exclusive right!
The opiate balms of grace may haply still thee,
Deep in my nature lying; For I may hardly hope, alas! to kill thee,
Save by the act of dying.
O Lord ! that I could waste my life for others,
With no ends of my own, That I could pour myself into my brothers,
And live for them alone !