"Take the world!" from his throne on high, God cried;
"'Tis my free gift,—a heritage to man!
His attribute for ever. Go! divide;
Apportion it like brothers, if you can!"
Straight at his bidding, forth on either hand
Both old and young to take their portion came:
The farmer seized the produce of the land;
The hunter rush'd upon the forest game;
The merchant from all climes his wares did bring;
The abbot chose the choicest vintages;
On taxes and on customs pounced the king;
And the priest claim'd the tithe of all as his.
Last of the throng, from wandering far and wide,
The poet sought the Lord with haggard air;
For, ah! he wildly gazed on every side,
And saw that nought remain'd for him to share.
"Ah, wo is me! and must I be forgot,
The trustiest of your subjects, I, alone?"
As thus he bitterly deplored his lot
He cast himself before the Almighty's throne.
"If in a world of reverie and rhyme
You ever live," God answer'd, "blame not me.
Where hast thou been? how hast thou pass'd thy time?"
"I was," replied the poet, "nigh to thee;
"My eyes have gloated on thy glory's blaze;
My ears have drunk the music of the spheres:
Forgive! that, dazzled, blinded, by the rays
Of heaven, I have for earth nor eyes nor ears."
"What then remains?" God answered. "All is given;
The world apportion'd, nought is left to give;
But, if thou wilt abide with me in heaven,
Come when thou wilt,—best life for thee to live!"