Collected Poems
Of coming steps, and I was not afraid;
No, I was not afraid then, I was glad;
For I could feel, with every thought, the Man,
The Mystery, the Child, a footfall nearer.
Then, when he stood before me, there was no
Surprise, there was no questioning : I knew him,
As I had known him always; and he smiled.
' Why are you here? ' he asked; and reaching down,
He took up my dull blades and rubbed his thumb
Across the edges of them and then smiled
Once more. ' I was a carpenter, ' I said,
*But there was nothing in the world to do. '
' Nothing? ' said he. ' No, nothing, ' I replied.
' But are you sure, ' he asked, ' that you have skill?
And are you sure that you have learned your trade ?
No, you are not. ' He looked at me and laughed
As he said that; but I did not laugh then,
Although I might have laughed. ' They are dull, ' said he ;
' They were not very sharp if they were ground;
But they are what you have, and they will earn
What you have not. So take them as they are,
Grind them and clean them, put new handles to them,
And then go learn your trade in Nazareth.
Only be sure that you find Nazareth. '
' But if I starve what then ? ' said I. He smiled.
" Now I call that as curious a dream
As ever Meleager ' s mother had,
./Eneas, Alcibiades, or Jacob.
I ' ll not except the scientist who dreamed
That he was Adam and that he was Eve
At the same time ; or yet that other man
Who dreamed that he was ^Eschylus, reborn
To clutch, combine, compensate, and adjust
The plunging and unfathomable chorus