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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Alone I climb the steep ascending path
   Which leads to knowledge. In the babbling throngs
   That hurry after, shouting to the world
   Small fragments of large truths, there is not one
   Who comprehends my purpose, or who sees
   The ultimate great goal. Why, even she,
   My heaven intended Spouse, my other self,
   Religion, turns her beauteous face on me
   With hatred in the eyes, where love should dwell.
   While those who call me Master blindly run,
   Wounding the ear of Faith with blasphemies,
   And making useless slaughter in my name.

   Mine is the difficult slow task to blaze
   A road of Facts, through labyrinths of dreams
   To tear down Maybe and establish IS:
   And substitute I Know for I Believe.
   I follow closely where the Seers have led:
   But that intangible dim path of theirs,
   Which may be trodden but by other Seers,
   I seek to render solid for the feet
   Of all mankind. With reverent hands I lift
   The mask from Mystery: and show the face
   Of Reason, smiling bravely on the world.
   The visions of the prophets, one by one,
   Grew visible beneath my tireless touch:
   And the white secrets of elusive stars
   I tell aloud, to listening multitudes.

   To fit the better world my toil ensures,
   Time will impregnate with a better race
   The Future’s womb: and when the hour is ripe,
   To ready eyes of men, the alien spheres
   Shall seem as friendly neighbours: and my skill
   Shall make their music audible to ears
   Which will be tuned to those high harmonies.

   Mine is the work to fashion, step by step,
   The shining Way that leads from man to God.
   Though I demolish obstacles of creeds
   And blast tradition, from the face of earth,
   My hand shall open wide the door of Truth,
   Whose other name is Faith: and at the end
   Of this most holy labour, I shall turn
   To see Religion, with enlightened eyes,
   Seeking the welcome of my outstretched arms.
   While all the world stands hushed and awed before
   The proven splendour of the Fact Supreme.

from An Englishman and Other Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1912)

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