By Hugh Chisholm
Some have long memories for past delights;
Some love to dwell upon the days to come;
They have a wider scope than other some,
Whose souls are chained to present days and nights;
Whose backward gaze if memory invites,
The sense of self-continuance is numb;
The moment felt is clear, the past a hum
Of hateful ghosts: ourselves: the past affrights!
To see life “steadily” and see it “whole”!—
They long to comprehend, but know not how.
Change is the human law, the mortal goal;
Use wisely then this hour, since man must bow;
But vainly fix succession for a soul,
That knows Itself but here and now.
This sonnet is a previously unpublished poem by Hugh Chisholm (1866-1924), former editor of the St. James’s Gazette and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (10th, 11th and 12th editions). His birthday is today.