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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This sonnet is a previously unpublished poem by Hugh Chisholm (1866-1924), former editor of the St. James’s Gazette and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (10th, 11th and 12th editions).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.

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