Beyond Good And Evil, August 1912



By G. E. Woodberry

I RODE in the dark of the spirit

A [marvelous], [marvelous] way;

The faiths that the races inherit

Behind in the sunset lay;

Dome, mosque, and temple huddled

Bade farewell to the day;

But I rode into the leagues of the dark,

There was no light but my hoof-beats' spark

That sprang from that marvelous way.

Behind were the coffined gods in their shroud

Of jungle, desert, and mound,

The mighty man-bones and the mummies proud

Stark in their caves underground;

And the planet that sepulchers god and man,

Bore me in the cone of its dark profound

To the ultimate clash in stellar space,

The way of the dead, god-making race

Whirled with its dead gods round.

And my heart, as the night grew colder,

Drew near to the heart of my steed;

I had pillowed my head on his shoulder

Long years in the sand and the reed;

Long ago he was foaled of the Muses,

And sired of the heroes' deed;

And he came unto me by the fountain

Of the old Hellenic mountain,

And of heaven is his breed.

So my heart grew near to the heart of the my horse,

Who was wiser, far wiser than I;

Yet wherever I leaned in my spirit's course,

He swayed, and questioned not why;

And this was because he was born above,

A child of the beautiful sky;

And now we were come to the kingdoms black,

And nevermore should we journey back

To the land where dead men lie. [page 2]

Now whether or not in that [gruesome] air

My soul was seized by the dread cafard,

Terror of deserts, I cannot swear;

But I rode straight into an orbèd star,

Where only reigned the spirit of good,

And only the holy and virtuous are;

And my horse's eyes sent forth sun-rays,

And in my own was a noon-tide gaze

That mastered that splendid star.

The madness of deserts, if so it be,

Burned in my brain and I saw

The multitudinous progeny

Of the talon and the claw;

And Mammon in all their palaces

Gaped with a golden maw;

And we rode far off from the glittering roofs,

And the horse, as he passed, with his heaven-shod hoofs

Broke the tables of their law.

And we came to a city adjacent thereby,

For the twain to one Empire belong;

Black over it hung a terrible cry

From eternal years of wrong;

And the land, it was full of gallows and prisons

And the horrible deeds of the strong;

And we fled; but the flash of my horse's feet

Broke open the jails in every street,

And lightning burned there long.

We were past the good and the evil,

In the spirit's uttermost dark;

He is neither god nor devil

For whom my heart-beats hark;

And I leaned my cheek to my horse's neck,

And I sang to his ear in the dark: --

"There is neither good nor evil,

"There is neither god nor devil,

And our way lies on through the dark.

"Once I saw by a throne

A burning angel who cried,-

'I will suffer all woes that man's spirit has known,'

And he plunged in the turbid tide;

And whenever he sank with that heart of love,

He rose up purified; [page 3]

Glowed brighter his limbs and his beautiful face,

And he went not back to the heavenly place,

And he drew all men to his side.

"I have never heard it or learnt it,

It is in me like my soul,

And the sights of this world have burnt it

In me to a living coal, --

The soul of man is a masterless thing

And bides not another's control;

And gypsy-broods of bandit-loins

Shall teach what the lawless life enjoins

Upon the lawless soul.

"When we dare neither to loose nor to bind,

However to us things appear;

When whatsoever in others we find,

We shall feel neither shame nor fear;

When we learn that to love the lowiest

We must first salute him our peer;

When the basest is most our brother,

And we neither look down on nor up to another, --

The end of our ride shall be near."

A wind arose from the dreadful past,

And the sand smoked on the knoll;

I saw, blown by the bolts of the blast,

The shreds of the Judgement scroll;

I heard the death-spasms of Justice old

Under the seas and the mountains roll;

Then the horse who had borne me through all disaster,

Turned blazing eyes upon me his master,

For the thoughts I sing are his soul.

And I sang in his ear, -- "Tis the old world dying

Whose death-cries through heaven are rolled;

Through the souls of men a flame is flying

That shall a new firmament mould;

And the uncreated light in man's spirit

Shall sun, moon, and stars unfold";

Then the horse snuffed the dark with his nostrils bright,

And he strode, and he stretched, and he neighed to the light

That shall beam at the word to be told.

[page 4]


The list of Academicians in the Department of Literature – and I am not competent to speak of the men in the Department of Art and in the Department of Music – is worthily completed by the name of one who in these strenuous Philistine days is an admirable type of the genuine, leisurely, high-minded man of letters, George E. Woodberry.  Mr. Woodberry is a distinguished poet, critic and biographer; a man of sound culture, wide knowledge and fastidious taste, just the kind of person that every American community needs.

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