In the stillness of night Wisdom came and stood
By my bed. She gazed upon me like a tender mother
And wiped away my tears, and said : ‘I have heard
The cry of your spirit and I am come to comfort it.
Open your heart to me and I shall fill it with light.
Ask of me and I shall show you the way of truth.’
And I said : ‘Who am I, Wisdom, and how came
I to this frightening place? What manner of things
Are these mighty hopes and these many books and
Strange patterns ? What are these thoughts that pass
As doves in flight? And these words composed by
Desire and sung by delight, what are they? What are
These conclusions, grievous and joyous, that embrace
My spirit and envelop my heart? And those
Eyes which look at me seeing into my depths and
Fleeing from my sorrows ? And those voices mourning
My days and chanting my littleness, what are they ?
‘What is this youth that plays with my desires
And mocks at my longings, forgetful of yesterday’s
Deeds, rejoicing in paltry things of the moment,
Scornful of the morrow’s coming?
‘What is this world that leads me whither I know
Not, standing with me in despising? And this earth
That opens wide its mouth to swallow bodies and
Lets evil things to dwell on its breast? What is this
Creature that is satisfied with the love of fortune,
Whilst beyond its union is the pit? Who seeks Life’s
Kiss whilst Death does smite him, and brings the
Pleasure of a minute with a year of repentance, and
Gives himself to slumber the while dreams call him?
What is he who flows with the rivers of folly to the
Sea of darkness? O Wisdom, what manner of things
And she answered, saying :
‘You would see, human creature, this world
Through the eyes of a god. And you would seek to
Know the secrets of the hereafter with the thinking
Of men. Yet in truth is this the height of folly.
‘Go you to the wild places and you shall find
There the bee above the flowers and behold the eagle
Swooping down on his prey. Go you into your neighbor’s
House and see then the child blinking at the
Firelight and his mother busied at her household
Tasks. Be you like the bee and spend not the days of
Spring looking on the eagle’s doing. Be as the child
And rejoice in the firelight and heed not your Mother’s affairs. All that you see with your eyes was And is for your sake.
‘The many books and the strange patterns and
Beautiful thoughts are the shades of those spirits
That came ere you were come. The words that you
Do weave are a bond between you and your brothers.
The conclusions, grievous and joyous, are the
Seeds that the past did scatter in the field of the
Spirit to be reaped by the future. That youth who
Plays with your desires is he who will open the door
Of your heart to let enter the light. This earth with
The ever open mouth is the savior of your spirit from
The body’s slavery. This world which walks with
You is your heart; and your heart is all that you
Think that world. This creature whom you see as
Ignorant and small is the same who has come from
God’s side to learn pity through sadness, and knowledge
By way of darkness.’
Then Wisdom put her hand on my burning brow
‘Go then forward and do not tarry, for beforeWwalks Perfection. Go, and have not fear of thorns
On the path, for they deem naught lawful save Corrupted blood.’