If I could know but when and why
This piece of thoughtless dust begins
To think, and straightway I am I,
And these bright hopes and these brave sins,
That have been freer than the air,
Circle their freedom with my span;
If I could know but why this care
Is mine and not the care or man;
Why, thus unwilling, I rejoice,
And will the good I do not do,
And with the same particular voice
Speak the old folly and the new;
If I could know, seeing my soul
A white ship with a bending sail,
Rudderless, and without a goal,
Fly seaward, humble to the gale,
Why, knowing not from whence I came,
Nor why I seek I know not what,
I bear this heavy, separate name,
While winds and waters bear it not;
And why the unlimited earth delights
In life, not knowing breath from breath,
While I, that count my days and nights,
Fear thought in life, and life in death.