112. The Elements
(A Tragic Chorus.)

    MAN is permitted much
        To scan and learn
        In Nature's frame;
    Till he well-nigh can tame
    Brute mischiefs and can touch
    Invisible things, and turn
All warring ills to purposes of good.
        Thus, as a god below,
        He can control,
And harmonize, what seems amiss to flow
    As sever'd from the whole
    And dimly understood.

    But o'er the elements
        One Hand alone,
        One Hand has sway.
    What influence day by day
    In straiter belt prevents
    The impious Ocean, thrown {189}
Alternate o'er the ever-sounding shore?
    Or who has eye to trace
        How the Plague came?
Forerun the doublings of the Tempest's race?
    Or the Air's weight and flame
    On a set scale explore?

    Thus God has will'd
That man, when fully skill'd,
Still gropes in twilight dim;
Encompass'd all his hours
    By fearfullest powers
    Inflexible to him.
That so he may discern
    His feebleness.
And e'en for earth's success
    To him in wisdom turn,
Who holds for us the keys of either home,
Earth and the world to come.

At Sea
June 25, 1833.

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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