I come into being
    As a slight thickening
    At the end of a long thread.
    Cells proliferate,
    Become an excrescence,
    And assume the shape of a man.

    The end of the thread now
    Lies buried within,
    Shielded, inviolate.
    My task is to bear it forward,
    Pass it on.
    I flourish for a moment,
    Achieve a bit of singing
    And dancing, a few memories
    I would carve on stone,
    Then I wither, twist out of shape.

    The end of the thread now
    Lies in my children, extends back
    Through me, unbroken,
    Unfathomable into the past.
    Numberless thickenings
    Have appeared on it,
    Have flourished and
    Have fallen away
    As I now fall away.
    Nothing remains but the germ-line.
    What changes to produce
    New structures as life evolves
    Is not the momentary excrescence
    But the hereditary arrangements
    Within the thread.

    But I am the carrier of spirit.
    I know not how nor why nor where.
    On my shoulders, in my eyes,
    In anguished hands
    Through unclear realm,
    Into future unknown, unknowable,
    And in continual creation,
    I bear its full weight.
    Depends it on me utterly,
    Yet i know it not.
    I inch it forward
    With each beat of heart,
    Give it the work of hand, of mind.
    I falter, pass it on to my offspring,
    Lay out my bones, fall away,
    Am lost, forgotten.
    Spirit passes on, enlarged,
    Enriched, stranger, and complex.

    I am being used. Should not I know
    In whose service?
    To whom, to what, give I
    Unwitting loyalty?
    What is this quest?
    Beyond that which I have
    What could I want? What is spirit?
    Spirit rises, matter falls.
    Spirit reaches like a flame,
    A leap of a dancer.
    Out of the void
    It creates form like a god, is god.

    Spirit was from the start,
    Though even that beginning
    May have been an ending
    Of some earlier start.
    If I look back far enough
    I arrive at a primal mist
    Wherein spirit is but
    A restlessness of atoms,
    A trembling of something there
    That will not stay
    In stillness and in cold.

    Matter would have the universe
    A uniform dispersion,
    Motionless, complete.
    Spirit would have an earth,
    A heaven and a hell,
    Whirl and conflict,
    An incandescent sun
    To drive away the dark,
    Illuminate good and evil,
    Would have thought,
    Memory, desire,
    Would build a stairway of forms
    Increasing in complexity, inclusiveness,
    To a heaven ever receding above,
    Changing always in configuration,
    Becoming when reached
    But the way to more distant heavens,
    The last... but there is no last,
    For spirit tends upward without end,
    Wanders, spirals, dips,
    But tends ever upward,
    Ruthlessly using lower forms
    To create higher forms,
    Moving toward ever greater inwardness,
    Consciousness, spontaneity,
    To an ever greater freedom:

    Particles become animate.
    Spirit leaps aside from matter
    Which tugs forever to pull down,
    To make it still.
    Minute creatures writhe
    In warm oceans.
    Ever more complex become
    The tiny forms which bear for a moment
    A questing spirit.
    They come together, touch;
    Spirit is beginning to create love.
    They touch, something passes.
    They die, die, and die, endlessly.

    Who shall know the spawnings
    In the rivers of my past?
    Who shall count the waltzing grunion
    on the shores of ancient seas?
    Who shall hear the unheard poundings of that surf?
    Who will mourn the rabbits of the plains,
    The furry tides of lemmings?
    They die, die, die, but have touched,
    And something passes.
    Spirit leaps away, creates new bodies,
    Endlessly, ever more complex vessels
    To bear spirit forward,
    Pass it on enlarged to those who follow.

    Virus becomes bacteria,
    Becomes algae, becomes fern.
    Thrust of spirit cracks stone,
    Drives up the balsam fir.
    Amoeba reaches out soft blunt arms
    In ceaseless motion to find the world,
    To know it better, to bring it in,
    Growing larger, questing further,
    Ever more capacious of spirit.
    Anemone becomes squid, becomes fish;
    Wiggling becomes swimming, becomes crawling;
    Fish becomes slug, becomes lizard;
    Crawling becomes walking,
    Becomes running, becomes flying.

    Living things reach out to each other,
    Spirit leaps between.
    Tropism becomes scent,
    Becomes fascination,
    Becomes lust,
    Becomes love.
    Lizard to fox to monkey to man,
    In a look, in a word, we come together,
    Touch, die, serve spirit
    Without knowing,
    Carry it forward, pass it on.
    Ever more winged this spirit,
    Ever greater its leaps.

    From primal mist of matter
    To spiralled galaxies and
    Clockwork solar systems,
    From molten rock to an earth
    Of air and land and water,
    From heaviness to lightness to life,
    Sensation to perception,
    Memory to consciousness -
    Man now holds a mirror,
    Spirit sees itself.

    Within the river
    Currents turn back, eddies whirl.
    The river falters,
    Disappears, emerges,
    Moves on.
    The general course is
    The growth of form,
    Increasing awareness,
    Matter to mind to consciousness.
    The harmony of man and nature
    Is to be found in continuing this journey
    Along its ancient course
    Toward greater freedom
    And higher awareness.

Emily Dickinson's axiom
Emily Dickinson's Axiom...