One said: Thy life is thine to make or mar,
To flicker feebly, or to soar, a star;
It lies with thee -- the choice is thine, is thine,
To hit the ties or drive thy auto-car.
I answered Her: The choice is mine -- ah, no!
We all were made or marred long, long ago.
The parts are written; hear the super wail:
"Who is stage-managing this cosmic show?"
Blind fools of fate and slaves of circumstance,
Life is a fiddler, and we all must dance.
From gloom where mocks that will-o'-wisp, Free-will
I heard a voice cry: "Say, give us a chance."
Chance! Oh, there is no chance! The scene is set,
Up with the curtain! Man, the marionette,
Resumes his part. The gods will work the wires.
They've got it all down fine, you bet, you bet!
It's all decreed -- the mighty earthquake crash,
The countless constellations' wheel and flash;
The rise and fall of empires, war's red tide;
The composition of your dinner hash.
There's no haphazard in this world of ours.
Cause and effect are grim, relentless powers.
They rule the world. (A king was shot last night;
Last night I held the joker and both bowers.)
From out the mesh of fate our heads we thrust.
We can't do what we would, but what we must.
Heredity has got us in a cinch --
(Consoling thought when you've been on a "bust".)
Hark to the song where spheral voices blend:
"There's no beginning, never will be end."
It makes us nutty; hang the astral chimes!
The tables spread; come, let us dine, my friend.
Robert Service: Quatrains