Undeveloped Lives

Not every thought can find its words,
Not all within is known;
For minds and hearts have many chords
That never yield their tone.

Tastes, instincts, feelings, passions, powers,
Sleep there, unfelt, unseen;
And other lives lie hid in ours—
The lives that might have been;

Affections whose transforming force
Could mould the heart anew;
Strong motives that might change the course
Of all we think and do.

Upon the tall cliff’s cloud-wrapt verge
The lonely shepherd stands,
And hears the thundering ocean surge
That sweeps the far-off strands;

And thinks in peace of raging storms
Where he will never be—
Of life in all its unknown forms
In lands beyond the sea.

So in our dreams some glimpse appears,
Though soon it fades again,
How other lands or times or spheres
Might make us other men;

How half our being lies in trance,
Nor joy nor sorrow brings,
Unless the hand of circumstance
Can touch the latent strings.

We know not fully what we are,
Still less what we might be;
But hear faint voices from the far
Dim lands beyond the sea.