The Failing Track by George MacDonald

Where went the feet that hitherto have come?
Here yawns no gulf to quench the flowing past!
With lengthening pauses broke, the path grows dumb;
The grass floats in; the gazer stands aghast.

Tremble not, maiden, though the footprints die;
By no air-path ascend the lark’s clear notes;
The mighty-throated when he mounts the sky
Over some lowly landmark sings and floats.

Be of good cheer. Paths vanish from the wave;
There all the ships tear each its track of gray;
Undaunted they the wandering desert brave:
In each a magic finger points the way.

No finger finely touched, no eye of lark
Hast thou to guide thy steps where footprints fail?
Ah, then, ’twere well to turn before the dark,
Nor dream to find thy dreams in yonder vale!

The backward way one hour is plain to thee,
Hard hap were hers who saw no trace behind!
Back to confession at thy mother’s knee,
Back to the question and the childlike mind!

Then start afresh, but toward unending end,
The goal o’er which hangs thy own star all night;
So shalt thou need no footprints to befriend,
Child-heart and shining star will guide thee right.

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