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    The Day's Ration

    by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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    When I was born,
    From all the seas of strength Fate filled a chalice,
    Saying, This be thy portion, child; this chalice,
    Less than a lily's, thou shalt daily draw
    From my great arteries; nor less, nor more.
    All substances the cunning chemist Time
    Melts down into that liquor of my life,
    Friends, foes, joys, fortunes, beauty, and disgust,
    And whether I am angry or content,
    Indebted or insulted, loved or hurt,
    All he distils into sidereal wine,
    And brims my little cup; heedless, alas!
    Of all he sheds how little it will hold,
    How much runs over on the desert sands.
    If a new muse draw me with splendid ray,
    And I uplift myself into her heaven,
    The needs of the first sight absorb my blood,
    And all the following hours of the day
    Drag a ridiculous age.
    To-day, when friends approach, and every hour
    Brings book or starbright scroll of genius,
    The tiny cup will hold not a bead more,
    And all the costly liquor runs to waste,
    Nor gives the jealous time one diamond drop
    So to be husbanded for poorer days.
    Why need I volumes, if one word suffice?
    Why need I galleries, when a pupil's draught
    After the master's sketch, fills and o'erfills
    My apprehension? Why should I roam,
    Who cannot circumnavigate the sea
    Of thoughts and things at home, but still adjourn
    The nearest matters to another moon?
    Why see new men
    Who have not understood the old?
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