A chip, in floating down a stream,Indulged a gratifying dream:"All things on earth but only IAre bound by stern necessity-"Are moved this way or that, their courseDetermined by some outer force."The helpless boughs upon the treesConfess the suasion of the breeze."The stone where it was placed remainsTill loosened by the frost or rains."The animals go here and thereAs circumstances may declare."The influence they cannot seeIs clearly visible to me."Yet all belive they're governed stillBy nothing but their solemn will."Deluded fools! I-I aloneObey no forces but my own."Without or sail or oar, I glideAt pleasure to the ocean's tide."No pow'r shall stay me till I laveMy body in the salt sea wave.Just then an eddy's gentle strengthBy hardly half a finger's length,His chipship drew aside. Said he;"'Tis far indeed to reach the sea."Now more and more, behold him swerveAlong the eddy's outer curve.He says: "My joy in swimming's o'erI'm half inclined to go ashore."As still he sweeps his arc,He adds: "The day is growing dark,"But still there's time to reach, no doubt,The point for which I first set out."The circle was completed quite."Right here," he said. "I'll pass the night."Nor ever once that chip suspectedThat ought but he his course deflected.Free-will, O mortals, is a dream:Ye all are ships upon a stream.
2009 Update: The iron shackling each to his or her own failures, felonies and follies.