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We see the clouds of summer go and
And thirsty verdure praying them to give:
We cry, “O Nature, tell us why we live!”
She smiles with beauty, but her lips are dumb-
And the days go by.
Yet what are we? We breathe, we love, we cease:
Too soon our little orbits change and fall:
We are Fate's children, very tired; and all
Are homeless strangers, craving rest and peace-
And the days go by.
I only ask to drink experience deep;
And, in the sad, sweet goblet of my years,
To find love poured with all its smiles and tears,
And quaffing this, I too shall sweetly sleep
While the days go by.
Henry Abbey (1842–1911)
I WILL reach far down in the pit of sorrow
And gather song,
With the bitter past I will deck to-morrow.
I will turn no cowardly look behind me,
But still fare on
Till the glow of ultimate joy shall blind me.
For I ask no blessing and no forgiving,
The gain was mine, Since I learn from all things the truth of living.
Helen Huntington (18
As I lay asleep in Italy.--SHELLEY
ONE night I lay asleep in Africa,
In a closed garden by the city gate;
A desert horseman, furious and late,
Came wildly thundering at the massive bar,
“Open in Allah's name! Wake, Mustapha!
Slain is the Sultan,-treason, war, and hate
Rage from Fez to Tetuan! Open straight.”
The watchman heard as thunder from afar:
“Go to! In peace this city lies asleep;
To all-knowing Allah 'tis no news you bring;”
Then turned in slumber still his watch to keep.
At once a nightingale began to sing,
In oriental calm the garden lay,–
Panic and war postponed another day.
Charles Dudley Warner (1829–1900)
OUT-WORN heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the gray twilight,
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.
Your mother Eire is always young,
Dew ever shining and twilight gray;
Though hope fall from you and love decay,
Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue.
Come, heart, where hill is heaped upon hill:
For there the mystical brotherhood
Of sun and moon and hollow and wood
And river and stream work out their will;
And God stands winding His lonely horn,
And time and the world are ever in flight;
And love is less kind than the gray twilight,
And hope is less dear than the dew of the morn.
William Butler Yeats (1865
WHEN I consider Life and its few years-
A wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun;
A call to battle, and the battle done
Ere the last echo dies within our ears;
A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears;
The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat;
The burst of music down an unlistening street-
I wonder at the idleness of tears.
Ye old, old dead, and ye of yesternight,
Chieftains, and bards, and keepers of the sheep,
By every cup of sorrow that you had,
Loose me from tears, and make me see aright
How each hath back what once he stayed to weep;
Homer his sight, David his little lad!
Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856–
The statue by Victor Rosseau in the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels
ANGEL, hast thou betrayed me? Long ago
In the Forgotten Land of souls that wait,
Thou leddest me to the outward-folding gate,
Bidding me live. I leaned into the flow
Of earthward-rushing spirits, fain to know
What are humanity and human fate
Of which the rumor reached to where we sate
In our cool, hidden, dreamless ante-glow.
But I learn not, and am bewildered here
To know why thou with seeming-kindly hands
Didst let me forth, explorer of a star
Where all is strange, and very often Fear
Urges retreat to that Forgotten Land's
Unthoughtful shores where thou and Silence are!
Arthur Upson (1877-1908]
We are born; we laugh; we weep;
We love; we droop; we die!
Ah! wherefore do we laugh or weep?
Why do we live, or die?
Who knows that secret deep?
Alas, not I!
Why doth the violet spring
Unseen by human eye?
Why do the radiant seasons bring
Sweet thoughts that quickly fly?
Why do our fond hearts cling
To things that die?
We toil,—through pain and wrong;
We fight, -and fly;
We love; we lose; and then, ere long,
Stone-dead we lie.
O life! is all thy song
Bryan Waller Procter (1787–1874)
WHILE sauntering through the crowded street, Some half-remembered face I meet,
Albeit upon no mortal shore
That face, methinks, has smiled before.
Lost in a gay and festal throng,
I tremble at some tender song,
Set to an air whose golden bars
I must have heard in other stars.
In sacred aisles I pause to share
The blessing of a priestly prayer, —
When the whole scene which greets mine eyes In some strange mode I recognize,
As one whose every mystic part
I feel prefigured in my heart.
At sunset, as I calmly stand,
A stranger on an alien strand,
Familiar as my childhood's home
Seems the long stretch of wave and foam.
One sails toward me o'er the bay,
And what he comes to do and say
I can foretell. A prescient lore
Springs from some life outlived of yore.
O swift, instinctive, startling gleams
Of deep soul-knowledge! not as dreams
For aye ye vaguely dawn and die,
But oft with lightning certainty
Pierce through the dark, oblivious brain,
To make old thoughts and memories plain-
Thoughts which perchance must travel back
Across the wild, bewildering track
Of countless æons; memories far,
High-reaching as yon pallid star,
Unknown, scarce seen, whose flickering grace
Faints on the outmost rings of space!
Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830-1886]
From "Songs from Vagabondia"
HAVE little care that Life is brief,
And less that Art is long.
Success is in the silences
Though Fame is in the song.
With the Orient in her eyes,
Life my mistress lured me on.
“Knowledge," said that look of hers,
“Shall be yours when all is done."