Because the sweet of youth
Doth vanish all too soon,
Shall I forget, forsooth,

To learn its lingering tune;
My joy to memorize
In those young eyes?

If, like the summer flower

That blooms- —a fragrant death,

Keen music hath no power

To live beyond its breath,
Then of this flood of song
Let me drink long!

Ah, yes, because the rose

Fades like the sunset skies;
Because rude winter blows

All bare, and music dies-
Therefore, now is to me

Richard Watson Gilder [1844-1909]


WHERE runs the river? Who can say
Who hath not followed all the way
By alders green and sedges gray
And blossoms blue?

Where runs the river? Hill and wood
Curve round to hem the eager flood;
It cannot straightly as it would

Its path pursue.

Yet this we know: O'er whatso plains
Or rocks or waterfalls it strains,
At last the Vast the stream attains;

And I, and you.

Francis William Bourdillon [1852


WEARY of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire

O'er the sea and to the stars I send:

"Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me, Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

"Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters, On my heart your mighty charm renew;

Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,

Feel my soul becoming vast like you!"

From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven, Over the lit sea's unquiet way,

In the rustling night-air came the answer:
"Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.

"Unaffrighted by the silence round them, Undistracted by the sights they see,

These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.

"And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.

"Bounded by themselves, and unregardful
In what state God's other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life
you see."

O air-born voice! long since, severely clear,
A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:
"Resolve to be thyself; and know, that he,
Who finds himself, loses his misery!"

Matthew Arnold [1822-1888]


BENEATH the shadow of dawn's aerial cope,

With eyes enkindled as the sun's own sphere,
Hope from the front of youth in godlike cheer
Looks Godward, past the shades where blind men grope
Round the dark door that prayers nor dreams can ope,
And makes for joy the very darkness dear

That gives her wide wings play; nor dreams that Fear
At noon may rise and pierce the heart of Hope.
Then, when the soul leaves off to dream and yearn,
May Truth first purge her eyesight to discern
What once being known leaves time no power to appall;
Till youth at last, ere yet youth be not, learn
The kind wise word that falls from years that fall-
"Hope not thou much, and fear thou not at all."

Algernon Charles Swinburne [1837-1909]


WHEN I consider how my light is spent

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
John Milton [1608-1674]


I MET a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley [1792-1822]


A CERTAIN Pasha, dead five thousand years,
Once from his harem fled in sudden tears,

And had this sentence on the city's gate
Deeply engraven, "Only God is great."

So these four words above the city's noise
Hung like the accents of an angel's voice,

And evermore, from the high barbican,
Saluted each returning caravan.

Lost is that city's glory. Every gust
Lifts, with dead leaves, the unknown Pasha's dust,

And all is ruin,-save one wrinkled gate
Whereon is written, "Only God is great."

Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1837-1907]

ONCE in Persia reigned a King,
Who upon his signet ring
'Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before the eyes,

Gave him counsel at a glance,
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they:
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand Brought him gems from Samarcand; Fleets of galleys through the seas Brought him pearls to match with these. But he counted not his gain

Treasures of the mine or main;

"What is wealth?" the King would say; “Even this shall pass away.”

In the revels of his court

At the zenith of the sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried: "Oh, loving friends of mine!
Pleasure comes, but not to stay;
Even this shall pass away."

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tent;
Groaning from his tortured side,
"Pain is hard to bear," he cried,
"But with patience, day by day-
Even this shall pass away."

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the King, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly, "What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay-
Even this shall pass away."

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