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And what if Nature's fearful wound
They did not probe and bare,
For that their spirits never swooned
To watch the misery there,
For that their love but flowed more fast,
Their charities more free,
Not conscious what mere drops they cast
Into the evil sea.
A man's best things are nearest him,
Lie close about his feet;
It is the distant and the dim
That we are sick to greet:
For flowers that grow our hands beneath,
We struggle and aspire,-
Our hearts must die, except they breathe
The air of fresh Desire.
Yet, Brothers, who up Reason's hill
Advance with hopeful cheer,-
O, loiter not! those heights are chill, —
As chill as they are clear;
And still restrain your haughty gaze,
The loftier that ye go,
Remembering distance leaves a haze
On all that lies below.
THE WORTH OF HOURS. — Milnes.
BELIEVE not that your inner eye
Can ever in just measure try
The worth of Hours as they go by:
For every man's weak self, alas!
Makes him to see them, while they pass,
As through a dim or tinted glass:
But if in earnest care you would
Mete out to each its part of good,
Trust rather to your after-mood.
Those surely are not fairly spent,
That leave your spirit bowed and bent
In sad unrest and ill-content:
And more, though free from seeming harm,
You rest from toil of mind or arm,
Or slow retire from Pleasure's charm,
If then a painful sense comes on
Of something wholly lost and gone,
Vainly enjoyed, or vainly done, -
Of something from your being's chain
Broke off, nor to be linked again
By all mere Memory can retain, -
Upon your heart this truth may rise, -
Nothing that altogether dies
Suffices Man's just destinies:
So should we live, that every Hour
May die as dies the natural flower, -
A self-reviving thing of power;
That every Thought and every Deed
May hold within itself the seed
Of future good and future need;
Esteeming Sorrow, whose employ
Is to develop, not destroy,
Far better than a barren Joy.
ABOU BEN ADHEM AND THE ANGEL. - Leigh Hunt
ABOU BEN ADHEM (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel, writing in a book of gold;
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold;
And to the presence in the room he said,
What writest thou?" The vision raised his head,
And, with a look made all of sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. 66
Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."
The angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again with great awakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
THE VIOLET-GIRL. — Milnes.
WHEN Fancy will continually rehearse
Some painful scene once present to the eye,
"T is well to mould it into gentle verse,
That it may lighter on the spirit lie.
Home yestern eve I wearily returned,
Though bright my morning mood and short my way, But sad experience, in one moment earned,
Can crush the heaped enjoyments of the day.
Passing the corner of a populous street,
I marked a girl whose wont it was to stand,
With pallid cheek, torn gown, and naked feet,
And bunches of fresh violets in each hand.
There her small commerce, in the chill March weather,
She plied with accents miserably mild;
It was a frightful thought to set together
Those blooming blossoms and that fading child: -
Those luxuries and largess of the earth,
Beauty and pleasure to the sense of man,
And this poor sorry weed, cast loosely forth
On life's wild waste, to struggle as it can!
To me that odorous purple ministers
Hope-bearing memories and inspiring glee;
While meanest images alone are hers, -
The sordid wants of base humanity.
Think, after all this lapse of hungry hours
In the disfurnished chamber of dim cold,
How she must loathe the very scented flowers
That on the squalid table lie unsold!
Rest on your woodland banks and wither there,
Sweet preluders of spring! far better so
Than live misused to fill the grasp of care,
And serve the piteous purposes of woe.
FROM ELEONORA. - Dryden.
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the temple, and expire;
So was she soon exhaled, and vanished hence;
A short, sweet odor, of a vast expense.
She vanished, we can scarcely say she died,
For but a now did heaven and earth divide:
She passed serenely with a single breath;
This moment perfect health, the next was death:
One sigh did her eternal bliss assure;
So little penance needs, when souls are almost pure.
As gentle dreams our waking thoughts pursue;
Or, one dream passed, we slide into a new;
So close they follow, such wild order keep,
We think ourselves awake, and are asleep:
So softly death succeeded life in her:
She did but dream of heaven, and she was there.
THE DESERTED HOUSE. - Tennyson.
LIFE and thought have gone away,
Side by side,
Leaving door and windows wide;
Careless tenants they!
All within is dark as night!
In the windows is no light;
And no murmur at the door,
So frequent on its hinge before.
Close the door, the shutters close,
Or through the windows we shall see
The nakedness and vacancy
Of the dark, deserted house.
Come away! no more of mirth
Is here or merry-making sound;
The house was builded of the earth,
And shall fall again to ground.