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I may not know; my God, no hand revealeth
Thy counsels wise ;
Along the path a deepening shadow stealeth,
No voice replies
To all my questioning thought, the time to tell :
And it is well.
Let me keep on, abiding and unfearing
Thy will always,
Through a long century's ripening fruition
Or a short day's ;
Thou canst not come too soon; and I can wait
If thou come late.
SARAH WOOLSEY (SUSAN COOLIDGE).
O MAY I JOIN THE CHOIR INVISIBLE
O MAY I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence ; live
In pulses stirred to generosity,
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
Of miserable aims that end with self,
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge men's minds
To vaster issues.
So to live is heaven :
To make undying music in the world,
Breathing a beauteous order, that controls
With growing sway the growing life of man.
So we inherit that sweet purity
For which we struggled, failed, and agonized
With widening retrospect that bred despair.
Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued,
A vicious parent shaming still its child,
Poor anxious penitence, is quick dissolved ;
Its discords quenched by meeting harmonies,
Die in the large and charitable air.
And all our rarer, better, truer self,
That sobbed religiously in yearning song,
That watched to ease the burden of the world,
Laboriously tracing what must be,
And what may yet be better, — saw within
A worthier image for the sanctuary,
And shaped it forth before the multitude,
Divinely human, raising worship so
To higher reverence more mixed with love,
That better self shall live till human Time
Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky
Be gathered like a scroll within the tomb,
This is life to come,
Which martyred men have made more glorious
For us, who strive to follow.
May I reach
That purest heaven,- be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty,
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
And in diffusion ever more intense !
So shall I join the choir invisible,
Whose music is the gladness of the world.
MARIAN EVANS LEWES CROSS (GEORGE ELIOT).
I ASK not that my bed of death
From bands of greedy heirs be free;
For these besiege the latest breath
Of fortune's favour'd sons, not me. I ask not each kind soul to keep
Tearless, when of my death he hears. Let those who will, if any, weep!
There are worse plagues on earth than tears. I ask but that my death may find
The freedom to my life denied ; Ask but the folly of mankind
Then, then at last, to quit my side. Spare me the whispering, crowded room,
The friends who come, and gape, and go ;
The ceremonious air of gloom —
All, which makes death a hideous show!
Nor bring, to see me cease to live,
· Some doctor full of phrase and fame,
To shake his sapient head, and give
The ill he cannot cure a name.
Nor fetch, to take the accustom'd toll,
Of the poor sinner bound for death,
His brother-doctor of the soul,
To canvass with official breath
The future and its viewless things —
That undiscover'd mystery
Which one who feels death's winnowing wings
Must needs read clearer, sure, than he !
Bring none of these ; but let me be,
While all around in silence lies, Moved to the window near, and see
Once more, before my dying eyes, Bathed in the sacred dews of morn
The wide aerial landscape spread — The world which was ere I was born,
The world which lasts when I am dead ; Which never was the friend of one,
Nor promised love it could not give, But lit for all its generous sun,
And lived itself, and made us live. There let me gaze, till I become
In soul, with what I gaze on, wed ! To feel the universe my home;
To have before my mind — instead Of the sick room, the mortal strife,
The turmoil for a little breathThe pure eternal course of life,
Not human combatings with death !
Thus feeling, gazing, might I grow
Composed, refresh'd, ennobled, clear;
Then willing let my spirit go
To work or wait elsewhere or here!
LIFE! I know not what thou art,
But know that thou and I must part;
And when, or how, or where we met,
I own to me 's a secret yet.
But this I know: when thou art fled,
Where'er they lay these limbs, this head,
No clod so valueless shall be
As all that then remains of me.
O, whither, whither dost thou fly ?
Where bend unseen thy trackless course ?
And, in this strange divorce,
Ah, tel where I must seek this compound, I ?
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame,
From whence thy essence came,
Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed
From matter's base encumbering weed ?
Or dost thou, hid from sight,
Wait, like some spell-bound knight,
Through blank, oblivious years the appointed hour
To break thy trance and reassume thy power ?
Yet canst thou, without thought or feeling be ?
O, say, what art thou, when no more thou ’rt thee ?
Life! we've been long together
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather ;
'T is hard to part when friends are dear, -
Perhaps 't will cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good Night, - but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good Morning.
ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD.
A RHYME OF LIFE
IF life be as a flame that death doth kill,
Burn, little candle, lit for me,
With a pure flame, that I may rightly see
To word my song, and utterly
God's plan fulfil.
If life be as a flower that blooms and dies,
Forbid the cunning frost that slays
With Judas kiss, and trusting love betrays ;
Forever may my song of praise
If life be as a voyage, foul or fair,
Oh, bid me not my banners furl
For adverse gale, or wave in angry whirl,
Till I have found the gates of pearl,
And anchored there.
CHARLES WARREN STODDARD. NOW AND AFTERWARDS [“Two hands upon the breast, and labor is past.”— RUSSIAN
"Two hands upon the breast,
And labor's done ;
Two pale feet crossed in rest,-
The race is won ;
Two eyes with coin-weights shut,
And all tears cease ;
Two lips where grief is mute,
Anger at peace":
So pray we oftentimes, mourning our lot ;
God in his kindness answereth not.
“Two hands to work addrest
Aye for his praise ;
Two feet that never rest
Walking his ways;
Two eyes that look above
Through all their tears ;
Two lips still breathing love,
Not wrath, nor fears”:
So pray we afterwards, low on our knees;
Pardon those erring prayers ! Father, hear these!
DINA: MARIA MULOCK CRAIK.
I LAY me down to sleep,
With little care
Whether my waking find
Me here, or there.
A bowing, burdened head
That only asks to rest,
A loving breast.
My good right hand forgets
Its cunning now;
To march the weary march
I know not how.
I am not eager, bold
Nor strong,— all that is past
I am ready not to do,
At last, at last.
My half-day's work is done,
And this is all my part, —
I give a patient God
My patient heart;
And grasp his banner still,
Though all the blue be dim;
These stripes as well as stars
Lead after him.
MARY WOOLSEY HOWLAND.