The night is clear and still. The moon rides high.
The green leaves whisper where the soft winds blow.
Above, the stars shine in a sapphire sky —
The city sleeps below.
Sleeps? Nay. The million- fibred heart is wrung
With wild desire and ceaseless pain and fear.
Could its dumb anguish find a fitting tongue,
The very dead would hear.
Under these quiet roofs, this silvery haze,
How many a captive spirit wakes and weeps!
How many a sorrow, hid from human gaze,
Each shadowy dwelling keeps!
The struggling men, the lonely maids unwed,
The desolate mothers and the martyred wives,
The starving little ones that cry for bread,
Still live their suffering lives.
Though moon shines fair and winds are breathing low —
Though the great dream-like city lies in light —
The smoke of all that seething human woe
Darkens my mind to- night.
Brothers, for whom the world can find no place —
Brothers and sisters, born to want and wrong —
Born weak and maimed, to run a hopeless race
Against the hale and strong —
How can I rest while they are racked with pain?
While they toil on with toil that cannot cease?
While hungry children wail for bread in vain,
How can I sleep in peace?
Ah, hapless fate! To hope, to fail, to spend,
From chilling dawn till midnight shadows fall;
Perchance to gain no haven at the end —
No new world — after all!
When poor, brief hopes and joys have passed away —
When the long toil is done and pain is past —
To reach the limit of life's little day,
And find naught else, at last
When strength is spent, when soul and spirit sink —
With helpless hands outstretched and nerveless brain —
To stand alone upon that dreadful brink
And cry for light in vain!
Poor mortal wanderers in immortal realms,
For whom no staff avails, no beacons shine!
My kindred soul their burden overwhelms —
My brothers' woes are mine.
For me the night has come — the day is done —
A wall of darkness hides both sea and shore;
My little lamps have failed me, one by one —
I grope and crawl no more.
Where am I? — oh, where am I? I can feel —
To feel my pain — but neither hear nor see;
My heart is faint, my brain begins to reel —
O God, speak Thou to me!
Help me! Or, in Thy pity, take me hence
While feeling heart and thinking brain are whole —
Or give me any rag of carnal sense
To wrap my naked soul.
Some common cloak of vulgar hopes and fears,
Some earth- spun veil, that shall be warm and stout
To keep this infinite Silence from mine ears —
To shut this Darkness out!
The mocking moon shines on. The flowers are sweet.
The night is still. The winds are breathing balm.
The silver city clustered at my feet
Seems bathed in light and calm.
But I? — I choke in this grief- laden air.
I turn and weep — I close my window now.
One voice breaks forth from my profound despair —
Beloved, where art thou?
She sleeps. She stirs. She hears the lightest fall
Of my hushed footsteps on her chamber floor.
Her spirit answers to my spirit's call,
And I take heart once more.
She draws me down upon that faithful breast;
I clasp her close — those sweetest lips I kiss —
And soul and body, in her arms at rest,
Swim in deep seas of bliss.
She makes me strong with stronger Fate to cope —
Fresh fire to mine her beating pulses give.
O my true mate, in thee alone I hope!
In thee alone I live!
O love, till blood is cold and brain is dust,
I can fight on — if thou wilt fight with me —
If I can shelter in thy truth and trust,
And bear life's woes with thee!