If There Is A Witness To My Little Life
If there is a witness to my little life,
To my tiny throes and struggles,
He sees a fool;
And it is not fine for gods to menace fools.
by Stephen Crane.
Prayer and thanksgiving is the vital breath
That keeps the spirit of a man from death;
For pray'r attracts into the living soul
The life, that fills the universal whole.
by John Byrom.
On Reading The Life Of Haroun Er Reshid
Down all the lanterned Bagdad of our youth
He steals, with golden justice for the poor:
Within his palace you shall know the truth!
A blood-smeared headsman hides behind each door.
There Was A Man Who Lived A Life Of Fire
There was a man who lived a life of fire.
Even upon the fabric of time,
Where purple becomes orange
And orange purple,
This life glowed,
A dire red stain, indelible;
Yet when he was dead,
He saw that he had not lived.
by Stephen Crane.
This Living Hand
This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed - see here it is -
I hold it towards you.
by John Keats.
Upon his canvas Nature starts to life,
Clear waters flow, majestic trees arise, -
The earth and air with beauty's shapes are rife,
And over all there bend his glorious skies.
Yes, this is Nature - living, breathing, warm,
Ere yet her face the blight and storm have crossed;
Yes, this is Nature, in that radiant form
She wore of old, ere Paradise was lost.
Cried Allen Forman: 'Doctor, pray
Compose my spirits' strife:
O what may be my chances, say,
Of living all my life?
'For lately I have dreamed of high
And hempen dissolution!
O doctor, doctor, how can I
Amend my constitution?'
The learned leech replied: 'You're young
And beautiful and strong
Permit me to inspect your tongue:
H'm, ah, ahem!-'tis long.'
by Ambrose Bierce.
I Saw My Life As Whitest Flame
I saw my life as whitest flame
light-leaping in a crystal sky,
and virgin colour where it came
pass'd to its heart, in love to die.
It wrapped the world in tender harm
rose-flower'd with one ecstatic pang:
God walk'd amid the hush'd alarm,
and all the trembling region rang
music, whose silver veils dispart
around the carven silences
Memnonian in the hidden heart —
now blithe, effulgurant majesties.
The Best Of Life
With soul self-blind
Do n't struggle on merely at last to find
The best of life, the dream, is left behind.
Struggle and strive? after long years to see
Substance alone has no reality.
To find, alas!
The starry glitter in the mountain pass,
The light you climbed for is no star, but glass.
Help, one and all!
Dreamers we need, not workmen, for the wall
The Tower of Beauty that shall never fall.
Epitaph On The Lady Whitmore
Fair, kind, and true, a treasure each alone,
A wife, a mistress, and a friend, in one;
Rest in this tomb, raised at thy husband's cost,
Here sadly summing, what he had, and lost.
Come, virgins, ere in equal bands ye join,
Come first and offer at her sacred shrine;
Pray but for half the virtues of this wife,
Compound for all the rest, with longer life;
And wish your vows, like hers, may be returned,
So loved when living, and, when dead, so mourned.
by John Dryden.
O freshness, living freshness of a day
In June! Spring scarce has gotten out of sight,
And not a stain of wear shows on the grass
Beneath our feet, and not a dead leaf calls,
'Our day of loveliness is past and gone!'
I found the thick wood steeped in pleasant smells,
The dainty ferns hid in their sheltered nooks;
The wild-flowers found the sunlight where they stood,
And some hid their white faces quite away,
While others lifted up their starry eyes
And seemed right glad to ruffle in the breeze.
by Jean Blewett.
I had been dead so many years-
And I had missed you so.
I thought in heaven there were no tears,
But ah, their weary flow!
And when at last the joy-word came,
An hour to wander back,
My spirit flashed, a living flame,
Along that mystic track.
I sped the pathway of the stars
And the abyss of night;
Past all space-barriers and bars
I winged my eager flight;
I found you, Love! O bitter day!
You had remembered not!
Farther than life itself away-
My very name forgot.
by Ina D. Coolbrith.
Deliverance From A Fit Of Fainting
Worthy art Thou, O Lord, of praise,
But ah! It's not in me.
My sinking heart I pray Thee raise
So shall I give it Thee.
My life as spider's webb's cut off,
Thus fainting have I said,
And living man no more shall see
But be in silence laid.
My feeble spirit Thou didst revive,
My doubting Thou didst chide,
And though as dead mad'st me alive,
I here a while might 'bide.
Why should I live but to Thy praise?
My life is hid with Thee.
O Lord, no longer be my days
Than I may fruitful be.
by Anne Bradstreet.
The Stream Of Life
Oh silvery streamlet of the fields,
That flowest full and free!
For thee the rains of spring return,
The summer dews for thee;
And when thy latest blossoms die
In autumn's chilly showers,
The winter fountains gush for thee,
Till May brings back the flowers.
Oh Stream of Life! the violet springs
But once beside thy bed;
But one brief summer, on thy path,
The dews of heaven are shed.
Thy parent fountains shrink away,
And close their crystal veins,
And where thy glittering current flowed
The dust alone remains.
Life A Cheat
When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay:
To-morrow's falser than the former day;
Lies worse; and while it says, we shall be blessed
With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
And, from the dregs of life, think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tired with waiting for this chemic gold,
Which fools us young, and beggars us when old.
by John Dryden.
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
by Barry Cornwall.
I Can Not Count My Life A Loss
I can not count my life a loss,
With all its length of evil days.
I hold them only as the dross
About its gold, whose worth outweighs.
For each and all I give Him praise.
For drawing nearer to the brink
That leadeth down to final rest,
I see with clearer eyes, I think,
And much that vexed me and oppressed,
Have learned was right and just and best.
So, though I may but dimly guess
Its far intent, this gift of His
I honor; nor would know the less
One sorrow, or in pain or bliss
Have other than it was and is.
by Ina D. Coolbrith.
One Summer Morning
IT is but a little while ago:
The elm-leaves have scarcely begun to drop away;
The sunbeams strike the elm-trunk just where they struck that day--
Yet all seems to have happened long ago.
And the year rolleth round, slow, slow:
Autumn will fade to winter and winter melt in spring,
New life return again to every living thing.
Soon, this will have happened long ago.
The bonnie wee flowers will blow;
The trees will re-clothe themselves, the birds sing out amain,--
But never, never, never will the world look again
As it looked before this happened--long ago!
Upon The Road Of My Life,
Upon the road of my life,
Passed me many fair creatures,
Clothed all in white, and radiant.
To one, finally, I made speech:
"Who art thou?"
But she, like the others,
Kept cowled her face,
And answered in haste, anxiously,
"I am good deed, forsooth;
You have often seen me."
"Not uncowled," I made reply.
And with rash and strong hand,
Though she resisted,
I drew away the veil
And gazed at the features of vanity.
She, shamefaced, went on;
And after I had mused a time,
I said of myself,
by Stephen Crane.
Sonnet Xxxi. Life And Death. 3.
IF death be final, what is life, with all
Its lavish promises, its thwarted aims,
Its lost ideals, its dishonored claims,
Its uncompleted growth? A prison wall,
Whose heartless stones but echo back our call;
An epitaph recording but our names;
A puppet-stage where joys and griefs and shames
Furnish a demon jester's carnival;
A plan without a purpose or a form;
A footless temple; an unfinished tale.
And men like madrepores through calm and storm
Toil, die to build a branch of fossil frail,
And add from all their dreams, thoughts, acts, belief,
A few more inches to a coral-reef.
Sonnet Xxxvi. Life And Death. 8.
NOT for a rapture unalloyed I ask.
Not for a recompense for all I miss.
A banquet of the gods in heavenly bliss,
A realm in whose warm sunshine I may bask,
Life without discipline or earnest task
Could ill repay the unfinished work of this.
Nay — e'en to clasp some long-lost Beatrice
In bowers of paradise — the mortal mask
Dropped from her face now glorified and bright.
But I would fain take up what here I left
All crude and incomplete; would toil and strive
To regain the power of which I am bereft
By slow decay and death, with fuller light
To aid the larger life that may survive.
And You Love Me
And you love me
I love you.
You are, then, cold coward.
Aye; but, beloved,
When I strive to come to you,
Man's opinions, a thousand thickets,
My interwoven existence,
Caught in the stubble of the world
Like a tender veil --
This stays me.
No strange move can I make
Without noise of tearing
I dare not.
If love loves,
There is no world
All is lost
Save thought of love
And place to dream.
You love me?
I love you.
You are, then, cold coward.
Aye; but, beloved --
by Stephen Crane.
Sonnet Xxx. Life And Death. 2.
OR endless sleep 't will be, — and that is rest,
Freedom forever from life's weary cares —
Or else a life beyond the climbing stairs
And dizzy pinnacles of thought expressed
In symbols such as in our mortal breast
Are framed by time and space; — life that upbears
The soul by a law untried amid these snares
Of sense that make it a too willing guest.
So sleep or waking were a boon divine.
Yet why this inextinguishable thirst,
This hope, this faith that to existence cling?
Nay e'en the poor dark chrysalis some fine
Ethereal creature prisons, till it burst
Into the unknown, air on golden wing.
All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Belovèds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so—if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where 'dust to dust' the love from life disjoin'd;
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth)
Crying 'Where are ye, O my loved and loving?'—
I know a voice would sound, 'Daughter, I AM.
Can I suffice for Heaven and not for earth?'
Love Of Life
Why love life more, the less of it be left,
And what is left be little but the lees,
And Time's subsiding passions have bereft
One's taste for pleasure, and one's power to please?
Is it not better, like the waning year,
Without lament resignedly to fade,
Since by enduring ordinance all things here
Are in their season shattered and decayed?
If you have shared in April's freshet song,
And Summer can without reproach recall,
Yearn not Autumnal harvest to prolong,
Nor shrink from Winter that awaits us all;
But, lightened of the load of earthly ties,
Pursue with homeward step your journey to the skies.
by Alfred Austin.
Sonnet Xxxiii. Life And Death. 5.
YET in all facts of sense life stands revealed;
And from a thousand symbols hope may take
Its charter to escape the Stygian lake,
And find existence in an ampler field.
The streams by winter's icy breath congealed
Flow when the voices of the spring awake.
The electric current lives when tempests break
The wires. The chemic energies unsealed
By sudden change, in other forms survive.
The senses cheat us where the mind corrects
Their partial verdict. More than all, the heart —
The heart cold science counts not, is alive —
Of the undivided soul that vital part
Her microscopic eye in vain dissects.
Thus the poor ass whose appetite has ne'er
Known than the thistle any sweeter fare
Thinks all the world eats thistles. Thus the clown,
The wit and Mentor of the country town,
Grins through the collar of a horse and thinks
Others for pleasure do as he for drinks,
Though secretly, because unwilling still
In public to attest their lack of skill.
Each dunce whose life and mind all follies mar
Believes as he is all men living are
His vices theirs, their understandings his;
Naught that he knows not, all he fancies, _is_.
How odd that any mind such stuff should boast!
How natural to write it in the _Post_!
by Ambrose Bierce.
What know we of the dead, who say these things,
Or of the life in death below the mould--
What of the mystic laws that rule the old
Grey realms beyond our poor imaginings
Where death is life? The bird with spray-wet wings
Knows more of what the deeps beneath him hold.
Let be! Warm hearts shall never wax a-cold,
But burn in roses through eternal springs;
For all the vanished fruit and flower of Time
Are flower and fruit in worlds we cannot see,
And all we see is as a shadow-mime
Of things unseen, and Time that comes to flee
Is but the broken echo of a rhyme
In God's great epic of Eternity.
Can Life Be A Blessing
Can life be a blessing,
Or worth the possessing,
Can life be a blessing if love were away?
Ah no! though our love all night keep us waking,
And though he torment us with cares all the day,
Yet he sweetens, he sweetens our pains in the taking,
There's an hour at the last, there's an hour to repay.
In ev'ry possessing,
The ravishing blessing,
In ev'ry possessing the fruit of our pain,
Poor lovers forget long ages of anguish,
Whate'er they have suffer'd and done to obtain;
'Tis a pleasure, a pleasure to sigh and to languish,
When we hope, when we hope to be happy again.
by John Dryden.
Ii From Life’s Testament
The brain, the blood, the busy thews
That quickened in the primal ooze
Support me yet; till ice shall grip
The heart of Earth, no strength they’ll lose.
They take my thought, they laugh, they run—
Ere megatherial moons, begun;
And shall, till they shall drop within
The shattering whirlwinds of the sun.
In subtle and essential ways,
Rich with innumerable days,
To mould, to charge, to impel me still,
Each through my broadest being plays.
They surged to this hour, this transfuse—
The brain, the blood, the busy thews;
That act of mine the ultimate stars
Shall look on sprang in primal ooze.
Sonnet Xv. From Petrarch
WHERE the green leaves exclude the summer beam,
And softly bend as balmy breezes blow,
And where, with liquid lapse, the lucid stream
Across the fretted rock is heard to flow,
Pensive I lay: when she whom Earth conceals,
As if still living, to my eyes appears,
And pitying Heaven her angel form reveals,
To say--'Unhappy Petrarch, dry your tears:
'Ah! why, sad lover! thus before your time,
In grief and sadness should your life decay,
And like a blighted flower, your manly prime
In vain and hopeless sorrow fade away?
Ah! yield not thus to culpable despair,
But raise thine eyes to Heaven--and think I wait thee there.'
by Charlotte Smith.
Sonnet Xxxii. Life And Death. 4.
IF at one door stands life to cheat our trust,
And at another, death, to mock because
We thought life's promise good; if all that was
And is and should be ends in fume and dust —
Then let us live for joy alone — the rust
Of ease encase our minds — the grader laws
Of souls be set aside. Let no man pause
To weigh between his virtue and his lust.
From first to last life baffles all our hopes
Of aught but present bliss. Death waits to mock
Our haste to indorse a visionary bond.
Let pleasure dance us down earth's sunny slopes,
And crown our heads with roses, ere the shock
Of thunder falls. There is no life beyond?
Life's Grandest Things
What is the greatest work of all?
The work that comes every day;
The work that waits us on ev'ry hand
Is work that, for us, is truly grand,
And the love of work is our pay.
What is the highest life of all?
It is living, day by day,
True to ourselves and true to the right,
Living the truth from dawn till the night,
And the love of truth for our pay.
What is the grandest thing of all-
Is it winning Heaven some day?
No, and a thousand times say no;
'Tis making this old world thrill and glow
With the sun of love till each shall know
Something of Heaven here below,
And God's well done for our pay.
by Jean Blewett.
Sonnet Xxxiv. Life And Death. 6.
So, heralded by Reason, Faith may tread
The darkened vale, the dolorous paths of night,
In the great thought secure that life and light
Flow from the Soul of all, who, with the dead
As with the living, is the fountain-head.
And though our loved and lost are snatched from sight,
Some unseen power will guide them in their flight,
And to some unknown home their steps are led.
Yet has no seer, by sacred visions fired,
Disclosed their state to those they leave behind;
No holy prophet, saint or sage inspired —
Save in the magic lantern of the mind —
Seen in ecstatic trance those realms desired:
And all the oracles are dumb and blind.
MISFORTUNE to have lived not knowing thee!
’T were not high living, nor to noblest end,
Who, dwelling near, learned not sincerity,
Rich friendship’s ornament that still doth lend
To life its consequence and propriety.
Thy fellowship was my culture, noble friend:
By the hand thou took’st me, and did’st condescend
To bring me straightway into thy fair guild;
And life-long hath it been high compliment
By that to have been known, and thy friend styled,
Given to rare thought and to good learning bent;
Whilst in my straits an angel on me smiled.
Permit me, then, thus honored, still to be
A scholar in thy university.
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates Of Brass;
Lift up your heads, ye gates of brass;
Ye bars of iron, yield!
And let the King of glory pass;
The Cross is in the field!
A holy war his servants wage,
Mysteriously at strife;
The powers of heaven and hell engage
For more than death or life.
Ye armies of the living God,
His sacramental host,
Where hallowed footstep never trod,
Take your appointed post.
Follow the Cross; the ark of Peace
Accompany your path:
To souls imprisoned bring release
From bondage and from wrath.
Uplifted are the gates of brass;
The bars of iron yield;
Behold the King of glory pass!
The Cross has won the field!
by James Montgomery.
Sonnet Xxix. Life And Death. 1.
O SOLEMN portal, veiled in mist and cloud,
Where all who have lived throng in, an endless line,
Forbid to tell by backward look or sign
What destiny awaits the advancing crowd;
Bourne crossed but once with no return allowed;
Dumb, spectral gate, terrestrial yet divine,
Beyond whose arch all powers and fates combine,
Pledged to divulge no secrets of the shroud.
Close, close behind we step, and strive to catch
Some whisper in the dark, some glimmering light;
Through circling whirls of thought intent to snatch
A drifting hope — a faith that grows to sight;
And yet assured, whatever may befall,
That must be somehow best that comes to all.
O Wondrous Dreamer, With Thy Power Divine,
O Wondrous dreamer, with thy power divine,
How all our pilgrim-life thy dream hath told
Our load of sin, our hopes, our doubts so cold,
The fearful battle with the foe malign;
And Beulah's beauteous land, where none repine
We long to see ; we dare with joy ' be bold,'
While we with thee in living faith behold
The New Jerusalem on high to shine.
When, as thy gaze beyond the gates did pass,
Which open'd wide to let thy pilgrims in,
And thou didst feast thine eyes, oft filled with tears,
Well may we feel that thou could'st wish, alas !
That thou had'st done with this world's care and sin,
To rest amid that throng for endless years.
by John Bunyan.
Sonnet Xxxv. Life And Death. 7.
THE wish behind the thought is the soul's star
Of faith, and out of earth we build our heaven.
Life to each unschooled child of time has given
A fairy wand with which he thinks to unbar
The dark gate to a region vast and far,
Where all is gained at length for which he has striven —
All loss requited — all offences shriven —
All toil o'erpassed — effaced each battle-scar.
But ah! what heaven of rest could countervail
The ever widening thought — the endless stress
Of action whereinto the heart is born?
What sphere so blessèd it could overbless
With sweets the soul, when all such gifts must fail,
If from its chosen work that soul were torn?
Enough; and leave the rest to Fame!
'Tis to commend her, but to name.
Courtship which, living, she declined,
When dead, to offer were unkind:
Nor can the truest wit, or friend,
Without detracting, her commend.
To say--she lived a virgin chaste
In this age loose and all unlaced;
Nor was, when vice is so allowed,
Of virtue or ashamed or proud;
That her soul was on Heaven so bent,
No minute but it came and went;
That, ready her last debt to pay,
She summ'd her life up every day;
Modest as morn, as mid-day bright,
Gentle as evening, cool as night:
--'Tis true; but all too weakly said.
'Twas more significant, she's dead.
by Andrew Marvell.