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A human heart knows naught of littleness,
Suspects no man, compares with no one's ways,
Hath in one hour most glorious length of days,
A recompense, a joy, a loveliness;
Like eaglet keen, shoots into azure far,
And, always dwelling nigh, is the remotest star.
Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood, -
Even such is man, whose borrowed light
Is straight called in, and paid to-night.
The wind blows out; the bubble dies;
The spring entombed in autumn lies ;
The dew dries up; the star is shot ;
The flight is past ; and man forgot.
LORD, with what care hast thou begirt us round !
Parents first season us ; then schoolmasters Deliver us to laws; they send us bound
To rules of reason, holy messengers Pulpits and Sundays; sorrow dogging sin;
Afflictions sorted; anguish of all sizes ; Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in ;
Bibles laid open ; millions of surprises ;
Blessings beforehand; ties of gratefulness;
The sound of glory ringing in our ears ; Without, our shame; within, our consciences ;
Angels and grace; eternal hopes and fears;
Yet all these fences, and their whole array,
One cunning bosom-sin blows quite away.
Out, palsied soul, that dost but tremble ever
In sight of the bright sunshine ;- mine be joy,
And the full heart, and the eye that faileth never
In the glad morning !- I am yet a boy ;
I have not wandered from the crystal river
That flowed by me in childhood: my employ
Hath been to take the gift, and praise the Giver ;
To love the flowers thy heedless steps destroy.
I wonder if the bliss that flows to me
In youth shall be exhaled and scorched up dry
By the noonday glare of life: I must not lie
For ever in the shade of childhood's tree :
But I must venture forth, and make advance
Along the toilèd path of human circumstance.
HEART of the people! working men!
Marrow and nerve of human powers ;
Who on your sturdy backs sustain,
Through streaming time, this world of ours ;
Hold by that title, which proclaims
That ye are undismayed and strong,
Accomplishing whatever aims
May to the sons of earth belong.
Yet not on you alone depend
These offices, or burdens fall;
Labor, for some or other end,
Is lord and master of us all.
The high-born youth from downy bed
Must meet the morn with horse and hound,
While Industry for daily bread
Pursues afresh his wonted round.
With all his pomp of pleasure, he
Is but your working comrade now,
And shouts and winds his horn as ye
Might whistle by the loom or plough ;
In vain for him has wealth the use
Of warm repose and careless joy,
When, as ye labor to produce,
He strives, as active to destroy.
But who is this with wasted frame,
Sad sign of vigor overwrought ?
What toil can this new victim claim ?
Pleasure, for Pleasure's sake besought.
How men would mock her flaunting shows,
Her golden promise, if they knew
What weary work she is to those
Who have no better work to do!
And he who still and silent sits
In closèd room or shady nook,
And seems to nurse his idle wits
With folded arms or open
To things now working in that mind
Your children's children well may owe
Blessings that hope has ne'er defined,
Till from his busy thoughts they flow.
Thus all must work, with head or hand,
For self or others, good or ill ;
Life is ordained to bear, like land,
Some fruit, be fallow as it will;
Evil has force itself to sow,
Where we deny the healthy seed;
And all our choice is this, — to grow
Pasture and grain, or noisome weed.
Then in content possess your hearts,
Unenvious of each other's lot,
For those which seem the easiest parts
Have travail which ye reckon not :
And he is bravest, happiest, best,
Who, from the task within his span,
Earns for himself his evening rest,
And an increase of good for man.
ALMS-GIVING.— R. M. Milnes.
When Poverty, with mien of shame,
The sense of pity seeks to touch, -
Or, bolder, makes the simple claim,
That I have nothing, you have much, -
Believe not either man or book
That bids you close the opening hand,
And with reproving speech and look
Your first and free intent withstand.
It may be, that the tale
Of pressing wants and losses borne
Is heaped or colored for your ear,
And tatters for the purpose worn ;
But surely Poverty has not
A sadder need than this, — to wear
A mask still meaner than her lot,
Compassion's scanty food to share.
be that you err, to give
What will but tempt to further spoil
Those who in low content would live
On theft of others' time and toil :
Yet sickness may have broke or bent
The active frame or vigorous will ;
Or hard occasion may prevent
Their exercise of humble skill.
It may be that the suppliant's life
Has lain on many an evil way
Of foul delight and brutal strife,
And lawless deeds that shun the day ;
But how can any gauge of yours
The depth of that temptation try?
What man resists, what man endures,
to one only eye.
Why not believe the homely letter,
That all you give will God restore ?
The poor man may deserve it better,
And surely, surely, wants it more :
Let but the rich man do his part,
And, whatsoe'er the issue be
To those who ask, his answering heart
Will gain and grow in sympathy.