Life (Poems of Progress)

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   On a bleak, bald hill with a dull world under,
      The dreary world of the Commonplace,
   I have stood when the whole world seemed a blunder
      Of dotard Time, in an aimless race.
   With worry about me and want before me—
      Yet deep in my soul was a rapture spring
   That made me cry to the grey sky o’er me:
      ‘Oh, I know this life is a goodly thing!’

   I have given sweet years to a thankless duty
      While cold and starving, though clothed and fed,
   For a young heart’s hunger for joy and beauty
      Is harder to bear than the need of bread.
   I have watched the wane of a sodden season,
      Which let hope wither, and made care thrive,
   And through it all, without earthly reason,
      I have thrilled with the glory of being alive.

   And now I stand by the great sea’s splendour,
      Where love and beauty feed heart and eye.
   The brilliant light of the sun grows tender
      As it slants to the shore of the by and by.
   I prize each hour as a golden treasure—
      A pearl Time drops from a broken string:
   And all my ways are the ways of pleasure,
      And I know this life is a goodly thing.

   And I know, too, that not in the seeing,
      Or having, or doing the things we would,
   Lies that deep rapture that comes from being
      _At one with the Purpose which made all good_.
   And not from Pleasure the heart may borrow
      That rare contentment for which we strive,
   Unless through trouble, and want, and sorrow
      It has thrilled with the glory of being alive.


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