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A little faith, in days of change,
When life is stark and bare and strange;
A solace when our eyes are wet
With tears of longing and regret.

True it is that we cannot claim
Unmeasured recompense or blame,
Because our way of life is small:
A little is the sum of all.



From “Trilby”

A LITTLE work, a little play
To keep us going-and so, good-day!

A little warmth, a little light
Of love's bestowing—and so, good-night!

A little fun, to match the sorrow
Of each day's growing-and so, good-morrow!

A little trust that when we die
We reap our sowing! And so-good-bye!

George du Maurier (1834–1896) THE CONDUCT OF LIFE


THE man of life upright,

Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,

Or thought of vanity;

The man whose silent days

In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hope cannot delude,

Nor sorrow discontent;

That man needs neither towers

Nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly

From thunder's violence:

He only can behold

With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep

And terrors of the skies.

Thus, scorning all the cares

That fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book,

His wisdom heavenly things;

Good thoughts his only friends,

His wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn
And quiet pilgrimage.

After Horace, by Thomas Campion [?-1616;

* For the original of this poem see page 3578.


From "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sails the unshadowed main,

The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,

And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;

Wrecked is the ship of pearl!

And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,

Before thee lies revealed, -
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil

That spread his lustrous coil;

Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,


its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,

Child of the wandering sea,

Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!

While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings-

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)



Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!-
For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,-act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882]


The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ʼmid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,


His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,


In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,


“Try not the Pass!” the old man said; “Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide!” And loud that clarion voice replied,


“Oh stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!”
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,


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