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On all that humble happiness,

The world has since foregone, The daylight of contentedness

That on those faces shone!

With rights, though not too closely scanned,

Enjoyed, as far as known, -
With will by no reverse sunmanned, -

With pulse of even tone, -
They from to-day and from to-night

Expected nothing more,
Than yesterday and yesternight

Had proffered them before.

To them was life a simple art

Of duties to be done,
A game where each man took his part,

A race where all must run;
A battle whose great scheme and scope

They little cared to know,
Content, as men at arms, to cope

Each with his fronting foe.

Man now his Virtue's diadem

Puts on, and proudly wears,-
Great thoughts, great feelings, came to them,

Like instincts, unawares:
Blending their souls'.sublimest needs

With tasks of every day,
They went about their gravest deeds,

As noble boys at play.

And what if Nature's fearful wound

They did not probe and bare,
For that their spirits never swooned

To watch the misery there, -
For that their love but flowed more fast,

Their charities more free,
Not conscious what mere drops they cast

Into the evil sea.

A man's best things are nearest him,

Lie close about his feet;
It is the distant and the dim

That we are sick to greet;
For flowers that grow our hands beneath

We struggle and aspire.-
Our hearts must die, except they breathe

The air of fresh Desire.

Yet, Brothers, who up Reason's hill

Advance with hopeful cheer,-
Oh! loiter not, those heights are chill,

As chill as they are clear;
And still restrain your haughty gaze,

The loftier that ye go,
Remembering distance leaves a haze
On all that lies below.

Richard Monckton Milnes (1809–1885]


BEHIND thy pasteboard, on thy battered hack,
Thy lean cheek striped with plaster to and fro,
Thy long spear leveled at the unseen foe,
And doubtful Sancho trudging at thy back,
Thou wert a figure strange enough, good lack!
To make Wiseacredom, both high and low,
Rub purblind eyes, and (having watched thee go),
Dispatch its Dogberrys upon thy track:
Alas! poor Knight! Alas! poor soul possessed!
Yet would to-day, when Courtesy grows chill,
And life's fine loyalties are turned to jest,
Some fire of thine might burn within us still!
Ah! would but one might lay his lance in rest,
And charge in earnest—were it but a mill.

Austin Dobson (1840


LORD, not for light in darkness do we pray,
Not that the veil be lifted from our eyes,
Nor that the slow ascension of our day

Be otherwise.

Not for a clearer vision of the things
Whereof the fashioning shall make us great,
Nor for remission of the peril and stings

Of time and fate.

Not for a fuller knowledge of the end
Whereto we travel, bruised yet unafraid,
Nor that the little healing that we lend

Shall be repaid.

Not these, O Lord. We would not break the bars Thy wisdom sets about us; we shall climb Unfettered to the secrets of the stars

In thy good time.

We do not crave the high perception swift
When to refrain were well, and when fulfil,
Nor yet the understanding strong to sift

The good from ill.

Not these, O Lord. For these thou hast revealed.
We know the golden season when to reap
The heavy-fruited treasure of the field,

The hour to sleep.

Not these. We know the hemlock from the rose, The pure from stained, the noble from the base, The tranquil holy light of truth that glows

On Pity's face.

We know the paths wherein our feet should press,
Across our hearts are written thy decrees.
Yet now, O Lord, be merciful to bless

With more than these.

Grant us the will to fashion as we feel,
Grant us the strength to labor as we know,
Grant us the purpose, ribbed and edged with steel,

To strike the blow.

Knowledge we ask not-knowledge thou hast lent;
But Lord, the will—there lies our bitter need.
Give us to build above the deep intent
The deed, the deed.

John Drinkwater (18


MORE than half beaten, but fearless,

Facing the storm and the night;
Breathless and reeling, but tearless,

Here in the lull of the fight,
I who bow not but before Thee,

God of the fighting Clan,
Lifting my fists I implore Thee,

Give me the heart of a Man!

What though I live with the winners,

Or perish with those who fall?
Only the cowards are sinners,

Fighting the fight is all.
Strong is my Foe-he advances!

Snapped is my blade, O Lord!
See the proud banners and lances!

O spare me this stub of a sword!

Give me no pity, nor spare me;

Calm not the wrath of my Foe.
See where he beckons to dare me!

Bleeding, half-beaten-I go.
Not for the glory of winning,

Not for the fear of the night
Shunning the battle is sinning-

O spare me the heart to fight!

Red is the mist about me;

Deep is the wound in my side;
“Coward” thou criest to flout me?

O terrible Foe, thou hast lied!
Here with my battle before me,

God of the fighting Clan,
Grant that the woman who bore me
Suffered to suckle a man!

John G. Neihardt (1881


RABIA, sick upon her bed,
By two saints was visited, -
Holy Malik, Hassan wise-
Men of mark in Moslem eyes.
Hassan says, “Whose prayer is pure,
Will God's chastisement endure.”

Malik, from a deeper sense
Uttered his experience:

“He who loves his Master's choice
Will in chastisement rejoice.”
Rabia saw some selfish will .
In their maxims lingering still,

And replied, “O men of grace!
He who sees his Master's face

Will not, in his prayer, recall

That he is chastised at all.” From the Arabic, by James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888]


From "The Angel in the House"
WOULD Wisdom for herself be wooed,

And wake the foolish from his dream,
She must be glad as well as good,

And must not only be, but seem.

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