Life! Ay, what is it? E’en a moment spun
From cycles of eternity. And yet,
What wrestling ’mid the fever and the fret
Of tangled purposes and hopes undone!
What affluence of love! What vict’ries won
In agonies of silence, ere trust met
A manifold fulfillment, and the wet,
Beseeching eyes saw splendors past the sun!
What struggle in the web of circumstance,
And yearning in the wingèd music! All,
One restless strife from fetters to be free;
Till, gathered to eternity’s expanse,
Is that brief moment at the Father’s call.
Life! Ay, at best, ’tis but a mystery!
O mother-heart! when fast the arrows flew, Like blinding lightning, smiting as they fell, One after one, one after one, what knell Could fitly voice thy anguish! Sorrow grew To throes intensest, when thy sad soul knew Thy youngest, too, must go. Was it not well, Avengers wroth, just one to spare? Ay, tell The ages of soul-struggle sterner? Through The flinty stone, O image of despair, Sad Niobe, thy maddened grief did flow In bitt’rest tears, when all thy wailing prayer Was so denied. Alas! what weight of woe Is prisoned in thy melancholy eyes! What mother-love beneath the Stoic lies!