Preparation

- 1879-1960
"I have no time for those things now," we say;
"But in the future just a little way,
No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed,
I shall have leisure then for thought and rest.
When I the debts upon my land have paid,
Or on foundations firm my business laid,
I shall take time for discourse long and sweet
With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet;
I shall take time on mornings still and cool
To seek the freshness dim of wood and pool,
Where, calmed and hallowed by great Nature's peace,
My life from its hot cares shall find release;
I shall take time to think on destiny,
Of what I was and am and yet shall be,
Till in the hush my soul may nearer prove
To that great Soul in whom we live and move.
All this I shall do sometime but not now—
The press of business cares will not allow."
And thus our life glides on year after year;
The promised leisure never comes more near.
Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind
Is high, and its attainment slow to find;
Or if we reach the mark that we have set,
We still would seek another, farther yet.
Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past
Till death upon the threshold stands at last,
And back unto our Maker we must give
The life we spent preparing well to live.

More by Effie Waller Smith

At the Grave of the Forgotten

In a churchyard old and still, 
Where the breeze-touched branches thrill 
              To and fro, 
Giant oak trees blend their shade 
O'er a sunken grave-mound, made 
              Long ago. 

No stone, crumbling at its head, 
Bears the mossed name of the dead 
              Graven deep; 
But a myriad blossoms' grace 
Clothes with trembling light the place 
              Of his sleep. 

Was a young man in his strength 
Laid beneath this low mound's length, 
              Heeding naught? 
Did a maiden's parents wail 
As they saw her, pulseless, pale, 
              Hither brought? 

Was it else one full of days, 
Who had traveled darksome ways, 
              And was tired, 
Who looked forth unto the end, 
And saw Death come as a friend 
              Long desired?

Who it was that rests below 
Not earth's wisest now may know, 
              Or can tell; 
But these blossoms witness bear 
They who laid the sleeper there 
              Loved him well. 

In the dust that closed him o'er 
Planted they the garden store 
              Deemed most sweet, 
Till the fragrant gleam, outspread, 
Swept in beauty from his head 
              To his feet. 

Still, in early springtime's glow, 
Guelder-roses cast their snow 
              O'er his rest; 
Still sweet-williams breathe perfume 
Where the peonies' crimson bloom 
              Drapes his breast. 

Passing stranger, pity not 
Him who lies here, all forgot, 
              'Neath this earth; 
Some one loved him—more can fall 
To no mortal. Love is all 
              Life is worth.