Yet life is not a vision nor a prayer, But stubborn work; she may not shun her task. After the first compassion, none will spare Her portion and her work achieved, to ask. She pleads for respite,—she will come ere long When, resting by the roadside, she is strong. Nay, for the hurrying throng of passers-by Will crush her with their onward-rolling stream. Much must be done before the brief light die; She may not loiter, rapt in the vain dream. With unused trembling hands, and faltering feet, She staggers forth, her lot assigned to meet. But when she fills her days with duties done, Strange vigor comes, she is restored to health. New aims, new interests rise with each new sun, And life still holds for her unbounded wealth. All that seemed hard and toilsome now proves small, And naught may daunt her,—she hath strength for all.
This poem is in the public domain.
About this Poem
“Work” was published in The Poems of Emma Lazarus (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1889). It is a section from a longer poem called "Epochs."
Posthumously famous for her sonnet, "The New Colossus," which is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus is considered America's first important Jewish poet
Date Published: 1871-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/work