Lyrics of Earth

by Archibald Lampman


 

 

THE SWEETNESS OF LIFE


 

It fell on a day I was happy,
    And the winds, the concave sky,
The flowers and the beasts in the meadow
    Seemed happy even as I;
And I stretched my hands to the meadow,                              5
    To the bird, the beast, the tree:
"Why are ye all so happy?"
    I cried, and they answered me.

What sayest thou, Oh meadow,
    That stretches so wide, so far,                                           10
That none can say how many
    Thy misty marguerites are?
And what say ye, red roses,
    That o’er the sun-blanched wall
From your high black-shadowed trellis                                  15
    Like flame or blood—drops fall?
       "We are born, we are reared, and we linger
          A various space and die;
       We dream, and are bright and happy,
          But we cannot answer why."                                         20

What sayest thou, Oh shadow,
    That from the dreaming hill
All down the broadening valley
    Liest so sharp and still?
And thou, Oh murmuring brooklet,                                         25
    Whereby in the noonday gleam
The loosestrife burns like ruby,
    And the branched arsters dream?
       "We are born, we are reared, and we linger
          A various space and die;                                              30
       We dream and are very happy,
          But we cannot answer why."

And then of myself I questioned,
    That like a ghost the while
Stood from me and calmly answered,                                    35
    With slow and curious smile:
"Thou art born as the flowers, and wilt linger
    Thine own short space and die;
Thou dream’st and art strangely happy,
    But thou canst not answer why."                                          40