From the Book of Valentines

by Bliss Carman


 

TO ONE IN DESPAIR


 

I

 

O die not yet, great heart; but deign 
A little longer to endure 
This life of passionate fret and strain, 
Of slender hope and joy unsure!

Take Contemplation by the sleeve,

5

And ask her, "Is it not worth while 
To teach my fellows not to grieve,— 
To lend them courage in a smile?

"Is it so little to have made 
The timorous ashamed of fear,— 

10

The idle and the false afraid 
To front existence with a sneer?"

For those who live within your sway
Know not a mortal fear, save one,—
That some irreparable day

15
They should awake, and find you gone.

 

II

 

Live on, love on! Let reason swerve;
But instinct knows her own great lore,
Like some uncharted planet's curve
That sweeps in sight, then is no more.
20

Live on, love on, without a qualm,
Child of immortal charity,
In the great certitude and calm
Of joy free-born that shall not die.

 

III

 

We dream ourselves inheritors
25
Of some unknown and distant good,
That shall requite us for the faults
Of our own lax ineptitude.

But soon and surely they may come,
Whom love makes wise and courage free,

30
Into their heritage of joy,—
Their earth-day of eternity.

 

IV

 

The thought that I could ever call
Your name, and you would not be here,
At moments sweeps my soul away
35
In the relentless tide of fear;

Then from its awful ebb returns
The sea of gladness strong and sure.
By this I know that love is great;
By this I know I shall endure.

40

 

V

 

When I shall have lain down to sleep, 
I pray no sound to break my rest. 
No seraph's trumpet through the night
Could touch my weary soul with zest.

But oh, beyond the reach of thought

45
How I should waken and rejoice, 
To hear across the drift of time 
One golden echo of your voice!