Thou shouldst lay thee down, and sadly list
To the wail of our cold birth-time;
And build thee a temple, glory-kissed,
In the heart of the sunny clime;
Its columns should rise in a music-mist,
And its roofs in a spirit-rhyme.
Its pillars the solemn hills should bind
’Neath arches of starry deeps;
Its floor the earth all veined and lined;
Its organ the ocean-sweeps;
And, swung in the hands of the grey-robed wind,
Its censers the blossom-heaps.
And ’tis almost done; for in this my rhyme,
Thanks to thy mirror-soul,
Thou wilt see the mountains, and hear the chime
Of the waters after the roll;
And the stars of my sky thy sky will climb,
And with heaven roof in the whole.
“Thou wanderest in the land of dreams,
O man of many songs;
To thee the actual only seems—
No realm to thee belongs.”
“Seest thou those mountains in the east,
O man of ready aim?”
“’T is only vapours that thou seest,
In mountain form and name.”
“Nay, nay, I know them all too well,
Each ridge, and peak, and dome;
In that cloud-land, in one high dell,
Nesteth my little home.”
Better to smell a violet,
Than sip the careless wine;
Better to list one music tone,
Than watch the jewels’ shine.
Better to have the love of one,
Than smiles like morning dew;
Better to have a living seed
Than flowers of every hue.
Better to feel a love within,
Than be lovely to the sight;
Better a homely tenderness
Than beauty’s wild delight.
Better to love than be beloved.
Though lonely all the day;
Better the fountain in the heart,
Than the fountain by the way.
Better a feeble love to God,
Than for woman’s love to pine;
Better to have the making God
Than the woman made divine.
Better be fed by mother’s hand,
Than eat alone at will;
Better to trust in God, than say:
My goods my storehouse fill.
Better to be a little wise
Than learned overmuch;
Better than high are lowly thoughts,
For truthful thoughts are such.
Better than thrill a listening crowd,
Sit at a wise man’s feet;
But better teach a child, than toil
To make thyself complete.
Better to walk the realm unseen,
Than watch the hour’s event;
Better the smile of God alway,
Than the voice of men’s consent.
Better to have a quiet grief
Than a tumultuous joy;
Better than manhood, age’s face,
If the heart be of a boy.
Better the thanks of one dear heart,
Than a nation’s voice of praise;
Better the twilight ere the dawn,
Than yesterday’s mid-blaze.
Better a death when work is done,
Than earth’s most favoured birth;
Better a child in God’s great house
Than the king of all the earth.