Like insects swarming in the sun,
They flutter, struggle, mate, and die,
And, with their life-work scarce begun,
Are struck down like the butterfly;
A million more, a million less,
What matters it? The Earth rolls on,
Unmindful of mankind’s distress,
Or if the race be here, or gone.
Thus rolled our globe ere man appeared,
And thus will roll, with wrinkled crust,
Deserted, lifeless, old, and seared,
When man shall have returned to dust.
And it at last shall also die!
Hence, measured by the eternal scale,
It ranks but as the butterfly,—
A world, ephemeral, fair and frail.
Man, insect, earth, or distant star,—
They differ only in degree;
Their transient lives, or near or far,
Are moments in eternity!
Yet somehow to my spirit clings
The faith that man survives the sod,
For this poor insect’s broken wings
Have raised my thoughts from earth to God.
The duel of the warring clouds
Hath ended with the day;
Their scintillant, electric blades
Have ceased their fearful play;
The pent up fury of their hate
Hath found at last release,
And o’er the tempest-stricken earth
Broods now the hush of peace.
The passing of the hurricane
Hath swept the sultry skies;
The clearness of the atmosphere
Brings jubilant surprise;
The mountain peaks are glorified
With freshly-fallen snow,
And, stealing o’er their coronets,
Appears the sunset glow.
An hour since, a torrid heat
Oppressed the languid frame;
The wind was as the khamseen’s breath,
The solar touch seemed flame;
But now the air rejuvenates,
The breeze refreshment brings,
The lustrous leaves drop diamonds,
The lark with rapture sings.
Fear not, dear heart! life’s darkest storms
Shall likewise end in light;
Behind the blackest thundercloud
The sun shines clear and bright;
Once more celestial heights shall wear
Their sheen of spotless snow,
And on the bravely steadfast soul
The smile of God shall glow.
My country! by our fathers reared
As champion of the world’s opprest;
Whose moral force the tyrant feared;
Whose flag all struggling freemen cheered;
In clutching at an empire’s crest
Thou too art fallen like the rest.
Not in thy numbers, wealth or might,
Proud mistress of a continent!
For rival nations, at the sight
Of thy resources, view with fright
Thy progress without precedent;
Not there is seen thy swift descent.
Reread the story of thy birth!
Recall the years in conflict spent
To prove to a despairing earth
That every Government of worth
Is really based on free consent;
Then view with shame thy present bent!