Every one must make a choice,
Life is based on compensation;
You have nothing but your voice,
I have more, ... but more vexation!
Minstrel, you at least are free;
Give your smile to slaves like me!
Shut out the World, shut in the Home!
The sea is deeper than its foam;
Retain the gem, reject the paste;
Withdraw from Mammon’s feverish haste,
Its tumult and its senseless waste.
Within are love, and books, and flowers,—
Creators of life’s happiest hours;
Without are those whose baneful call,
If once they pass within thy wall,
May blight the beauty of it all.
Think not they come for love of thee!
They seek from ennui to be free,
To ask some boon, or tell some tale
Which, true or false, will rarely fail
To leave behind a poisoned trail.
What else indeed can such as they
Invent to pass their time away?
Their thoughts revolve round sport and dress,
Their reading is the daily press,
Their mental life a wilderness.
What though their dwellings rise near thine?
Propinquity is not a sign
Of loyal hearts or kindred views;
Thou surely hast a right to choose
Whom thou wilt welcome, whom refuse.
Decline to let those mar thy joy,
Whose manners wound, and words annoy;
The vapid, heartless throng eschew;
Admit alone,—alas, how few!—
The really kind, the really true.
Yet when did ever a recluse
Escape the baffled crowd’s abuse?
The social world will ne’er condone
Thy preference to live alone
Amid resources of thine own.
Well, let it scoff, malign, or ... worse!
Thou hast an independent purse;
Alike to thee its smile or sneer,
It hath no power to cause thee fear,
Nor is its censure worth a tear.
Hence, ’mid thy flowers, books, and trees
Strive not the multitude to please;
Regard its humors as the spray
Which winds blow lightly o’er the bay;
Live thine own life, and win the day!
With a smile and a kiss he went away;
At the gate he turned and waved his hand,
Then plunged once more in the sordid fray,
Whose strain she could not understand.
She really thought that she loved him well,
But she loved herself and children more,
And realized only when he fell
What all his friends had known before.
He had always hid his own distress,
And answered us with a brave “Not yet,”
For boys must play and girls must dress,
As do their mates in the social set.
At least she claimed that this was so,
And he too dearly loved them all
To spoil their place in the passing show,
And so rode on for a fatal fall.
He had earned enough for a simple life,
If only they a word had said,
So weary was he of the strife;
But they were dumb, and he ... is dead!