Would we forget the shadows grim,
The lonely hours of grief and pain,
The follies dead, the pleasures slain,
The tears and toils that hindered him,
And only prize the deeds that grew
To mighty conquest, if we knew?
Would careless hand sow tares of strife,
Amid the blooms of happy care,
And plant, in spite of sigh and prayer,
Wild thorns amid the blameless life,
Till sorrows rule the nations through,
With scarce a rival, if we knew?
Would we be quicker with our praise,
And gladly give the greatest meeds
As recompense for noble deeds,
And heroes crown with brightest bays,
And slay all foes that hearts imbue
With doubt and weakness, if we knew?
From lofty kings would constant worth
On peasant brows their crowns bestow,
And rising from her overthrow
Eternal justice rule the earth,
While right would strip the favored few
To bless the many, if we knew?
If we but knew! Ah, well-a-day!
From lives that murmur, full of ills,
Behind the shadows of the hills,
God hides our brother’s heart away;
And we shall know in vales of rest
That His eternal ways are best!
When man from pure perfection fell,
And bathed his life in grief and woe,
His angel heart had overthrow
From all the joys he loved so well,
And only Hope of all the host
Remained to comfort him when lost.
And when the other passions throw
Their phantoms in the arms of death,
And pour their last remaining breath
Within the dismal haunts of woe,
Then Hope alone of all remains
To soothe our sorrows and our pains.
Hope makes the fearful millions brave,
The helpless and the weary strong,
Gives courage to the fainting throng
And whispers freedom to the slave,
And unto each, where’er he lives,
Unceasing cause to struggle gives.
In heavy hours of ghostly gloom
When raging billows dash and beat
Around the weak and weary feet
Which tremble on the yawning tomb,
The harp of Hope divinely sings
Exalted songs of better things.
It lifts the gaze of mortal eyes
Above the desert and the dearth,
Above the barren fields of earth,
Unto the promise of the skies,
And to the last expiring breath
Gives comfort in the hour of death.
O, sacred light of human life,
Eternal star of Heaven’s love,
Thy brightness ever shines above
The darkest hours of woe and strife,
To raise our souls above the sod
Into the holy home of God!
O, gloomy world that rolls in weary space,
And moans wild music to the broken spheres,
Whose rivers wander into seas of tears,
Despair has bound thee in a close embrace;
A birth, a life, a death; man is no more!