An endless and unbroken rest,
Nor change, nor night, nor day,
Where aimless, as in sleep, we’ll dream
Sweet friend of mine, that Heaven of thine
Methinks if overblest;
We could not work on earth enough
To need so long a rest.
Our human nature could not be
Content with rest like this,
And even bliss could cloy, if we
Had nothing else but bliss.
Great Nature’s hand, in every plan,
Had laid in wise design,
But what design, or use, is in
This theory of thine?
If, when our earth-career is done,
All conscious life must cease,
And we drift on, and on, and on,
In endless, dreamy peace—
If Heaven is but a mystic spell,
Whose glowing visions thrall,
Why should we have a life beyond?
Why have a Heaven at all?
“Be brave?” why, yes, I will; I’ll
never more despair;
Who could, with such sweet comforting as yours?
How, like the voice that stilled the tempest air,
Your mild philosophy its reasoning pours.
Go you and build a temple to the skies, and make
Your soul an alter-offering on the pile;
Then, from its lightning-riven ruin, take
Your crushed and bleeding self, and calmly smile.
When loud, and fierce, and wild, a storm sweeps o’er
Say that it soothes you—brings you peace again;
Laugh while the hot steel quivers in your breast,
And “make believe” you love the scorching pain.
See every earthly thing your life is woven round,
Fall, drop by drop, until your heart is sieved!
Go mad and writhe, and moan upon the ground,
And curse, and die, and say that you have prayed and lived!
Then come to me, as now, and I will take your hand,
And look upon your face and smile and say:
“All were not born to hold a magic wand;
Cheer up, my friend, you must be brave always.”
You tell me you love me; you bid me believe
That never such lover could mean to deceive.
You tell me the tale which a million times
Has been told, and talked, and sung in rhymes;
You rave o’er my “eyes” and my “beautiful hair,”
And swear to be true, as they always swear;
But the wrinkles will grow, and the roses go,
And lovers are rovers oft, you know,
When the roses go.
I have heard of a woman, sweet and fair,
With dewy lips and shining hair,
And you pledged to her, on your bended knee,
The self-same vow you make to me.
She was fairer than I, I know;
She was pure and true, and she loved you so;
But the wrinkles will grow and the roses go—
How she learned that trouble comes, you know,
When the roses go.