What would life be if these few years
Of thankless toil and bitter tears
Were all and naught beyond?
An utter failure void of hope,
A sunless maze of narrow scope
Where phantoms of despair would grope
Throughout its narrow bound.
If like a sear and withered leaf,
Unmindful grown of joy or grief,
We fell asleep,
Forevermore in dust to lie,
While centuries passed us heedless by,
Our endless heritage to die,
Our doom a moldering heap.
Why were hearts given to strive and long
And suffer by the hand of wrong;
Is this their destiny?
Why were minds given to grope for light,
And wing through time and space their flight,
But to go out in starless night,
From life's dread mystery?
Alas for Love, if o'er her tomb
The flowers of Hope forbid to bloom,
Went quaking to the dust!
Alas for Love, if her bright smile
Could claim but this world's little while;
Could Earth her children reconcile
To shattered shrines of trust!
Alas for Thought, if fleeting time
Could crumble her immortal shrine
And quench her brightest flame!
Alas for Thought, if o'er her skies
No star of hope could ever rise!
Alas for Thought, when promise dies,
To never bloom again!
O Faith, thou brightest sun of earth,
What heart can sing thy matchless worth
To helpless mortals given!
Saviour, thy love's bright presence shed
Gilds the dark vaults where sleep the dead,
And lights the gloomy vale we tread,
As with the hues of Heaven.