When we have laid aside our last endeavour,
And said farewell to one or two that weep,
And issued from the house of life for ever,
To find a lodging in the house of sleep--
With eyes fast shut, in sunless chambers lying,
With folded arms unmoved upon the breast,
Beyond the noise of sorrow and of crying,
Beyond the dread of dreaming, shall we rest?
Or shall there come at last desire of waking,
To walk again on hillsides that we know,
When sunrise through the cold white mist is breaking,
Or in the stillness of the after-glow?
Shall there be yearning for the sound of voices,
The sight of faces, and the touch of hands,
The will that works, the spirit that rejoices,
The heart that feels, the mind that understands?
Shall dreams and memories crowding from the distance,
Shall ghosts of old ambition or of mirth,
Create for us a shadow of existence,
A dim reflection of the life of earth?
And being dead, and powerless to recover
The substance of the show whereon we gaze,
Shall we be likened to the hapless lover,
Who broods upon the unreturning days?
Not so: for we have known how swift to perish
Is man's delight when youth and health take wing,
Until the winter leaves him nought to cherish
But recollections of a vanished spring.
Dream as we may, desire of life shall never
Disturb our slumbers in the house of sleep.
Yet oh, to think we may not greet for ever
The one or two that, when we leave them, weep!