When I shall go
Into the narrow home that leaves
No room for wringing of the hands and hair,
And feel the pressing of the walls which bear
The heavy sod upon my heart that grieves,
(As the weird earth rolls on),
Then I shall know
What is the power of destiny. But still,
Still while my life, however sad, be mine,
I war with memory, striving to divine
Phantom to-morrows, to outrun the past;
For yet the tears of final, absolute ill
And ruinous knowledge of my fate I shun.
Even as the frail, instinctive weed
Tries, through unending shade, to reach at last
A shining, mellowing, rapture-giving sun;
So in the deed of breathing joy's warm breath,
Fain to succeed,
I, too, in colorless longings, hope till death.
An angel spoke with me, and lo, he hoarded
My falling tears to cheer a flower's face!
For, so it seems, in all the heavenly space
A wasted grief was never yet recorded.
Victorious calm those holy tones afforded
Unto my soul, whose outcry, in disgrace,
Changed to low music, leading to the place
Where, though well armed, with futile end awarded,
My past lay dead. "Wars are of earth!" he cried;
"Endurance only breathes immortal air.
Courage eternal, by a world defied,
Still wears the front of patience, smooth and fair."
Are wars so futile, and is courage peace?
Take, then, my soul, thus gently thy release!