A poem by James Russell Lowell

Ye little think what toil it was to build
A world of men imperfect even as this,
Where we conceive of Good by what we miss,
Of ill by that wherewith best days are filled;
A world whose every atom is self-willed,
Whose corner-stone is propt on artifice,
Whose joy is shorter-lived than woman's kiss,
Whose wisdom hoarded is but to be spilled.
Yet this is better than a life of caves,
Whose highest art was scratching on a bone,
Or chipping toilsome arrowheads of flint;
Better, though doomed to hear while Cleon raves,
To see wit's want eterned in paint or stone,
And wade the drain-drenched shoals of daily print.

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