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Poem by James Russell Lowell

Song (All things are sad)

    All things are sad:--
  I go and ask of Memory,
  That she tell sweet tales to me
    To make me glad;
  And she takes me by the hand,
    Leadeth to old places,
    Showeth the old faces
  In her hazy mirage-land;
  O, her voice is sweet and low,
  And her eyes are fresh to mine
       As the dew
       Gleaming through
  The half-unfolded Eglantine,
  Long ago, long ago!
  But I feel that I am only
  Yet more sad, and yet more lonely!

    Then I turn to blue-eyed Hope,
  And beg of her that she will ope
  Her golden gates for me;
  She is fair and full of grace,
  But she hath the form and face
  Of her mother Memory;
  Clear as air her glad voice ringeth,
  Joyous are the songs she singeth,
  Yet I hear them mournfully;--
  They are songs her mother taught her,
  Crooning to her infant daughter,
  As she lay upon her knee.
  Many little ones she bore me,
  Woe is me! in by-gone hours,
  Who danced along and sang before me,
  Scattering my way with flowers;
       One by one
       They are gone,
  And their silent graves are seen,
  Shining fresh with mosses green,
  Where the rising sunbeams slope
  O'er the dewy land of Hope.

    But, when sweet Memory faileth,
  And Hope looks strange and cold;
  When youth no more availeth,
  And Grief grows over bold;--
  When softest winds are dreary,
  And summer sunlight weary,
  And sweetest things uncheery
       We know not why:--
  When the crown of our desires
  Weighs upon the brow and tires,
       And we would die,
  Die for, ah! we know not what,
  Something we seem to have forgot,
  Something we had, and now have not;--
  When the present is a weight
  And the future seems our foe,
  And with shrinking eyes we wait,
  As one who dreads a sudden blow
  In the dark, he knows not whence;--
  When Love at last his bright eye closes,
  And the bloom upon his face,
  That lends him such a living grace,
  Is a shadow from the roses
  Wherewith we have decked his bier,
  Because he once was passing dear;--
  When we feel a leaden sense
  Of nothingness and impotence,
         Till we grow mad--
       Then the body saith,
      "There's but one true faith;
         All things are sad!"

James Russell Lowell

James Russell Lowell's other poems:
  1. The Lover
  2. The Lost Child
  3. Impartiality
  4. The Bobolink
  5. Flowers

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