Thou hast done well to kneel and say,
“Since He who gave can take away,
And bid me suffer, I obey.”
And also well to tell thy heart
That good lies in the bitterest part,
And thou wilt profit by her smart.
But bitter hours come to all:
When even truths like these will pall,
Sick hearts for humbler comfort call.
Then I would have thee strive to see
That good and evil come to thee,
As one of a great family.
And as material life is planned,
That even the loneliest one must stand
Dependent on his brother’s hand;
So links more subtle and more fine
Bind every other soul to thine
In one great brotherhood divine.
Nor with thy share of work be vexed;
Though incomplete, and even perplex,
It fits exactly to the next.
What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright,
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree,–no more
To shelter thee,–lets Heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
Thy life that has been dropped aside
Into Time’s stream, may stir the tide,
In rippled circles spreading wide.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.
Fail–yet rejoice; because no less
The failure that makes thy distress
May teach another full success.
It may be that in some great need
Thy life’s poor fragments are decreed
To help build up a lofty deed.
Thy heart should throb in vast content,
Thus knowing that it was but meant
As chord in one great instrument;
That even the discord in thy soul
May make completer music roll
From out the great harmonious whole.
It may be, that when all is light,
Deep set within that deep delight
Will be to know why all was right;
To hear life’s perfect music rise,
And while it floods the happy skies,
Thy feeble voice to recognise.
Then strive more gladly to fulfil
Thy little part. This darkness still
Is light to every loving will.
And trust,–as if already plain,
How just thy share of loss and pain
Is for another fuller gain.
I dare not limit time or place
Touched by thy life: nor dare I trace
Its far vibrations into space.
One only knows. Yet if the fret
Of thy weak heart, in weak regret
Needs a more tender comfort yet:
Then thou mayst take thy loneliest fears,
The bitterest drops of all thy tears,
The dreariest hours of all thy years;
And through thy anguish there outspread,
May ask that God’s great love would shed
Blessings on one beloved head.
And thus thy soul shall learn to draw
Sweetness from out that loving law
That sees no failure and no flaw,
Where all is good. And life is good,
Were the one lesson understood
Of its most sacred brotherhood.
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