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Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896)
With an introduction by W.D. Howells
First published by Dodd, Mead and Company
Copyright 1895 and 1896
I was not; now I am--a few days hence,
I shall not be; I fain would look before
And after, but can neither do; some Pow'r
Or lack of pow'r says "no" to all I would.
I stand upon a wide and sunless plain,
Nor chart nor steel to guide my steps aright.
Whene'er, o'ercoming fear, I dare to move,
I grope without direction and by chance.
Some feign to hear a voice and feel a hand
That draws them ever upward thro' the gloom.
But I--I hear no voice and touch no hand,
Tho' oft thro' silence infinite, I list,
And strain my hearing to supernal sounds;
Tho' oft thro' fateful darkness do I reach,
And stretch my hand to find that other hand.
I question of th' eternal bending skies
That seem to neighbor with the novice earth;
But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes
On me, as I one day shall do on them,
And tell me not the secret that I ask.