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Littell's Living Age/Volume 169/Issue 2181/Doubt

Where is it leading us, this sad procession
     Of veilèd hours and weeks, all grim and grey?
The summer dies in autumn’s chill embraces,
     Then winter calls drear autumn-time away;
Till spring days come, all redolent with flowers,
     Once inure to mock us with their brief, bright smile,
And summer comes but once again to vanish,
     For all the seasons last so short a while.

But whither do they take us in their passing?
     Eyes wax but dim, hearts beat a slower tune;
Hands fail to do the work that seems so pressing
      'Tis winter time, e'er we have welcomed June.
We cannot stay them, passing — ever passing —
     E'en though our lives wax shorter as they go,
Although we tremble at the gathering shadows,
     That wait around, and hide what none may know.

Of life, sad life, I did not ask thy dower,
     I did not take on me thy weary pain;
Thy pleasures never were by me demanded,
     And having lived, I would not live again.
Still would I fain be given wider knowledge,
     See clear and fair, not darkly through a glass,
Made darker yet to sight dimmed oft by crying,
     So dim I cannot see the way I pass!

There is no sunshine here without a shadow,
     No smile that has not its swift following tear,
No bliss that is not paid for by a sorrow,
     That casts before its shade of mortal fear.
Is there no land, oh, life, where we are happy,
     Safe in the knowledge that our blessings are;
That love is real; life’s best joys unending
     Beyond the horrors of some judgment bar?

None answer, for the shadows grim and dreary
     Are silent with the silence of the dead —
The dead, that are so quiet, safe, untroubled,
     Not knowing aught, within their churchyard bed!
Oh, can it be that all our lives but lead us,
     To share the silence where past ages sleep;
That Life himself doth yield our only harvest,
     And what we sow, we here alone may reap?