The wasted fountains
"And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters;
they came to the pits and found no water; they returned with
their vessels empty." -- Jeremiah XIV. 3.
When the fitful fever of the soul
Is awakened in thee first;
And thou goest like Judah's children forth,
To slake thy burning thirst; --
And when dry and wasted, like the springs
Sought by that little band,
Before thee, in their emptiness
Life's broken cisterns stand; --
When the ripened fruits that tempted,
Turn to ashes on the taste;
And thine early visions fade and pass,
Like the mirage of the waste; --
When faith darkens, and hopes languish,
In the shade of gathering years;
And the urn thou bear'st is empty,
Or o'erflowing with thy tears,
Because those transient springs have failed thee,
And those founts of youth are dried;
Wilt thou, among the mouldering stones,
In weariness abide?
Wilt thou sit among the ruins,
With all words of cheer unspoken,
Till the silver chord is loosened;
Till the golden bowl is broken?
Up, and onward! towards the east,
Green oases thou shalt find;
Streams that rise from higher sources,
Than the pools thou leav'st behind.
Life has import more inspiring
Than the fancies of thy youth;
It has hopes as high as heaven;
It has labor, -- it has truth.
It has wrongs that may be righted, --
Noble deeds that may be done; --
Its great battles are unfought,
Its great triumphs are unwon.
There is rising from its troubled deeps,
A low, unceasing moan;
There are arching, there are breaking
Other hearts besides thine own.
From strong limbs, that should be chainless,
There are fetters to unbind;
There are words to raise the fallen;
There is sight to give the blind.
There are crushed and broken spirits,
That electric thoughts may thrill;
Lofty dreams to be embodied,
By the might of one strong will.
There are God and Truth above thee, --
Wilt thou languish in despair?
Tread thy griefs beneath thy feet, --
Scale the walls of Heaven by prayer.
'Tis the key of the Apostle,
That opens Heaven from below;
'Tis the ladder of the patriarch,
Whereon angels come and go.