One Life

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One Life
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.


              ONE LIFE

Oh, I am hurt to death, my Love;
  The shafts of Fate have pierced my striving heart,
And I am sick and weary of
  The endless pain and smart.
My soul is weary of the strife,
And chafes at life, and chafes at life.

Time mocks me with fair promises;
  A blooming future grows a barren past,
Like rain my fair full-blossomed trees
  Unburden in the blast.
The harvest fails on grain and tree,
Nor comes to me, nor comes to me.

The stream that bears my hopes abreast
  Turns ever from my way its pregnant tide.
My laden boat, torn from its rest,
  Drifts to the other side.
So all my hopes are set astray,
And drift away, and drift away.

The lark sings to me at the morn,
  And near me wings her skyward-soaring flight;
But pleasure dies as soon as born,
  The owl takes up the night,
And night seems long and doubly dark;
I miss the lark, I miss the lark.

Let others labor as they may,
  I'll sing and sigh alone, and write my line.
Their fate is theirs, or grave or gay,
  And mine shall still be mine.
I know the world holds joy and glee,
But not for me,—'t is not for me.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.