Littell's Living Age/Volume 169/Issue 2192/To a Doleful Poet

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Originally published in Longman's Magazine.

Why are you sad when the sky is blue?
Why, when the sun shines bright for you?
     And the birds are singing, and all the air
     Is sweet with the flowers everywhere?
If life have thorns, it has roses too.

Be wise and be merry. 'Tis half untrue
Your doleful song. You have work to do.
     If the work be good, and the world so fair,
                         Why are you sad?

Life's sorrows are many, its joys so few!
Ah! sing of the joys! Let the dismal crew
     Of black thoughts bide in their doleful lair.
     Give us glad songs; sing us free from care.
Gladness maketh the world anew.
                         Why are you sad?

               An Answer.

Why am I sad when the sky is blue?
You ask, O friend, and I answer you —
     I love the sun and the balmy air,
     The flowers and glad things everywhere.
But if life be merry, 'tis earnest too.

And the earnest hour, if hope be true,
Must be solemn or sad; for the work we do
     Is little and weak. Ask the world so fair
                         Why I am sad.

For me glad hours are no wise few.
But life is so serious — ship and crew
     Bound such a voyage to death's dark lair.
     My work is my happy song: but care
Still steals on the quiet hour anew,
                         And makes it sad!