Poems (1898)/First and Last

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For works with similar titles, see First and Last.
For other versions of this work, see First and Last (Coates).

FIRST AND LAST

Hope smiles a welcome, if no other smiles,
Upon our entrance to this world of pain;
And on each purpose of our youth again,
With an inspiring sympathy, she smiles.
She leads us forth to battle, and beguiles
Our anguish when the long fight proves in vain;
Till, pierced by countless wounds, amongst the slain
We leave her, while the victor foe reviles.
But even as we touch at ruin's verge,
And hear the voices of despair that urge
The fatal plunge to chaos, Hope alone,—
How healèd and how ransomed none may guess,—
Rising again in pallid loveliness,
Resumes her sway, a thousand times o'erthrown.