Is the promise of day merely darkness,
Is sleep full fruition for strife,
Is the grave compensation for sorrow,
Is Nirvana the answer to life?
Is there no unobscured revelation
The evil of Earth to explain,—
No word of compassion to soften
The terrible riddle of pain?
In cold, imperturbable silence
The planets revolve in their course,
And Nature is deaf to entreaty,
Untroubled by doubt or remorse;
The snows, far outspread on her mountains,
Dissolve, nor her mandate gainsay,
And the cloud is consumed at her bidding,
And vanisheth quickly away.
And man?—shall he fade like the cloud-wreath,
And waste, unresisting, like snow,
Nor learn of the place whence he journeyed,
Nor guess whereunto he must go?
Alas! after nights spent in searching,
After days and years, what can he tell,—
What imagine of mysteries higher
Than heaven, and deeper than hell?
At end of the difficult journey,
With restless inquiries so rife,
He knows what his spirit discovered
At the shadowy threshold of life;
He feels what the tenderness beaming
From eyes bending, wistful, above,
Revealed to his heart when an infant,—
The care, unforgetting, of love!
The hawk toward the south her wings stretcheth,
The eagle ascendeth the sky;
They know not the Guide who conducts them,
Yet onward, unerring, they fly:
In the desert the dew falleth gently,—
In the desert where no man is;
And the herb wisteth not who hath sent it,
But the herb and the dew,—both are His!