How beautiful the Earth is still
To thee–how full of Happiness;
How little fraught with real ill
Or shadowy phantoms of distress;
How Spring can bring thee glory yet
And Summer win thee to forget
December’s sullen time!
Why dost thou hold the treasure fast
Of youth’s delight, when youth is past
And thou art near thy prime?
When those who were thy own compeers,
Equal in fortunes and in years,
Have seen their morning melt in tears,
To dull unlovely day;
Blest, had they died unproved and young
Before their hearts were wildly wrung,
Poor slaves, subdued by passions strong,
A weak and helpless prey!
‘Because, I hoped while they enjoyed,
And by fulfilment, hope destroyed
As children hope, with trustful breast,
I waited Bliss and cherished Rest.
’A thoughtful Spirit taught me soon
That we must long till life be done;
That every phase of earthly joy
Will always fade and always cloy—
'This I foresaw, and would not chase
The fleeting treacheries,
But with firm foot and tranquil face
Held backward from the tempting race,
Gazed o’er the sands the waves efface
To the enduring seas–
‘There cast my anchor of Desire
Deep in unknown Eternity;
Nor ever let my Spirit tire
With looking for What is to be.
’It is Hope’s spell that glorifies
Like youth to my maturer eyes
All Nature’s million mysteries—
The fearful and the fair–
'Hope soothes me in the griefs I know,
She lulls my pain for others’ woe
And makes me strong to undergo
What I am born to bear.
'Glad comforter, will I not brave
Unawed the darkness of the grave?
Nay, smile to hear Death’s billows rave,
My Guide, sustained by thee?
The more unjust seems present fate
The more my Spirit springs elate
Strong in thy strength, to anticipate
Charlotte Brontë wrote 'Never was better stuff penned.' in the manuscript of this poem.
June 2, 1845