The Stoic Soul's Defiance
by Achsa White Sprague
All, all is dark! Ten thousand clouds
Make pall-like all my soul,
And through its dreary, dismal depths
The awful thunders roll.
Fate wraps me in her blackened shroud,
The pall-cloth of her gloom;
And Destiny, with ruthless hand,
Prepares me for the tomb.
Talk not of hope or joy, to me;
It has a sound like scorn:
I curse the boon of Life! I curse
The day that I was born!
Mock not with words of future life;
I tell you, 'tis in vain:
Man sleeps a long and dreamless sleep;
He never wakes again
A few short days, a few short years,
Of toys and petty play,
A few dark trials of the heart,
And then he glides away.
And like a poor, degraded wretch,
He creeps unto his rest,
With but one mantle o'er him cast --
The sod upon his breast.
Forth out of darkness unto earth,
A stranger does he come;
Like wanderer in a foreign land,
He always pines for home,
And finds it not, unless in death;
His life, so short, so vain,
The only boon I deign to ask,
God, take it back again!
I scorn so mean a thing as life;
I scorn the Giver, too;
For, out of all His mightiness,
Man has not half his due.
And yet I scorn to thus complain,
'Tis base as this my life;
I will not stoop to mix me up
With all its petty strife.
I'll stand a martyr on the shore
Of time, my little day,
And bravely meet the surging waves
That bear my life away.
I'll make my soul too great to bend,
Too mighty to complain;
If there's no greatness in this life,
I'll find it in my pain.
I'll live a God the hour I live,
And like a God I'll die;
The mighty darkness of the tomb,
Unblenched my soul shall try.
And sing, with last expiring breath,
Life gives but one thing grand --
Upon the voiceless shore of death,
In solitude to stand.
And put my bark from off the shore
Into the silent sea,
With stoic scorn of this poor life
My latest thought to be.
Ho! Giver of my life and breath,
I cast it back once more,
Confront thee, standing in my strength,
Till all of life is o'er!
Source:The Poet And Other Poems.
Boston: William White And Co.,
158 Washington Street.