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Life (Poem)

Into the vista of “What might have been"
Another day has passed, and with it all
The deeds undone, the harsh unkindly words,
The actions whose sole motives were for “self,”
The thoughts unguarded, wherein crept the beast,
Are past and gone—into the “Might have been."

What opportunities for doing good
Are held within a single earthly day;
What burdens we may lighten, if we will,
What sorrow we may soothe, what wounds may heal;
What tiny germs of happiness lie hid
Within the soul, if we will let them grow.

Full many a weary year has rolled away
Since first to suffering men and women here,
The prophet’s words, “If thou wilt cast thy bread
Upon the waters, after many days
It shall be found by thee," came clear and true,
And now, as then, they sound in heedless ears.

For this old world of ours might yet be made
Into a Paradise so sweet and pure
That life would be a glorious, sinless dream
Of happiness, if men would only see
The meaning of that ancient prophecy,
And scatter seeds of kindness as they pass.

“For whatsoe'er humanity cloth sow,
That also it shall reap and garner in."
And this is the Divine immortal Law
Which men transgress, and understand it not;
For though the gift of sight is given to men,
They use it not aright, and so are blind.

But still, a time will come, and that ere long,
When men shall understand the laws of Life
So far as they affect himself on earth;
And he will see their great simplicity,
And wonder why he was so blind before
As not to see and understand them well.

And man will see that all the wretchedness,
And all the misery, and want, and sin,
Are caused through lack of Love and Faith, and Strength;
Love that doth beautify and purify,
Faith that can overcome all obstacles,
Strength that endures the conflict cheerfully.

And all good gifts and every perfect gift
Is from above, and cometh softly down
From Him who is the Father of all lights,
With Whom is neither variableness
Nor any shade of turning,—and to men
The gifts are given, to do with as they will.

Freely we have received these perfect gifts,
And unto those that hear, a clear command
Rings down, and penetrates the soul of man;
“To all the suffring souls around thee now
Freely distribute these My heavenly gifts,
And untold treasure shall be thine in Heaven.

"Freely ye have received, oh freely give,
E’en to the end, e’en though thy very life
Is spent in giving, helping, cherishing,
Cheering the cheerless, cherishing the poor,
Helping the helpless, beating down the bad
With goodness that compels allegiance to ’t.

“And not in heaven only, but on earth
Thou shalt have some reward, and gratitude
Will shine in many a brighter, happier face
For thy endeavors; yet on earth thy lot
Will not be of the smoothest, for the truth
Is oft misunderstood, and trampled on."

Two forces are at work upon the earth,
And man may choose whichever one he will.
Two banners wave unseen among the throngs,
Amid the busy haunts of men and things,
And hover o’cr the battlefield of earth.

And one is rampant as a ravenous beast,
With black and bloodstained jaws unsatisfied
And foul and hideous, and his name is vice;
In many and chameleon-like disguises,
With many a subtle art he tries to win
Adherents to his flag, whose sign is death.

And one is gentle, beautiful, and pure,
And holy, and his countenance doth shine
All radiant as the sun in heaven; his name
Is Virtue, and to all his followers
He gives the strength of ten, to fight and win
A deathless glory for the flag of life.

And Virtue is for e’er at war with vice,
And men must fight whether they will or no,
For each of us an influence cloth wield
Either for good or bad, there’s no halfway,
Either by our own actions or our words
We make our comrades better men or worse.

For none of us can live unto himself,
However much he would; if he doth go
And hide within some narrow hermit cell
To “keep himself unspotted from the world,’
Lo, men will say: “A man has gone from us
To take the utmost care of his own soul."

Therefore our gifts cannot be laid aside,
Either misused or well-used they must be;
And the right use of them will justly fix
The measure of our happiness and peace;
For if we are to reach our “Promised Land,"
Our heaven must be begun for us on earth.

So, as each day goes past, each man must try
To do his duty, and to speak the truth;
To do to others as he would that they
Should do unto himself, be merciful
And just, and pure in all his works;—and God
Will see unto the rest;—all will be well.

The good mind dignifies every employment. It is the men who make the situations mean. A high and holy aim, a pure and good heart ennobles every position; even the gibbet is ennobled when it bears a Christ.
—George Brown

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Harold Greenwood

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