Cordula's Web. Flickr. Windy Point, Elevation 12,129 ft, Pikes Peak.
Flickr. Windy Point, Elevation 12,129 ft, Pikes Peak. pdsphil. Gallery 41

Life Is Our Dictionary

Bessie Rayner Parkes Belloc

"Life is our Dictionary."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Deem not thy labours or thy sufferings hard;
The weary traveller makes a tuneless bard.
Wouldst thou to raise and comfort earth aspire,
Learn thou her language first, and tune thy lyre

To such sweet music of familiar chords
As may give life and clearness to thy words.
How shalt thou breathe a charm o'er weeping eyes,
Who never desolately groan'd and wept?

How shalt thou tell of that deep peace which lies
In faith, whose restless spirit never slept?
How shalt thou dry those tears forlornly shed,
Whose eyes, unlesson'd, never watch'd their dead?

How speak of meeting to the lonely-hearted,
Who never from thine own belov'd hast parted?
How sing sweet ditties to enchant the child,
When fair young eyes have never on thee smil'd?

Or teach Christ Jesus' loving doctrines, when
Thou art thyself unlov'd, unsought, by men?
How that dispense which thou hast not receiv'd?
How give to others life, who hast not liv'd?

Think not an empty form of words to borrow,
All know by instinct who has felt their sorrow;
In vain thine art, the mourner's cry would be,
"Thou'rt ignorant, poet, of what aileth me."

We counsel seek from judgment taught by years,
But trust our heart-griefs to the wise by tears.
He tortur'd most will most search out the pain,
A tyrant's victim breaks the nation's chain.

View then thy grieving as a thing of worth,
If thou thereby canst meet a grieving earth;
Ponder on tombs till thou hast learnt how much
Of life's best treasure is encas'd in such;

Hold up to men the form of the Divine,
And bid its radiance on their tear-drops shine;
Singing O Poet, "Once I wept with ye;
That hour is past; now, overcome with me."

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