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A Modern Moral

Louisa Sarah Guggenberger Bevington

"Work while it is called To-day. The night cometh."

Did not the Seer see indeed?
Did not the Christ-voice tell
That having each one little life
We needs must live it well?

With simple measurement of good
That reckons not by time,
But deems life-worthy each firm step
Of man's progressive climb?

You tell me life is pitiful
Since I must die one day:
You ask me why I need to work,
Since wisely I might play.

But does my death that is to be
Make pain less bitter now?
Or joy, less joy, that I may bring
To clear yon mourner's brow?

Or sin less poisonous that saps
To-morrow's human strength?
Or virtue less a blessed thing
That wins it back at length?

And must I be content to rest
And leave my brother sad,
Because to-morrow I may fail,
Through death, to make him glad?

Oh! help the prophet to be bold
The poet to be true!
It yet remains for man to learn
What love to man may do.

With faith not pent within a book,
Or buried in a creed,
But growing with the expanding thought,
And deepening with the need.

A faith that laughs in little joys
Of children at their play,
That weeps in every woman-grief,
And prays when heroes pray.

A faith whose parable is plain
And needs no priest to tell;
Its law "Be kind, be pure, be just;"
Its promise "Thence, be well."

It says not surely "Self shall live
And sleep shall never come;"
But rather, "Life shall all be joy,
And all un-pain the tomb."

"And joy just one with sentience,
And sentience, planet-wide,
Where many men have done their best,
And doing it, have died."

"What is, is good, yet not the best;
A better is to seek;
And so for ever each must strive,
With purpose strongly meek."

Well, is this comfortless and cold?
What wails that child about?
Let us just soothe him into smiles,
Then we will talk it out.

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