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Torch-Bearers

Edith Nesbit

Dark is the night; and through its haunted shadows
We blindly grope and stumble, sometimes fall;
No star is near enough to light the darkness,
And priest-lit tapers cast no light at all,
Save such a feeble and delusive glimmer
As night-lamps cast upon a sick-room wall.

Yet, each a torch we bear, lit or unlighted;
Burning for self it is a marsh-light's gleam,
Kindled for others 'tis the child of sunlight,
And darkness shrinks through twilight at its beam.
Were each torch duly lit, O world long darkened,
How would you bear the sudden light supreme?

Vague dreams and vain! See, thou who idly dreamest
Of what would be if every torch were lit,
See where thine own smoulders a wasted ember,
Thy torch, for noblest uses framed and fit.
Light thine own torch, and hold it to thy brother,
And his shall kindle at the flame of it.

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