Discontent and Resignation [poem by Menie Parkes]

[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]

Discontent and Resignation.

In every human lot
There is a secret sting;
In palace or in cot
Some dim, accursed thing:
The noblest and the best
Bear still the heaviest cross;
Wildest is their unrest,
Deepest their nameless loss.

The wise man finds his child
A child in manhood’s prime;
The mother’s darling mild
Fades, dies before her time;
The husband’s peerless bride
Tires in the home he made,
And scarcely strives to hide
From him her forehead’s shade.

The maiden weeps alone
For love she will never win, —
She’ll with smiles and jests atone,
All false, for that woman’s sin;
And he she would die to please —
Regardless of smiles or tears —
But the flashing beauty sees
Of one who has scorned him for years.

Yonder, one who is ceaseless, untiring,
To tread on the pathway of right,
Yet her heart, in its steady aspiring,
Finds never a glimmer of light:
While he who stands smiling and fair,
With burning truth crossing his lips,
At night shall, in passionate prayer,
Mourn over uncounted slips.

Is there on earth no peace to be gained?
Must it be that soul, growing cleaner,
Shall daily more deeply be pained
By contact of all that is meaner?
Shall children be nought but a trouble?
Is religion an endless seeking?
Is true love some fanatic’s babble?
And life but a slow heart-breaking?

Shall we close our eyes to all beauty?
Shall we shut up our souls from love?
Be content with the stern track of duty?
And not seek for the Heaven above?
Say to Hope, “Good bye, and for ever;”
Look our last, and leave the deceiver,
With a crash her strong bond-chain sever? —
“What! is lethargy better than fever?”

No: yield not to despair!
God spreads the thickening veil;
Though life seems mad with care,
He mixed its bitter bale;
Perchance he sees the sting
Where thou wouldst pluck the bloom:
Be sure he doth thee bring
To greater bliss, through gloom.

Doubt not He knoweth best!
Too impotent to stand,
Thou shalt be safe and blest
When bowed beneath His hand:
He may deny earth’s love,
But never his own grace;
May cloud thy path to rest above,
Yet meet thee, face to face.

Retract thine every thought;
Thine own base will deny;
Trample thyself to nought;
Dash back grief’s agony —
What mean thy puny moan?
What, thy light sighs and tears?
’Tis not with grief and groans
Thou’lt mend the fault of years.

Kneel first; nor cease to cry
That God should break thy heart,
Which fights so stubbornly,
Tho’ life’s whole joy he part:
Then rise, and set thy brows;
Stand to the nearest work;
God will upbear thy vows,
Ay, tho’ their trammels irk.

Yield, yield! thou shalt not find
The struggle was in vain
That proves the conqueror kind,
And that love comes from pain.
Death shall undo the doubt
That clogs thy spirit here;
Eternity throws out
God’s purposes all clear.

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 23-25

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