Our existence must we measure [poem by William Forster]

Our Existence Must We Measure.

The author of this poem, Hon. William Forster, was born in Madras in 1818, but removed to Australia when eleven years of age. He was for a time Premier of New South Wales. He died about 1886.

Our existence must we measure
By the flight of years or days ?
Look what portion most we treasure,
Ah ! how brief a time it stays !
Always when we’re least at leisure
Pass we through the blissful ways.

Great events alone be reckoned,
Let the passion and the power
Stamp itself on every second,
Making ages of an hour.
In our front by them we’re beckoned,
From behind they grandly tower.

Great events our souls enlighten,
Piercing through the haze of time ;
Past they still in interest heighten,
By the shadows made sublime,
As the stars grow clear and brighten
To the zenith as they climb.

But our infinite apprehensions
Always great and small confound,
Foolish hopes and vain pretensions
Fog-like our horizon bound,
Until Time their right dimensions
Takes in his eternal round.

There are hopes and dreams that die not,
Colors ever bright and pure,
Voices from of old that lie not,
Lives which their own lives ensure,
Joys o’er which we groan and sigh not.
Since, though gone, they still endure :

So this hour, whose bitter ending
Racks our hearts with fatal strain.
Shall appear through memory blending,
Purged of life’s ephemeral pain ;
And to stars serene ascending
Shine among them not in vain.

Hon. William Forster.

Henry Coppée (editor). The Classic and the Beautiful from the Literature of Three Thousand Years. By the Authors and Orators of all Countries. Volume V, Carson & Simpson, Philadelphia, 1900, page 452

Also published in:
Douglas B. W. Sladen (editor). Australian Poets 1788–1888: Being a Selection of Poems Upon All Subjects Written in Australia And New Zealand During the First Century of the British Colonization with Brief Notes on their Authors and an Introduction by Patchett Martin, Cassell, New York, c1890, pages 159-160

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