What Have You Done? [poem by Agnes Neale]

[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]

What Have You Done?

Roses, what have you done to-day,
While the golden hours were floating past?
You are beautiful, crimson and creamy and white,
But your satin sweetness is fading fast.

“Weary and sad a maiden lay,
Longing for something fair to see,
When close to her side, in her dreary pain,
Still with our jewels crowned, came we.

“A kiss and roses together were laid,
In love and sweetness, on cheek and brow;
The day is over, our work is done —
What matter if we are fading now?”

Violets, what have you done to-day?
Daisies, with pink-fringed solemn eyes,
What is the work you have found to do
While the bright sun laughed in the cloudless skies?

“Down where nobody thought to look,
Hidden away in the quiet shade,
We blossomed in crowds that never were seen —
But the air was sweet with the scent we made.”

The daisy folded her pink-tipped lids
With a little sigh for the day that was dead:
“Very lowly my lot has been,
But I smiled on all that I saw,” she said.

Beautiful blossoms all over the earth,
Scattered so freely by God’s good hand,
Always doing your beautiful best,
Just in the place where you always stand.

It may be only a smile of love,
It may be only a scented breeze
Stealing the heat from the summer day,
Kissing the leaves of the fainting trees.

It may be to lighten some burden of care,
Some chamber of sorrow and pain to cheer;
But never a blossom is idle found
From first to last of the golden year —

For God to each flower some task has given,
Some beautiful labor of love to do;
And nothing, of all, is found undone
When the shining hours of the day are through.

What does it matter how lowly the task
If the end of the day shall find it done?
If the Master’s smile is the blest reward —
The Master’s smile, and the rest well won?

Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 89-90

Editor’s notes:
blest = (archaic) blessed

Master = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to Jesus or God

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