[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]
What is Life?
What is Life? — ’Tis joy and gladness,
Summer sunshine, sweet and bright;
Never thinking of the winter —
Never looking for the night.
What is Life? — ’Tis hoping, loving,
Pouring out a full heart’s store;
Not regretting so much given,
Only wishing there were more.
What is Life? — ’Tis disappointment,
Keen despair, and anguish deep,
Pain and sorrow, and, so often,
Griefs for which we cannot weep.
What is Life? — ’Tis doing, bearing,
Sometimes darkness, sometimes light;
Ever pressing onward, onward,
Always faith and never sight.
What is Life? — O God, most holy!
’Tis Thy blessing, full and free;
But a higher lesson still is —
Life is living unto Thee.
Let us learn that lesson bravely,
Bravely face earth’s storms and strifes;
Good is not in sunshine only,
Darkness sometimes sweetens life.
For we rest beneath the shadow
As we could not in the sun;
And in resting, strength we gather
For the race we have to run.
But a nobler life lies yonder —
Yonder where no grief-storms rise,
Where no clouds shall ever darken
O’er our glory-lighted skies —
For beyond life’s utmost portals,
Through the pearl and golden gates,
For each one who fights and conquers,
Love and life eternal waits.
Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 71-72
o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
Old spelling in the original text:
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