There never was a valley without a faded flower,
There never was a heaven without some little cloud;
The face of day may flash with light in any morning hour,
But evening soon shall come with her shadow-woven shroud.
There never was a river without its mists of gray,
There never was a forest without its fallen leaf;
And joy may walk beside us down the windings of our way,
When, lo! there sounds a footstep, and we meet the face of grief.
There never was a seashore without its drifting wreck,
There never was an ocean without its moaning wave;
And the golden gleams of glory the summer sky that fleck,
Shine where dead stars are sleeping in their azure-mantled grave.
There never was a streamlet, however crystal clear,
Without a shadow resting in the ripples of its tide;
Hope’s brightest robes are ‘broidered with the sable fringe of fear,
And she lures us, but abysses girt her path on either side.
The shadow of the mountain falls athwart the lowly plain,
And the shadow of the cloudlet hangs above the mountain’s head,
And the highest hearts and lowest wear the shadow of some pain,
And the smile has scarcely flitted ere the anguish’d tear is shed.
For no eyes have there been ever without a weary tear,
And those lips cannot be human which have never heaved a sigh;
For without the dreary winter there has never been a year,
And the tempests hide their terrors in the calmest summer sky.
The cradle means the coffin, and the coffin means the grave;
The mother’s song scarce hides the ~De Profundis~ of the priest;
You may cull the fairest roses any May-day ever gave,
But they wither while you wear them ere the ending of your feast.
So this dreary life is passing — and we move amid its maze,
And we grope along together, half in darkness, half in light;
And our hearts are often burdened by the mysteries of our ways,
Which are never all in shadow and are never wholly bright.
And our dim eyes ask a beacon, and our weary feet a guide,
And our hearts of all life’s mysteries seek the meaning and the key;
And a cross gleams o’er our pathway — on it hangs the Crucified,
And He answers all our yearnings by the whisper, “Follow Me.”
Life is a burden; bear it;
Life is a duty; dare it;
Life is a thorn-crown; wear it,
Though it break your heart in twain;
Though the burden crush you down;
Close your lips, and hide your pain,
First the Cross, and then, the Crown.