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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Heaven, O Lord, I Cannot Lose

By Edna Dean Proctor (1829–1923)

[Born in Henniker, N. H. Died in Framingham, Mass., 1923.]

NOW summer finds her perfect prime!

Sweet blows the wind from western calms;

On every bower red roses climb;

The meadows sleep in mingled balms.

Nor stream, nor bank the wayside by,

But lilies float and daisies throng,

Nor space of blue and sunny sky

That is not cleft with soaring song.

O flowery morns, O tuneful eves,

Fly swift! my soul ye cannot fill!

Bring the ripe fruit, the garnered sheaves,

The drifting snows on plain and hill.

Alike, to me, fall frosts and dews;

But Heaven, O Lord, I cannot lose!

Warm hands to-day are clasped in mine;

Fond hearts my mirth or mourning share;

And over hope’s horizon line,

The future dawns, serenely fair.

Yet still, though fervent vow denies,

I know the rapture will not stay;

Some wind of grief or doubt will rise

And turn my rosy sky to gray.

I shall awake, in rainy morn,

To find my hearth left lone and drear;

Thus, half in sadness, half in scorn,

I let my life burn on as clear,

Though friends grow cold or fond love woos;

But Heaven, O Lord, I cannot lose!

In golden hours the angel Peace

Comes down and broods me with her wings:

I gain from sorrow sweet release;

I mate me with divinest things;

When shapes of guilt and gloom arise

And far the radiant angel flees—

My song is lost in mournful sighs,

My wine of triumph left but lees.

In vain for me her pinions shine,

And pure, celestial days begin;

Earth’s passion-flowers I still must twine,

Nor braid one beauteous lily in.

Ah! is it good or ill I choose?

But Heaven, O Lord, I cannot lose!

So wait I. Every day that dies

With flush and fragrance born of June,

I know shall more resplendent rise

Where summer needs nor sun nor moon.

And every bud, on love’s low tree,

Whose mocking crimson flames and fails,

In fullest flower I yet shall see

High blooming by the Jasper walls.

Nay, every sin that dims my days,

And wild regrets that veil the sun,

Shall fade before those dazzling rays,

And my long glory be begun!

Let the years come to bless or bruise;

Thy Heaven, O Lord, I shall not lose!