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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

What have I Done?

By Lillien Blanche Fearing (1863–1901)

[Born in Davenport, Iowa, 1863. Died in Chicago, Ill., 1901.]

I LAY my finger on Time’s wrist to score

The forward-surging moments as they roll;

Each pulse seems quicker than the one before,

And lo! my days pile up against my soul

As clouds pile up against the golden sun:

Alas! what have I done? what have I done?

I never steep the rosy hours in sleep,

Or hide my soul as in a gloomy crypt;

No idle hands into my bosom creep;

And yet, as water-drops from house-eaves drip,

So, viewless, melt my days, and from me run:

Alas! what have I done? what have I done?

I have not missed the fragrance of the flowers,

Or scorned the music of the flowing rills

Whose numerous liquid tongues sing to the hours;

Yet rise my days behind me like the hills,

Unstarred by light of mighty triumphs won:

Alas! what have I done? what have I done?

Be still, my soul; restrain thy lips from woe;

Cease thy lament! for life is but the flower;

The fruit comes after death: how canst thou know

The roundness of its form, its grace and power?

Death is Life’s morning; when thy work’s begun,

Then ask thyself, What yet is to be done?

The Sleeping World, and Other Poems. 1887.