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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

Why Should we Care?

By Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836–1919)

[Born in Lexington, Ky., 1836. A Voyage to the Fortunate Isles. 1874.—Poems in Company with Children. 1877.—Dramatic Persons and Moods. 1880.—The Witch in the Glass, etc. 1889.]

WELL, if the bee should sting the flower to death,

With just one drop of honey for the stinging;

If the high bird should break its airy breath,

And lose the song forever with the singing,

Why should we care?

If in our magic-books no charm is found

To call back last night’s moon from last night’s distance;

If violets cannot stay the whole year round,

Spite of their odor and the dew’s resistance,

Why should we care?

If hands nor hearts like ours have strength to hold

Fierce shining toys, nor treasures sweet and simple;

If nothing can be ours for love or gold;

If kisses cannot keep a baby’s dimple,

Why should we care?

If sand is in the South, frost in the North,

And sorrow everywhere, and passionate yearning;

If stars fade from the skies; if men go forth

From their own thresholds and make no returning,

Why should we care?

If this same world can never be the same

After this instant, but grows grayer, older,

And nearer to the silence whence it came;

If faith itself is fainter, stiller, colder,

Why should we care?

If the soft gross is but a pretty veil

Spread on our graves to hide them when we enter;

And, after we are gone, if light should fail,

And fires should eat the green world to its centre,

Why should we care?

If tears were dry and laughter should seem strange;

And if the soul should doubt itself and falter:

Since God is God, and He can never change,

The fashions of the earth and Heaven may alter,

Why should we care?