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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 Thus Longing?

By Harriet Winslow Sewall (1819–1889)

[Born in Portland, Me., 1819. Died at Wellesley Hills, Mass., 1889.]

WHY thus longing, thus for ever sighing,

For the far-off, unattained, and dim,

While the beautiful, all round thee lying,

Offers up its low, perpetual hymn?

Wouldst thou listen to its gentle teaching,

All thy restless yearnings it would still;

Leaf and flower and laden bee are preaching

Thine own sphere, though humble, first to fill.

Poor indeed thou must be, if around thee

Thou no ray of light and joy canst throw—

If no silken cord of love hath bound thee

To some little world through weal and woe;

If no dear eyes thy fond love can brighten—

No fond voices answer to thine own;

If no brother’s sorrow thou canst lighten,

By daily sympathy and gentle tone.

Not by deeds that win the crowd’s applauses,

Not by works that give thee world-renown,

Not by martyrdom or vaunted crosses,

Canst thou win and wear the immortal crown!

Daily struggling, though unloved and lonely,

Every day a rich reward will give;

Thou wilt find, by hearty striving only,

And truly loving, thou canst truly live.

Dost thou revel in the rosy morning,

When all nature hails the lord of light,

And his smile, the mountain-tops adorning,

Robes yon fragrant fields in radiance bright?

Other hands may grasp the field and forest,

Proud proprietors in pomp may shine;

But with fervent love if thou adorest,

Thou art wealthier—all the world is thine.

Yet if through earth’s wide domains thou rovest,

Sighing that they are not thine alone,

Not those fair fields, but thyself, thou lovest,

And their beauty and thy wealth are gone.

Nature wears the color of the spirit;

Sweetly to her worshipper she sings;

All the glow, the grace she doth inherit,

Round her trusting child she fondly flings.