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Onward, onward will we press
Through the path of duty ;
Virtue is true happiness,
Excellence true beauty;
Minds are of supernal birth,
Let us make a heaven of earth.
Close and closer then we knit
Hearts and hands together,
Where our fire-side comforts sit
In the wildest weather ;
Oh! they wander wide, who roam,
For the joys of life, from home.
Nearer, dearer bands of love
Draw our souls in union,
To our Father's house above,
To the saints' communion ;
Thither every hope ascend,
There may all our labours end.
Whose is this humble dwelling-place,
The flat turf-roof with flowers o'ergrown ?
Ah! here the tenant's name I trace,
Moss-cover'd, on the threshold stone.
Well, he has peace within and rest, Though nought of all the world beside ; Yet, stranger, deem not him unblest, Who knows not avarice, lust, or pride.
Nothing he asks, nothing he cares
For all that tempts or troubles round;
He craves no feast, no finery wears,
Nor once o'ersteps his narrow bound.
No need of light, though all be gloom,
To cheer his eye, — that eye is blind;
No need of fire in this small room,
He recks not tempest, rain, or wind.
No gay companion here; no wife
To gladden home with true-love smiles ;
No children, — from the woes of life,
To win him with their artless smiles.
Nor joy, nor sorrow, enter here,
Nor throbbing heart, nor aching limb;
No sun, no moon, no stars appear,
And man and brute are nought to him.
This dwelling is a hermit's cave,
With space alone for one poor bed;
This dwelling is a mortal’s grave,
Its sole inhabitant is dead.
Were I a trembling leat,
On yonder stately tree,
After a season gay and brief,
Condemn’d to fade and flee:
I should be loth to fall
Beside the common way,
Weltering in mire, and spurn'd by all,
Till trodden down to clay.
Nor would I choose to die
All on a bed of grass,
Where thousands of my kindred lie,
And idly rot in mass.
Nor would I like to spread My thin and wither'd face
In hortus siccus, pale and dead, · A mummy of my race.
No, — on the wings of air
Might I be left to fly,
I know not and I heed not where ;
A waif of earth and sky!
Or flung upon the stream,
Curl'd like a fairy-boat,
As through the changes of a dream,
To the world's end to float !
Who that hath ever been,
Could bear to be no more?
Yet who would tread again the scene,
He trod through life before?