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Meaning of Life Poems

Table of Contents

Impermanence on Earth

  1. Ozymandias of Egypt by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  2. Ozymandias of Egypt by Horace Smith
  3. Upon the Hour Glass by John Bunyan
  4. Love Not The World by Lydia Howard Sigourney
  5. A Name in the Sand by Hannah Flagg Gould
  6. Vanity of Life by Johann Gottfried von Herder
  7. The Song of the Potter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  8. Dust of the Street by Bliss Carman
  9. A Symbol by Mathilde Blind
  10. The Forgotten Grave by Emily Dickinson

Hope For a Future

  1. A New Year by Anonymous
  2. Death And Life by Anonymous
  3. This world is not conclusion by Emily Dickinson
  4. That such have died enables us by Emily Dickinson
  5. Upon Time and Eternity by John Bunyan
  6. Eternity by Emily Dickinson
  7. Eternity by Samuel H. Smith
  8. I shall know why, when time is over by Emily Dickinson
  9. Permanence by Anonymous
  10. Plain Questions by E.N.S.
  11. The Room Overhead by Anonymous
  12. Upon Fire by John Bunyan
  13. Setting Sail by Emily Dickinson
  14. The Journey by Emily Dickinson
  15. Thirst by Emily Dickinson
  16. The Chariot by Emily Dickinson
  17. Forever by C. S. Calverley
  18. An Exhortation to Patience by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott
  19. Happiness Not To Be Found Upon Earth by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

Purpose in Life

  1. The Ruin by Hannah Flagg Gould
  2. A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3. Purpose by Anonymous
  4. The Choice of a Prize by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. What I Live For by Anonymous
  6. If I can stop one heart from breaking by Emily Dickinson
  7. At Midnight by Sarah Teasdale
  8. Sparrows by Adeline D. Train Whitney
  9. Thoughts by Hannah Flagg Gould
  10. Resurrection by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  11. Health and Wealth by Anonymous
  12. Be Strong by Maltbie Davenport Babcock
  13. Wolsey's Farewell to his Greatness by John Fletcher
  14. The Builders by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  15. Distances by William Stanley Braithwaite
  16. Our Duty by Richard Lynott O'Malley

Impermanence on Earth

For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

– Psalm 78:39
The Bible, KJV
  1. Ozymandias of Egypt

    by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:

    'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away;"

  2. Ozymandias of Egypt

    by Horace Smith

    In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
    Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
    The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
    "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
    "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
    "The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
    Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
    The site of this forgotten Babylon.

    We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
    Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
    Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
    He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
    What powerful but unrecorded race
    Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

  3. Upon the Hour Glass

    by John Bunyan

    This glass, when made, was, by the workman's skill,
    The sum of sixty minutes to fulfil.
    Time, more nor less, by it will out be spun,
    But just an hour, and then the glass is run.
    Man's life we will compare unto this glass,
    The number of his months he cannot pass;
    But when he has accomplished his day,
    He, like a vapour, vanisheth away.

    Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

    – James 4:14
    The Bible, NIV
  4. Love Not The World

    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    To gain the friendship of the world,
    How vain the ceaseless strife;
    We sow the sand, we grasp the wind,
    We waste the life of life.

    Perchance some giddy height we gain,
    Some gilded treasure show,
    The footing fails, the shadow 'scapes,
    We sink in deeper wo.

    Yet, baffled, still the toil we try,
    The eager chase renew,
    Even though the portals of the grave
    Yawn on our startled view.

    But Thou, whose pitying mercy's tide
    Is like the unfathom'd sea,
    Thy love was waiting for our souls,
    That would not turn to Thee;

    Thy hand was stretch'd Thy voice was heard
    Thy fold was open wide,
    Ah! who the straying sheep can save
    That shuns the Eternal Guide?

  5. A Name in the Sand

    And yet, with Him who counts the sands
    And holds the waters in his hands,
    I know a lasting record stands
    Inscribed against my name

    - Hannah Flagg Gould
    A Name in the Sand
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Alone I walked the ocean strand;
    A pearly shell was in my hand:
    I stooped and wrote upon the sand
    My name—the year—the day.
    As onward from the spot I passed,
    One lingering look behind I cast;
    A wave came rolling high and fast,
    And washed my lines away.

    And so, methought, ’t will shortly be
    With every mark on earth from me:
    A wave of dark oblivion’s sea
    Will sweep across the place
    Where I have trod the sandy shore
    Of time, and been, to be no more,
    Of me—my day—the name I bore,
    To leave nor track nor trace.

    And yet, with Him who counts the sands
    And holds the waters in his hands,
    I know a lasting record stands
    Inscribed against my name,
    Of all this mortal part has wrought,
    Of all this thinking soul has thought,
    And from these fleeting moments caught
    For glory or for shame.

  6. Vanity of Life

    Johann Gottfried von Herder

    Man, born of woman,
    Is of a few days,
    And full of trouble;
    He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down;
    He fleeth also as a shadow,
    And continueth not.

    Upon such dost thou open thine eye,
    And bring me unto judgment with thee?
    Among the impure is there none pure?
    Not one.

    Are his days so determined?
    Hast thou numbered his months,
    And set fast his bounds for him
    Which he can never pass?
    Turn then from him that he may rest,
    And enjoy, as an hireling, his day.

    The tree hath hope, if it be cut down,
    It becometh green again,
    And new shoots are put forth.
    If even the root is old in the earth,
    And its stock die in the ground,
    From vapor of water it will bud,
    And bring forth boughs as a young plant.

    But man dieth, and his power is gone;
    He is taken away, and where is he?

    Till the waters waste from the sea,
    Till the river faileth and is dry land,
    Man lieth low, and riseth not again.
    Till the heavens are old, he shall not awake,
    Nor be aroused from his sleep.

    Oh, that thou wouldest conceal me
    In the realm of departed souls!
    Hide me in secret, till thy wrath be past;
    Appoint me then a new term,
    And remember me again.
    But alas! if a man die
    Shall he live again?

    So long, then, as my toil endureth,
    Will I wait till a change come to me.
    Thou wilt call me, and I shall answer;
    Thou wilt pity the work of thy hands.
    Though now thou numberest my steps,
    Thou shalt then not watch for my sin.
    My transgression will be sealed in a bag,
    Thou wilt bind up and remove my iniquity.

    Yet alas! the mountain falleth and is swallowed up,
    The rock is removed out of its place,
    The waters hollow out the stones,
    The floods overflow the dust of the earth,
    And thus, thou destroyest the hope of man.

    Thou contendest with him, till he faileth,
    Thou changest his countenance, and sendeth him away.
    Though his sons become great and happy,
    Yet he knoweth it not;
    If they come to shame and dishonor,
    He perceiveth it not.

  7. The Song of the Potter

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All life is brief;
    What now is bud will soon be leaf,
    What now is leaf will soon decay;
    The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
    The blue eggs in the robin's nest
    Will soon have wings and beak and breast,
    And flutter and fly away.

    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    The Song of the Potter
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Turn, turn, my wheel! Turn round and round,
    Without a pause, without a sound:
    So spins the flying world away!
    This clay, well mixed with marl and sand,
    Follows the motion of my hand;
    For some must follow, and some command,
    Though all are made of clay!

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
    To something new, to something strange;
    Nothing that is can pause or stay;
    The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
    The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
    The rain to mist and cloud again,
    To-morrow be to-day.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All life is brief;
    What now is bud will soon be leaf,
    What now is leaf will soon decay;
    The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
    The blue eggs in the robin's nest
    Will soon have wings and beak and breast,
    And flutter and fly away.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar
    A touch can make, a touch can mar;
    And shall it to the Potter say,
    What makest thou? Thou hast no hand?
    As men who think to understand
    A world by their Creator planned,
    Who wiser is than they.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! 'Tis nature's plan
    The child should grow into the man,
    The man grow wrinkled, old, and gray;
    In youth the heart exults and sings,
    The pulses leap, the feet have wings;
    In age the cricket chirps, and brings
    The harvest home of day.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! The human race,
    Of every tongue, of every place,
    Caucasian, Coptic, or Malay,
    All that inhabit this great earth,
    Whatever be their rank or worth,
    Are kindred and allied by birth,
    And made of the same clay.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! What is begun
    At daybreak must at dark be done,
    To-morrow will be another day;
    To-morrow the hot furnace flame
    Will search the heart and try the frame,
    And stamp with honor or with shame
    These vessels made of clay.

    Stop, stop, my wheel! Too soon, too soon
    The noon will be the afternoon,
    Too soon to-day be yesterday;
    Behind us in our path we cast
    The broken potsherds of the past,
    And all are ground to dust at last,
    And trodden into clay.

  8. Dust of the Street

    by Bliss Carman

    THIS cosmic dust beneath our feet
    Rising to hurry down the street,

    Borne by the wind and blown astray
    In its erratic, senseless way,

    Is the same stuff as you and I—
    With knowledge and desire put by.

    Thousands of times since time began
    It has been used for making man,

    Freighted like us with every sense
    Of spirit and intelligence,

    To walk the world and know the fine
    Large consciousness of things divine.

    These wandering atoms in their day
    Perhaps have passed this very way,

    With eager step and flowerlike face,
    With lovely ardor, poise, and grace,

    On what delightful errands bent,
    Passionate, generous, and intent,—

    An angel still, though veiled and gloved,
    Made to love us and to be loved.

    Friends, when the summons comes for me
    To turn my back (reluctantly)

    On this delightful play, I claim
    Only one thing in friendship's name;

    And you will not decline a task
    So slight, when it is all I ask:

    Scatter my ashes in the street
    Where avenue and crossway meet.

    I beg you of your charity,
    No granite and cement for me,

    To needlessly perpetuate
    An unimportant name and date.

    Others may wish to lay them down
    On some fair hillside far from town,

    Where slim white birches wave and gleam
    Beside a shadowy woodland stream,

    Or in luxurious beds of fern,
    But I would have my dust return

    To the one place it loved the best
    In days when it was happiest.

    All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

    – Ecclesiastes 3:20
    The Bible, ESV
  9. A Symbol

    by Mathilde Blind

    Hurrying for ever in their restless flight
    The generations of earth's teeming womb
    Rise into being and lapse into the tomb
    Like transient bubbles sparkling in the light;
    They sink in quick succession out of sight
    Into the thick insuperable gloom
    Our futile lives in flashing by illume—
    Lightning which mocks the darkness of the night.

    Nay—but consider, though we change and die,
    If men must pass shall Man not still remain?
    As the unnumbered drops of summer rain
    Whose changing particles unchanged on high,
    Fixed, in perpetual motion, yet maintain
    The mystic bow emblazoned on the sky.

  10. The Forgotten Grave

    by Emily Dickinson

    After a hundred years
    Nobody knows the place, —
    Agony, that enacted there,
    Motionless as peace.

    Weeds triumphant ranged,
    Strangers strolled and spelled
    At the lone orthography
    Of the elder dead.

    Winds of summer fields
    Recollect the way, —
    Instinct picking up the key
    Dropped by memory.

    24All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

    – 1 Peter 1:24-25
    The Bible, NIV

Hope for a Future

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

– Psalm 103:13-17
The Bible, KJV
  1. A New Year

    by Anonymous

    I want a new year. New things are not patched.
    So would I start my year all finely whole,
    No gaps of dull omissions meanly closed
    With poorly fitting fragments of dispatch,
    No mendings of ignoble after-thought,
    But all one piece of steady warp and woof,
    A year entire, as all my years should be.

    I want a new year. New things are not worn.
    Not thin in places, ragged here and there,
    And loose bits hanging down; no year all frayed,
    With fears and worries bare before its time;
    But firm and confident, a brave new year.

    I want a new year. Do not new things shine?
    Do they not shimmer in the dancing light?
    Are they not smooth and gracious to the touch?
    Is it not joy to take them from the box?
    And shake them out in tumbling, happy folds,
    And hold them up for all men to admire?
    So, with a burst of joy, my glad new year.

    I want a new year. Ah, but new things cost!
    Well, I will pay the price of this new year:
    The price of patience, and the price of time;
    The price of prayers ascending to the God
    Who was before all years began to be,
    And will be through the new years as the old;
    The price of partings from the lower aims,
    Of stanch adhesion to the rugged best;
    The price of life!

    I cannot pay the price.
    Pay Thou for me, O Christ, my brother Christ!
    Be Thou my Patience, and be Thou my Prayer;
    Be Thou my Strength of hard, laborious will.
    From out Thine endless ages with my God
    Bring newness to this little year of mine.
    So shall it be Thy year and not my own,
    Yet doubly mine, as I shall dwell with Thee;
    Yes, doubly mine, as through it I shall pass
    To Thine eternity forever new.

  2. Death And Life

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Still the heart and stay the breath—
    There's a deeper death than death!
    This is death, when living soul
    Yields to deadly sin's control;
    When, beneath the devil's arts,
    Love, the light of life, departs;
    When the body, moving still,
    Bears about a lifeless will,
    And the spirit, formed to rise
    Ever-growing in the skies,
    Is a dead and empty seed:
    This, ah, this is death indeed!

    Rich the years, with fruitage rife—
    There's a higher life than life!
    This is life, when spirits press
    Into every nobleness;
    When on failure and defeat
    Power sets his lordly seat;
    When, although the body fail,
    Spirit energies prevail,
    And the world beholds a man
    After the Creator's plan,
    Soul from all its bondage freed;
    This, ah, this is life indeed!

    Hear the resurrection cry:
    Dying, yet you shall not die!
    Christ is He that conquereth
    All this deeper death than death;
    Christ, from out of mortal strife,
    Won this higher life than life—
    Wins it through eternity,
    Just for you and just for me.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    – John 3:16
    The Bible, KJV
  3. This world is not conclusion

    by Emily Dickinson

    This world is not conclusion;
    A sequel stands beyond,
    Invisible, as music,
    But positive, as sound.
    It beckons and it baffles;
    Philosophies don't know,
    And through a riddle, at the last,
    Sagacity must go.
    To guess it puzzles scholars;
    To gain it, men have shown
    Contempt of generations,
    And crucifixion known.

  4. That such have died enables us

    by Emily Dickinson

    That such have died enables us
    The tranquiller to die;
    That such have lived, certificate
    For immortality.

  5. Upon Time and Eternity

    by John Bunyan

    Eternity is like unto a Ring.
    Time, like to Measure, doth it self extend;
    Measure commences, is a finite thing.
    The Ring has no beginning, middle, end.

  6. Eternity

    by Emily Dickinson

    On this wondrous sea,
    Sailing silently,
    Ho! pilot, ho!
    Knowest thou the shore
    Where no breakers roar,
    Where the storm is o'er?

    In the silent west
    Many sails at rest,
    Their anchors fast;
    Thither I pilot thee, —
    Land, ho! Eternity!
    Ashore at last!

  7. Eternity

    by Samuel H. Smith

    The flood of years, on which we ride,
    Is rushing on with rapid tide
    To Eternity.

    It seems, as never seemed before,
    My life is sweeping toward the shore
    Of Eternity.

    It teaches me I must prepare
    For life awaiting over there,
    In Eternity.

    Achievements great cannot secure
    "Abundant entrance" to a pure,
    Blest Eternity!

    But love of Christ can push ajar
    The golden gates away so far
    For you and me—

    Forever dwelling there in joy,
    Where nothing can our bliss alloy—
    O Eternity;

  8. I shall know why, when time is over

    by Emily Dickinson

    I shall know why, when time is over,
    And I have ceased to wonder why;
    Christ will explain each separate anguish
    In the fair schoolroom of the sky.

    He will tell me what Peter promised,
    And I, for wonder at his woe,
    I shall forget the drop of anguish
    That scalds me now, that scalds me now.

  9. Permanence

    by Anonymous

    The granite shore rebuked the sea:
    "Why do you vary hour by hour
    Changeful and restless? Look at me
    And learn how quiet matches power."

    The sea made answer to the shore:
    "Out from the water's boundless reign
    The land rose; I was here before.
    The shores will sink, but I remain."

    Then to the two a Voice replied:
    "Both sea and shore will fail and fall;
    I only evermore abide,
    The source and final home of all."

  10. Plain Questions

    What is eternity? oh! say
    Can mortal words its length express;
    It is a never-ending day,
    That must remain when time shall cease.

    – E.N.S.
    Plain Questions
    by E.N.S.

    What is beauty but a flower,
    That blossoms withers, droops, and dies;
    The transient bauble of an hour,
    That fades away before our eyes?

    What is life? 'tis but a vapour,
    Vanishing e'en while 'tis day;
    Or a feeble, glimmering taper,
    While it burns it wastes away.

    What is death? that awful moment,
    Summoning the soul from earth;
    To dwell in everlasting torment,
    Or in bliss and holy mirth.

    What is eternity? oh! say
    Can mortal words its length express;
    It is a never-ending day,
    That must remain when time shall cease.

  11. The Room Overhead

    by Anonymous

    An Easter Thought

    It's a dark and narrow stairway to the room overhead,
    But I am not afraid to go.
    There is room for only one on each winding narrow tread,
    But I can feel the way, I know.

    There are stirrings now and then in the room overhead,
    There are dear old feet upon the floor.
    They are setting forth my chair, they are making up my bed,
    They are waiting just inside the door.

    There are wide wide views from the room overhead,
    And the heart of all home is there.
    I shall then begin to live, though men will call me dead,
    When I've mounted the narrow stair.

  12. Upon Fire

    by John Bunyan

    Who falls into the fire shall burn with heat;
    While those remote scorn from it to retreat.
    Yea, while those in it, cry out, O! I burn,
    Some farther off those cries to laughter turn.

    Comparison.

    While some tormented are in hell for sin;
    On earth some greatly do delight therein.
    Yea, while some make it echo with their cry,
    Others count it a fable and a lie.

  13. Setting Sail

    by Emily Dickinson

    Exultation is the going
    Of an inland soul to sea, —
    Past the houses, past the headlands,
    Into deep eternity!

    Bred as we, among the mountains,
    Can the sailor understand
    The divine intoxication
    Of the first league out from land?

  14. The Journey

    by Emily Dickinson

    Our journey had advanced;
    Our feet were almost come
    To that odd fork in Being's road,
    Eternity by term.

    Our pace took sudden awe,
    Our feet reluctant led.
    Before were cities, but between,
    The forest of the dead.

    Retreat was out of hope, —
    Behind, a sealed route,
    Eternity's white flag before,
    And God at every gate.

  15. Thirst

    by Emily Dickinson

    We thirst at first, — 't is Nature's act;
    And later, when we die,
    A little water supplicate
    Of fingers going by.

    It intimates the finer want,
    Whose adequate supply
    Is that great water in the west
    Termed immortality.

  16. The Chariot

    Since then 't is centuries; but each
    Feels shorter than the day
    I first surmised the horses' heads
    Were toward eternity.

    – Emily Dickinson
    The Chariot
    by Emily Dickinson

    Because I could not stop for Death,
    He kindly stopped for me;
    The carriage held but just ourselves
    And Immortality.

    We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
    And I had put away
    My labor, and my leisure too,
    For his civility.

    We passed the school where children played,
    Their lessons scarcely done;
    We passed the fields of gazing grain,
    We passed the setting sun.

    We paused before a house that seemed
    A swelling of the ground;
    The roof was scarcely visible,
    The cornice but a mound.

    Since then 't is centuries; but each
    Feels shorter than the day
    I first surmised the horses' heads
    Were toward eternity.

  17. Forever

    by C. S. Calverley

    Forever; ’tis a single word!
    Our rude forefathers deem’d it two:
    Can you imagine so absurd
    A view?

    Forever! What abysms of woe
    The word reveals, what frenzy, what
    Despair! For ever (printed so)
    Did not.

    It looks, ah me! how trite and tame!
    It fails to sadden or appal
    Or solace—it is not the same
    At all.

    O thou to whom it first occurr’d
    To solder the disjoin’d, and dower
    Thy native language with a word
    Of power:

    We bless thee! Whether far or near
    Thy dwelling, whether dark or fair
    Thy kingly brow, is neither here
    Nor there.

    But in men’s hearts shall be thy throne,
    While the great pulse of England beats:
    Thou coiner of a word unknown
    To Keats!

    And nevermore must printer do
    As men did long ago; but run
    “For” into “ever,” bidding two
    Be one.

    Forever! passion—fraught, it throws
    O’er the dim page a gloom, a glamour:
    It’s sweet, it’s strange; and I suppose
    It’s grammar.

    Forever! ’Tis a single word!
    And yet our fathers deem’d it two:
    Nor am I confident they err’d;
    Are you?

  18. An Exhortation to Patience

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    It is a thorny path we tread,
    Where disappointments come;
    Then we are mingled with the dead,
    And cover'd in the tomb.

    Our fondest hopes are blighted here,
    For earth is not our home;
    Then o'er frail life we drop a tear,
    And welcome then the tomb.

    To-day the sun is bright and clear,
    To morrow clouds may come;
    Yet though no change to us appear,
    We are hastening to the tomb.

    Look then on life as lent awhile,
    To gain a heavenly home,
    Where Jesus meets us with a smile,
    Who once perfum'd the tomb.

    For us a crown of thorns He wore,
    His soul was fill'd with gloom,
    Then led believers evermore,
    To triumph o'er the tomb.

    When to the cross His hands were nail'd,
    And the dread hour was come,
    His glorious mission never fail'd,
    He conquer'd then the tomb.

    Then let us wait with patience here,
    Our Conqueror soon will come;
    The trump shall sound, the dead shall hear,
    And live beyond the tomb.

  19. Happiness Not To Be Found Upon Earth

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    Hours of peace, and tranquil pleasure,
    Scarce are found in hearts below;
    And the friend we call a treasure,
    Falls beneath Death's cruel blow.

    Life, and health, we call a blessing,
    Sure it is, if well improv'd;
    Yet the thought of sin's distressing,
    Makes one sigh, as all have prov'd.

    Yet the gift of life's a short one,
    Health is ever on the wing;
    Soon our life is gone, 'tis done,—
    Transient life's a feeble string.

    May we tune our harps for heaven,—
    Strive to walk the narrow way;
    How our Savior's life was given,
    For those sheep who go astray.

    Let us highly prize this treasure,
    Let us own His holy name;
    Let it be our highest pleasure,
    To be true followers of the Lamb.

  20. Purpose in Life

  21. The Ruin

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    O! Where are the faces that, so bright,
    Came in at these hingeless doors,
    And the feet of the many, which then, so light
    Tripped over these mouldering floors?

    Where then at the window used to appear,
    In beauty, the human form,
    The paneless casement is void and drear,
    And open to wind and storm.

    The tangled ivy a covering leaves,
    As it creeps o'er the sinking walls,
    While the owlet hoots, and the spider weaves,
    Sole monarchs of these dim halls.

    The eye where trembled the spakling tear—
    The lip that was curled in mirth—
    Where, where are they all, who once were here
    To people this crumbling hearth?

    The dusky chambers, gloomy and lone,
    The breeze swept over and sighed;
    While the voice of Time, from his dismal throne,
    The ruinous pile, replied,—

    "The faces have changed, and been sent away!
    The feet have been long laid by!
    The form has returned to its kindred clay,
    And darkness has wrapped the eye!.

    "All, all, who were here, like the hurrying waves
    That ride on the restless stream,
    Have hastened away; have dropped in their graves;
    Have finished life's changeful dream.

    "'T is bootless now, to the lowly dead,
    Who sleep in their beds of earth,
    That their feet were light, that their tears were shed,
    Or their lips were curled in mirth.

    "Their splendor and mourning have both been cast
    Far into the dust and shade;
    And master and mansion my hand, at last,
    In ruins alike hath laid.

    "Yet man hath a spark for ever to burn,
    A part that I ne'er can kill;
    When I bid his form to the earth return,
    The spirit defies me, still.

    "But I never must know, as the soul withdrew,
    For me to dissolve the clay,
    If joy or sorrow were hers in view,
    Nor whither she winged her way.

    "My sceptre is over these earthly things;
    I raise, and I shake them down.
    And nations, and empires, and chiefs and kings,
    I conquer, and keep my crown.

    "But I, in my turn, am to pass away;
    My reign must at length be o'er,
    When One, whose mandate e'en I must obey,
    Commands me to be no more!"

    I said, "O Time! if thy work be such
    With man and his earthly home,
    I'll place my treasures where, not thy touch,
    Nor death's is ever to come!"

    19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

    – Matthew 6:19-20
    The Bible, KJV
  22. A Psalm of Life

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    A Psalm of Life
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    What The Heart of The Young Man Said to the Psalmist.

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream!
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
    Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act,— act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o’erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

  23. Purpose

    by Anonymous

    Deeply and long the sap must flow
    Ere the merest layer of elm can grow.

    Many a wave's recurrent shock
    Is needed to smooth the tiniest rock.

    Thousands of leaves must fade and fall
    To make the mold by the garden wall.

    Thus, as the patient seasons roll,
    Slowly is fashioned a human soul.

    Purpose and failure and purpose still,
    Steadily moved by a quiet will,—

    Layer on layer in sturdy way,
    Hardly seen the growth of a day,—

    Times of failure and fear and fall,
    But one strong tendency through it all,—

    God and purpose and sun by sun
    Reach the stars before they are done!

  24. The Choice of a Prize

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Thou, who may'st not have fixed upon the prize
    For which on life's arena thou wilt strive,
    Come to the tomb, and, as its doors unfold
    To give admittance to the weary guests,
    Who fast are gathering at the destined goal,
    Cast in thy glance, and ask the inmates here
    What's worth the winning!

    Is it Beauty's palm
    That shall enkindle thy supreme desire?
    'T is here a withered thing, thrown by, forgot!
    On Beauty's features, see, her sister feeds
    Not with the better zest, that they were once
    Bright with the rose and lily, and the light
    Of an immortal spark!
    Is Power thine aim?
    The phantom! how it vanishes from sight!
    Here lies the head, that nodded kingdoms down;
    The hand that moved, and nations felt the shock!
    Bid them but lift themselves, and they will prove
    The date, the worth of power!
    Does Pleasure hold
    Her sweet allurements out for thy pursuit?
    Beware! beware! see on this new-cut stone
    The name of him who lived not half his days!
    He swam in Pleasure's sea, and was ingulfed
    By giddy whirlpool, ere his sun had gained
    Its mid-day height!
    Hast thou a steady eye
    To Honor, Splendor, Glory, Fame, or Gold,
    As an attainment worth the toil of life,
    The mortal race?
    The mighty leveller
    Admits of no distinction where he reigns,
    Save, 'twixt himself and those beneath his throne.

    Honor!—Oh, how it dwindles into nought!
    None shrinks aside to yield the highest place
    To him, who cometh where the sleepers are!

    Splendor!—The covering of the vassal's couch
    Is bright as his, whose fitful, guilty dream
    Was under silken drapery! Lord and slave,
    In death's calm fellowship, sleep side by side.

    Glory!—The damps and shadows of the grave
    Put out the brightest halo earth can light!

    Fame!—Can her trump delight this slumberer;
    Or pour in sweetness to his heavy ear?
    Her loudest blast is passing, empty air
    To him, who here retires to lay him down,
    Crushing the laurels he has proudly worn!

    Gold!—Is the miser clenching here the key
    To wealth, for which he sold the key of Heaven?
    His gold is strewn, as dust upon the wind,
    Though he, who bought it with eternal life,

    Hugged it until he felt his soul required,
    And earth, withdrawing, leave him to the waves
    That take the dross, which never shall consume!

    Shall aught of these invite thee?
    "Oh! no! no!
    Beauty—may that of holiness be mine!
    May power be given me to o'ercome the world!
    For pleasure, may I have a hand to pour
    The oil and wine upon another's wound!
    For honor, may I bear my Saviour's cross;
    For splendor, light that from his follower beams;
    And be my glory, his approving smile.
    My fame, the world's reproaches for his sake;
    My wealth, a conscience where no rust corrodes—
    One that may look into a coming world,
    As nature shall dissolve, and feel secure!
    With these to aid me in the mortal strife,
    May I the palm of victory o'er the grave
    Make my immortal prize!"

  25. What I Live For

    by Anonymous

    I live for those who love me,
    Whose hearts are kind and true;
    For the heaven that smiles above me,
    And awaits my spirit, too;
    For all human ties that bind me,
    For the task my God assigned me,
    For the bright hopes left behind me,
    And the good that I can do.

    I live to learn their story,
    Who suffered for my sake;
    To emulate their glory,
    And follow in their wake;
    Bards, patriots, martyrs, sages,
    The noble of all ages,
    Whose deeds crown History's pages,
    And Time's great volume make.

    I live to hail that season,
    By gifted minds foretold,
    When man shall live by reason,
    And not alone by gold;
    When man to man united,
    And every wrong thing righted,
    The whole world shall be lighted
    As Eden was of old.

    I live for those who love me,
    For those who know me true;
    For the heaven that smiles above me,
    And awaits my spirit, too;
    For the cause that needs assistance,
    For the wrongs that need resistance,
    For the future in the distance,
    And the good that I can do.

  26. If I can stop one heart from breaking

    by Emily Dickinson

    If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.

  27. At Midnight

    by Sara Teasdale

    Now at last I have come to see what life is,
    Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
    And the brave victories that seem so splendid
    Are never really won.

    Even love that I built my spirit's house for,
    Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
    And music and men's praise and even laughter
    Are not so good as rest.

  28. Sparrows

    by Adeline D. Train Whitney

    Little birds sit on the telegraph wires,
    And chitter, and flitter, and fold their wings;
    Maybe they think that, for them and their sires,
    Stretched always, on purpose, those wonderful strings:
    And, perhaps, the Thought that the world inspires,
    Did plan for the birds, among other things.

    Little birds sit on the slender lines,
    And the news of the world runs under their feet,—
    How value rises, and how declines,
    How kings with their armies in battle meet,—
    And, all the while, 'mid the soundless signs,
    They chirp their small gossipings, foolish sweet.

    Little things light on the lines of our lives,—
    Hopes, and joys, and acts of to-day,—
    And we think that for these the Lord contrives,
    Nor catch what the hidden lightnings say.
    Yet, from end to end, His meaning arrives,
    And His word runs underneath, all the way.

    Is life only wires and lightning, then,
    Apart from that which about it clings?
    Are the thoughts, and the works, and the prayers of men
    Only sparrows that light on God's telegraph strings,
    Holding a moment, and gone again?
    Nay; He planned for the birds, with the larger things.

  29. Thoughts

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Eyes, say, why were ye given your sight,
    Your full blue orbs, with their roll and their light,
    Which your lids of the lily with violet tinge
    So often of late, with their long, dark fringe
    From their folds in your arches descended to shade?
    Ye have told many things—but not why ye were made.

    "We were made to delight in the beauties of earth;
    Then to see how they perished, how little their worth
    They are changing, illusive, uncertain and brief,
    From the flower's opening bud to its soon withered leaf.
    The birth of their being is joined to decay;
    They flourish, allure, and expire in a day.
    On things like ourselves with delight we have shone;
    We have studied their language and found it our own;
    But the offspring of grief would extinguish their light,
    And the spoiler's pale hand lock them up from our sight.
    Or, keener, far keener, they'd let us behold
    Their looks turning from us, unfeeling and cold,
    Bequeathing this line, as we saw them depart,
    'We go not alone, but are drawn by the heart!'
    For things such as these, and still more were we made;
    For watching, for aching, to sink and to fade;
    To pour forth in silence the waters of sorrow,
    Then, to close in a night that will bring us no morrow?"

    And wherefore were you, ye thick locks, that were laid
    In the clustering curls, or the bright sunny braid?

    "To shine in our pride o'er the temples awhile,
    Arresting the eye, and affecting the smile;
    Then, loose, unadorned, and neglected, to go,
    While the dark clouds of care shed among us their snow,
    To be screened from life's storms by the marble and willow,
    And to rest, thinned and damp, on a cold earthy pillow."

    Ye withering roses that bloomed on the cheek,
    Say, what was your purpose? and what do ye speak?

    "Our errand was short —we've accomplished our duty,
    And shown you how vain, and how fleeting is beauty!"

    And thou, wasting form, once so buoyant and free,
    So fair, and so flexile, come, say, what of thee?

    "Like the insect that sports out its warm summer's day,
    Or the atom that floats on the bright solar ray,
    I have shone 'mid the glitter of fashion and pleasure;
    I have flitted my hour, and have filled up my measure.
    I have borne the bright chaplet, the silk's graceful fold;
    Have decked myself out in rich fossils and gold;
    Gay colors have clothed me, I've worn the light plume
    To enliven my path to the verge of the tomb.
    Yet I knew all the while, I was transient and frail;
    I felt myself sinking, my energy fail.
    I knew that the canker was trying his power,
    That his tooth had begun at the heart of the flower,
    That, true to his purpose, he'd finish my fall
    To the final abode, the asylum of all."

    If such be the end of each perishing part,
    Immortal, invisible, tell what thou art;
    Thy business, and what thou dost hope to inherit,
    Thou restless, aspiring, unsatisfied Spirit!

    "What my nature may be, there is none that can know,
    But the Being above to whose presence I go.
    But I've dwelt on this earth, and its joys have embraced,
    'Till I've found myself wounded, deceived and disgraced.
    Its flowers, when I touched them, would wither and fall;
    I tasted its cup, but 't was mingled with gall.
    Allured to its landscape, the serpent or snare
    I found was concealed, and awaited me there;
    That the rainbow hung o'er it, so bright to my eyes,
    At best, was but vapor, or tears in disguise.
    I have leant on this world, 'till with anguish I feel
    It is harder, and colder, and keener than steel.
    Only constant to change, and to falsehood but true,
    It stabs while it kisses, and smiles to undo.
    But for me the deceit of its visions are o'er;
    They shall wound and enslave and ensnare me no more:
    For faint, torn and bleeding, I turn from the earth,
    And look up in faith to the realm of my birth:
    I know there's a sun with a glorious light,
    With beams full of healing, to burst on my sight,
    Dispelling the shadows of sorrow and care;
    I know that a balm, a Physician is there.
    That country, that home, the unsatisfied spirit
    Here sighs to recover, and hopes to inherit."

  30. Resurrection

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    Daffodil, lily, and crocus,
    They stir, they break from the sod,
    They are glad of the sun, and they open
    Their golden hearts to God.

    They, and the wilding families,—
    Windflower, violet, may,—
    They rise from the long, long dark
    To the ecstasy of day.

    We, scattering troops and kindreds,
    From out of the stars wind-blown
    To this wayside corner of space,
    This world that we call our own,—

    We, of the hedgerows of Time,
    We, too, shall divide the sod,
    Emerge to the light, and blossom,
    With our hearts held up to God.

  31. Health and Wealth

    by Anonymous

    We squander health in search of wealth;
    We scheme and toil and save;
    Then squander wealth in search of health,
    But only find a grave.
    We live, and boast of what we own;
    We die, and only get a stone.

  32. Be Strong

    by Maltbie Davenport Babcock

    Be strong!
    We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
    We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
    Shun not the struggle; face it. 'Tis God's gift.

    Be strong!
    Say not the days are evil, — Who's to blame?
    And fold not the hands and acquiesce, — O shame!
    Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.

    Be strong!
    It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
    How hard the battle goes, the day, how long.
    Faint not, fight on! To-morrow comes the song.

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

    – Ephesians 6:10
    The Bible, KJV
  33. Wolsey's Farewell to his Greatness

    by John Fletcher

    Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
    This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
    The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
    And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
    The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
    And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
    His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
    And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
    Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
    This many summers in a sea of glory,
    But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
    At length broke under me and now has left me,
    Weary and old with service, to the mercy
    Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me.
    Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
    I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched
    Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!
    There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
    That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
    More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
    And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
    Never to hope again.

  34. The Builders

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    All are architects of Fate,
    Working in these walls of Time;
    Some with massive deeds and great,
    Some with ornaments of rhyme.

    Nothing useless is, or low;
    Each thing in its place is best;
    And what seems but idle show
    Strengthens and supports the rest.

    For the structure that we raise,
    Time is with materials filled;
    Our to-days and yesterdays
    Are the blocks with which we build.

    Truly shape and fashion these;
    Leave no yawning gaps between;
    Think not, because no man sees,
    Such things will remain unseen.

    In the elder days of Art,
    Builders wrought with greatest care
    Each minute and unseen part;
    For the Gods see everywhere.

    Let us do our work as well,
    Both the unseen and the seen;
    Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
    Beautiful, entire, and clean.

    Else our lives are incomplete,
    Standing in these walls of Time,
    Broken stairways, where the feet
    Stumble as they seek to climb.

    Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
    With a firm and ample base;
    And ascending and secure
    Shall to-morrow find its place.

    Thus alone can we attain
    To those turrets, where the eye
    Sees the world as one vast plain,
    And one boundless reach of sky.


    By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.

    – 1 Corinthians 3:10
    The Bible, NIV

    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

    – Colossians 3:23
    The Bible, NIV
  35. Distances

    by William Stanley Braithwaite

    Just where that star above
    Shines with a cold, dispassionate smile—
    If in the flesh I'd travel there,
    How many, many a mile!

    If this, my soul, should be
    Unprisoned from its earthly bond,
    Time could not count its markless flight
    Beyond that star, beyond!

  36. Our Duty

    by Richard Lynott O'Malley

    O disconsolate man, why fret and complain
    That no use was thy birth, that thy life hath been vain?
    Bear in mind, every mortal that ever draws breath
    Has a duty assigned to fulfill before death;
    And thou hast thine own, be it great, be it small,
    And perhaps unaware thou art true to it all.

    Hast thou e'er helped a bosom to banish distress?
    Hast thou e'er helped a heart into happiness?
    Hast thou played with the children, and taught them to play?
    Hast thou prayed with the children, and taught them to pray?
    Hast thou smiled on the good? hast thou frowned upon sin?
    Hast thy heart felt the glow of true kindness within?
    Ay, thy duty is such; yet it may be well done
    By a tear and kind word for the desolate one;
    Yea, e'en but one sigh for a mortal in pain
    Were enough to convince that thy life is not vain.

    All life is seed, dropped in Time's yawning furrow,
    Which with slow sprout and shoot,
    In the revolving world's unfathomed morrow,
    Will blossom and bear fruit.

    – Mathilde Blind
    The Sower

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