If we but knew the weary way,
The poisoned paths of hostile hate,
The roughened roads of fiercest fate,
Through which our brother's journey lay,
Would we condemn, as now we do,
His faults and failures,—if we knew?
Would we forget the shadows grim,
The lonely hours of grief and pain,
The follies dead, the pleasures slain,
The tears and toils that hindered him,
And only prize the deeds that grew
To mighty conquest, if we knew?
Would careless hand sow tares of strife,
Amid the blooms of happy care,
And plant, in spite of sigh and prayer,
Wild thorns amid the blameless life,
Till sorrows rule the nations through,
With scarce a rival, if we knew?
Would we be quicker with our praise,
And gladly give the greatest meeds
As recompense for noble deeds,
And heroes crown with brightest bays,
And slay all foes that hearts imbue
With doubt and weakness, if we knew?
From lofty kings would constant worth
On peasant brows their crowns bestow,
And rising from her overthrow
Eternal justice rule the earth,
While right would strip the favored few
To bless the many, if we knew?
If we but knew! Ah, well-a-day!
From lives that murmur, full of ills,
Behind the shadows of the hills,
God hides our brother's heart away;
And we shall know in vales of rest
That His eternal ways are best!