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Poems About Life Struggles

Table of Contents

  1. The Hourly Cross by Ruby Archer
  2. Weaving by Florence May Alt
  3. Cares by Charles Swain
  4. Hold on a While by Amos Russel Wells
  5. Buttercups and Daisies by Mary Howitt
  6. The Tempest by James T. Fields
  7. Something Left Undone by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  8. Keep A-Pluggin' Away by Laurence Dunbar
  9. Not They Who Soar by Laurence Dunbar
  10. Comparison by Laurence Dunbar
  11. Our share of night to bear by Emily Dickinson
  12. Compensation by Sara Teasdale
  13. How Did You Die? by Edmund Vance Cooke
  14. John Curzon's Watch by Anonymous
  15. Purpose by Anonymous
  16. The Swedish Wife by Henrietta Gould Rowe
  1. The Frozen Dove by Hannah Flagg Gould
  2. The Crocus's Soliloquy by Hannah Flagg Gould
  3. Impulse by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  4. The Blind Man by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. The Voice by Hannah Flagg Gould
  6. My Burden by Anonymous
  7. Their Chance by Anonymous
  8. The Heritage by James Russell Lowell
  9. The Gift of Empty Hands by S. M. B. Piatt
  10. Salt by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  11. Storm-Racked by Amy Lowell
  12. Christ, Who's Gone Before by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott
  13. Life is Transient by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott
  14. E Tenebris by Oscar Wilde
  15. Accomplished Care by Edgar A. Guest
  16. The Stone in the Road by John Edward Everett
  17. It Is Well with My Soul by Horatio Spafford
  18. Churning by Marcella Melville Hall Hines
  19. Discontent by Jean Blewett
  20. The Gain of Loss by John Hobart Egbert, D. D.
  21. Undergrowth by Douglas Malloch
  22. Good Timber by Douglas Malloch
  23. Sanctuary by Douglas Malloch
  24. When I Rise Up by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  25. Life's Scars by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  26. The Wisdom of Reserve by Peter Burn
  27. Comforting Promises by Elizabeth Hedge Webster
  28. Poems About Trials

  29. Daily Trials by Martha Waldron Blacker
  30. The Sifting of Peter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  31. Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes by William Shakespeare
  32. See It Through by Edgar A. Guest

Affliction is the good man's shining scene.

– Edward Young
The Consolation
  1. The Hourly Cross

    by Ruby Archer

    Oh, sorrow of restraining
    An impulse grown alert,
    Of bearing uncomplaining
    The daily want and hurt!

  2. Weaving

    by Florence May Alt

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me;
    I may but choose the colors—
    He worketh steadily.
    Full oft he weaveth sorrow;
    And I in foolish pride,
    Forget he sees the upper,
    And I the under side!

    I choose my strands all golden,
    And watch for woven stars;
    I murmur when the pattern
    Is set in blurs and mars.
    I cannot yet remember
    Whose hands the shuttles guide;
    And that my stars are shining
    Upon the upper side.

    I choose my thread all crimson,
    And wait for flowers to bloom,
    For warp and woof to blossom
    Upon that mighty loom.
    Full oft I seek them vainly,
    And fret for them denied—
    Though flowering wreaths and garlands,
    May deck the upper side.

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me;
    I see the seams, the tangles—
    The fair design sees He.
    Then let me wait in patience
    And blindness; satisfied
    To make the pattern lovely
    Upon the upper side.

  3. Cares

    by Charles Swain

    Cares, Cares,—who is without them?
    Troubles are plenty wherever we stray—
    Pass round the glass and think nothing about them,
    The more you make of them the longer they stay.

    Tears, Tears,—who has not met them?
    Sorrow's the dew of life's morning and night;
    Pass round the goblet and try to forget them,
    Speak of the bloom, but ne'er mention the blight.

    Life—life,—who would desire it?
    Who for its pleasures would suffer its pains?
    Pass round the glass, for our spirits require it;
    Hide with life's roses the weight of life's chains.

  4. Hold on a While

    And when your fondest hopes are dead
    And fate has ceased to smile.
    'Tis then it pays to lift your head
    And—just—hold on a-while.

    - Amos R. Wells
    Hold on a While
    by Amos Russel Wells

    When all the sky is very black
    And all the earth is blue,
    And all the fiends are on your track
    And howling after you;

    When courage falls and hope decays
    And fair ambition dies,
    And all your dreamland is ablaze
    Beneath the ebon skies;

    When you would fain renounce the goal,
    Nor plod another mile,
    Oh, straighten up your drooping soul,
    And—just—hold on—a while!

    Hold on a while! the darkest night
    May bring the fairest day.
    Hold on a while! the good, the right,
    Will always find a way.

    Hold on! for is Jehovah dead?
    His love an empty song?
    Hold on! have heaven's armies fled
    Before the hosts of wrong?

    Hold on! for still some strength remains,
    Nor yield you till you must;
    A newer life may flood your veins;
    Born of a larger trust.

    A newer life—hold on for that!
    A lily from the mud!
    The greening peak of Ararat
    Emerging from the flood!

    The clouds are shattered by the sun;
    The earth is all aglow;
    Away the howling devils run,
    And back to hell they go!

    Hold on for that! Do what you can,
    Nor prove a craven elf;
    For heaven never helped a man
    Until he helped himself.

    And when your fondest hopes are dead
    And fate has ceased to smile.
    'Tis then it pays to lift your head
    And—just—hold on a-while.

  5. Buttercups and Daisies

    He who gave them hardships
    And a life of care,
    Gave them likewise hardy strength
    And patient hearts to bear.

    - Mary Howitt
    Buttercups and Daisies
    by Mary Howitt

    Buttercups and daisies,
    Oh, the pretty flowers;
    Coming ere the spring time,
    To tell of sunny hours,
    While the trees are leafless,
    While the fields are bare,
    Buttercups and daisies
    Spring up here and there.

    Ere the snow-drop peepeth,
    Ere the crocus bold,
    Ere the early primrose
    Opes its paly gold,—
    Somewhere on the sunny bank
    Buttercups are bright;
    Somewhere midst the frozen grass
    Peeps the daisy white.

    Little hardy flowers,
    Like to children poor,
    Playing in their sturdy health
    By their mother's door.
    Purple with the north-wind,
    Yet alert and bold;
    Fearing not, and caring not,
    Though they be a-cold!

    What to them is winter!
    What are stormy showers!
    Buttercups and daisies
    Are these human flowers!
    He who gave them hardships
    And a life of care,
    Gave them likewise hardy strength
    And patient hearts to bear.

  6. The Tempest

    by James T. Fields

    We were crowded in the cabin;
    Not a soul would dare to sleep:
    It was midnight on the waters,
    And a storm was on the deep.

    'T is a fearful thing in winter
    To be shattered by the blast,
    And to hear the rattling trumpet
    Thunder, "Cut away the mast!"

    So we shuddered there in silence,
    For the stoutest held his breath,
    While the hungry sea was roaring,
    And the breakers threatened death.

    And as thus we sat in darkness,
    Each one busy in his prayers,
    "We are lost!" the captain shouted,
    As he staggered down the stairs.

    But his little daughter whispered,
    As she took his icy hand,
    "Is n't God upon the ocean,
    Just the same as on the land?"

    Then we kissed the little maiden,
    And we spoke in better cheer;
    And we anchored safe in harbor
    When the morn was shining clear.

  7. Something Left Undone

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Labor with what zeal we will,
    Something still remains undone,
    Something uncompleted still
    Waits the rising of the sun.
    By the bedside, on the stair,
    At the threshold, near the gates,
    With its menace or its prayer,
    Like a mendicant it waits;
    Waits, and will not go away;
    Waits, and will not be gainsaid;
    By the cares of yesterday
    Each to-day is heavier made;
    Till at length the burden seems
    Greater than our strength can bear,
    Heavy as the weight of dreams,
    Pressing on us everywhere.
    And we stand from day to day,
    Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
    Who, as Northern legends say,
    On their shoulders held the sky.

  8. Keep A-Pluggin' Away

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    I've a humble little motto
    That is homely, though it's true, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    It's a thing when I've an object
    That I always try to do, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    When you've rising storms to quell,
    When opposing waters swell,
    It will never fail to tell, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.

    If the hills are high before
    And the paths are hard to climb,
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    And remember that successes
    Come to him who bides his time, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    From the greatest to the least,
    None are from the rule released.
    Be thou toiler, poet, priest,
    Keep a-pluggin' away.

    Delve away beneath the surface,
    There is treasure farther down, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    Let the rain come down in torrents,
    Let the threat'ning heavens frown,
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    When the clouds have rolled away,
    There will come a brighter day
    All your labor to repay, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.

    There 'll be lots of sneers to swallow.
    There'll be lots of pain to bear, —
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    If you've got your eye on heaven,
    Some bright day you'll wake up there,
    Keep a-pluggin' away.
    Perseverance still is king;
    Time its sure reward will bring;
    Work and wait unwearying,—
    Keep a-pluggin' away.

  9. Not They Who Soar

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Not they who soar, but they who plod
    Their rugged way, unhelped, to God
    Are heroes; they who higher fare,
    And, flying, fan the upper air,
    Miss all the toil that hugs the sod.
    'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod,
    Whose feet have pressed the path unshod,
    May smile upon defeated care,
    Not they who soar.
    High up there are no thorns to prod,
    Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod
    To turn the keenness of the share,
    For flight is ever free and rare;
    But heroes they the soil who've trod,
    Not they who soar!

    The struggle of today, is not altogether for today—it is for a vast future also.

    – Abraham Lincoln
    State of the Union Address, December 3, 1861
  10. Comparison

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The sky of brightest gray seems dark
    To one whose sky was ever white.
    To one who never knew a spark,
    Thro' all his life, of love or light,
    The grayest cloud seems over-bright.

    The robin sounds a beggar's note
    Where one the nightingale has heard,
    But he for whom no silver throat
    Its liquid music ever stirred,
    Deems robin still the sweetest bird.

  11. Our share of night to bear

    by Emily Dickinson

    Our share of night to bear,
    Our share of morning,
    Our blank in bliss to fill,
    Our blank in scorning.

    Here a star, and there a star,
    Some lose their way.
    Here a mist, and there a mist,
    Afterwards — day!

  12. Compensation

    by Sara Teasdale

    I should be glad of loneliness
    And hours that go on broken wings,
    A thirsty body, a tired heart
    And the unchanging ache of things,
    If I could make a single song
    As lovely and as full of light,
    As hushed and brief as a falling star
    On a winter night.

  13. How Did You Die?

    by Edmund Vance Cooke

    Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
    With a resolute heart and cheerful?
    Or hide your face from the light of day
    With a craven soul and fearful?
    Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
    Or a trouble is what you make it,
    And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
    But only how did you take it?

    You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that!
    Come up with a smiling face.
    It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
    But to lie there—that's disgrace.
    The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
    Be proud of your blackened eye!
    It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
    It's how did you fight and why?

    And though you be done to the death, what then?
    If you battled the best you could,
    If you played your part in the world of men,
    Why, the Critic will call it good.
    Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
    And whether he's slow or spry,
    It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
    But only, how did you die?

  14. John Curzon's Watch

    Conquer—from things as they are!

    - Amos Russel Wells
    John Curzon's Watch
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Have you heard of John Curzon, of Poland?
    A wonderful artisan, he!
    A watchmaker equalled in no land,
    As you, I am sure, will agree.

    For the Czar of the Russias, to try him,
    Commanded a watch for his fob,
    And bade that his envoy supply him
    With all he might use in the job.

    So the messenger brought some wood chippings,
    Some glass that was smashed in a fall,
    Copper nails and some bits of wire clippings,
    And a cracked china cup; that was all!

    John Curzon, this rubbish receiving,
    Contrived, with no other to aid,—
    it is true, though it seems past believing,—
    A watch that was perfectly made!

    The case—it was formed of the china.
    The works were patched up from the rest.
    it was worthy a rez or rigina;
    And Curzon had won in the test!

    So, my lad, with no money and no land,
    And Fate as severe as the Czar,
    Just think you are Curzon of Poland,
    And conquer—from things as they are!

  15. Purpose

    by Amos Russel Wells

    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!

  16. The Frozen Dove

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Away, from the path, silly dove,
    Where the foot, that may carelessly tread,
    Will crush thee!—what! wilt thou not move?
    Alas! thou art stiffened and dead!

    Allured by the brightness of day,
    To sink 'mid the shadows of night,
    Too far from the cote didst thou stray,
    And sadly has ended thy flight!

    For here, with the snow at thy breast,
    With thy wings folded close to thy side,
    And crouched in the semblance of rest,
    Alone, of the cold thou hast died!

    Poor bird! thou hast pictured the fate
    Of many in life's changeful day,
    Who, trusting, have found but too late
    What smiles may be lit to betray.

    How oft for illusions that shine
    In a cold and a pitiless world,
    Benighted and palsied like thine,
    Has the wing of the spirit been furled!

    And hearts the most tender and light,
    In their warmth, to the earth have been thrown,
    'Mid the chills of adversity's night,
    To suffer and perish alone!

    “All that glitters is not gold”

    – William Shakespeare
  17. The Crocus's Soliloquy

    Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower
    This little lesson may borrow—
    Patient to-day, through its gloomiest hour,
    We come out the brighter to-morrow!

    - Hannah Flagg Gould
    The Crocus's Soliloquy
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Down in my solitude under the snow,
    Where nothing cheering can reach me;
    Here, without light to see how to grow,
    I'll trust to nature to teach me.

    I will not despair, nor be idle, nor frown,
    Locked in so gloomy a dwelling;
    My leaves shall run up, and my roots shall run down,
    While the bud in my bosom is swelling.

    Soon as the frost will get out of my bed,
    From this cold dungeon to free me,
    I will peer up with my little bright head;
    All will be joyful to see me.

    Then from my heart will young petals diverge,
    As rays of the sun from their focus;
    I from the darkness of earth will emerge
    A happy and beautiful Crocus!

    Gaily arrayed in my yellow and green,
    When to their view I have risen,
    Will they not wonder how one so serene
    Came from so dismal a prison?

    Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower
    This little lesson may borrow—
    Patient to-day, through its gloomiest hour,
    We come out the brighter to-morrow!

    “It is always darkest just before dawn.”

    – Unknown
  18. Impulse

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    A hollow on the verge of May.
    Thick strewn with drift of leaves. Beneath
    The densest drift a thrusting sheath
    Of sharp green striving toward the day!
    I mused—"So dull Obstruction sets
    A bar to even violets,
    When these would go their nobler way!"

    My feet again, some days gone by.
    The self-same spot sought idly. There,
    Obstruction foiled, the adoring air
    Caressed a blossom woven of sky
    And dew, whose misty petals blue,
    With bliss of being thrilled athrough,
    Dilated like a timorous eye.

    Reck well this rede, my soul! The good
    The blossom craved was near, tho' hid.
    Fret not that thou must doubt, but rid
    Thy sky-path of obstructions strewed
    By winds of folly. Then, do thou
    The Godward impulse room allow
    To reach its perfect air and food!

  19. The Blind Man

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    'T is darkness, darkness; dreary, starless night;
    Nature a blank, and day that shows no sun;
    Man, earth and seas and heavens shut out from sight—
    Such is thy portion, blind and hapless one!

    Hapless! a smile upon thy lip will dwell,
    While in thy sunken eye no light appears!
    That cold and rayless orb will never tell
    If first its film would burst with joy or tears.

    Yet light is in thy soul—that fire divine,
    That shone on Horeb's mount, illumines thee:
    Thou walk'st in safety, for the Guide is thine,
    Whom Israel followed through the parting sea.

    Though thou must grope for pillars hands have raised,
    Like him who erst Philistia's thousands slew,
    The temple where, by angels, God is praised,
    Thy father's house, is ever kept in view.

    Thou know'st how soon these earthly walls must fail;
    How frail and vain the things of time and sense;
    Thy steady faith looks onward through the veil,
    Where life eternal and its joys commence.

    Thy head is white—thy foot is at the grave;
    And nature's hasty work is nearly done;
    But He will bear thee safe o'er Jordan's wave,
    Whose peace is with thee, blind, but happy one!

  20. The Voice

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    The voice—its melody touched the ear,
    As a sound we should look toward heaven, to hear;
    As the soft, rich light of the western sky,
    Where the sun went down, will meet the eye.
    And it made me think of a world afar,
    Above the sun, and the evening star—
    Of the odors of flowers that freight the air
    With the notes of the bright ones warbling there.

    Methinks, when the world looks void and dark—
    When the waves of trouble ingulf my bark—
    When the sky above me is black with wrath,
    And the lightning is all that illumes my path;
    While I set my feet but with doubt and dread;
    When the friend that I loved is false or dead;
    In fear, in sorrow, in pain or care,
    I would hear that voice poured out in prayer.

    When the storm is past, and the heavens look bright,
    While the clouds that I feared are dissolved in light—
    When I smoothly glide o'er a peaceful sea,
    With a breeze all fragrance and purity;
    When the friend that I chose is the true one still,
    Who adds to good, and who takes from ill;
    In every joy that may gild my days,
    I would hear that voice sent up in praise.

    It was tuned for a rare and holy gift;
    To pour in prayer, and in praise to lift;
    And through the ear, as it took control,
    And wrought its charm o'er the spell-bound soul,
    It came in a sound so sweet and deep,
    It could soothe the heart, though the eye must weep.
    But it was not made for the thoughtless mirth
    Whose light is a blaze from the chaff of earth!

  21. My Burden

    by Amos Russel Wells

    God laid upon my back a grievous load,
    A heavy cross to bear along the road.

    I staggered on, and lo! one weary day,
    An angry lion sprang across my way.

    I prayed to God, and swift at His command
    The cross became a weapon in my hand.

    It slew my raging enemy, and then
    Became a cross upon my back again.

    I faltered many a league, until at length,
    Groaning, I fell, and had no further strength.

    "O God," I cried, "I am so weak aud lame!"
    Then straight my cross a winged staff became.

    It swept me on till I regained the loss,
    Then leaped upon my back, again a cross.

    I reached a desert. O'er the burning track
    I persevered, the cross upon my back.

    No shade was there, and in the cruel sun
    I sank at last, and thought my days were done.

    But lo! the Lord works many a blest surprise—
    The cross became a tree before my eyes!

    I slept; I woke, to feel the strength of ten.
    I found the cross upon my back again.

    And thus through all my days, from that to this,
    The cross, my burden has become my bliss

    Nor ever shall I lay the burden down,
    For God some day will make the cross a crown!

  22. Their Chance

    Ah, better give the world surprise
    At great achieved from small,
    Than start so high that nothing lies
    Before you but a—fall!

    - Amos R. Wells
    Their Chance
    by Amos Russel Wells

    The little men, the dwarfish men,
    A special chance have they
    To work with hand or tongue or pen
    So well that folks may say;
    "Why, though he is a tiny one,
    In spirit he is tall,
    A genuine Napoleon,
    A Little Corporal!"

    The awkward men of homely face
    May cause the world to sing
    Their lack of beauty and of grace
    As quite distinguishing:
    "Behold, a second Lincoln, he
    A second serfdom frees!"
    Or: "Sage and ugly, lo! we see
    A seeond Socrates!"

    There's not a weight that holds men down,
    There's not a pain men bear,
    There's not an obloquy, a frown,
    A hindrance or a care,
    But men have lightly tossed the weight,
    And lightly borne the woe,
    And made a friend of hostile fate,
    And won their kingdom so.

    Ah, better be the under man
    And struggle for the top,
    And do the deed no other can,
    Begin where others stop, —
    Ah, better give the world surprise
    At great achieved from small,
    Than start so high that nothing lies
    Before you but a—fall!

  23. The Heritage

    O poor man's son! scorn not thy state;
    There is worse weariness than thine
    In merely being rich and great:
    Toil only gives the soul to shine,
    And makes rest fragrant and benign;

    - James Russell Lowell
    The Heritage
    by James Russell Lowell

    The rich man's son inherits lands,
    And piles of brick, and stone, and gold,
    And he inherits soft white hands,
    And tender flesh that fears the cold,
    Nor dares to wear a garment old;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    The rich man's son inherits cares;
    The bank may break, the factory burn,
    A breath may burst his bubble shares,
    And soft white hands could hardly earn
    A living that would serve his turn;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    The rich man's son inherits wants,
    His stomach craves for dainty fare;
    With sated heart, he hears the pants
    Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare!
    And wearies in his easy-chair;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    Stout muscles and a sinewy heart,
    A hardy frame, a hardier spirit;
    King of two hands, he does his part
    In every useful toil and art;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things,
    A rank adjudged by toil-won merit,
    Content that from employment springs,
    A heart that in his labor sings;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    A patience learned of being poor,
    Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it,
    A fellow-feeling that is sure
    To make the outcast bless his door;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    O rich man's son! there is a toil
    That with all others level stands:
    Large charity doth never soil,
    But only whiten soft, white hands,—
    This is the best crop from thy lands;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Worth being rich to hold in fee.

    O poor man's son! scorn not thy state;
    There is worse weariness than thine
    In merely being rich and great:
    Toil only gives the soul to shine,
    And makes rest fragrant and benign;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Worth being poor to hold in fee.

    Both, heirs to some six feet of sod,
    Are equal in the earth at last;
    Both, children of the same dear God,
    Prove title to your heirship vast
    By record of a well-filled past;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Well worth a life to hold in fee.

  24. The Gift of Empty Hands

    by S. M. B. Piatt

    They were two princes doomed to death;
    Each loved his beauty and his breath:
    "Leave us our life and we will bring
    Fair gifts unto our lord, the king."

    They went together. In the dew
    A charmed bird before them flew.
    Through sun and thorn one followed it;
    Upon the other's arm it lit.

    A rose, whose faintest flush was worth
    All buds that ever blew on earth,
    One climbed the rocks to reach; ah, well,
    Into the other's breast it fell.

    Weird jewels, such as fairies wear,
    When moons go out, to light their hair,
    One tried to touch on ghostly ground;
    Gems of quick fire the other found.

    One with the dragon fought to gain
    The enchanted fruit, and fought in vain;
    The other breathed the garden's air
    And gathered precious apples there.

    Backward to the imperial gate
    One took his fortune, one his fate:
    One showed sweet gifts from sweetest lands,
    The other, torn and empty hands.

    At bird, and rose, and gem, and fruit,
    The king was sad, the king was mute;
    At last he slowly said: "My son,
    True treasure is not lightly won.

    Your brother's hands, wherein you see
    Only these scars, show more to me
    Than if a kingdom's price I found
    In place of each forgotten wound."

  25. Salt

    Heart of my heart, tho' life
    Front us with storm,
    Love will outlast the strife,
    More pure, more warm.

    - Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    O breath of wind and sea,
    Bitter and clear,
    Now my faint soul springs free,
    Blown clean from fear!

    O hard sweet strife, O sting
    Of buffeting salt!
    Doubt and despair take wing,
    Failure, and fault.

    I dread not wrath or wrong,—
    Smile, and am free;
    Strong while the winds are strong,
    The rocks, the sea.

    Heart of my heart, tho' life
    Front us with storm,
    Love will outlast the strife,
    More pure, more warm.

  26. Storm-Racked

    by Amy Lowell

    How should I sing when buffeting salt waves
    And stung with bitter surges, in whose might
    I toss, a cockleshell? The dreadful night
    Marshals its undefeated dark and raves
    In brutal madness, reeling over graves
    Of vanquished men, long-sunken out of sight,
    Sent wailing down to glut the ghoulish sprite
    Who haunts foul seaweed forests and their caves.
    No parting cloud reveals a watery star,
    My cries are washed away upon the wind,
    My cramped and blistering hands can find no spar,
    My eyes with hope o'erstrained, are growing blind.
    But painted on the sky great visions burn,
    My voice, oblation from a shattered urn!

  27. Christ, Who's Gone Before

    by Eliza Wolcott

    When troubles rise,
    And tempests roar,
    Lift up you eyes,
    Christ went before.

    Though friends may part,
    And tears may pour,
    Comfort your heart,
    Christ went befere.

    Though, in the dust.
    They're seen no more,
    Still Him we trust
    Who went before.

    When left alone,
    Unseen, adore
    That righteous One,
    Who went before.

    When death's cold stream
    Shall round us pour,
    Then think on Him,
    Who went before.

    None e'er should faint,
    Who seek that shore,
    Or make complaint,—
    Christ went before.

  28. Life is Transient

    If clouds or storms be seen afar,
    And dreary winter come,
    May we be mindful of the Star
    That guides our passage home.

    - Eliza Wolcott
    Life is Transient
    by Eliza Wolcott

    Such is the state of life, my friend,
    That all is transient here;
    If we have trials to contend,
    Our heaven, our home is near.

    If our dear friends around us fall,
    Or other sorrows come,
    Let's think the warnings are a call,
    To speed our passage home.

    If prosperous days around us smile,
    Then view the hand that gives,
    But let not prosperous days beguile
    Our souls from him that lives.

    If clouds or storms be seen afar,
    And dreary winter come,
    May we be mindful of the Star
    That guides our passage home.

    Our trials teach contrition,
    We bend beneath the storm;
    Then wait with sweet submission,
    The rainbow's lovely form.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    Grief And Hope, Compared To The Rainbow After A Shower
  29. Shadows

    by Thomas Durfee

    How much of earth's beauty is due to its shadows!
    The tree and the cliff and the far-floating cloudlet,
    The uniform light intercepting and crossing,
    Give manifold color and change to the landscape.

    How much, too, our life is in debt to its shadows;
    To griefs that refine us and cares that develope,
    And wants that keep friendship and love from decaying;
    With nothing to cross us we perish of ennui.

  30. E Tenebris

    by Oscar Wilde

    Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach Thy hand,
    For I am drowning in a stormier sea
    Than Simon on Thy lake of Galilee:
    The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
    My heart is as some famine-murdered land
    Whence all good things have perished utterly,
    And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
    If I this night before God’s throne should stand.
    ‘He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
    Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
    From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.’
    Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,
    The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
    The wounded hands, the weary human face.

  31. Accomplished Care

    by Edgar A. Guest

    All things grow lovely in a little while,
    The brush of memory paints a canvas fair;
    The dead face through the ages wears a smile,
    And glorious becomes accomplished care.

    There's nothing ugly that can live for long,
    There's nothing constant in the realm of pain;
    Right always comes to take the place of wrong,
    Who suffers much shall find the greater gain.

    Life has a kindly way, despite its tears
    And all the burdens which its children bear;
    It crowns with beauty all the troubled years
    And soothes the hurts and makes their memory fair.

    Be brave when days are bitter with despair,
    Be true when you are made to suffer wrong;
    Life's greatest joy is an accomplished care,
    There's nothing ugly that can live for long.

  32. The Stone in the Road

    by John Edward Everett

    Up hill, with heavy load,
    A farmer's wheels turned round;
    A stone was in the road,
    At which the farmer frowned.

    At once, with snap and crack,
    The shaft gave way and dropped;
    The wagon staggered back,
    But struck the stone and stopped.

    The stone, frowned on at first,
    Now held the wagon fast;
    The stone the farmer cursed,
    Reclaimed his load at last.

    Through life, repeatedly,
    The evils help and bless,
    And hindrance proves to be
    A rock of sure success.

  33. It Is Well With My Soul

    by Horatio Gates Spafford

    When peace like a river attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
    “It is well, it is well with my soul!”

    It is well with my soul!
    It is well, it is well with my soul!

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
    My sin, not in part, but the whole,
    Is nailed to His Cross, and I bear it no more;
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

    For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live;
    If dark hours about me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

    Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials...No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity.

    – Charles Spurgeon
    Morning & Evening
  34. Churning

    by Marcella Melville Hall Hines

    And What Bridget Thought About It.

    As into the churn fast falleth the cream
    Every drop quite alike doth seem,
    And never, amid such a general splutter,
    Can I tell for the life of me which is the butter.
    So I fasten the cover, and lift the dash,
    And smile as I list to the sullen splash
    With each downward sweep of that merciless lash—
    While the cream, all defenseless, leaps madly away
    From the rough, cruel blows that unceasingly play!
    But there's no escape, though it rise to the top
    Or down to the bottom despairingly drop;
    For a ready tormentor is on its track,
    And sooner or later, will bring it back.
    Till, tired of retreating, the mass will abide
    No more of such warfare, all on one side;
    And angrily mutters, in whisperings low,
    "No more of such peltings will I undergo
    Submissively, tamely—the future shall tell
    If blows I must take, I can give them as well;
    Let them strike if they choose, they'll recoil from the fun,
    For the soft, silly buttermilk only will run."
    Enough, quite enough, take the dasher away—
    What was cream in the morning is butter to-day.

    Just so with the world, mused I in my turn,
    As I took the rich butter up out of the churn,
    My soft cream thus changed to so solid a ball
    A strong hand was needed to mould it at all,—
    Just so with the world, small odds can be scanned,
    While the skies are unclouded, the breezes are bland
    Like a huge jar of cream, till there comes an hour
    Of commotion, fierce trial with testing power!
    And then, even then the resemblance holds true,
    For the world has its butter and buttermilk, too,
    As all cream is not butter, so in the world's plan—
    The moral is plain, if but rightly you scann:
    Society's buttermilk ne'er makes a man!

  35. The Swedish Wife

    by Henrietta Gould Rowe. In the State House at Augusta, Me., is a bunch of cedar shingles made by a Swedish woman the wife of one of the earliest settlers of New Sweden, who, with her husband sick and a family of little ones dependent upon her, made with her own hands these shingles, and carried them eight miles upon her back to the town of Caribou, where she exchanged them for provisions for her family.

    The morning sun shines bright and clear,
    Clear and cold, for winter is near,—
    Winter, the chill and dread:
    And the fire burns bright in the exile's home,
    With fagot of fir from the mountain's dome,
    While the children clamor for bread.

    Against the wall stands the idle wheel,
    Unfinished the thread upon the spindle and reel,
    The empty cards are crost;
    But nigh to the hearthstone sits the wife,
    With cleaver and mallet,—so brave and so blithe,
    She fears not famine or frost.

    Fair and soft are her braided locks,
    And the light in her blue eye merrily mocks
    The shadow of want and fear,
    As deftly, with fingers supple and strong,
    She draws the glittering shave along,
    O'er the slab of cedar near.

    Neatly and close are the shingles laid,
    Bound in a bunch,—then, undismayed,
    The Swedish wife uprose:
    "Be patient, my darlings," she blithely said,
    "I go to the town, and you shall have bread,
    Ere the day has reached its close."

    Eight miles she trudged—'twas a weary way;
    The road was rough, the sky grew gray
    With the snow that sifted down;
    Bent were her shoulders beneath their load,
    But high was her heart, for love was the goad
    That urged her on to the town.

    Ere the sun went down was her promise kept,
    The little ones feasted before they slept;
    While the father, sick in bed,
    Prayed softly, with tears and murmurs low,
    That his household darlings might never know
    A lack of their daily bread.

  36. Discontent

    by Jean Blewett

    My soul spoke low to Discontent:
    Long hast thou lodged with me,
    Now, ere the strength of me is spent,
    I would be quit of thee.

    Thy presence means revolt, unrest,
    Means labor, longing, pain;
    Go, leave me, thou unwelcome guest,
    Nor trouble me again.

    I longed for peace—for peace I cried;
    You would not let her in;
    No room was there for aught beside
    The turmoil and the din.

    I longed for rest, prayed life might yield
    Soft joy and dear delight;
    You urged me to the battlefield,
    And flung me in the fight.

    We two part company to-day.
    Now, ere my strength be spent,
    I open wide my doors and say:
    "Begone, thou Discontent!"

    Then something strong and sweet and fair
    Rose up and made reply:
    Who gave you the desire to dare
    And do the right? 'Twas I.

    The coward soul craves pleasant things,
    Soft joys and dear delights—
    I scourged you till you spread your wings
    And soared to nobler heights.

    You know me but imperfectly—
    My surname is Divine;
    God's own right hand did prison me
    Within this soul of thine,

    Lest thou, forgetting work and strife,
    By human longings prest,
    Shouldst miss the grandest things of life,
    Its battles and unrest.

  37. The Gain of Loss

    by John Hobart Egbart, D. D.

    If wounded hearts were all unknown on earth,
    How could we know the preciousness of balm?
    If storms ne'er swept across life's placid sea,
    What would we know about the peace of calm?

    If bitter sorrows had no place in life.
    The sense of joy would have to be revised,
    Bare roses on a thornless bush would lack
    Chaste settings of the gems most highly prized.

    Were there no rugged mountain steeps to climb,
    We could not vision valleys fresh and green;
    Were there no "Ups and Downs" for us in life,
    We'd never know what "Resting Places" mean.

    Had we no weaknesses to overcome,
    No enemies of righteousness to fight,
    We'd never know the thrill that comes to him
    Who stands or falls in the defense of Right.

    Were there no broken vows, no want or trust,
    No yearning hearts, no lack of constancy,
    Then Faith and Hope could have no mission here,
    Nor Love lay claim to sweet supermacy.

    There always is some recompense, some good in ill.
    Were cross unmixed with gold in human kind,
    The adamantine strands of friendship's "Threefold Cord"
    From "Common Clay" had never been refined.

  38. Undergrowth

    by Douglas Malloch

    It ain't the trees that block the trail,
    It ain't the ash or pine;
    For, if you fall or if you fail,
    It was some pesky vine
    That tripped you up, that threw you down,
    That caught you unawares:
    The big things you can walk aroun'—
    But watch the way for snares.

    In life it ain't the biggest things
    That make the hardest load;
    It ain't the burden big that brings
    Defeat upon the road.
    Some fault you hardly knew you had
    May hurt more than you think—
    Some little habit that is bad
    May put you on the blink.

  39. Good Timber

    by Douglas Malloch

    The tree that never had to fight
    For sun and sky and air and light,
    But stood out in the open plain
    And always got its share of rain,
    Never became a forest king
    But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    The man who never had to toil
    To gain and farm his patch of soil,
    Who never had to win his share
    Of sun and sky and light and air,
    Never became a manly man
    But lived and died as he began.

    Good timber does not grow with ease,
    The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
    The further sky, the greater length,
    The more the storm, the more the strength.
    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
    In trees and men good timbers grow.

    Where thickest lies the forest growth
    We find the patriarchs of both.
    And they hold counsel with the stars
    Whose broken branches show the scars
    Of many winds and much of strife.
    This is the common law of life.

  40. Sanctuary

    by Douglas Malloch

    When some one has slipped you the dirk in the dark,
    When eyes that are loving are lies,
    When some one you trusted has made you a mark,
    And somehow the heart in you dies,
    There's dirt for you, hurt for you, trouble enough
    To shatter the faith of a man;
    But don't ever think there is trouble so tough
    That you can't overcome it—you can.

    When living is losing its flavor to you,
    When worry is making you old;
    When there is no joy in the thing that you do
    Nor truth in the thing you are told,
    There's balm for you, calm for you, out in the wild,
    There's hope for you up on the hill.
    Get up in the timber and play like a child;
    You can overcome it—you will.

    Get up in the timber; the trail and the trees
    Will make you a man in a day.
    The smell of the soil and the breath of the breeze
    Will blow all your troubles away.
    There's pine for you, wine for you, hope for you there—
    The sun and the moon and the star—
    If the ways of the city are not on the square,
    Get up in the woods—where they are.

  41. When I Rise Up

    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    When I rise above the earth,
    And look down on the things that fetter me,
    I beat my wings upon the air,
    Or tranquil lie,
    Surge after surge of potent strength
    Like incense comes to me
    When I rise up above the earth
    And look down upon the things that fetter me.

  42. Life's Scars

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    They say the world is round, and yet
    I often think it square,
    So many little hurts we get
    From corners here and there.
    But one great truth in life I've found,
    While journeying to the West—

    The only folks who really wound
    Are those we love the best.

    The man you thoroughly despise
    Can rouse your wrath, 'tis true;
    Annoyance in your heart will rise
    At things mere strangers do;
    But those are only passing ills;
    This rule all lives will prove;
    The rankling wound which aches and thrills
    Is dealt by hands we love.

    The choicest garb, the sweetest grace,
    Are oft to strangers shown;
    The careless mien, the frowning face,
    Are given to our own.
    We flatter those we scarcely know,
    We please the fleeting guest,
    And deal full many a thoughtless blow
    To those who love us best.

    Love does not grow on every tree,
    Nor true hearts yearly bloom.
    Alas for those who only see
    This cut across a tomb!
    But, soon or late, the fact grows plain
    To all through sorrow's test:
    The only folks who give us pain
    Are those we love the best.

  43. The Wisdom of Reserve

    by Peter Burn

    If, my youthful brother.
    Thou art low and poor,
    Tell't not to another,
    He may pass thy door:
    If thou would'st have prosperity,
    Conceal from men thy poverty.

    Should'st thou, youthful brother,
    Find misfortunes rife
    Tell't not to another,
    Bear alone the strife:
    With reproof thy friend may grieve thee,
    And in thy distress may leave thee.

    Act thou thus, my brother:
    When life's ills descend,
    Trust not to another,
    On thyself depend;
    And thou wilt soon successful be,
    Then men will praise and honour thee.

  44. Comforting Promises

    by Elizabeth Hedge Webster

    In the furnace I am by thee;
    Guarding with a watchful eye,
    That its heat may not destroy thee;
    Only cleanse and purify.
    Fondest love for thee I cherish
    Seekers of a heavenly prize
    Let the fallen nature perish;
    While its flames about you rise.

    In the darksome lonely valley,
    Still beside thee I will walk;
    In my arms of love I'll bear thee,
    Till thou'rt landed on the Rock;
    Thou shalt know it is thy Saviour
    Thus doth lead thee on thy way;
    With a love that's like no other,
    Holy, constant, pure as day.

  45. Poems About Trials

  46. Daily Trials

    by Martha Waldron Blacker

    Oh, strong and brave the heart may be,
    To bear the heavy woes of life;
    It fails most oft at petty ills,
    With which each passing day is rife.

    We gird ourselves with armor strong,
    To meet some mighty wrong or ill;
    Proudly defy the threatened harm,
    And, conquering, boast the power of will.

    Anon, a trifle light as air,
    A careless word,—a look,— a tone,—
    Makes shipwreck of our boasted power;
    Endurance, strength, alike are gone.

  47. The Sifting of Peter

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    In St. Luke's Gospel we are told
    How Peter in the days of old
    Was sifted;
    And now, though ages intervene,
    Sin is the same, while time and scene
    Are shifted.

    Satan desires us, great and small,
    As wheat to sift us, and we all
    Are tempted;
    Not one, however rich or great,
    Is by his station or estate

    No house so safely guarded is
    But he, by some device of his,
    Can enter;
    No heart hath armor so complete
    But he can pierce with arrows fleet
    Its centre.

    For all at last the cock will crow,
    Who hear the warning voice, but go
    Till thrice and more they have denied
    The Man of Sorrows, crucified
    And bleeding.

    One look of that pale, suffering face
    Will make us feel the deep disgrace
    Of weakness;
    We shall be sifted till the strength
    Of self-conceit be changed at length
    To meekness.

    Wounds of the soul, though healed, will ache;
    The reddening scars remain, and make
    Lost innocence returns no more;
    We are not what we were before

    But noble souls, through dust and heat,
    Rise from disaster and defeat
    The stronger,
    And conscious still of the divine
    Within them, lie on earth supine
    No longer.

  48. Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

    William Shakespeare

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state,
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
    Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least;
    Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    (Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

  49. See It Through

    by Edgar Albert Guest

    When you’re up against a trouble,
    Meet it squarely, face to face;
    Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
    Plant your feet and take a brace.
    When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
    Do the best that you can do;
    You may fail, but you may conquer,
    See it through!

    Black may be the clouds about you
    And your future may seem grim,
    But don’t let your nerve desert you;
    Keep yourself in fighting trim.
    If the worst is bound to happen,
    Spite of all that you can do,
    Running from it will not save you,
    See it through!

    Even hope may seem but futile,
    When with troubles you’re beset,
    But remember you are facing
    Just what other men have met.
    You may fail, but fall still fighting;
    Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
    Eyes front, head high to the finish.
    See it through!

Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.

– Shakespeare
As You Like It, Act II, Scene 1

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