Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Three Thoughts


How few of us
In all the world's great, ceaseless struggling strife,
Go to our work with gladsome, buoyant step,
And love it for its sake, whate'er it be.
Because it is a labor, or, mayhap,
Some sweet, peculiar art of God's own gift;
And not the promise of the world's slow smile
of recognition, or of mammon's gilded grasp.
Alas, how few, in inspiration's dazzling flash,
Or spiritual sense of world's beyond the dome
Of circling blue around this weary earth,
Can bask, and know the God-given grace
Of genius' fire that flows and permeates
The virgin mind alone; the soul in which
The love of earth hath tainted not.
The love of art and art alone.


"Who dares stand forth?" the monarch cried,
"Amid the throng, and dare to give
Their aid, and bid this wretch to live?
I pledge my faith and crown beside,
A woeful plight, a sorry sight,
This outcast from all God-given grace.

What, ho! in all, no friendly face,
No helping hand to stay his plight?
St. Peter's name be pledged for aye,
The man's accursed, that is true;
But ho, he suffers. None of you
Will mercy show, or pity sigh?"

Strong men drew back, and lordly train
Did slowly file from monarch's look,
Whose lips curled scorn. But from a nook
A voice cried out, "Though he has slain
That which I loved the best on earth,
Yet will I tend him till he dies,
I can be brave." A woman's eyes
Gazed fearlessly into his own.


When all the world has grown full cold to thee,
And man—proud pygmy—shrugs all scornfully,
And bitter, blinding tears flow gushing forth,
Because of thine own sorrows and poor plight,
Then turn ye swift to nature's page,
And read there passions, immeasurably far
Greater than thine own in all their littleness.
For nature has her sorrows and her joys,
As all the piled-up mountains and low vales
Will silently attest—and hang thy head
In dire confusion, for having dared
To moan at thine own miseries
When God and nature suffer silently.

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