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[253] No victory comes of all our strife,—
     From all we grasp the meaning slips;
The Sphinx sits at the gate of life,
     With the old question on her awful lips.

In paths unknown we hear the feet
     Of fear before, and guilt behind;
We pluck the wayside fruit, and eat
     Ashes and dust beneath its golden rind.

From age to age descends unchecked
     The sad bequest of sire to son,
The body's taint, the mind's defect;
     Through every web of life the dark threads run.

Oh, why and whither? God knows all;
     I only know that He is good,
And that whatever may befall
     Or here or there, must be the best that could.

Between the dreadful cherubim
     A Father's face I still discern,
As Moses looked of old on Him,
     And saw His glory into goodness turn!

For He is merciful as just;
     And so, by faith correcting sight,
I bow before His will, and trust
     Howe'er they seem He doeth all things right.

And dare to hope that He will make
     The rugged smooth, the doubtful plain;
His mercy never quite forsake;
     His healing visit every realm of pain;

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Moses (1)
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