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The voices.

“why urge the long, unequal fight,
     Since Truth has fallen in the street,
Or lift anew the trampled light,
     Quenched by the heedless million's feet?

Give o'er the thankless task; forsake
     The fools who know not ill from good:
Eat, drink, enjoy thy own, and take
     Thine ease among the multitude.

Live out thyself; with others share
     Thy proper life no more; assume [346]
The unconcern of sun and air,
     For life or death, or blight or bloom.

The mountain pine looks calmly on
     The fires that scourge the plains below,
Nor heeds the eagle in the sun
     The small birds piping in the snow!

The world is God's, not thine;let Him
     Work out a change, if change must be:
The hand that planted best can trim
     And nurse the old unfruitful tree. “

So spake the Tempter, when the light
     Of sun and stars had left the sky;
I listened, through the cloud and night,
     And heard, me thought, a voice reply:

“Thy task may well seem over-hard,
     Who scatterest in a thankless soil
Thy life as seed, with no reward
     Save that which Duty gives to Toil.

Not wholly is thy heart resigned
     To Heaven's benign and just decree,
Which, linking thee with all thy kind,.
     Transmits their joys and griefs to thee.

Break off that sacred chain, and turn
     Back on thyself thy love and care;
Be thou thine own mean idol, burn
     Faith, Hope, and Trust, thy children, there.

[347] Which shares the common bale and bliss,
     No sadder lot could Folly draw,
Or Sin provoke from Fate, than this.

The meal unshared is food unblest:
     Thou hoard'st in vain what love should spend;
Self-ease is pain; thy only rest
     Is labor for a worthy end;

A toil that gains with what it yields,
     And scatters to its own increase,
And hears, while sowing outward fields,
     The harvest-song of inward peace.

Free-lipped the liberal streamlets run,
     Free shines for all the healthful ray;
The still pool stagnates in the sun,
     The lurid earth-fire haunts decay!

What is it that the crowd requite
     Thy love with hate, thy truth with lies?
And but to faith, and not to sight,
     The walls of Freedom's temple rise?

Yet do thy work; it shall succeed
     In thine or in another's day;
And, if denied the victor's meed,
     Thou shalt not lack the toiler's pay.

Faith shares the future's promise; Love's
     Self-offering is a triumph won;
And each good thought or action moves
     The dark world nearer to the sun.

[348] Then faint not, falter not, nor plead
     Thy weakness; truth itself is strong;
The lion's strength, the eagle's speed,
     Are not alone vouchsafed to wrong.

Thy nature, which, through fire and flood,
     To place or gain finds out its way,
Hath power to seek the highest good,
     And duty's holiest call obey!

Strivest thou in darkness?—Foes without
     In league with traitor thoughts within;
Thy night-watch kept with trembling Doubt
     And pale Remorse the ghost of Sin?

Hast thou not, on some week of storm,
     Seen the sweet Sabbath breaking fair,
And cloud and shadow, sunlit, form
     The curtains of its tent of prayer?

So, haply, when thy task shall end,
     The wrong shall lose itself in right,
And all thy week-day darkness blend
     With the long Sabbath of the light! “


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