O Poverty! till now I never knew
The meaning of the word! What lack is here!
O pale mask of a soul great, good, and true!
O mocking semblance stretched upon a bier!
Each atom of this devastated face
Was so instinct with power, with warmth and light;
What desert is so desolate! No grace
Is left, no gleam, no change, no day, no night.
Where is the key that locked these gates of speech,
Once beautiful, where thought stood sentinel,
Where sweetness sat, where wisdom passed, to teach
Our weakness strength, our homage to compel?
Despoiled at last, and waste and barren lies
This once so rich domain. Where lives and moves,
In what new world, the splendor of these eyes
That dauntless lightened like imperial Jove's?
Annihilated, do you answer me?
Blown out and vanished like a candle flame?
Is nothing left but this pale effigy,
This silence drear, this dread without a name?
Has it been all in vain, our love and pride,
This yearning love that still pursues our friend
Into the awful dark, unsatisfied,
Bereft, and wrung with pain? Is this the end?
Would God so mock us? To our human sense
No answer reaches through the doubtful air;
Yet with a living hope, profound, intense,
Our tortured souls rebel against despair;
As bowing to the bitter fate we go
Drooping and dumb as if beneath a curse;
But does not pitying Heaven answer " No! "
With all the voices of the universe?