If some great angel spake to me to-night1
In awful language of the unknown land,2
Bidding me choose from treasure infinite,3
From goodly gifts and glories in his hand,4
The thing I coveted; what should I take ?5
Fame’s wreath of bays? the fickle world’s esteem ?6
Nay, greenest bays may wave on brows that ache,7
And world’s applauding passeth as a dream.8
Should I choose Love to fill mine empty heart,9
With soft, strong sweetness, as in days of old ?10
Nay, for Love’s rapture hath an after-smart,11
And on Love’s rose the thorns are manifold.12
Should I choose Life with long-succeeding years ?13
Nay, earth’s long life is longer time for tears.14
I would choose Work, and never-failing power15
To work without weak hindrance by the way,16
Without recurrence of the weary hour17
When tired, tyrant Nature holds its sway18
Over the busy brain and toiling hand.19
Ah ! if an angel came to me to-night,20
Speaking in language of the unknown land,21
So would I choose from treasure infinite.22
But well I know tho blessed gift I crave,23
The tireless strength for never-ending task,24
Is not for this life. But beyond the grave25
It may be I shall find the thing I ask :26
For I believe there is a better land,27
Where will, and work, and strength go hand in