Aimless to float upon the tide of life,1
Aimless, and therefore hopeless—saddest fate2
That man can ever know—with danger rife,3
Black danger to the soul’s eternal state.4
Better to have creation’s meanest thing5
On which to lavish thought and energy,6
Than, bounding wishes in one daily ring,7
Content oneself to eat, and sleep, and be.8
And yet, when darkness brooding o’er my soul,9
Hides the fair mountain tops where I would climb ;10
When from earth’s valley chilly mists uproll,11
And my tried land-marks vanish in the rime ;12
Then, I could almost wish myself a clod,13
Who lived because he lived —some happy fool,14
Like sheep who crops from day to day the sod,15
Or lazy fly upon a stagnant pool,16
So I might only be at rest—at rest17
Nor blind mine eyes with looking at the light,18
Nor, struggling for the highest and the best,19
Fall from the summit of an Alpine height20
To the deep chasm of a starless night !21