Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VII. Death: Immortality: Heaven
Philip James Bailey (1816–1902)
From “Festus,” Scene: “A Country Town”

  FESTUS.—                Oh! there is
A life to come, or all ’s a dream.
  LUCIFER.—                    And all
May be a dream. Thou seest in thine, men, deeds,
Clear, moving, full of speech and order; then
Why may not all this world be but a dream        5
Of God’s? Fear not! Some morning God may waken.
  FESTUS.—I would it were. This life ’s a mystery.
The value of a thought cannot be told;
But it is clearly worth a thousand lives
Like many men’s. And yet men love to live        10
As if mere life were worth their living for.
What but perdition will it be to most?
Life ’s more than breath and the quick round of blood;
It is a great spirit and a busy heart.
The coward and the small in soul scarce do live.        15
One generous feeling—one great thought—one deed
Of good, ere night, would make life longer seem
Than if each year might number a thousand days,
Spent as is this by nations of mankind.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;        20
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most—feels the noblest—acts the best.
Life ’s but a means unto an end—that end
Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God.        25

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