Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: VI. Labor and Rest
Labor
Frances Sargent Osgood (1811–1850)
 
PAUSE not to dream of the future before us;
Pause not to weep the wild cares that come o’er us;
Hark! how Creation’s deep, musical chorus,
  Unintermitting, goes up into Heaven!
Never the ocean-wave falters in flowing;        5
Never the little seed stops in its growing;
More and more richly the rose-heart keeps glowing,
  Till from its nourishing stem it is riven.
 
“Labor is worship!”—the robin is singing;
“Labor is worship!”—the wild-bee is ringing;        10
Listen! that eloquent whisper upspringing
  Speaks to thy soul from out Nature’s great heart.
From the dark cloud flows the life-giving shower;
From the rough sod blows the soft-breathing flower;
From the small insect, the rich coral bower;        15
  Only man, in the plan, shrinks from his part.
 
Labor is life! ’T is the still water faileth;
Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth;
Keep the watch wound, for the dark rust assaileth;
  Flowers droop and die in the stillness of noon.        20
Labor is glory!—the flying cloud lightens;
Only the waving wing changes and brightens;
Idle hearts only the dark future frightens:
  Play the sweet keys, wouldst thou keep them in tune!
 
Labor is rest from the sorrows that greet us,        25
Rest from all petty vexations that meet us,
Rest from sin-promptings that ever entreat us,
  Rest from world-sirens that lure us to ill,
Work—and pure slumbers shall wait on thy pillow;
Work—thou shalt ride over Care’s coming billow;        30
Lie not down wearied ’neath Woe’s weeping-willow;
  Work with a stout heart and resolute will!
 
Labor is health! Lo! the husbandman reaping,
How through his veins goes the life-current leaping!
How his strong arm, in its stalwart pride sweeping,        35
  True as a sunbeam the swift sickle guides!
Labor is wealth—in the sea the pearl groweth;
Rich the queen’s robe from the frail cocoon floweth;
From the fine acorn the strong forest bloweth:
  Temple and statue the marble block hides.        40
 
Droop not, though shame, sin, and anguish are round thee!
Bravely fling off the cold chain that hath bound thee!
Look to yon pure Heaven smiling beyond thee;
  Rest not content in thy darkness—a clod!
Work—for some good, be it ever so slowly;        45
Cherish some flower, be it ever so lowly;
Labor!—all labor is noble and holy!
  Let thy great deeds be thy prayer to thy God!
 
 
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