Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
De Profundis
By Henry Charles Lea (1825–1909)
 
WE are born, we know not why,
  We toil, through want and care;
Worn out, at last we die,
  And go, we know not where.
 
We suffer, we inflict,        5
  Unknowing what we do:
We gain, to find us tricked;
  We lose, to idly rue.
 
If the soul, impatient, aims
  At something higher, better,        10
The flesh asserts its claims,
  And will not loose its fetter.
 
Nor Hindu sage, nor Greek
  Can aid our impotence:
The highest goal they seek        15
  Is dumb indifference.
 
The Christian’s nobler plan
  But palliates the ill:
All man can do for man
  Leaves Earth in misery still.        20
 
The riddle who can read?
  Who guess the reason why?
We know but this, indeed,
  We are born, we grieve, we die!
 
 
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