Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
By Arthur Symons (1865–1945)
EACH, in himself, his hour to be and cease
  Endures alone, but who of men shall dare,
  Sole with himself, his single burden bear,
All the long day until the night’s release?
Yet ere night falls, and the last shadows close,        5
  This labour of himself is each man’s lot;
  All he has gain’d of earth shall be forgot,
Himself he leaves behind him when he goes.
If he has any valiancy within,
  If he has made his life his very own,        10
  If he has loved or labour’d, and has known
A strenuous virtue, or a strenuous sin;
Then, being dead, his life was not all vain,
  For he has saved what most desire to lose,
  And he has chosen what the few must choose,        15
Since life, once lived, shall not return again.
For of our time we lose so large a part
  In serious trifles, and so oft let slip
  The wine of every moment, at the lip
Its moment, and the moment of the heart.        20
We are awake so little on the earth,
  And we shall sleep so long, and rise so late,
  If there is any knocking at that gate
Which is the gate of death, the gate of birth.

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