Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: V. The Home
“If we knew”
May Riley Smith (1842?–1927)
Or, Blessings of To-day

IF we knew the woe and heart-ache
  That await us on the road;
If our lips could taste the wormwood,
  If our backs could feel the load;
Would we waste to-day in wishing        5
  For a time that ne’er may be?
Would we wait in such impatience
  For our ships to come from sea?
If we knew the baby fingers
  Pressed against the window-pane        10
Would be cold and stiff to-morrow,—
  Never trouble us again;
Would the bright eyes of our darling
  Catch the frown upon our brow?
Would the print of baby fingers        15
  Vex us then as they do now?
Ah! those little ice-cold fingers,
  How they point our memories back
To the hasty words and actions
  Strewn along the backward track!        20
How those little hands remind us,
  As in snowy grace they lie,
Not to scatter thorns, but roses,
  For the reaping by and by.
Strange, we never prize the music        25
  Till the sweet-voiced birds have flown;
Strange, that we should slight the violets
  Till the lovely flowers are gone;
Strange, that summer skies and sunshine
  Never seem one half so fair        30
As when winter’s snowy pinions
  Shake the white down in the air.
Lips from which the seal of silence
  None but God can roll away
Never blossomed in such beauty        35
  As adorns the mouth to-day;
And sweet words that freight our memory
  With their beautiful perfume
Come to us in sweeter accents
  Through the portals of the tomb.        40
Let us gather up the sunbeams
  Lying all around our path;
Let us keep the wheat and roses,
  Casting out the thorns and chaff;
Let us find our sweetest comfort        45
  In the blessings of to-day,
With a patient hand removing
  All the briers from the way.

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