Alexander Anderson

(1845-1909 / Scotland)

The Worship of Sorrow

He who, in his young sweet lifetime,
When his heart with its visions was rife,
Hath felt not the worship of sorrow
Lapping round the shores of that life:

Goes out to the toil of his fellows
With no share in their hopes or their fears;
And can only stand at a distance,
And see them weep their tears.

Nor hath he found out in the night-time,
When his heart and himself were alone,
That each wondrous chord in their bosom
Was an unseen link to his own,

And that every yearning within them,
The manifold aim and desire,
Came along that link, as the message
Is spoken in shocks through the wire.

It was thus in that past existence,
With its purposeless unrest,
When the infinite nature of Sorrow
Was clasping me breast to breast.

And I stood in the dim, hush'd twilight,
While the rising tears made me blind,
As within, like a rain-quicken'd streamlet,
Rose the hopes and fears of my kind.

I am now in my bearded manhood,
And the finer perceptions then
Have roughen'd and dull'd in their feelings,
Since I stood with my shoulder to men.

But still at stray times, when the labour
And fret of the day is o'er,
That early worship comes backward,
As a wave returns to the shore.

It comes when I stand in the silence
On the bridge at the head of the town,
With the streamlet running beneath me,
And the stars above looking down.

But most when I go to the city,
And see upon either side
The restless hurry of faces
That come and go like the tide.

For I know that each one in his bosom,
Amid the toil and the din,
Has a goal set out in the future
Which he braces himself to win.

And I also know, ere the struggle
And the life-long conflict be o'er,
He must enter this temple of Sorrow,
And worship, weary and sore.

For this mystical life around us,
Like the earth, with its day and night,
Is a hope and a fear and a sorrow,
Till we enter the purer light.

Submitted: Friday, March 21, 2014

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