Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

Is Life Worth Living? - Poem by Alfred Austin

Is life worth living? Yes, so long
As Spring revives the year,
And hails us with the cuckoo's song,
To show that she is here;
So long as May of April takes,
In smiles and tears, farewell,
And windflowers dapple all the brakes,
And primroses the dell;
While children in the woodlands yet
Adorn their little laps
With ladysmock and violet,
And daisy-chain their caps;
While over orchard daffodils
Cloud-shadows float and fleet,
And ousel pipes and laverock trills,
And young lambs buck and bleat;
So long as that which bursts the bud
And swells and tunes the rill,
Makes springtime in the maiden's blood,
Life is worth living still.

Life not worth living! Come with me,
Now that, through vanishing veil,
Shimmers the dew on lawn and lea,
And milk foams in the pail;
Now that June's sweltering sunlight bathes
With sweat the striplings lithe,
As fall the long straight scented swathes
Over the crescent scythe;
Now that the throstle never stops
His self-sufficing strain,
And woodbine-trails festoon the copse,
And eglantine the lane;
Now rustic labour seems as sweet
As leisure, and blithe herds
Wend homeward with unweary feet,
Carolling like the birds;
Now all, except the lover's vow,
And nightingale, is still;
Here, in the twilight hour, allow,
Life is worth living still.

When Summer, lingering half-forlorn,
On Autumn loves to lean,
And fields of slowly yellowing corn
Are girt by woods still green;
When hazel-nuts wax brown and plump,
And apples rosy-red,
And the owlet hoots from hollow stump,
And the dormouse makes its bed;
When crammed are all the granary floors,
And the Hunter's moon is bright,
And life again is sweet indoors,
And logs again alight;
Aye, even when the houseless wind
Waileth through cleft and chink,
And in the twilight maids grow kind,
And jugs are filled and clink;
When children clasp their hands and pray
``Be done Thy heavenly will!''
Who doth not lift his voice, and say,
``Life is worth living still''?

Is life worth living? Yes, so long
As there is wrong to right,
Wail of the weak against the strong,
Or tyranny to fight;
Long as there lingers gloom to chase,
Or streaming tear to dry,
One kindred woe, one sorrowing face
That smiles as we draw nigh:
Long as at tale of anguish swells
The heart, and lids grow wet,
And at the sound of Christmas bells
We pardon and forget;
So long as Faith with Freedom reigns,
And loyal Hope survives,
And gracious Charity remains
To leaven lowly lives;
While there in one untrodden tract
For Intellect or Will,
And men are free to think and act
Life is worth living still.

Not care to live while English homes
Nestle in English trees,
And England's Trident-Sceptre roams
Her territorial seas!
Not live while English songs are sung
Wherever blows the wind,
And England's laws and England's tongue
Enfranchise half mankind!
So long as in Pacific main,
Or on Atlantic strand,
Our kin transmit the parent strain,
And love the Mother-Land;
So long as in this ocean Realm,
Victoria and her Line
Retain the heritage of the helm,
By loyalty divine;
So long as flashes English steel,
And English trumpets shrill,
He is dead already who doth not feel
Life is worth living still.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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