Solitude—Life is inviolate solitude—
Never was truth so apart from the dreaming
As lieth the selfhood inside of the seeming,
Guarded with triple shield out of all quest,
So that the sisterhood nearest and sweetest,
So that the brotherhood kindest, completest,
Is but an exchanging of signals at best.
Desolate—Life is so dreary and desolate—
Women and men in the crowd meet and mingle,
Yet with itself every soul standeth single,
Deep out of sympathy moaning its moan—
Holding and having its brief exultation—
Making its lonesome and low lamentation
Fighting its terrible conflicts alone.
Separate—Life is so sad and so separate—
Under love's ceiling with roses for lining,
Heart mates with heart in a tender entwining
Yet never the sweet cup of love filleth full—
Eye looks in eye with a questioning wonder,
Why are we thus in our meeting asunder?
Why are out pulses so slow and so dull?
Fruitless, fruitionless—Life is fruitionless—
Never heaped up and generous measure—
never the substance of satisfied pleasure—
Never the moment with rapture elate—
But draining the chalice, we long for the chalice,
And live as an alien inside our palace,
Bereft of our title and deeds of estate.
Pitiful—Life is so poor and so pitiful—
Cometh the cloud on the goldenest weather—
Briefly the man and his youth stay together—
Falleth the frost ere the harvest is in,
And conscience descends from the open aggression
To timid and troubled and tearful concession,
And downward and down into parley with sin.
Purposeless—Life is so wayward and purposeless—
Always before us the object is shifting.
Always the means and the method are drifting,
We rue what is done—what is undone deplore—
More striving for high things than things that are holy.
And so we go down to the valley so lowly
Wherein there is work, and device never more.
Vanity, vanity—all would be vanity,
Whether in seeking or getting our pleasures—
Whether in spending or hoarding our treasures—
Whether in indolence, whether in strife—
Whether in feasting and whether in fasting,
But for our faith in the Love ever-lasting—
But for the life that is better than life.
- Alice Cary