Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
VI. Consolation
De Profundis
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
THE FACE which, duly as the sun,
Rose up for me with life begun,
To mark all bright hours of the day
With daily love, is dimmed away—
    And yet my days go on, go on.        5
 
The tongue which, like a stream, could run
Smooth music from the roughest stone,
And every morning with “Good day”
Make each day good, is hushed away—
    And yet my days go on, go on.        10
 
The heart which, like a staff, was one
For mine to lean and rest upon,
The strongest on the longest day,
With steadfast love is caught away—
    And yet my days go on, go on.        15
 
The world goes whispering to its own,
“This anguish pierces to the bone.”
And tender friends go sighing round,
“What love can ever cure this wound?”
    My days go on, my days go on.        20
 
The past rolls forward on the sun
And makes all night. O dreams begun,
Not to be ended! Ended bliss!
And life, that will not end in this!
    My days go on, my days go on.        25
 
Breath freezes on my lips to moan:
As one alone, once not alone,
I sit and knock at Nature’s door,
Heart-bare, heart-hungry, very poor,
    Whose desolated days go on.        30
 
I knock and cry—Undone, undone!
Is there no help, no comfort—none?
No gleaning in the wide wheat-plains
Where others drive their loaded wains?
    My vacant days go on, go on.        35
 
This Nature, though the snows be down,
Thinks kindly of the bird of June.
The little red hip on the tree
Is ripe for such. What is for me,
    Whose days so winterly go on?        40
 
No bird am I to sing in June,
And dare not ask an equal boon.
Good nests and berries red are Nature’s
To give away to better creatures—
    And yet my days go on, go on.        45
 
I ask less kindness to be done—
Only to loose these pilgrim-shoon
(Too early worn and grimed) with sweet
Cool deathly touch to these tired feet,
    Till days go out which now go on.        50
 
Only to lift the turf unmown
From off the earth where it has grown,
Some cubit-space, and say, “Behold,
Creep in, poor Heart, beneath that fold,
    Forgetting how the days go on.”        55
 
A Voice reproves me thereupon,
More sweet than Nature’s, when the drone
Of bees is sweetest, and more deep
Than when the rivers overleap
    The shuddering pines, and thunder on.        60
 
God’s Voice, not Nature’s—night and noon
He sits upon the great white throne,
And listens for the creature’s praise.
What babble we of days and days?
    The Dayspring he, whose days go on!        65
 
He reigns above, he reigns alone:
Systems burn out and leave his throne:
Fair mists of seraphs melt and fall
Around him, changeless amid all—
    Ancient of days, whose days go on!        70
 
He reigns below, he reigns alone—
And having life in love forgone
Beneath the crown of sovran thorns,
He reigns the jealous God. Who mourns
    Or rules with HIM, while days go on?        75
 
By anguish which made pale the sun,
I hear him charge his saints that none
Among the creatures anywhere
Blaspheme against him with despair,
    However darkly days go on.        80
 
Take from my head the thorn-wreath brown:
No mortal grief deserves that crown.
O supreme Love, chief misery,
The sharp regalia are for Thee,
    Whose days eternally go on!        85
 
For us,… whatever ’s undergone,
Thou knowest, willest what is done.
Grief may be joy misunderstood:
Only the Good discerns the good.
    I trust Thee while my days go on.        90
 
Whatever ’s lost, it first was won!
We will not struggle nor impugn.
Perhaps the cup was broken here
That Heaven’s new wine might show more clear.
    I praise Thee while my days go on.        95
 
I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on!
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
    I thank thee while my days go on!        100
 
And, having in thy life-depth thrown
Being and suffering (which are one),
As a child drops some pebble small
Down some deep well, and hears it fall
    Smiling—so I! THY DAYS GO ON!        105
 
 
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