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.
 
II. Parting and Absence
Absence
Frances Anne Kemble (1809–1893)
 
WHAT shall I do with all the days and hours
  That must be counted ere I see thy face?
How shall I charm the interval that lowers
  Between this time and that sweet time of grace?
 
Shall I in slumber steep each weary sense,        5
  Weary with longing?—shall I flee away
Into past days, and with some fond pretence
  Cheat myself to forget the present day?
 
Shall love for thee lay on my soul the sin
  Of casting from me God’s great gift of time?        10
Shall I, these mists of memory locked within,
  Leave and forget life’s purposes sublime?
 
O, how or by what means may I contrive
  To bring the hour that brings thee back more near?
How may I teach my drooping hope to live        15
  Until that blessèd time, and thou art here?
 
I ’ll tell thee; for thy sake I will lay hold
  Of all good aims, and consecrate to thee,
In worthy deeds, each moment that is told
  While thou, belovèd one! art far from me.        20
 
For thee I will arouse my thoughts to try
  All heavenward flights, all high and holy strains;
For thy dear sake I will walk patiently
  Through these long hours, nor call their minutes pains.
 
I will this dreary blank of absence make        25
  A noble task-time; and will therein strive
To follow excellence, and to o’ertake
  More good than I have won since yet I live.
 
So may this doomèd time build up in me
  A thousand graces, which shall thus be thine;        30
So may my love and longing hallowed be,
  And thy dear thought an influence divine.
 
 
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