Elizabeth Barrett Browning




Vanities

'From fading things, fond men, lift your desire'
                                        Drummond
Could ye be very blest in hearkening Youth's often danced-to melodies — Hearing it piped, the midnight darkening Doth come to show the starry skies, — To freshen garden-flowers, the rain? — It is in vain, it is in vain! Could ye be very blest in urging A captive nation's strength to thunder Out into foam, and with its surging The Xerxean fetters break asunder? The storm is cruel as the chain! — It is in vain, it is in vain! Could ye be very blest in paling Your brows with studious nights and days, When like your lamps your life is failing, And sighs, not breath, are wrought from praise? Your tombs, not ye, that praise retain — It is in vain, it is in vain! Yea! but ye could be very blest, If some ye nearest love were nearest! Must they not love when lovèd best? Must ye not happiest love when dearest? Alas! how hard to feel again, — It is in vain, it is in vain! For those ye love are not unsighing — They are unchanging least of all: And ye the loved — ah! no denying, Will leave your lips beneath the pall, When passioned ones have o'er it sain "It is in vain, it is in vain!" spoken = Genevieve Perdue