William Dean Howells

From Generation to Generation

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INNOCENT spirits, bright, immaculate ghosts!
Why throng your heavenly hosts,
As eager for their birth
In this sad home of death, this sorrow-haunted earth?

Beware! Beware! Content you where you are,
And shun this evil star
Where we who are doomed to die,
Have our brief being and pass, we know not where or why.

We have not to consent or to refuse;
It is not ours to choose:
We come because we must,
We know not by what law, if unjust or if just.

The doom is on us, as it is on you,
That nothing can undo;
And all in vain you warn:
As your fate is to die, our fate is to be born.

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William Dean Howells