George Johnston

Here and Hereafter

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Sad echoes of unequal strife,
Go sighing through the aftermath,
That skirts the dark uncertain path,
That leads me to the close of life;--
And years ago dark shadows fell
Athwart the amber sky of youth,
Blighting the bloom of hope and truth,
That erst had blossom'd all too well.

The world's great heart beats wild and high,
With wealth of bliss and love untold--
While I with unblanch'd eye behold
Its fading phantoms wane and die.
Without a sigh I mark their flight;
A stranger to the world unknown,
Amid its mazes all alone,
I wander in Egyptian night.

I worship not at its cold shrine,
Nor fear the terror of its frown,
It cannot chain my spirit down,
The soaring of my soul confine.
For ah! we parted at the tomb,
Where buried hopes of youthful years,
Embalm'd in sorrow's bitter tears,
Lie mouldering within the gloom.

Ah! few and dim the lights that gleam
Around me in life's dismal maze,
Scarce seen amid the somber haze
That shrouds me in life's dismal dream.
I never drank the wine of bliss,
Made sweeter by the wealth of joy;
My cup is mix'd with griefs alloy,
And I have tasted only this.

Life's problem oft to solve, I try,
And hope I have not lived in vain,
And borne this galling fetter chain
Through all its years without a sigh.
Some tears, perhaps, I may have dried--
My own in sympathy I shed
O'er joys and hopes of others dead,
By sorrow's legions crucified.

Earthly joys, alas! are fleeting,
Shadowy and evanescent,
Scarce full orb'd before the crescent
Tells us of their final setting.
And soon our starry dreams are wreck'd,
And all our earthly hopes sublime
Lie stranded on the shores of Time,
In drapery of woe bedeck'd,

Yet I know 'tis vain repining;--
Though to-day the sky with sorrow
May be overcast, to-morrow
All the love-lights may be shining,
Made brighter by the long eclipse;
And shadows of earth's dreary night,
That shrouded from my spirit's sight,
Life's glorious Apocalypse.

To tread this weary round of Toil
Is not the whole of mortal life;--
There is an unseen inner strife,
Where battling for the victor's spoil,
The wrong contendeth with the right,--
Passion and pride with gentleness
Pity with sorrow and distress--
And faith with sin's deep with'ring blight.

And truth my spirit oft beguiles,
While her dear face is wreath'd in smiles,
By whisp'ring sweetly unto me;
As thou hast measured, it shall be
In justice meted out to thee,
When thou hast reached the blissful isles
Beyond the misty veil of Time;
Thou'lt find a rest from earthly wars,
And healing for thy earthly scars,
Within that sweet supernal clime.

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George Johnston