Was sorrow ever like to our sorrow?
Oh, God above!
Will our night never change into a morrow
Of joy and love?
A deadly gloom goom is on us waking, sleeping,
Like the darkness at noontide,
That fell upon the pallid mother, weeping
By the Crucified.
Before us die our brothers of starvation:
Around are cries of famine and despair
Where is hope for us, or comfort, or salvation—
If the angels ever hearken, downward bending,
They are weeping, we are sure,
At the litanies of human groans ascending
From the crushed hearts of the poor.
When the human rests in love upon the human,
All grief is light;
But who bends one kind glance to illumine
Our life‐long night?
The air around is ringing with their laughter—
God has only made the rich to smile;
But we—in our rags, and want, and woe—we follow after,
Weeping the while.
And the laughter seems but uttered to deride us.
Will fall the frozen barriers that divide us
From other men?
Will ignorance for ever thus enslave us?
Will misery for ever lay us low?
All are eager with their insults, but to save us,
None, none, we know.
We never knew a childhood’s mirth and gladness,
Nor the proud heart of youth, free and brave;
Oh! a deathlike dream of wretchedness and sadness,
Is life’s weary journey to the grave.
Day by day we lower sink and lower,
Till the Godlike soul within,
Falls crushed, beneath the fearful demon power
Of poverty and sin.
So we toil on, on with fever burning
In heart and brain;
So we toil on, on through bitter scorning,
Want, woe, and pain:
We dare not raise our eyes to the blue heaven,
Or the toil must cease—
We dare not breathe the fresh air God has given
One hour in peace.
We must toil, though the light of life is burning,
Oh, how dim!
We must toil on our sick bed, feebly turning
Our eyes to Him,
Who alone can hear the pale lip faintly saying,
With scarce moved breath
While the paler hands, uplifted, aid the praying—
“Lord, grant us Death!”