We exist: of that no sane person does doubt,
Although there may pseudophilosophers be,
Who claim this essence is not. They are liars.
Commune not with such men. 'Tis real enough.
Our senses we may trust, else had we none
To be born, procreate, and, last, to die,
Successive generations destin'd thus
Perpetually — Is that all that life is?
Birth, intercourse, and death? Birth, love, and death?
Love, hate, despair, faith, anguish, trust, fear, hope,
Guilt, innocence, experience; baby, toddler,
Child, adolescent, adult young, then old,
And, when he calls, his preordainèd hour,
Whether we will or no, too soon, too late,
Wishing to live another year, in vain,
The time appointed from ere worlds were made,
The doom awaits us all, few fear him not:
Perhaps none fear him not; there is no shame
In fear of whom 'tis human but to fear,
Tho' he comes but once — his name, we know, is Death:
And it shall be as if thou hadst never been.
To live only to die? It cannot be —
Perhaps it can: 'life _has_ no point, ' they say —
'Tis true, maybe, we ne'er will understand it,
But that conclusion seems to me to be
Like giving up in despair. We must go on
Seeking what we desire, whether that means
That we must therefore suffer, humankind!
Or never come to yonder wicker gate,
We never must give up. Courage and hope
And wisdom and forethought and strength of will
And mind and character, and fortitude
Shall benefit us, let come what come may:
Nothing will come of naught; unreap'd, unsown;
Brave what perils may come; they may be great;
They may be dire; it may be that thou cross
Bridges thou wishest that thou hadst not cross'd;
Yet they must be travers'd. Suffer thou shalt
Things that thou wouldst prefer not to have borne;
But thou wast born of woman, human thou,
And ne'er to have suffered is to be inhuman,
Or dead, or undead, or else yet unborn;
'Tis true that sweet is pleasure after pain;
But miserabler is woe soon after joy.
There is but little pleasure in memory
Of joy that is past; is that pleasure, or pain?
Insanely man hopes the to-come to bring
The former, when ——— insanely did I say?
Nay, rationally, for grief and joy are both
Ephemeral, in the usual course of things.
But languor long may last, more so than joy?
Terrestrially I think; celestial, no;
Small consolation to us on earth below.
What joy is there in heaven? Joy infinite,
Love infinite, infinite bliss and peace;
How can this be? I do not understand:
But it is not my province; I am not God,
I am but a man, frail man, lords of the earth,
That purposeless each other do destroy!
Art thou, then, born to suffer? Yea and nay,
But still I do not understand how that
Can be the only purpose of our being.
It makes no sense to me, who cannot see
How that could be, seeing that God is good.
God is not evil; he gave men free will,
And if man will his own kind will to kill,
That is man's will, not God's; God interferes not,
Knowing that soon or late we all must die,
And knowing a great many things besides
That thou know'st not. This is no explanation
For evils that the earth herself commits
That has no mind or will to call her own,
Such as her quaking, horrified, at man,
Whose own evil is greater, who deserves
To die ten thousand times in torture fell,
For wickedness that he is guilty of.
But if to suffer is why we are here,
We may as well go kill ourselves: 'tis not.
Neither do we (like Epicurus old)
Claim we are here to enjoy ourselves; no truer
Is that hypothesis than its opposite.
'Give thanks to God! ' men say, 'That's why we're here.'
Yes, but I am not satisfied with this;
It is not a sufficient explanation.
If God made man himself to glorify,
For that purpose alone, it seems to me
(Who may be wrong, but do not think I am,
Like Plato's troglodytes) that God is vain.
Which he is not: for God is perfect love,
Essence supreme, creator of all things,
Of all things Lord, both merciful and just.
Thou dost not know wherefore thou art create;
But thou sure know'st that God is the most great,
Most good, most perfect Being; while we suppose
Empty surmises, he all answers knows.