Gateway to the Classics: Display Item
James Russell Lowell


Of all the myriad moods of mind

That through the soul come thronging,

Which one was e'er so dear, so kind,

So beautiful as Longing?

The thing we long for, that we are

For one transcendent moment

Before the Present poor and bare

Can make its sneering comment.

Still, through our paltry stir and strife,

Glows down the wished Ideal,

And Longing molds in clay what Life

Carves in the marble Real;

To let the new life in, we know,

Desire must ope the portal;

Perhaps the longing to be so

Helps make the soul immortal.

Longing is God's fresh heavenward will

With our poor earthward striving;

We quench it that we may be still

Content with merely living:

But, would we learn that heart's full scope

Which we are hourly wronging,

Our lives must climb from hope to hope

And realize our longing.

Ah! let us hope that to our praise

Good God not only reckons

The moments when we tread His ways,

But when the spirit beckons,—

That some slight good is also wrought

Beyond self-satisfaction,

When we are simply good in thought,

Howe'er we fail in action.