I know not whence I came,
I know not whither I go
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk,
Another truth shines plain.
It is in my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.
I know that the earth exists,
It is none of my business why.
I cannot find out what it's all about,
I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
I am here for a little space.
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
To brighten and better the place.
The trouble, I think, with us all
Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
How easily right all wrong.
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
To help his fellows along.
Cease wondering why you came--
Stop looking for faults and flaws.
Rise up to day in your pride and say,
"I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world
There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me or I would not be,
I am here to strengthen the plan."
Custer and other poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Ill. (1896)
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