Not till we meet with Love in all his beauty,
    In all his solemn majesty and worth,
Can we translate the meaning of life's duty,
    Which God oft writes in cipher at our birth.

Not till Love comes in all his strength and terror
    Can we read others' hearts; not till then know
A wide compassion for all human error,
    Or sound the quivering depths of mortal woe.

Not till we sail with him o'er stormy oceans,
    Have we seen tempests; hidden in his hand
He holds the keys to all the great emotions;
    Till he unlocks them, none can understand.

Not till we walk with him on lofty mountains
    Can we quite measure heights. And, O sad truth!
When once we drink from his immortal fountains,
    We bid farewell to the light heart of youth.

Thereafter our most perfect day will borrow
    A dimming shadow from some dreaded night;
So great grows joy it merges into sorrow,
    And evermore pain tinctures our delight.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

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