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Good Words 1860
One Question, Many Answers


I.

"What wouldst thou be?"
The question hath waken'd wild thoughts in me,
And a thousand responses, like ghosts from their graves,
Arise from my soul's unexplored deep caves,
The echoes of every varying mood
Of a wayward spirit all unsubdued:
But the voices which thrill through my inmost breast,
They tell me of gladness, but not of rest.
What wouldst thou be?
'Tis well that the answer is not for me.

II.

"What wouldst thou be?"
An eagle soaring rejoicingly.
One who may rise on the lightning's wing,
Till our wide, wide world seem a tiny thing;
Who may stand on the confines of boundless space,
And the giant form of the universe trace,
While its full, grand harmonies swell around,
And grasp it all with a mind profound.
Such would I be, Only stay'd by infinity,

III.

"What wouldst thou be?"
A bright incarnation of melody.
One whose soul is a fairy lute,
Waking such tones as bid all be mute,
Breathing such notes as may silence woe,
Pouring such strains as make joy o'erflow,
Speaking in music the heart's deep emotion,
Soothing and sweet as the shell of the ocean.
Such would I be,
Like a fountain of music, all pure and free.

IV.

"What wouldst thou be?"
A living blossom of poesy.
Evoking images rare and bright
From a soul of beauty, and joy, and light;
Clothing them all in such radiant sheen,
That they seem as fair as an angel's dream;
Royally claiming as mine alone
The treasures of beauty the world doth own.
Such would I beó
My childhood's dream in reality!

V.

"What wouldst thou be?"
A wondrous magnet to all I see.
A spirit whose power may touch and bind
With unconscious influence every mind;
Whose presence brings, like some fabled wand,
The love which a monarch may not command;
As the spring awakens from cold repose
The bloomless briar, the sweet wild rose.
Such would I be,
With the love of all to encircle me!

VI.

"What wouldst thou be?"
A wavelet just rising from life's wide sea.
I would I were once again a child,
Like a laughing flow'ret on mountains wild;
In the fairy realms of fancy dwelling,
The golden moments for sunbeams selling;
Ever counting on bright to-morrows,
And knowing nought of unspoken sorrows.
Such would I be,
A sparkling cascade of untiring glee.

VII.

"What wouldst thou be?"
A blessing to each one surrounding me,
A chalice of dew to the weary heart,
A sunbeam of joy bidding sorrow depart,
To the storm-toss'd vessel a beacon light,
A nightingale song in the darkest night,
A beckoning hand to a far-off goal,
An angel of love to each friendless soul.
Such would I be.
Oh that such happiness were for me!

VIII.

"What wouldst thou be?"
With these alone were no rest for me.
I would be my Saviour's loving child,
With a heart set free from its passions wild,
Rejoicing in Him and His own sweet ways;
An echo of heaven's unceasing praise,
A mirror here of His light and love,
And a polish'd gem in His crown above.
Such would I be,
Thine, O Saviour, and one with Thee!


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