By Ardelia Cotton Barton
How strangely familiar all that I see,
The swift-running brook, the wide-spreading tree;
The songs of the birds which now I adore
I feel I have heard in ages before.
Canst be that I’ve lived on earth in the past?
With thought so stupendous stand I aghast.
These scenes are not new, nor either my life,
With all of its struggles, all of its strife.
If from the dim past I’ve come to this earth–
And brought nothing new, what use is rebirth?
Past memories haunt me, few of them sweet,
As walking this earth again I them meet.
If lived I in past, had life before this–
A failure it was, with little of bliss.
And shall I e’er travel, ever and on,
In ages to come, as in ages long gone?
O spare me, my God! I cannot this bear–
The thought is appealing! I will not e’en dare
To hold this dark dream; it burdens my soul
To think that this earth shall again be my goal.
What good was past life if nothing was wrought?
Grand lessons in past should I have been taught.
The future what boots it, living e’er on,
If past hath not helped me, battles been won.
If future hath nothing better than past,
I’m ready for death; aside I will cast
This strong endless chain which never will break,
So binding its links, no new ones we make.
E’er coming and going–never at rest–
E’er struggling for life–is this our behest?
E’er fighting hard battles, ever at war–
Conditions so hard–is this a just law?
Forever and aye no rest for my soul,
Struggling e’er on, ne’er reaching my goal.
I cannot believe this, though oft in my sleep,
For seeming past griefs, I bitterly weep.
If dreary grim phantom ever my past–
A will-o’-the-wisp which o’er me was cast–
For future bright life I never can hope;
With problem so drear I wish not to cope.
I wish to go on, retrace ne’er my steps.
E’er rising, progressing out of the depths,
The stars I will soar to, high is my goal;
E’er onward for aye the race of my soul.
I ask not to tarry, nor rest by the way;
I’m working for soul-growth ever and aye.
At last I will gain my spirit’s fond dream;
I soar e’en to heaven–of it catch a gleam.
And God I will reach–His kingdom my home And when I shall gain the apex, His dome,
I’ll come not to earth. Absorbed in His love,
Contented I’ll be; and happy above.