I Would Not Live Always

                         I would not live always; I ask not to stay,
                         Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way;
                         Where, seeking for peace, we but hover around
                         Like the patriarch's bird, and no resting is found;
                         Where hope, when she paints her gay bow on the air,
                         Leaves its brilliance to fade in the night of despair,
                         And joy's fleeting angel ne'er sheds a glad ray,
                         Save the gleam of the plumage that bears him away.

                         I would not live always, thus fettered by sin,
                         Temptation without, and corruption within;
                         In a moment of strength, if I sever the chain,
                         Scarce the victory is mine, ere I'm captive again.
                         E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears,
                         And my cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears:
                         The festival trump calls for jubilant songs,
                         But my spirit her own Miserere prolongs.

                         I would not live always; no, welcome the tomb;
                         Immortality's lamp burns there bright 'mid the gloom;
                         There, too, is the pillow, where Christ bowed his head;
                         O soft are the slumbers on that holy bed!
                         And then the glad dawn soon to follow that night,
                         When the sunrise of glory shall beam on my sight,
                         When the full matin song, as the sleepers arise
                         To shout in the morning, shall peal through the skies.

                         Who, who would live always, away from his God,
                         Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode,
                         Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains,
                         And the noontide of glory eternally reigns;
                         Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet,
                         Their Savior and brethren transported to greet,
                         While the songs of salvation unceasingly roll,
                         And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul?

                         That heavenly music! what is it I hear?
                         The notes of the harpers ring sweet in the air:
                         And see, soft unfolding those portals of gold;
                         The King all arrayed in his beauty behold!
                         O give me, O give me the wings of a dove!
                         Let me hasten my flight to those mansions above;
                         Ay, t' is now that my soul on swift pinions would soar,
                         And in ecstasy bid earth adieu evermore.

-- William Augustus Muhlenberg





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