Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Lizzie M. Little


O LIFE! that mystery that no man knows,

And all men ask: the Arab from his sands,

The Cæsar’s self, lifting imperial hands,

And the lone dweller where the lotus blows;

O’er trackless tropics, and o’er silent snows,

She dumbly broods, that Sphinx of all the lands;

And if she answers, no man understands,

And no cry breaks the blank of her repose.

But a new form rose once upon my pain,

With grave, sad lips, but in the eyes a smile

Of deepest meaning dawning sweet and slow,

Lighting to service, and no more in vain

I ask of Life, “What art thou?”—as erewhile—

For since Love holds my hand I seem to know!