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

George Frederick Cameron 1854–87

What Matters It

WHAT reck we of the creeds of men?

We see them—we shall see again.

What reck we of the tempest’s shock?

What reck we where our anchor lock,

On golden marl or mould,

In salt-sea flower or riven rock,

What matter, so it hold?

What matters it the spot we fill

On Earth’s green sod when all is said?

When feet and hands and heart are still

And all our pulses quieted?

When hate or love can kill nor thrill,

When we are done with life and dead?

So we be haunted night nor day

By any sin that we have sinned,

What matter where we dream away

The ages? In the isles of Ind,

In Tybee, Cuba, or Cathay,

Or in some world of winter wind?

It may be I would wish to sleep

Beneath the wan, white stars of June,

And hear the southern breezes creep

Between me and the mellow moon;

But so I do not wake to weep

At any night or any moon,

And so the generous gods allow

Repose and peace from evil dreams,

It matters little where or how

My couch be spread: by moving streams,

Or on some eminent mountain’s brow

Kissed by the morn’s or sunset’s beams.

For we shall rest; the brain that planned,

That thought or wrought or well or ill,

At gaze like Joshua’s moon shall stand,

Not working any work or will,

While eye and lip and heart and hand

Shall all be still—shall all be still!