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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

George Parsons Lathrop (1851–1898)

The Star to its Light

“GO,” said the star to its light:

“Follow your fathomless flight!

Into the dreams of space

Carry the joy of my face.

Go,” said the star to its light:

“Tell me the tale of your flight.”

As the mandate rang

The heavens through,

Quick the ray sprang,

Unheard it flew,

Sped by the touch of an unseen spur.

It crumbled the dusk of the deep

That folds the worlds in sleep,

And shot through night with noiseless stir.

Then came the day;

And all that swift array

Of diamond-sparkles died.

And lo! the far star cried,

“My light has lost its way!”

Ages on ages passed:

The light returned at last.

“What have you seen,

What have you heard—

O ray serene,

O flame-winged bird,

I loosed on endless air?

Why do you look so faint and white?”

Said the star to its light.

“O star,” said the tremulous ray,

“Grief and struggle I found;

Horror impeded my way.

Many a star and sun

I passed and touched on my round.

Many a life undone

I lit with a tender gleam;

I shone in the lover’s eyes,

And soothed the maiden’s dream.

But alas for the stifling mist of lies!

Alas, for the wrath of the battle-field

Where my glance was mixed with blood!

And woe for the hearts by hate congealed,

And the crime that rolls like a flood!

Too vast is the world for me,—

Too vast for the sparkling dew

Of a force like yours to renew.

Hopeless the world’s immensity!

The suns go on without end;

The universe holds no friend:

And so I come back to you.”

“Go,” said the star to its light:

“You have not told me aright.

This you have taught: I am one

In a million of million others—

Stars, or planets, or men;

And all of these are my brothers.

Carry that message, and then

My guerdon of praise you have won!

Say that I serve in my place;

Say I will hide my own face

Ere the sorrows of others I shun.

So, then, my trust you’ll requite.

Go!”—said the star to its light.