Home  »  library  »  Song  »  William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796–1877)

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

William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796–1877)

“I Would not Live Alway”

(Job vii. 16)

I WOULD not live alway: I ask not to stay,

Where storm after storm rises dark o’er the way;

Where, seeking for rest, I but hover around,

Like the patriarch’s bird, and no resting is found;

Where Hope, when she paints her gay bow in the air,

Leaves her brilliance to fade in the night of despair,

And Joy’s fleeting angel ne’er sheds a glad ray

Save the gloom of the plumage that bears him away.

I would not live alway—thus fettered by sin,

Temptation without, and corruption within;

In a moment of strength if I sever the chain,

Scarce the victory’s 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 alway: no, welcome the tomb;

Immortality’s lamp burns there bright ’mid the gloom.

There too is the pillow where Christ bowed his head—

Oh, soft be my slumbers on that holy bed!

And then the glad morn 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 alway, 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 anthems of rapture 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 on my ear.

And see, soft unfolding, those portals of gold;

The King all arrayed in his beauty behold!

Oh, give me—oh, give me the wings of a dove!

Let me hasten my flight to those mansions above;

Ay, ’tis now that my soul on swift pinions would soar,

And in ecstasy bid earth adieu evermore.