"Poetry for the People": Reading Garveyism through Poetry

The Lesson, by H. Elizabeth Dowden

I have learned a bitter lesson,
Yet sweet it seems to me,
That joy is of deep sorrow born,
And smiles of misery;
That clouds but hide the sunshine--
We know ‘tis always there,
Though we sometimes doubt, and say so,
When trials are hard to bear.
I’ve learned to know the sun’s warmth,
And love the smallest rays;
For, if I trust, the sunshine
Will brighten darkest days--
And tears, like sudden showers,
Predict a rainbow night;
So I shed them and dry them,
Then smile up at the sky.
Tomorrow’s storm may dampen,
But I shall not complain,
For soon will come the sunshine
To dry me off again--
Today may be your dark day,
But the clouds will surely break,
And if you’re buoyant hearted,
You’ll find they’re not opaque.
There’s always the silver lining
Brightly gleaming through,
And if you look in earnest
‘Twill sparkle and gleam for you.
Forget yourself for a moment,
And look on another’s woes;
Most likely he has real sorrow--
Yours be imagined--who knows?
Just smile, though your heart be aching;
You’ll find your cares will fade.
Learn to find strength in troubles,
And sin will be dismayed.
The longer you nurse disappointment,
The longer ‘twill keep you sad,
And as soon as you look at life rightly,
You’ll find there’s good in all bad.
Life is full of pitfalls,
We cannot pass them by;
We’ll find them sooner or later,
No matter which path we try.
Each one has a separate journey,
Though the end must be the same,
Nor can anyone travel for us
Or take our joys or shame.
No matter how joyous and carefree
The path you choose may be,
Remember your share of sorrow
Is near, though you cannot see.
We might as well start out smiling,
And determined to win the prize.
It’s bless unalloyed and pleasure
At the end for him who tries.

From the October 22, 1921 issue.

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