The Lover’s Liturgy
by Jack London (1876-1916)
Ah! my brothers, we are mortals,
Atoms on Time’s ebb and flow,
Soon we pass the dreary portals,
Soon to dreamless sleep we go;
We are sparkles, evanescent,
Doomed to perish in the hour,
And our time is in the present,
Ours but a moment’s power.
Love, my brothers, is the essence,
In the scheme of life and light;
Birth and death are fearful lessons –
Out of darkness into night, –
Thus we flash, a moment’s living,
’Twixt the silent walls of death,
Flashing for a moment, giving
Song but for a moment’s breath.
Then that moment do not sadden,
Prayers, nor beads, nor aves tell;
Then that moment do not madden
With mad dreams of heaven or hell;
Trust that he who cast you idly,
Asked of you nor aye nor nay,
Flung you idly, wildly, widely,
For his whim will not ask pay.
For a whim of bubble-blowing,
Perhaps to while an empty day,
For a whim of stubble-sowing,
For a game at godlike play,
Shall the bubbles in the drifting,
Pay the whim of Him who played?
Shall the seedlets in the shifting,
Of the sifter be afraid?
Shall the playthings of a master,
Falling idly from his hand,
Meet meritless disaster,
Meet with unearned reprimand?
Shall the children of fancy,
Born a certain race to run,
By an absurd necromancy,
Penance pay when it is done?
O, my brothers, go not questing
For some mystic grail in vain—
Why should ye a Master’s jesting,
Strive to fathom or make plain?
Wake ye from your fevered dreaming,
Groping for forbidden toys,
All about you life is teeming,
Singing of ungarnered joys.
Surely He who somewhere hovers,
’Yond the reach of mortal ken,
Gazing down on love and lovers,
Cannot blame the sons of men;
Cannot blame his bubbles bursting,
Heart to heart and lips to lips;
Cannot blame his seedlets thirsting
For the dew of honeyed lips.
Then again the golden chalice,
Once again a lingering draught;
Surely He will bear no malice
For the pledge divinely quaffed.
Thus, with sweet and fond caresses,
Hearts that beat with mutual bliss,
He who loves is he who blesses,
Sealing heaven with a kiss.