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The Hours Of Life
by [?]

TWILIGHT.–The dewy morning of childhood has passed, and the noon of youth has gone, and the gloom of twilight is gathering over my spirit. Alas! alas! how my heart sinks in a wan despair! One by one my hopes have died out, have faded like the gleams of sunshine that have just vanished beneath the grove of trees. Hopes! Ah, such warm, bright, beautiful, loving hopes! But, methinks, than lived upon the earth, unlike the gleaming rays of sunshine that are fed from heaven. The earth’s darkness dims not their glory; pure and radiant they shine behind the black shadow. But human hopes are earth-born; they spring from the earth, like the flitting light of night, and lead us into bogs and quagmires.

Yet it is beautiful to realize that we have had hopes; they are the past light of the soul, and their glow yet lingers in this gloomy twilight, reminding one that there has been a sunny day, and memories of things pleasant and joyous mingle with the present loneliness and cheerless desolation.

Words, that excited hopes, that awoke thrilling emotions, linger on the listening ear. But, ah! the heart grows very sad, when the ear listens in vain, and the yearning, unsatisfied spirit realizes that the words, so loved, so fondly dwelt upon, were but words, empty, vain words. But, to have believed them, was a fleeting blindness. They served for food to the yearning heart, when they were given, and shall the traveller through the desolate wilderness look back with scorn upon the bread and water that once satisfied his hunger and thirst, even though it is now withheld? No–let him be thankful for the past; otherwise, the keen biting hunger, the thirsty anguish of the soul, will have a bitterness and a gall in it, that will corrode his whole being. Ah! what is this being? if one could but understand one’s own existence, what a relief it would be; but to understand nothing–alas!

Life is a weary burden. I feel weighed down with it, and I do not know what is in the pack that bows me so wearily to the earth. I do know that in it are agonized feelings, bitter disappointments, and a desolation of the heart. But there is a something else in it; for, now and then, come vague, vast perceptions of a dim future; but I shut my eyes. I cannot look beyond the earth. I could have been satisfied here with a very little; a little of human love would have made me so happy. Yes, I would never have dreamed of an unknown heaven. Heaven! What is heaven? I remember when I was a little child, lying on my bed in the early morning twilight (ah! that was a twilight, unlike this, which is sinking into a black night, for that was ushering in the beautiful golden day), but it was twilight when I looked through the uncurtained window; and through the intertwining branches of a noble tree I saw the far, dim, misty sky–and I wondered, in my childish way, “if heaven is like that;” and all at once it seemed to me that the dim, distant sky opened, and my dead mother’s face looked out upon me so beautifully, I did not know her, for she died when I was an unconscious infant, and yet I did know her. Yes, that beautiful face was my mother’s, and my heart was full of delight. That my mother could see me, and love me, from the far heavens, was like a revelation to me. And often, on other mornings, I awakened and looked through the very same branches of the tree, out into the far sky, and thought to see my mother’s face shining through the window and watching over her lonely, sleeping child. But my fancy never again conjured up the vision. Fancy! What is fancy? If one could but understand, could grasp the phantom and mystery of life! And above all, if one could but understand what heaven is!