Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FUTURE, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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THE FUTURE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ask me not, love, what can be in my heart
Last Line: Thank heaven, the future is at least unknown!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Future

ASK me not, love, what can be in my heart:
While gazing on thee sudden tear-drops start,
When only smiles should brighten where thou art.

The human heart is compassed by fears;
And joy is tremulous -- for it inspheres
A vapoury star which melts away in tears.

I am too happy for a careless mirth;
Hence, thoughts the sweet, yet sorrowful, have birth: --
Who looks from heaven is half return'd to earth.

I feel the weakness of my love -- its care;
How deep, how true, how passionate soe'er,
It cannot keep one sorrow from thy share.

How powerless is my fond anxiety!
I feel I could lay down my life for thee;
Yet know how vain such sacrifice must be!

Ah, the sweet present! -- should it not suffice?
Not to humanity which vainly tries
To lift the curtain that may never rise!

Hence do we tremble in our happiness;
Hurried and dim the unknown moments press; --
We question of the grief we cannot guess.

The Future is more present than the Past:
For one look back, a thousand on we cast;
And hope doth ever memory outlast.

For hope, say fear. Hope is a timid thing,
Fearful and weak, and born 'mid suffering; --
At least, such hope as our sad earth can bring.

Its home, it is not here, it looks beyond;
And while it carries an enchanter's wand,
Its spells are conscious of their earthly bond.

We almost fear the presence of our joy;
It doth tempt Fate, the stern one, to destroy,
Fate in whose hands this world is as a toy.

We dearly buy our pleasures, we repay
By some deep suffering; or they decay
Or change to pain, and curse us by their stay.

A world of ashes is beneath our feet --
Cold ashes of each beautiful deceit,
Owned by long silent hearts, that beat as ours now beat.

How can we trust our own? we waste our breath;
We heap up hope and joy in one bright wreath; --
Our altar is the grave -- our priest is death.

But, ah! death is repose; -- 'tis not our doom,
The cold, the calm, that haunts my soul with gloom:
I tremble at the passage to the tomb.

Love mine -- what depths of misery may lie
In the dark future? -- I may meet thine eye,
Cold, careless, and estranged, before I die.

All grief is possible, and some is sure;
How can the loving heart e'er feel secure,
And e'er it breaks it may so much endure?

We had not lived had the past been foreshown;
Ah! merciful the shadow round us thrown. --
Thank heaven, the future is at least unknown!

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