Our Lives

Our lives are songs. God writes the words,
  And we set them to music at pleasure;
And the song grows glad, or sweet, or sad,
  As we choose to fashion the measure.

We must write the music, whatever the song,
  Whatever its rhyme, or metre;
And if it is sad, we can make it glad,
  Or if sweet, we can make it sweeter.

One has a song that is free and strong;
  But the music he writes is minor;
And the sad, sad strain is replete with pain,
  And the singer becomes a repiner.

And he thinks God gave him a dirge-like lay,
  Nor knows the words are cheery;
And the song seems lonely and solemn--only
  Because the music is dreary.

And the song of another has through the words
  An under current of sadness;
But he sets it to music of ringing chords,
  And makes it a pean of gladness.

So whether our songs are sad or not,
  We can give the world more pleasure,
And better ourselves, by setting the words
To a glad, triumphant measure.

Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.

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