Life, Toil, and Love

By George Sterling

In quiet, in the very silent night,
    She woke, though none had called, from dreamlessness.
    A clock ticked, and the hour she could but guess.
She lit her lamp, arose, and made some slight
Beginning on the morrow's work. Her sight
    Fell for a moment on a well-loved head;
    Softly she kissed it, bent above the bed,
Laid by her shawl, blew out the needless light.

She stared a moment on the dark, and heard
    Only the certain clock's unhurried chime;
        Dreamless again her broken sleep began,
And nothing in the hush about them stirred;
    Yet all that was in that small space of time
        Had been a symbol of the fate of man.

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