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Short poem

John Askham (ca. 1825-1894)

Work While it is Day

"Work while it is yet day, for the night cometh on when no man can work."

              1Work while the day is long,
              2While the right arm is strong,
              3While the life-blood is young,
              4   Night cometh on.

              5Work while the sun is high,
              6In the bright smiling sky;
              7Swiftly life's minutes fly:
              8   Night cometh on.

              9Strive with thy heart and soul;
            10Press to the distant goal;
            11Waste not the hours that roll:
            12   Night cometh on.

            13Life is a season lent;
            14Moments are treasures sent;
            15See that they're wisely spent:
            16   Night cometh on.

            17What thy hand finds to do,
            18That, with thy might, pursue,
            19With a brave heart and true:
            20   Night cometh on.

            21What though we toil in pain,
            22'Twill not be all in vain;
            23Haste then the good to gain:
            24   Night cometh on.

            25What though grief rack the breast?
            26Doth there not come a rest?
            27Let us then do our best:
            28   Night cometh on.


1] The epigraph comes from the words of Jesus in John 9.4: "We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work."

Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: John Askham, Sonnets on the Months: And other Poems, Descriptive, Domestic, and National (Northampton: Taylor and Son, 1863): 109-10. British Library
First publication date: 1863
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/13

Rhyme: aaab cccb ...

Other poems by John Askham