“What is Life?” by Thomas Buchanan Read

by Ann Neilson

What is Life?
Thomas Buchanan Read
From Godey’s Lady’s Book, August, 1849, pg. 149

And what is life? ‘Tis but a debt
That all are doomed to pay;
‘Tis but a path with thorns besest—
A dark and winding way.

‘Tis but a field to labor in,
Where work is never through—
Where every task accomplished makes
A double task to do.

It is a dark and dreary day,
And clouds of sorrow rise,
While pleasure’s evanescent ray
Scarce flickers in the skies.

It is a strangely mingled scene
Of tumult, toil, and strife;
And yet, poor human nature clings
Tenaciously to life.