“Sonnet—the Unattained” by Elizabeth Oakes Smith
From Graham’s Magazine, Vol. XXI, November, 1842
Is this, then, Life? Oh! are we born for this?
To follow phantoms that elude the grasp!
Or whatsoe’er secured, within our clasp
To withering lie! as if an earthly kiss
Were doomed Death’s shuddering touch alone to greet.
Oh Life! hast thou reserved no cup of bliss?
Must still the Unattained allure our feet?
The Unattained with yearnings fill the breast,
That rob, for aye, the spirit of its rest?
Yes, this is Life, and everywhere we meet,
Not victor crowns, but wailings of defeat—
Yet falter not, thou dost apply a test
That shall incite thee onward, upward still—
The present cannot sate, thy soul it cannot fill.