THE RIDDLE OF LIFE
by Abdullah Quilliam
Birth, life and death, three potent words,
What is it that they spell?
Our entrance in, our life upon,
Our exit and our knell.
Is that, then, all that is compris'd
Within those words so said?
And doth the span of passing scene
Cry "Finish'd" when we're dead?
If such be all, alas for us!
Poor creatures of an hour,
That bloom unseen, that die forgot,
Like passing of a shower.
Our days but few, our cares so great,
And pass'd in toil and strife;
Our life a span, under a ban -
No blessing, then, is life.
But if the moment of our birth -
As we believe it be -
Is not just entrance upon earth,
Then toil and care and meagre fare,
While on the earth we stand,
Is but precursor, but the path
That leads to other land.
Then sound of knell doth only tell
Of life begun for aye-
That perfect life, sans care and strife,
In the eternal day.
(October 16, 1904)