what compass guides this cruel and kindly force
to bend all reason to its course?
why does it seek so heavily
to navigate the seas of sorrows and unruly fates
and break upon the waves,
or else to linger on the storms of lengthy years
only to land upon a distant lonely shore?
perhaps the lands it seeks
are no more solitary
than those it leaves behind,
and the voyage is a lesson
which instructs the crew to mind itself at sea,
and steer by star and moon as captains do,
not by the blinding sun that children pander to.
but why should the cold and starry night surpass the lusty day,
when the last oversteps the first and renders it at bay?
are not the stars just other suns, but distantly removed?
their fires burn as brightly though they lie farther away.
is not the moon a dim reflection of tomorrow's day?
so perhaps the sun can lead us better than the night
across the oceans of uncertain time.
and though she winds us on a fevered track,
and gives us rounded leagues of torrid clime,
is not the shore which follows such a tack
more beauteous than one which falls upon a line?
so when our hours are wrought and all our miles are lost,
and we are asked to say, which tale will we relay?
unscathed by night,
or tempest-tossed by day?