The Enduring by James Whitcomb Riley

A misty memory—faint, far away

And vague and dim as childhood's long-lost day—

Forever haunts and holds me with a spell

Of awe and wonder indefinable:—

A shoeshop-wall.—An ancient temple, drawn

Of crumbling granite, sagging portico

And gray, forbidding gateway, grim as woe;

And o'er the portal, cut in antique line,

The words—cut likewise in this brain of mine—

"Would'st have a friend?—Would'st know what friend is best?

Have God thy friend: He passeth all the rest."

Again the old shoemaker pounds and pounds

Resentfully, as the loud laugh resounds

And the coarse jest is bandied round the throng

That smokes about the smoldering stove; and long,

Tempestuous disputes arise, and then—

Even as all like discords die again;

The while a barefoot boy more gravely heeds

The quaint old picture, and tiptoeing reads

There in the rainy gloom the legend o'er

The lowering portal of the old church door—

"Would'st have a friend?—Would'st know what friend is best?

Have God thy friend: He passeth all the rest."

So older—older—older, year by year,

The boy has grown, that now, an old man here,

He seems a part of Allegory, where

He stands before Life as the old print there—

Still awed, and marvelling what light must be

Hid by the door that bars Futurity;—

Though ever clearer than with eyes of youth,

He reads with his old eyes—and tears forsooth—

"Would'st have a friend?—Would'st know what friend is best?

Have God thy friend: He passeth all the rest."