Work While it is Day

Original Text: 
John Askham, Sonnets on the Months: And other Poems, Descriptive, Domestic, and National (Northampton: Taylor and Son, 1863): 109-10. British Library
"Work while it is yet day, for the night cometh on when no man can work."
2While the right arm is strong,
3While the life-blood is young,
4   Night cometh on.
5Work while the sun is high,
6In the bright smiling sky;
7Swiftly life's minutes fly:
8   Night cometh on.
9Strive with thy heart and soul;
10Press to the distant goal;
11Waste not the hours that roll:
12   Night cometh on.
13Life is a season lent;
14Moments are treasures sent;
15See that they're wisely spent:
16   Night cometh on.
17What thy hand finds to do,
18That, with thy might, pursue,
19With a brave heart and true:
20   Night cometh on.
21What though we toil in pain,
22'Twill not be all in vain;
23Haste then the good to gain:
24   Night cometh on.
25What though grief rack the breast?
26Doth there not come a rest?
27Let us then do our best:
28   Night cometh on.


1] The epigraph comes from the words of Jesus in John 9.4: "We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001