I Shall Not Pass This Way Again Poems

Here are a few poems that borrowed a famous line from the following quotation, commonly attributed to Quaker Stephen Grellet, without positive proof.

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

This Way

by Eliza M. Hickok

“Whence came and whither bound are we?”
Holds something still of mystery;
But one grave thought is clear and plain,
We shall not pass this way again.

Why waste an hour in vain regret,
For common ills that must be met?
Why of the thorny road complain?
We shall not pass this way again.

Why wound, or cause a tear to start?
Why vex or trouble one poor heart?
Each hath its secret grief or care,
Its burden that thou canst not share.
The years glide by: stand strong and true!
The good thou canst, oh, quickly do!
Let gentle words sooth woe and pain,
We shall not pass this way again.

About the Author: Eliza M. Hickok, a Unitarian minister, wrote many poems that were published in the late 19th century in Christian journals and inspirational magazines, as well as appearing in calendars. She published a volume of her poetry entitled Star Gleams in 1882.

I Shall Not Pass This Way Again

by Joseph A. Torrey

Through this toilsome world, alas!
Once and only once I pass.
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do,
To my suffering fellow men
Let me do it while I can
Nor delay it, for t’is plain
I shall not pass this way again.

About the Author: There were several prominent men named Joseph A. Torrey who were ministers and/or writers, but we are unable at this time to pinpoint which one wrote the first poem. We found it on google books in an 1894 edition of The Book Buyer.

But Once

by Marion Harland (1830-1922)

We pass this way but once, dear heart!
Musing beside the birch-log’s glow,
The murmur of the mighty mart
Borne to us thru the falling snow,
Our talk is of a buried day;
Between us and the embers red,
Are flickering fantoms, wan and gray,
Sad wraiths of loves and hopes long dead.

We pass this way but once. ‘Tho hard
The road we climb in frost and heat,
Thru deep defiles — and sharp the shard
‘Gainst which we dash our hurrying feet,
Our toil and pain leave scanty trace,
A blood-stain on a displaced stone;
Vague lettering on a boulder’s face;
Perchance the echo of a moan.

We pass this way but once. The seed
We idly strew, or plant with tears,
Is gone for aye! We may not heed
Its death or growth in future years.
We clutch at gold, and grasp dead leaves,
We sow spring wealth of hopes and cares;
Others will gather in our sheaves,
And, cursing us, will burn our tares.

With your true eyes on mine, dear heart,
As at the margin of the Sea
Which you and me some day must part
Forget all that we would not be.
Tread down the Wrong, live out the Right,
Strong in God’s love and love for men;
Then from the hill-top be our flight
We shall not pass this way again!

About the Author: Under the pen name Marion Harland, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune was very famous in the 19th century. She authored some 75 works of fiction, a cookbook replete with domestic advice, hundreds of magazine articles, short stories, and a series of syndicated newspaper advice columns. She was to 19th century readers a combination of Julia Child, Danielle Steel, Heloise and Dear Abby, all wrapped up in one person.