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THE YOUTH OF MAN
WE, O Nature, depart,
Seest us change while we live ;
Watchest us, Nature! throughout,
Mild and inscrutably calm.
Well for us that we change!
Behold, O Nature, this pair! See them to-night where they stand, Not with the halo of youth
Crowning their brows with its light,
Not with the sunshine of hope,
Which they had of old, when they stood
In this self-same garden, and said:
Thou, O Nature, wast mute,
Mute as of old! days flew,
Days and years; and Time
With the ceaseless stroke of his wings
Brush'd off the bloom from their soul.
Clouded and dim grew their eye,
Languid their heart-for youth
Slowly, within the walls
Of an ever-narrowing world,
They droop'd, they grew blind, they grew old.
Thee and their youth in thee,
Nature! they saw no more.
Murmur of living,
Stir of existence,
Soul of the world!
Make, oh, make yourselves felt
Το grow old in darkness and pain!
But leave us not while we live!
Here they stand to-night
Here, where this
Crowns the still valley; behind
Is the castled house, with its woods, Which shelter'd their childhood-the sun On its ivied windows; a scent
From the grey-wall'd gardens, a breath
Of the fragrant stock and the pink,
Their children play on the lawns.
From a distant farm in the hills.
The wide, wide valley outspreads
In the twilight, and bathed in dew,
Darkening fast; but a light,
Far off, a glory of day,
Still plays on the city spires;
And there in the dusk by the walls,
Well I know what they feel! They gaze, and the evening wind Plays on their faces; they gazeAirs from the Eden of youth Awake and stir in their soul; The past returns-they feel
What they are, alas! what they were.
They, not Nature, are changed.
Well I know what they feel!
Hush, for tears
Begin to steal to their eyes!
Hush, for fruit
Grows from such sorrow as theirs!
And they remember,
With piercing, untold anguish,
The proud boasting of their youth
And the scales of habit,
Fall away from their eyes;
And they see, for a moment,
Stretching out, like the desert
In its weary, unprofitable length,
While the locks are yet brown on thy head,
The mantling blood to thy cheek,
Yearn to the greatness of Nature;
Rally the good in the depths of thyself!