And with wide, eager eyes he smiled, and stretched
As if his dearest friend were welcoming him to his abode;
Eternal silence sealed that wondrous smile as he cried—
“Thy face! Thy face, dear Lord!” and, saying this, he died.
But legends tell that on his grave fell such a strange,
That wine-red roses planted thereupon would spring up white,
Holding such mystic healing in their cool snow bloom, that lain
On aching brows or sorrowful hearts, they would ease their pain.
The years go by, but they little seem
Like those within our dream;
The years that stood in such luring guise,
Beckoning us into Paradise,
To jailers turn as time goes by
Guarding that fair land, By-and-By,
Where we thought to blissfully rest,
The sound of whose forests’ balmy leaves
Swaying to dream winds strangely sweet,
We heard in our bed ’neath the cottage eaves,
Whose towers we saw in the western skies
When with eager eyes and tremulous lip,
We watched the silent, silver ship
Of the crescent moon, sailing out and away
O’er the land we would reach some day, some day.
But years have flown, and our weary feet
Have never reached that Isle of the Blest;
But care we have felt, and an aching breast,
A lifelong struggle, grief, unrest,
That had no part in our boyish plans;
And yet I have gold, and houses, and lands,
And ladened vessels a white-winged fleet,
That fly at my bidding across the sea;
And hats are doffed by willing hands
As I tread the village street;
But wealth and fame are not to me
What I thought that they would be.
I turn from it all to wander back
With Memory down the dusty track
Of the years that lie between,
To the farm-house old and brown,
Shaded with poplars dusky green,
I pause at its gate, not a bearded man,
But a boy with earnest eyes.
I stand at the gate and look around
At the fresh, fair world that before me lies.
The misty mountain-top aglow
With love of the sun, and the pleasant ground
Asleep at its feet, with sunny dreams
Of milk-white flowers in its heart, and clear
The tall church-spire in the distance gleams
Pointing up to the tranquil sky’s
Blue roof that seems so near.
And up from the woods the morning breeze
Comes freighted with all the rich perfume
That from myriad spicy cups distils,
Loitering along o’er the locust-trees.
Scattering down the plum-trees’ bloom
In flakes of crimson snow—
Down on the gold of the daffodils
That border the path below.