Others may live in the turbulent throng,
Others may struggle to rectify wrong,
Strive with the strenuous, laugh with the gay,
I too have striven and laughed in my day;
But of life’s blessings I crave now the best,—
Freedom for solitude, silence, and rest.
Under my trees of green and gold
I stroll in the soft, autumnal days,
With never a hint of winter’s cold,
Though the mountain sides are a brilliant maze
Which spreads from the gleaming lake below
To gild the edge of the distant snow.
Closed are the stately inns once more;
Flown, like the birds, is the latest guest;
Many have gone to a southern shore,
Some to the east and some to the west;
But the smiling landlords count their gains,
And we know well that the best remains.
For the walls are lined with precious books,
And the hearth and home are always here,
And the garden hath a score of nooks,
Where flowers bloom throughout the year;
And now that the restless crowd is gone
I hear the flute of my rustic Faun.
Why should I grieve, if from my trees
The gorgeous leaves fall, one by one?
Through the clearer space with greater ease
I feel the warmth of the genial sun;
And though the plane-trees stand bereft,
The pines and cypresses are left.
Does the gay world leave us? Well, good-bye!
It will come again—perhaps too soon!
We have the mountains, lake, and sky,
And solitude is a precious boon.
Yet the falling leaves, so fair and fleet,—
Their memory, after all, is sweet.
Over the water the shadows are creeping,
Lost are the lights on Bellagio’s shore,
Goddess and Faun in the garden are sleeping,
Only the fountain sings on as before.
Low as its murmur, when daintily falling,
Sweet as its plaintive, mellifluous song,
Voices of absent ones seem to be calling:—
“Come to us! Come! thou hast waited too long.”
Vainly I call it a childish delusion,
Vainly attempt to regard it with mirth,
Still do I hear in my spirit’s seclusion
Voices I loved in the land of my birth.
Ever recurrent, like tides of the ocean,
Sad are these cadences, reaching my ear,
Waking within me a mingled emotion,—
Partly of ecstasy, partly of fear;
For of the friends who once gathered to greet me
Many, alas! will await me no more;
Few are the comrades remaining to meet me,
Cold are the arms that embraced me before!
Over Life’s river the shadows are creeping,
Dim and unknown is the opposite shore,
But in the fatherland some are still keeping
Lights in the window and watch at the door.