After so long an absence
At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
Or does it give us pain?
The tree of life has been shaken,
And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet’s two or three berries
In the top of the uppermost bough.
We cordially greet each other
In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
How old and gray he is grown!
We speak of a Merry Christmas
And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
Of those that are not here.
We speak of friends and their fortunes,
And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
And the living alone seem dead.
And at last we hardly distinguish
Between the ghosts and the guests;
And a mist and shadow of sadness
Steals over our merriest jests.
When Mazarvan the Magician,
Journeyed westward through Cathay,
Nothing heard he but the praises
Of Badoura on his way.
But the lessening rumor ended
When he came to Khaledan,
There the folk were talking only
Of Prince Camaralzaman,
So it happens with the poets:
Every province hath its own;
Camaralzaman is famous
Where Badoura is unknown.
A gentle boy, with soft and silken locks
A dreamy boy, with brown and tender eyes,
A castle-builder, with his wooden blocks,
And towers that touch imaginary skies.
A fearless rider on his father’s knee,
An eager listener unto stories told
At the Round Table of the nursery,
Of heroes and adventures manifold.
There will be other towers for thee to build;
There will be other steeds for thee to ride;
There will be other legends, and all filled
With greater marvels and more glorified.
Build on, and make thy castles high and fair,
Rising and reaching upward to the skies;
Listen to voices in the upper air,
Nor lose thy simple faith in mysteries.
From the outskirts of the town
Where of old the mile-stone stood.
Now a stranger, looking down
I behold the shadowy crown
Of the dark and haunted wood.
Is it changed, or am I changed?
Ah! the oaks are fresh and green,
But the friends with whom I ranged
Through their thickets are estranged
By the years that intervene.
Bright as ever flows the sea,
Bright as ever shines the sun,
But alas! they seem to me
Not the sun that used to be,
Not the tides that used to run.