"My birth-day"—what a different sound
That word had in my youthful ears!
And how, each time the day comes round,
Less and less white its mark appears!
When first our scanty years are told,
It seems like pastime to grow old;
And, as Youth counts the shining links
That Time around him binds so fast,
Pleased with the task, he little thinks
How hard that chain will press at last.
Vain was the man, and false as vain,
Who said—"were he ordained to run
His long career of life again,
He would do all that he had done."
Ah, 'tis not thus the voice, that dwells
In sober birth-days, speaks to me;
Far otherwise—of time it tells
Lavished unwisely, carelessly;
Of counsel mocked: of talents, made
Haply for high and pure designs,
But oft, like Israel's incense, laid
Upon unholy, earthly shrines;
Of nursing many a wrong desire;
Of wandering after Love too far,
And taking every meteor-fire
That crossed my pathway, for a star.
All this it tells, and, could I trace
The imperfect picture o'er again,
With power to add, retouch, efface
The lights and shades, the joy and pain,
How little of the past would stay!
How quickly all should melt away—
All—but that Freedom of the Mind,
Which hath been more than wealth to me;
Those friendships, in my boyhood twined,
And kept till now unchangingly;
And that dear home, that saving-ark,
Where Love's true light at last I've found,
Cheering within, when all grows dark,
And comfortless, and stormy round!