O DAYS that hold us; and years that mold us!
And dreams and mem'ries no time destroys!
Where lie the islands, the morning islands,
And where the highlands we knew when boys?
Oh, tell us, whether the happy heather
Still purples ways we used to roam;
And mid its roses, its oldtime roses,
The place reposes we knew as home.
Oh, could we find him, that boy, and bind him, —
The boy we were that never grew, —
By whom we're haunted, our hearts are haunted,—
What else were wanted by me and you?
Again to see it! Again to knee it!
The pond we waded, the brook we swum;
That held more pleasures, more priceless pleasures,
Than all the treasures to which we come.
Again to follow through wood and hollow
A cowbell's tinkle, a bird's wild call,
To where they yellow, the daisies yellow,
And lights lie mellow at evenfall.
To be the leaders of oaks and cedars,
The giant hosts of worlds at war;
Or princes airy, proud princes airy,
Of Lands of Faery that lie afar.
Through scents of yarrow, where paths are narrow,
To foot the way we only know,
That leads to places, old orchard places,
And garden spaces of Long Ago.
To climb rail fences, when dusk commences,
With young Adventure, tanned hand in hand;
And lead by starlight, by dewy starlight,
To one farm's far light a campaign planned.
Where she, our princess, mid blossoming quinces, —
The first dear girl for whom we cared, —
And got a rating, her father's rating, —
Stands sweetly waiting, brown-eyed, brown-haired.
Or, in the morning, without a warning,
With health for luggage and love for spur,
To make invasion, divine invasion,
As suits occasion, of worlds for her.
With her, as eager, again beleaguer
The forest's fortress of leaf and log;
And pierce its vastness, its gloomy vastness,
And storm its fastness with stick and dog.
And from its shadows' rich Eldorados
The untold gold of blossoms bring:
And, as in story, in song and story,
Beard Wildness hoary, like some old king.
Or lead lost legions through unknown regions,
The pirate kings of isles unfound:
On haystacks golden, our galleons golden,
Sail oceans olden of meadow ground.
And from those caitiffs, the hideous natives,
Invisible tribes that swarm the wood,
To rescue Molly, or Peg, or Polly,
With her dear dolly as pirates should….
O tanned and freckled and sunbeam-speckled!
O barefoot joy that romped the years!
O reckless rapture! O long-lost rapture!
Beyond the capture of all our tears!