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Poems About Change

Table of Contents

  1. The Song of the Potter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
  3. The Seasons by E. F. Hayward
  4. Change by Appleton Oaksmith
  5. Old Fashioned by Emily Dickinson
  6. The Iron Horse by Lewis Lamar
  7. The Change Has Come by Laurence Dunbar
  8. Forty Years Ago by Anonymous
  9. Life Sculpture by George Washington Doane
  10. The Year Outgrows the Spring by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  11. Not Quite the Same by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  12. Perfectness by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  13. His Other Chance by Edgar A. Guest
  14. The Pioneers' Anniversary by Ed Blair
  15. Farewell by Frances Anne Kemble
  16. The Cross of Snow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  17. Withered Leaves by Peter Burn

  1. The Song of the Potter

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
    To something new, to something strange;
    Nothing that is can pause or stay;
    The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
    The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
    The rain to mist and cloud again,
    To-morrow be to-day.

    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    The Song of the Potter
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Turn, turn, my wheel! Turn round and round,
    Without a pause, without a sound:
    So spins the flying world away!
    This clay, well mixed with marl and sand,
    Follows the motion of my hand;
    For some must follow, and some command,
    Though all are made of clay!

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
    To something new, to something strange;
    Nothing that is can pause or stay;
    The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
    The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
    The rain to mist and cloud again,
    To-morrow be to-day.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! All life is brief;
    What now is bud will soon be leaf,
    What now is leaf will soon decay;
    The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
    The blue eggs in the robin's nest
    Will soon have wings and beak and breast,
    And flutter and fly away.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar
    A touch can make, a touch can mar;
    And shall it to the Potter say,
    What makest thou? Thou hast no hand?
    As men who think to understand
    A world by their Creator planned,
    Who wiser is than they.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! 'Tis nature's plan
    The child should grow into the man,
    The man grow wrinkled, old, and gray;
    In youth the heart exults and sings,
    The pulses leap, the feet have wings;
    In age the cricket chirps, and brings
    The harvest home of day.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! The human race,
    Of every tongue, of every place,
    Caucasian, Coptic, or Malay,
    All that inhabit this great earth,
    Whatever be their rank or worth,
    Are kindred and allied by birth,
    And made of the same clay.

    Turn, turn, my wheel! What is begun
    At daybreak must at dark be done,
    To-morrow will be another day;
    To-morrow the hot furnace flame
    Will search the heart and try the frame,
    And stamp with honor or with shame
    These vessels made of clay.

    Stop, stop, my wheel! Too soon, too soon
    The noon will be the afternoon,
    Too soon to-day be yesterday;
    Behind us in our path we cast
    The broken potsherds of the past,
    And all are ground to dust at last,
    And trodden into clay.

  2. Nothing Gold Can Stay

    by Robert Frost

    Nature's first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold,

    Her early leaf's a flower;
    But only so an hour.

    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,

    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

  3. The Seasons

    by E. F. Hayward

    I love to watch the seasons change;
    As Summer takes the throne from Spring,
    So wonderful sublime and strange,
    Each one its own sweet songs does sing.

    It seems each one, in turn, is best;
    Is gifted with some special grace;
    Yet Summer fades, as have the rest,
    And Autumn boldly takes its place.

    This of the Four I hold most dear,
    Would be content to have it stay;
    But Winter comes to close the year,
    And Autumn scenes must pass away.

    Just so our lives; our childhood days
    Are filled with joy, that's ne'er forgot;
    And he is wise who simply says,
    "I love them all," and murmurs not.

  4. Change

    by Appleton Oaksmith

    My lady-love so cold has grown
    I cannot meet her eye
    But that my heart sinks like a stone,
    And I but wish to die.
    There was a time when her dear glance
    Was warmer than the sun;
    But now my love hath little chance
    For hope to dwell upon.

    "Why hath she changed?" I ask the winds
    Which pass me kindly by;
    But each dead leaf the cause reminds,
    And all things make reply.
    I wander in the woods at eve,
    And watch the dead leaves fall,
    And chide myself that I should grieve
    For what doth come to all.

    "Change, change," is written everywhere
    Upon the earth and sky;
    We breathe it with life's morning air,
    We live it when we die.
    Then wherefore should I grieve that she
    Acteth so well her part,
    Since greater change can never be
    Than in a woman's heart!

  5. Old Fashioned

    by Emily Dickinson

    Arcturus is his other name, —
    I'd rather call him star!
    It's so unkind of science
    To go and interfere!

    I pull a flower from the woods, —
    A monster with a glass
    Computes the stamens in a breath,
    And has her in a class.

    Whereas I took the butterfly
    Aforetime in my hat,
    He sits erect in cabinets,
    The clover-bells forgot.

    What once was heaven, is zenith now.
    Where I proposed to go
    When time's brief masquerade was done,
    Is mapped, and charted too!

    What if the poles should frisk about
    And stand upon their heads!
    I hope I 'm ready for the worst,
    Whatever prank betides!

    Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven 's changed!
    I hope the children there
    Won't be new-fashioned when I come,
    And laugh at me, and stare!

    I hope the father in the skies
    Will lift his little girl, —
    Old-fashioned, naughty, everything, —
    Over the stile of pearl!

  6. The Iron Horse

    by Poet

    The iron horse is coming sure,
    Our plodding days will soon be o'er:
    The engineer has gone before,
    To mark the way and make it sure,
    Chorus: The iron horse is coming sure,
    Our plodding days will soon be o'er.

    With hoofs of steel, and iron-bound,
    He's coming sure to Middletown;
    There's work around for evermore
    And feed enough for him in store.

    If business fly, or pleasure hie,
    Alike his best endeavors try;
    If pressed with heavy loads, or light,
    He moves along in brave delight.

    To better markets swiftly bear
    Our noble products, rich and fair;
    Along the track he'll bring us back,
    The many precious things we lack.

    Now "Van" may "Winkle" in his bed
    And dormant lie, appearing dead;
    The fogy croak and shake his head,
    And tell us what grand-daddy said.

    The days of steam are drawing nigh,
    Our trudging days are passing by,
    The iron horse is coming through,
    His freighted train will soon be due.

    The iron horse is all the talk;
    We should not cease or make a balk,
    But help along with friendly ties,
    This great and public enterprise.

    He'll never come, the iron horse,
    Unless we shall his way endorse;
    Unless we take sufficient stock,
    He'll far away our wishes mock.
    Chorus: The iron horse is halting now,
    And we are trudging, trudging how.

  7. The Change Has Come

    by Laurence Dunbar

    The change has come, and Helen sleeps—
    Not sleeps; but wakes to greater deeps
    Of wisdom, glory, truth, and light,
    Than ever blessed her seeking sight,
    In this low, long, lethargic night,
    Worn out with strife
    Which men call life.

    The change has come, and who would say
    "I would it were not come to-day"?
    What were the respite till to-morrow?
    Postponement of a certain sorrow,
    From which each passing day would borrow!
    Let grief be dumb,
    The change has come.

  8. Forty Years Ago

    by Anonymous

    I've wandered to the village, Tom,
    I've sat beneath the tree,
    Upon the schoolhouse playground,
    That sheltered you and me;
    But none were left to greet me, Tom,
    And few were left to know,
    Who played with me upon the green,
    Just forty years ago.

    The grass was just as green, Tom,
    Barefooted boys at play
    Were sporting, just as we did then,
    With spirits just as gay.
    But the master sleeps upon the hill,
    Which, coated o'er with snow,
    Afforded us a sliding place,
    Some forty years ago.

    The old schoolhouse is altered some;
    The benches are replaced
    By new ones very like the same
    Our jackknives had defaced.
    But the same old bricks are in the wall,
    The bell swings to and fro;
    Its music's just the same, dear Tom,
    'T was forty years ago.

    The spring that bubbled 'neath the hill,
    Close by the spreading beech,
    Is very low; 't was once so high
    That we could almost reach;
    And kneeling down to take a drink,
    Dear Tom, I started so,
    To think how very much I've changed
    Since forty years ago.

    Near by that spring, upon an elm,
    You know, I cut your name,
    Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom;
    And you did mine the same.
    Some heartless wretch has peeled the bark;
    'T was dying sure, but slow,
    Just as that one whose name you cut
    Died forty years ago.

    My lids have long been dry, Tom,
    But tears came in my eyes:
    I thought of her I loved so well,
    Those early broken ties.
    I visited the old churchyard,
    And took some flowers to strew
    Upon the graves of those we loved
    Just forty years ago.

    Some are in the churchyard laid,
    Some sleep beneath the sea;
    And none are left of our old class
    Excepting you and me.
    And when our time shall come, Tom,
    And we are called to go,
    I hope we'll meet with those we loved
    Some forty years ago.

  9. Life Sculpture

    by George Washington Doane

    Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
    With his marble block before him,
    And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
    As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

    He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
    With many a sharp incision;
    With heaven’s own flight the sculpture shone,—
    He’d caught that angel-vision.

    Children of life are we, as we stand
    With our lives uncarved before us,
    Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
    Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

    If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
    With many a sharp incision,
    Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,—
    Our lives, that angel-vision.

    Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

    – Isaiah 64:8
    The Bible, NIV

  10. A Contrast

    by Thomas Durfee

    Once, in an old and lonely
    Farm-house by the sea,
    I went to rest with only
    Myself for company.

    No star the darkness brightened;
    Alow the welkin bowed;
    It blew, it rained, it lightened,
    It thundered long and loud.

    The tempest drove the billows
    Upon the rocky shore,
    And, nestled in my pillows,
    I heard them plunge and roar.

    The windows creaked and rattled,
    The chimney puffed and moaned,
    The stout old elms, that battled
    Out in the court-yard, groaned.

    I dozed while yet I listened;
    And lo! the next I knew,
    The golden sunshine glistened,
    And everything was new.

    The cock was crowing clearly,
    Cluck-clucked the happy hen,
    The robin carolled cheerly,
    And sweetly chirped the wren.

    I rose with glad emotion
    And up the window threw;
    Before me heaved the ocean
    Its sparkling waters blue.

    The skies were soft and tender;
    And lovely to be seen.
    Impearled with dewy splendor,
    The land lay fresh and green.

    I breathed an air Elysian;
    I thrilled with pure delight;
    And nothing but a vision
    Seemed that black yester-night.

  11. The Year Outgrows the Spring

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    The year outgrows the spring it thought so sweet
    And clasps the summer with a new delight,
    Yet wearied, leaves her languors and her heat
    When cool-browed autumn dawns upon his sight.

    The tree outgrows the bud's suggestive grace
    And feels new pride in blossoms fully blown.
    But even this to deeper joy gives place
    When bending boughs 'neath blushing burdens groan.

    Life's rarest moments are derived from change.
    The heart outgrows old happiness, old grief,
    And suns itself in feelings new and strange.
    The most enduring pleasure is but brief.

    Our tastes, our needs, are never twice the same.
    Nothing contents us long, however dear.
    The spirit in us, like the grosser frame,
    Outgrows the garments which it wore last year.

    Change is the watchword of Progression. When
    We tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new.
    This restless craving in the souls of men
    Spurs them to climb, and seek the mountain view.

    So let who will erect an altar shrine
    To meek-browed Constancy, and sing her praise.
    Unto enlivening Change I shall build mine,
    Who lends new zest, and interest to my days.

  12. New and Old

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Not quite the same the springtime seems to me,
    Since that sad season when in separate ways
    Our paths diverged. There are no more such days
    As dawned for us in that lost time when we
    Dwelt in the realm of dreams, illusive dreams;
    Spring may be just as fair now, but it seems
    Not quite the same.

    Not quite the same is life, since we two parted,
    Knowing it best to go our ways alone.
    Fair measures of success we both have known,
    And pleasant hours, and yet something departed
    Which gold, nor fame, nor anything we win
    Can all replace. And either life has been
    Not quite the same.

    Love is not quite the same, although each heart
    Has formed new ties, that are both sweet and true;
    But that wild rapture, which of old we knew,
    Seems to have been a something set apart
    With that lost dream. There is no passion, now,
    Mixed with this later love, which seems, somehow,
    Not quite the same.

    Not quite the same am I. My inner being
    Reasons and knows that all is for the best.
    Yet vague regrets stir always in my breast,
    As my soul's eyes turn sadly backward, seeing
    The vanished self that evermore must be,
    This side of what we call eternity,
    Not quite the same.

  13. Perfectness

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    All perfect things are saddening in effect.
    The autumn wood robed in its scarlet clothes,
    The matchless tinting on the royal rose
    Whose velvet leaf by no least flaw is flecked.
    Love's supreme moment, when the soul unchecked
    Soars high as heaven, and its best rapture knows,
    These hold a deeper pathos than our woes,
    Since they leave nothing better to expect.

    Resistless change, when powerless to improve,
    Can only mar. The gold will pale to gray—
    No thing remains tomorrow as today, —
    The rose will not seem quite so fair, and love
    Must find its measures of delight made less.
    Ah, how imperfect is all Perfectness!

  14. His Other Chance

    by Edgar A. Guest

    He was down and out, and his pluck was gone,
    And he said to me in a gloomy way:
    "I've wasted my chances, one by one,
    And I'm just no good, as the people say.
    Nothing ahead, and my dreams all dust,
    Though once there was something I might have been,
    But I wasn't game, and I broke my trust,
    And I wasn't straight and I wasn't clean."

    "You're pretty low down," says I to him,
    "But nobody's holding you there, my friend.
    Life is a stream where men sink or swim,
    And the drifters come to a sorry end;
    But there's two of you living and breathing still—
    The fellow you are, and he's tough to see,
    And another chap, if you've got the will,
    The man that you still have a chance to be."

    He laughed with scorn. "Is there two of me?
    I thought I'd murdered the other one.
    I once knew a chap that I hoped to be,
    And he was decent, but now he's gone."
    "Well," says I, "it may seem to you
    That life has little of joy in store,
    But there's always something you still can do,
    And there's never a man but can try once more.

  15. Farewell

    by Frances Anne Kemble

    I shall come no more to the Cedar Hall,
    The fairies' palace, beside the stream;
    Where the yellow sun rays at morning fall
    Through their tresses dark, with a mellow gleam.

    I shall tread no more the thick dewy lawn,
    When the young moon hangs on the brow of night,
    Nor see the morning, at early dawn,
    Shake the fading stars from her robes of light.

    I shall fly no more on my fiery steed,
    O'er the springing sward,—through the twilight wood;
    Nor rein my courser, and check my speed,
    By the lonely grange, and the haunted flood.

    At fragrant noon, I shall lie no more
    'Neath the oak's broad shade, in the leafy dell:
    The sun is set,—the day is o'er,—
    The summer is past;—farewell!—farewell

  16. The Cross of Snow

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
    A gentle face — the face of one long dead —
    Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
    The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
    Here in this room she died; and soul more white
    Never through martyrdom of fire was led
    To its repose; nor can in books be read
    The legend of a life more benedight.
    There is a mountain in the distant West
    That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
    Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
    Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
    These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
    And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

  17. Withered Leaves

    by Peter Burn

    I watch the leaves as they fade and fall
    And form a heap by my garden wall.

    I think of my loss in days "to be,"
    My garden's wealth but a leafless tree.

    I loved those leaves in their day of birth:
    I love them now in the lap of earth.

    Withered leaves! They are beautiful yet,
    Though nipt by the frost, and dash'd by the wet!

    Mine eyes feast not on the world of green,
    Death holds its revels where life has been.

    Snow, sleet, and hail, and a sunless sky!
    These, these are mine, till the by and by.

    I wait the hour. My heart has rest;
    Seasons are faithful to His behest.

    Through leaden sky, and through leafless tree,
    I see the summer that is to be.

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