Amid the trials of the changeful Present,
The hghts and shadows that around us play,
A retrospective glance is often pleasant,
Along life's way.
In fancy once again youth's sunlight golden
We feel; we tread the old delightful ways
We've trodden oft, while on the landscape olden
We fondly gaze.
So down the well-remembered path I wander,
Each step with some bright recollection fraught:
And all the changes, as I go, I ponder,
That Time has wrought.
I reach the bridge and cross the sunny meadow,
Ascend the slope, and, just beside the door,
The lofty chestnuts see; now in their shadow
I stand, once more.
I enter, and behold, around, before me,
Each once familiar object, as of old;
And, for a moment, I forget that o'er me
Swift years have rolled.
A boy again, I strive to change the places
Of Past and Present; for a moment seem
To live again amid the dear old faces,
As in a dream.
Life's troubles, changes, toils, seem but a vision,
As, sitting in the old, accustomed place,
Upon the world beyond, the fields Elysian,
I turn my face.
How different reality from seeming,
Since I have tasted what life had to give;
Can I have been for all these long years dreaming?
Or, did I live?
The same, and yet how changed, the scene before me!
The comrades of my youth have passed away;
I find myself—the thought comes stealing o'er me—
How few old friends survive the thousand changes
Of half a lifetime! Thirty years have passed;
The mind down Time's long vista, busy ranges,
With grief o'ercast.
The dear old friends have gone and left me lonely;
Teachers and schoolmates—all have passed away;
Of most a recollection lingers only;
Oh, where are they?
Alone! and all the eager aspiration
I felt in bygone years, is mine no more;
I turn away in silent meditation.
And leave the door.
I go my way, to present time returning,
While sunset's fitful shadows hover near;
Within my heart the thought—I have been learning
A lesson here.
We cannot feel again the sunlight golden,
Although we tread the well-remembered ways;
We may not live again the moments olden
In later days.