Between two pillared clouds of gold
The beautiful gates of evening swung --
And far and wide from flashing fold
The half-furled banners of light, that hung
O'er green of wood and gray of wold
And over the blue where the river rolled,
The fading gleams of their glory flung.
The sky wore not a frown all day
To mar the smile of the morning tide;
The soft-voiced winds sang joyous lay --
You never would think they had ever sighed;
The stream went on its sunlit way
In ripples of laughter; happy they
As the hearts that met at Riverside.
No cloudlet in the sky serene!
Not a silver speck in the golden hue!
But where the woods waved low and green,
And seldom would let the sunlight through,
Sweet shadows fell, and in their screen,
The faces of children might be seen,
And the flash of ribbons of blue.
It was a children's simple feast,
Yet many were there whose faces told
How far they are from childhood's East
Who have reached the evening of the old!
And father -- mother -- sister -- priest --
They seemed all day like the very least
Of the little children of the fold.
The old forgot they were not young,
The young forgot they would e'er be old,
And all day long the trees among,
Where'er their footsteps stayed or strolled,
Came wittiest word from tireless tongue,
And the merriest peals of laughter rung
Where the woods drooped low and the river rolled.
No cloud upon the faces there,
Not a sorrow came from its hiding place
To cast the shadow of a care
On the fair, sweet brows in that fairest place
For in the sky and in the air,
And in their spirits, and everywhere,
Joy reigned in the fullness of her grace.
The day was long, but ah! too brief!
Swift to the West bright-winged she fled;
Too soon on ev'ry look and leaf
The last rays flushed which her plumage shed
From an evening cloud -- was it a sign of grief?
And the bright day passed -- is there much relief
That its dream dies not when its gleam is dead?
Great sky, thou art a prophet still!
And by thy shadows and by thy rays
We read the future if we will,
And all the fates of our future ways;
To-morrows meet us in vale and hill,
And under the trees, and by the rill,
Thou givest the sign of our coming days.
That evening cloud was a sign, I ween --
For the sister of that summer day
Shall come next year to the selfsame scene;
The winds will sing the selfsame lay;
The selfsame woods will wave as green,
And Riverside, thy skies serene
Shall robe thee again in a golden sheen;
Yet though thy shadows may weave a screen
Where the children's faces may be seen,
Thou ne'er shall be as thou hast been,
For a face they loved has passed away.