Some reckon their age by years,
Some measure their life by art;
But some tell their days by the flow of their tears,
And their lives by the moans of their heart.
The dials of earth may show
The length, not the depth, of years,
Few or many they come, few or many they go,
But time is best measured by tears.
Ah! not by the silver gray
That creeps thro' the sunny hair,
And not by the scenes that we pass on our way,
And not by the furrows the fingers of care
On forehead and face have made.
Not so do we count our years;
Not by the sun of the earth, but the shade
Of our souls, and the fall of our tears.
For the young are ofttimes old,
Though their brows be bright and fair;
While their blood beats warm, their hearts are cold --
O'er them the spring -- but winter is there.
And the old are ofttimes young,
When their hair is thin and white;
And they sing in age, as in youth they sung,
And they laugh, for their cross was light.
But bead, by bead, I tell
The rosary of my years;
From a cross to a cross they lead; 'tis well,
And they're blest with a blessing of tears.
Better a day of strife
Than a century of sleep;
Give me instead of a long stream of life
The tempests and tears of the deep.
A thousand joys may foam
On the billows of all the years;
But never the foam brings the lone back home --
It reaches the haven through tears.