Remembrance of the past will joy impart
If in that past the conscience was supreme;
But if the soul be made an auction mart,
And thoughts and deeds be sold for what you deem
The price of virtue, then the called-up past
Will be like hooks of steel to hold thee fast.
Or like the stings those nettles left behind
Which I so fondly handled in my play;
I deemed the friend who warned me true and kind,
And in great haste I threw the weeds away,
But soon the burning flesh reminded me
'Twere safer far from all such weeds to flee.
The cloud that flitted o'er the saintly brow
Which now a crown of life so well adorns,
When you by ways and means you know not now,
Did what your soul with holy horror scorns,
Will stay with you long as you live on earth,
And be like gall to spoil your cup of mirth.
The smiles of those we bless are lasting, too;
We feel their cheering glow each cloudy day.
As falls on wilted flower the healing dew,
So they refresh, and chase our gloom away;
We feel though weak we have not lived in vain,
And know God smiles tho' we cannot explain.
The footprints on the rock time wears away;
The rock itself soon crumbles into dust;
But memories of the past have come to stay,
Nor flood, nor fire, nor the consuming rust,
Can ever from the soul the past erase.
Guard thou thy life, O man, with heavenly grace.