Time sets his footprints on our little Earth,
And, walk he ne'er so softly, some sweet thing
Falls 'neath each foot-fall, crush'd amid its mirth,
Tracking the course of Life's short wandering,
With fallen remnants of its mortal part,
Freeing the soul, but weighing down the heart.
Thou flower of Love! thou little treasury
Of gentleness, and purity, and grace!
What hidden virtue hath Death reft from thee--
What unseen essence melted into space?
For now thou liest like a sinless child,
Whom God hath homeward to his bosom smiled.
The dew-shower fell on thee, the sunbeam play'd,
As Life is ever made of smiles and tears;
And ofttimes has the breeze of summer sway'd,
And with its mellow music mock'd thy fears;
But now, O wonder, thou art pale and wan,
And there's a beauty and a fragrance gone!
Thus fade we--thus our hopes and joys, rose-bright,
Yield up their sweetness ere they reach their prime,
And their poor fabrics lie within our sight,
Stript of their radiance e'en in summer-time--
Their spirit hath gone from them, and they wither,
But wherefore hath the spirit gone, and whither?
Our knowledge is like dreams amid a sleep--
Faint-pinion'd thoughts that beat the vault of Night,
And flutter earthward--so we smile or weep
At what we know not, cannot see aright;
Life is death, and death is life, perchance,
In the dim twilight of our waking trance.
Thou art a leaf from the great Book of God,
Whose lightest word is wiser than the wise;
And, meekly resting there upon the sod,
Thou breathest upward holy mysteries,
In simple tones that steal upon the sense,
Like Childhood's prattling truth and innocence.
Then, O sweet flower, that in thy low estate
Hast in thee emblems of the life of Man,
Read to our beings whispers of the fate
That waits us at the end of Time's short span;
How short we know not--e'en the bud may be
Gather'd in harvest to eternity.