O Let Me Dream The Dreams Of Long Ago

A poem by Hanford Lennox Gordon

Call me not back, O cold and crafty world:
I scorn your thankless thanks and hollow praise.
Wiser than seer or scientist content
To tread no paths beyond these bleating hills,
Here let me lie beneath this dear old elm,
Among the blossoms of the clover-fields,
And listen to the humming of the bees.
Here in those far-off, happy, boyhood years,
When all my world was bounded by these hills,
I dreamed my first dreams underneath this elm.
Dreamed? Aye, and builded castles in the clouds;
Dreamed, and made glad a fond, proud mother's heart,
Now moldering into clay on yonder hill;
Dreamed till my day-dreams paved the world with gold;
Dreamed till my mad dreams made one desolate;
Dreamed O my soul, and was it all a dream?

As I lay dreaming under this old elm,
Building my castles in the sunny clouds,
Her soft eyes peeping from the copse of pine,
Looked tenderly on me and my glad heart leaped
Following her footsteps. O the dream the dream!
O fawn-eyed, lotus-lipped, white-bosomed Flore!
I hide my bronzed face in your golden hair:
Thou wilt not heed the dew-drops on my beard;
Thou wilt not heed the wrinkles on my brow;
Thou wilt not chide me for my long delay.

Here we stood heart to heart and eye to eye,
And I looked down into her inmost soul,
The while she drank my promise like sweet wine
O let me dream the dreams of long ago!
Soft are the tender eyes of maiden love;
Sweet are the dew-drops of a dear girl's lips
When love's red roses blush in sudden bloom:
O let me dream the dreams of long ago!
Hum soft and low, O bee-bent clover-fields;
Blink, blue-eyed violets, from the dewy grass;
Break into bloom, my golden dandelions;
Break into bloom, my dear old apple-trees.
I hear the robins cherup on the hedge,
I hear the warbling of the meadow-larks;
I hear the silver-fluted whippowil;
I hear the harps that moan among the pines
Touched by the ghostly fingers of the dead.
Hush! let me dream the dreams of long ago.

And wherefore left I these fair, flowery fields,
Where her fond eyes and ever gladsome voice
Made all the year one joyous, warbling June,
To chase my castles in the passing clouds
False as the mirage of some Indian isle
To shipwrecked sailors famished on the brine?
Wherefore? Look out upon the babbling world
Fools clamoring at the heels of clamorous fools!
I hungered for the sapless husks of fame.
Dreaming I saw, beyond my native hills,
The sunshine shimmer on the laurel trees.
Ah tenderly plead her fond eyes brimmed with tears;
But lightly laughing at her fears I turned,
Eager to clutch my crown of laurel leaves,
Strong-souled and bold to front all winds of heaven
A lamb and lion molded into one
And burst away to tread the hollow world.
Ah nut-brown boys that tend the lowing kine,
Ah blithesome plowmen whistling on the glebe,
Ah merry mowers singing in the swaths,
Sweet, simple souls, contented not to know,
Wiser are ye and ye may teach the wise.

Years trode upon the heels of flying years,
And still my Ignis Fatuus flew before;
On thorny paths my eager feet pursued,
Till she whose fond heart doted on my dreams
Passed painless to the pure eternal peace.
Years trode upon the heels of flying years
And touched my brown beard with their silver wands,
And still my Ignis Fatuus flew before;
Through thorns and mire my torn feet followed still,
Till she, my darling, unforgotten Flore,
Nursing her one hope all those weary years
Waiting my tardy coming, drooped and died.
I hear her low, sweet voice among the pines:
O let me dream the dreams of long ago:
I see her fond eyes peeping from the pines:
O let me dream the dreams of long ago
And hide my bronzed face in her golden hair.

Is this the Indian summer of my days
Wealth without care and love without desire?
O misty, cheerless moon of falling leaves!
Is this the fruitage promised by the spring?
O blighted clusters withering on the vine!
O promised lips of love to one who dreams
And wakens holding but the hollow air!

Let me dream on lest, dead unto my dead,
False to the true and true unto the false,
Maddened by thoughts of that which might have been,
And weary of the chains of that which is,
I slake my heart-thirst at forbidden springs.
I hear the voices of the moaning pines;
I hear the low, hushed whispers of the dead,
And one wan face looks in upon my dreams
And wounds me with her sad, imploring eyes.

The dead sun sinks beyond the misty hills;
The chill winds whistle in the leafless elms;
The cold rain patters on the fallen leaves.
Where pipes the silver-fluted whippowil?
I hear no hum of bees among the bloom;
I hear no robin cherup on the hedge:
One dumb, lone lark sits shivering in the rain.
I hear the voices of the Autumn wind;
I hear the cold rain dripping on the leaves;
I hear the moaning of the mournful pines;
I hear the hollow voices of the dead.
O let me dream the dreams of long ago
And dreaming pass into the dreamless sleep
Beyond the voices of the autumn winds,
Beyond the patter of the dreary rain,
Beyond compassion and all vain regret
Beyond all waking and all weariness:
O let me dream the dreams of long ago.

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