To H.A.B. on My Forty-Seventh Birthday

A poem by James Thomson (BV)

When one is forty years and seven,
Is seven and forty sad years old,
He looks not onward for his Heaven,
The future is too blank and cold,
Its pale flowers smell of graveyard mould;
He looks back to his lifeful past;
If age is silver, youth is gold:-
Could youth but last, could youth but last!

He turns back toward his youthful past
A-throb with life and love and hope,
Whose long-dead joys in memory last,
Whose shining days had ample scope;
He turns and lingers on the slope
Whose dusk leads down to sightless death:-
The sun once crowned that darkening cope,
And song once thrilled this weary breath.

Ali, he plods wearily to death,
Adown the gloaming into night,
But other lives breathe joyous breath
In morning's boundless golden light;
Their feet are swift, their eyes are bright,
Their hearts beat rhythms of hope and love,
Their being is a pure delight
In earth below and heaven above.

And you have hope and joy and love,
And you have youth's abounding life,
Whose crystal currents flow above
The stones and sands of care and strife.
May all your years with joys be rifc,
May you grow calmly to your prime,
A maiden sweet, a cherished wife,
A happy mother in due time.

All good you wish me, past my prime,
I wish with better hope to you,
And richer blessings than old Time
And Fate or Fortune found my due:
For you are kind and good and true,
And so when you are forty-seven
May spouse and children in your view
Make Home the happiest life-long Heaven.

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