Twas morn, and, wending on its way,
Beside my path a stream was playing;
And down its banks, in humor gay,
A thoughtless boy was idly straying.
Light as the breeze they onward flew
That joyous youth and laughing tide,
And seemed each other's course to woo,
For long they bounded side by side.
And now the dimpling water staid,
And glassed its ripples in a nook;
And on its breast a bubble played,
Which won the boy's admiring look.
He bent him o'er the river's brim,
And on the radiant vision gazed;
For lovelier still it seemed to him,
That in its breast his imaged blazed.
With beating heart and trembling finger,
He stooped the wondrous gem to clasp,
But, spellbound, seemed a while to linger,
Ere yet he made th' adventurous grasp.
And still a while the glittering toy,
Coquettish, seemed to shun the snare,
And then more eager grew the boy,
And followed with impetuous air.
Round and around, with heedful eyes,
He chased it o'er the wavy river:
He marked his time and seized his prize,
But in his hand it burst for ever!
Upon the river's marge he sate,
The tears adown his young cheek gushing;
And long, his heart disconsolate
He heeded not the river's rushing.
But tears will cease. And now the boy
Once more looked forth upon the stream:
'Twas morning still, and lo! a toy,
Bright as the last one, in the beam!
He rose pursued the bubble caught;
It burst he sighed then others chased;
And as I parted, still he sought
New bubbles in their downward haste.
My onward path I still pursued,
Till the high noontide sun was o'er me.
And now, though changed in form and mood,
That Youth and river seemed before me.
The deepened stream more proudly swept,
Though chafed by many a vessel's prow;
The Youth in manhood's vigor stept,
But care was chiselled on his brow.
Still on the stream he kept his eye,
And wooed the bubbles to the shore,
And snatched them, as they circled by,
Though bursting as they burst before.
Once more we parted. Yet again
We met though now 'twas evening dim:
Onward the waters rushed amain,
And vanished o'er a cataract's brim.
Though swift and dark the raging surge,
The Bubble-Chaser still was there;
And, bending o'er the dizzy verge,
Clutched at the gaudy things of air.
With staff in hand and tottering knee,
Upon the slippery brink he stood,
And watched, with doting ecstasy,
Each wreath of foam that rode the flood.
"One bubble more!" I heard him call,
And saw his trembling fingers play:
He snatched, and down the roaring fall,
With the lost bubble, passed away!