Old friend, that with a pale and pensile grace
Climbest the lush hedgerows, art thou back again,
Marking the slow round of the wond'rous years?
Didst beckon me a moment, silent flower?
Silent? As silent as the archangel's pen
That day by day writes our life chronicle,
And turns the page--the half-forgotten page,
Which all eternity will never blot.
Forgotten? No, we never do forget:
We let the years go: wash them clean with tears,
Leave them to bleach, out in the open day,
Or lock them careful by, like dead friends' clothes,
Till we shall dare unfold them without pain--
But we forget not, never can forget.
Flower, thou and I a moment face to face--
My face as clear as thine, this July noon
Shining on both, on bee and butterfly
And golden beetle creeping in the sun--
Will pause, and, lifting up, page after page,
The many-colored history of life,
Look backwards, backwards.
So, the volume close!
This July day, with the sun high in heaven,
And the whole earth rejoicing--let it close.
I think we need not sigh, complain, nor rave;
Nor blush--our doings and misdoings all
Being more 'gainst heaven than man, heaven them does keep
With all its doings and undoings strange
Concerning us.--Ah, let the volume close:
I would not alter in it one poor line.
My dainty flower, my innocent white flower
With such a pure smile looking up to heaven,
With such a bright smile looking down on me--
(Nothing but smiles--as if in all the world
Were no such things as thunderstorms or frosts,
Or broken petals trampled on the ground,
Or shivering leaves whirled in the wintry air
Like ghosts of last year's joys:)--my pretty flower,
I'll pluck thee--smiling too. Not one salt drop
Shall stain thee:--if these foolish eyes are dim,
'Tis only with a wondering thankfulness
That they behold such beauty and such peace,
Such wisdom and such sweetness, in God's world.