Youth and Manhood
Another year! a short one, if it flow Like that just past, And I shall stand—if years can make me so— A man at last. Yet, while the hours permit me, I would pause And contemplate The lot whereto unalterable laws Have bound my fate. Yet, from the starry regions of my youth, The empyreal height Where dreams are happiness, and feeling truth, And life delight— From that ethereal and serene abode My soul would gaze Downward upon the wide and winding road, Where manhood plays; Plays with the baubles and the gauds of earth— Wealth, power, and fame— Nor knows that in the twelvemonth after birth He did the same. Where the descent begins, through long defiles I see them wind; And some are looking down with hopeful smiles, And some are—blind. And farther on a gay and glorious green Dazzles the sight, While noble forms are moving o'er the scene, Like things of light. Towers, temples, domes of perfect symmetry Rise broad and high, With pinnacles among the clouds; ah, me! None touch the sky. None pierce the pure and lofty atmosphere Which I breathe now, And the strong spirits that inhabit there, Live—God sees how. Sick of the very treasure which they heap; Their tearless eyes Sealed ever in a heaven-forgetting sleep, Whose dreams are lies; And so, a motley, unattractive throng, They toil and plod, Dead to the holy ecstasies of song, To love, and God. Dear God! if that I may not keep through life My trust, my truth, And that I must, in yonder endless strife, Lose faith with youth; If the same toil which indurates the hand Must steel the heart, Till, in the wonders of the ideal land, It have no part; Oh! take me hence! I would no longer stay Beneath the sky; Give me to chant one pure and deathless lay, And let me die!
Henry Timrod’s other poems:
- The Stream is Flowing from the West
- An Exotic
- 1866 – Addressed to the Old Year
- Hymn Sung at an Anniversary of the Asylum of Orphans at Charleston
- Lines to R. L.
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