Shadows on the Wall.

Beside the hearth there is an hour of dreaming,1
A calm and pensive solitude of soul,2
When life and death have each another seeming,3
And thoughts are with us owning no control.4
These are the spirits, Memory’s revealing,5
In deep solemnity they rise and fall,6
Shrouding the living present, and concealing7
The world around us—Shadows on the Wall.8
Hopes, like the leaves and blossoms, rudely shaken9
By cruel winds of winter, from the tree10
Of our existence ; phantoms that awaken11
Wild passing gleams of Joy’s young ecstasy ;12
And Love, once kind and tenderly outpouring13
Her wine into our souls, we may recal,14
And find them dear and ever heavenward soaring,15
Though only now as Shadows on the Wall.16
Old clasping hands, old friendships and affections17
Once bodied forms beside us on the earth,18
Come back to haunt us, ghostly recollections19
With mystic converse by the silent hearth.20
Yet these are kindly spirits, and retiring21
Draw their long shadows slowly from the wall,22
And visit us in peace and gentleness, inspiring23
A hope that brings the sunshine after all.24