Old Letters.

My letters ! written in my earnest boyhood 1
To one who left us but the other day, 2
And I am sitting here, and try to read them 3
Through tears I do not care to brush away.4
Tears for my friend, and tears, ah ! much more
For him, myself, the self that is as dead6
As he to whom these faded things were written7
E’er youth and trust had from my living fled.8
It was myself, remember that, who wrote them,9
Read them once more, and note the noble life,10
The vast endeavour, and the desperate struggle11
To rise above the grovellers in the strife ;12
The sacrifice of self for good of others ;13
The passion at the sufferings of the poor ;14
The angry fight ’gainst pride, and sin, and riches ;15
The looking onward when the prize was sure.16
Ours too the hands to ease the over-laden,17
Ours the strong voices whose sweet words of truth18
Should e’er compel a hearing from the people19
Who now but scoffed at our impetuous youth.20
The world, awakened, soon would grow much better,21
Soon sin and sorrow dying in the dust,22
Would vanish from the earth before the sunlight23
Flashed from our swords, whose blades should
never rust.
Yet he is dead, and I am old and tired,25
I do not care if all the world be sin ;26
I listen dully to my sons’ loud vauntings27
Of that bright future they are sure to win.28
Ah ! burn the letters. As they fall to ashes29
Methinks they’re like our fading mortal dreams,30
Words upon words, and little of fulfilment31
Of all was promised by our youth’s bright gleams !32