Once Upon a Time.

Sunny locks of brightest hue1
Once around my temples grew,—2
Laugh not, Lady !  for ’tis true ;3
Laugh not, Lady !  for with thee4
Time may deal despitefully ;5
Time, if-long he lead thee here,6
May subdue that mirthful cheer ;7
Round those laughing lips and eyes8
Time may write sad histories ;9
Deep indent that even brow,10
Change those locks, so sunny now,11
To as dark and dull a shade,12
As on mine his touch hath laid.13
Lady !  yes, these locks of mine14
Cluster’d once, with golden shine,15
Temples, neck, and shoulders round,16
Richly gushing if unbound,17
If from band and bodkin free,18
Half way downward to the knee.19
Some there were took fond delight,20
Sporting with those tresses bright,21
To enring with living gold22
Fingers, now beneath the mould,23
(Woe is me !) grown icy cold.24
One dear hand hath smooth’d them too,25
Since they lost the sunny hue,26
Since their bright abundance fell27
Under the destroying spell.28
One dear hand ! the tenderest29
Ever nurse-child rock’d to rest,30
Ever wiped away its tears.31
Even those of later years32
From a cheek untimely hollow,33
Bitter drops that still may follow,34
Where’s the hand will wipe away ?35
Her’s I kiss’d—(Ah ! dismal day,)36
Pale as on the shroud it lay.37
Then, methought, youth’s latest gleam38
Departed from me like a dream39
Still, though lost their sunny tone,40
Glossy brown these tresses shone,41
Here and there, in wave and ring42
Golden threads still glittering ;43
And (from band and bodkin free)44
Still they flow’d luxuriantly.45
Careful days, and wakeful nights,46
Early trench’d on young delights.47
Then of ills, an endless train,48
Wasting languor, wearying pain,49
Fev’rish thought that racks the brain,50
Crowding all on summer’s prime,51
Made me old before my time.52
So a dull, unlovely hue53
O’er the sunny tresses grew,54
Thinn’d their rich abundance too,55
Not a thread of golden light,56
In the sunshine glancing bright.57
Now again, a shining streak58
’Gins the dusky cloud to break ;—59
Here and there a glittering thread60
Lights the ringlets, dark and dead,—61
Glittering light !—but pale and cold62
Glittering thread !—but not of gold.63
Silent warning !  silvery streak !64
Not unheeded dost thou speak.65
Not with feelings light and vain66
Not with fond regretful pain,67
Look I on the token sent68
To announce the day far spent ;—69
Dark and troubled hath it been70
Sore misused ! and yet between71
Gracious gleams of peace and grace72
Shining from a better place.73
Brighten—brighten, blessed light !74
Fast approach the shades of night,—75
When they quite enclose me round,76
May my lamp be burning found !77