Old Time.

Young sculptor he, and full of youthful thoughts,1
Who first devised yon figure of Old Time.2
He knew him old, and gave him withered limbs,3
Yet sinewy and strong for work withal ;4
And that stout scythe, for he had much to mow ;5
And those firm wings, for he had far to fly ;6
Then with one forelock and (a whim of Art)7
A crystal hour-glass in the marble hand,8
The statue stood complete.
And stood around9
A group as young regarding. Fears were none,10
But hopes were many—gratulating hopes11
Each for his own glad progpeer : while the gay ;12
Were jeering him with, ‘ Graybeard, go thy way13
Mow, if thou wilt, the steppes of Tartary ;14
Or fly thee, if thou choose, from pole to pole !15
For what art thou to us ?’
Years were flown by :16
When lo ! beside that self-same statue stood17
A few grayheaded men, the scant remains18
Of whom had gazed before. Where were the rest ?19
But now methinks not only were their locks,20
But eyesights changed, to which no more appeared ;21
The same that statue, or had changed with them :22
For that broad crystal cone down which of old23
The sands had seemed to drawl, they now saw dwarft24
To minute-glass, through which the glittering grains,25
Too swift almost for aged eyes to follow,26
Leapt twinklingly, as if in turn to jeer,27
With, ‘ Now, good friends, we sure run fast enough ?’28
So, too, that scythe, whose length of curvature29
Had seemed full fit to sweep uncounted fields,30
Was now a short hooked sickle—fit not less31
For its crampt breadth of harvest ; and they heard,32
Or thought they heard, it rasping audibly33
With sharp brisk ru stle ’mid the dry, sere stalls—34
Themselves as dry and sere.
While each long wing,35
Which might have borne strong eagle on his quest36
From realm to realm, was clipt and rounded now,37
As those which only just suffice to bear a38
The whirring partridge on from brake to brake,39
If swift, yet soon to fall.
But, lo ! now stood40
There one beside that figure of Old Time,41
That stood not there before, or was not seen42
When youth is busied more to feel than see :43
Figure it was with loosely-folded arms,44
And bended brow, and introspective eye,45
Which seemed as if it pondered on the past :46
The young, had any such been mingling there,47
Might well have wondered what such form could mean ;48
But of that grayhaired group which clustered round49
Not one there was but knew the name; and sighed,50
When asking, it was answered them—Regret.51