At the River’s Edge.

O Sweet ! when we come to the distant days,1
When the fancies fail like the falling flowers,2
And the meads of music are soundless ways,3
And the wells of wishing have lost their powers :4
O Sweet ! when the days and the ways are thus,5
Shall we stand and tremble on Time’s thin ledge,6
Forgetting the fields of the years behind,7
With our souls so dull and our loves so blind,8
That we shall not see what is left for us9
In the shadowy dusk at the River’s edge ?10
We hear them sigh of the pains of age,11
The blight of beauty, the blood grown cold ;12
We see the sorrows of saint and sage13
When the psalm is sung and the wisdom told.14
Did they love so little and fear so much15
That the birds in their breasts forbore to fledge !16
Did they find no flowers in the paths they trod17
To warm their hearts to the old-world sod,18
To bloom again at a dear hand’s touch19
In the shadowy dusk at the River’s edge ?20
We have made fair plans for the days to come21
We have made enough for a thousand years22
Oh ! some for wonderful work ; and some23
For beautiful rest—but none for tears.24
Have we sinned in this? Are our hopes all vain ?25
Will our joy turn bare as the May-clad hedge ?26
If it be that the cup of our peace must spill,27
Will the Hand that empties it not refill ?28
Of all our treasures may none remain29
In the shadowy dusk at the River’s edge ?30
To-day love’s meadows are laved in light,31
But we know they slope to a far-off stream.32
Let us pluck the pleasures of life aright,33
And garner them all for a future dream34
For the last late dream of our dreams come true,35
At the last late proof of our proven pledge ;36
When the sun that showed us our joy is gone,37
O Sweet ! may the birds in our breasts sing on,38
And the blooms revive with our memories’ dew,39
In the shadowy dusk at the River’s edge.40