BETA

Three equally sized squares. Each square depicts a stylized animal and wildlife. From left to right, the animals are a fox, a stag, and a hare. Full-page illustration. Illustration and caption are gold.

In Praise of Youth.

[...]
With faces bright, as ruddy corn1
Touched by the sunlight of the morn :2
With rippling hair ; and gleaming eyes,3
Wherein a sea of passion lies ;4
Hair waving back, and eyes, that gleam5
With treasures of perpetual dream :6
With full lips curving into song :7
With shapely limbs, upright and strong :8
The youths on holy service throng.9
Vested in white, upon their brows10
Are wreaths of roseal wilding boughs :11
And flowers, they strow along the way,12
Still dewy from the springs of day :13
So to each reverend altar come,14
They stand in adoration : some15
Swing up gold censers ; till the air16
Is blue and sweet with smoke of rare17
Spices, that fetched from Egypt were.18
In voices of calm, choral tone,19
Praise they each God, with praise his own :20
As children of the Gods, is seen21
Their glad solemnity of mien ;22
So fair a spirit of the skies23
Is in their going : and their eyes24
Look out upon the peopled earth,25
As theirs were some diviner birth ;26
So clear and courtly is their mirth.27
Lights of the labouring world, they seem :28
Or, to the tired, like some fresh stream.29
Their dignity of perfect youth30
Compels devotion, as doth truth :31
So right seems all, they do, they are.32
Old age looks, wistful, from afar,33
To watch their beauty ; as they go,34
Radiant and free, in ordered row ;35
And fairer, in the watching, grow.36
Fair though it be, to watch unclose37
The nestling glories of a rose,38
Depth on rich depth, soft fold on fold :39
Though fairer be it, to behold40
Stately and sceptral lilies break41
To beauty, and to fragrance wake :42
Yet fairer still, to see and sing,43
One fair thing is, one matchless thing ;44
Youth, in its perfect blossoming.45
The magic of a golden grace46
Brings fire, and sweetness, on each face :47
Till, from their passage, every heart48
Takes fire, and sweetness in the smart :49
Till virtue lives, for all who own50
Their loveliness, in them alone :51
Till careless hearts, and idle, take52
Delight in living, for their sake ;53
Worship their footsteps, and awake.54
To be their friend, the common throng55
Would dare all bounds of right and wrong :56
To win their welcome, clasp their hands,57
Would lie in wait for their commands :58
But vain !  In no unlovely pride,59
They hold together, side by side :60
How should they love the crowd of men ;61
Whose nobleness is now and then ;62
With nothing gracious in their ken ?63
Where now is death ?  Where that gray land ?64
These fearless eyes, these white brows grand,65
That take full sunlight and blithe air,66
With rapture, just and debonair ;67
These have not known the touch of death !68
The world hath winds : these forms have breath.69
But, should death dare, should dear life set,70
Calm would each go : Farewell ! forget71
Me dead : live you serenely yet.72
Beside the tremulous, blue sea,73
Clear at sundown, they love to be :74
Yet they are never sad, but then.75
For sorrow touches them, as men,76
Looking upon the calm of things,77
That go ; that cast foreshadowings78
Of holy and of ancient awe ;79
The charm of immemorial Law :80
What we see now, the great dead saw !81
But the red sun is gone : and beams82
Of gracile moonlight waken dreams,83
Dreams, and the mysteries of peace :84
Shall this fair darkness ever cease ?85
Here is no drear, no fearful, Power :86
But life grows fuller with each hour,87
Full of the silence, that is best.88
Earth lies, with soothed and quiet breast,89
Beneath the guardian stars, at rest.90
At night, behold them !  Where lamps burn91
By moonlit olives, how they turn92
Full faces toward the sailing moon,93
Nigh lovelier than beneath high noon !94
Throw back their comely moulded throats,95
Whence music on the night wind floats !96
And, through the fragrant hush of night,97
Their lustrous eyes make darkness bright :98
Their laugh loads darkness with delight.99
Almost the murmuring sea is hushed :100
Their eyes on fire, their bright limbs flushed,101
They dominate the night with love :102
While the stars burn and flash above,103
These kindle through the dark such flame,104
As is not seen, and hath no name :105
Can night bear more ?  Can nature bend106
In benediction without end,107
Over this love of friend for friend ?108
The music of their sighing parts109
The silence : and their beating hearts110
Beat to a measure of despair :111
So great it is, to be so fair !112
So strange it is, to be so young !113
While fire consumes them, lo ! hath sprung114
The morning to the heart of night :115
Day comes with solemnizing light :116
Calm takes them ; and they stand upright.117
Magnificent in early bloom,118
Like Gods, they triumph over gloom :119
All things desirable are theirs,120
Of beauty, and of wonder, heirs :121
Their cities, vassals are ; which give122
Them thanks and praise, because they live :123
Strong, they know nothing of dismay ;124
Fair, they serve beauty every day ;125
Young, the sun loves to light their way.126
See them ! the springing of the palm127
Is nought, beside their stately calm :128
The rippling of cool water dies129
To nought, before their clear replies :130
The smile, that heralds their bright thought,131
Brings down the splendid sun to nought.132
See them ! they walk the earth in state :133
In right of loveliness, held great :134
On whom, the powers of nature wait.135
No sceptre theirs, but they are kings :136
Their forms and words are royal things.137
Their simple friendship is a court,138
Whither the wise and great resort.139
No homage of the world, they claim :140
But in all places lives their fame.141
Sun, moon, and stars: the earth, the sea ;142
Yea! all things, that of beauty be ;143
Honour their true divinity.144