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THE OLD MAN DREAMS.
O FOR one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring ! I'd rather laugh a bright-haired boy
Than reign a gray-beard king !
Off with the wrinkled spoils of age !
Away with learning's crown! Tear out life's wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!
One moment let my life-blood stream
From boyhood's fount of flame ! Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!
— My listening angel heard the prayer,
And, calmly smiling, said, “If I but touch thy silvered hair,
Thy hasty wish hath sped.
“But is there nothing in thy track
To bid thee fondly stay,
To find the wished-for day ? ”
- Ah, truest soul of womankind !
Without thee, what were life? One bliss I cannot leave behind :
I'll take — my — precious — wife!
— The angel took a sapphire pen
And wrote in rainbow dew, “The man would be a boy again,
And be a husband too !”
—“And is there nothing yet unsaid
Before the change appears ? Remember, all their gifts have fled
With those dissolving years !”
Why, yes ; for memory would recall
My fond paternal joys;
I'll take — my — girl — and — boys!
The smiling angel dropped his pen, —
“Why this will never do ; The man would be a boy again,
And be a father too!”
And so I laughed, — my laughter woke
The household with its noise, — And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
To please the gray-haired boys.
Flash out a stream of blood-red wine !
For I would drink to other days ; And brighter shall their memory shine,
Seen flaming through its crimson blaze. The roses die, the summers fade;
But every ghost of boyhood's dream By Nature's magic power is laid
To sleep beneath this blood-red stream.
It filled the purple grapes that lay
And drank the splendors of the sun Where the long summer's cloudless day
Is mirrored in the broad Garonne; It pictures still the bacchant shapes
That saw their hoarded sunlight shed, The maidens dancing on the grapes, —
Their milk-white ankles splashed with red. Beneath these waves of crimson lie,
In rosy fetters prisoned fast,
The swift-winged visions of the past.
Each shadow rends its flowery chain,
And walks the chambers of the brain.
Poor Beauty ! time and fortune's wrong
No form nor feature may withstand, -
Like emptied sea-shells on the sand;
The dust restores each blooming girl,
Their glistening lips of pink and pearl.
Here lies the home of schoolboy life,
With creaking stair and wind-swept hall,
Our old initials on the wall ;
The shout of voices known so well,
The chiding of the sharp-tongued bell.