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602                                           Love and Age

I PLAY’D with you ’mid cowslips blowing,
   When I was six and you were four;
When garlands weaving, flower-balls throwing,
   Were pleasures soon to please no more.
Through groves and meads, o’er grass and heather,
   With little playmates, to and fro,
We wander’d hand in hand together;
   But that was sixty years ago.
You grew a lovely roseate maiden,
   And still our early love was strong;
Still with no care our days were laden,
   They glided joyously along;
And I did love you very dearly,
   How dearly words want power to show;
I thought your heart was touch’d as nearly;
   But that was fifty years ago.
Then other lovers came around you,
   Your beauty grew from year to year,
And many a splendid circle found you
   The centre of its glittering sphere.
I saw you then, first vows forsaking,
   On rank and wealth your hand bestow;
O, then I thought my heart was breaking!—
   But that was forty years ago.
And I lived on, to wed another:
   No cause she gave me to repine;
And when I heard you were a mother,
   I did not wish the children mine.
My own young flock, in fair progression,
   Made up a pleasant Christmas row:
My joy in them was past expression;
   But that was thirty years ago.
You grew a matron plump and comely,
   You dwelt in fashion’s brightest blaze;
My earthly lot was far more homely;
   But I too had my festal days.
No merrier eyes have ever glisten’d
   Around the hearth-stone’s wintry glow,
Than when my youngest child was christen’d;
   But that was twenty years ago.
Time pass’d. My eldest girl was married,
   And I am now a grandsire gray;
One pet of four years old I’ve carried
   Among the wild-flower’d meads to play.
In our old fields of childish pleasure,
   Where now, as then, the cowslips blow,
She fills her basket’s ample measure;
   And that is not ten years ago.
But though first love’s impassion’d blindness
   Has pass’d away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
   And shall do, till our last good-night.
The ever-rolling silent hours
   Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
   Will be an hundred years ago.

603                                         Three Men of Gotham

SEAMEN three! What men be ye?
Gotham’s three wise men we be.
Whither in your bowl so free?
To rake the moon from out the sea.
The bowl goes trim. The moon doth shine.
And our ballast is old wine.—
And your ballast is old wine.
Who art thou, so fast adrift?
I am he they call Old Care.
Here on board we will thee lift.
No: I may not enter there.
Wherefore so? ’Tis Jove’s decree,
In a bowl Care may not be.—
In a bowl Care may not be.

Fear ye not the waves that roll?
No: in charmàed bowl we swim.
What the charm that floats the bowl?
Water may not pass the brim.
The bowl goes trim. The moon doth shine.
And our ballast is old wine.—
And your ballast is old wine.


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