Quite carelessly I turned the newsy sheet;
    A song I sang, full many a year ago,
Smiled up at me, as in a busy street
    One meets an old-time friend he used to know.

So full it was, that simple little song,
    Of all the hope, the transport, and the truth,
Which to the impetuous morn of life belong,
    That, once again, I seemed to grasp my youth.

So full it was of that sweet, fancied pain
    We woo and cherish ere we meet with wo.
I felt, as one who hears a plaintive strain
    His mother sang him in the long ago.

Up from the grave, the years that lay between
    That song's birthday and my stern present, came
Like phantom forms, and swept across the scene,
    Bearing their broken dreams of love and fame.

Fair hopes and bright ambitions that I knew
    In that old time, with their ideal grace,
Shone for a moment, then were lost to view,
    Behind the dull clouds of the commonplace.

With trembling hands I put the sheet away;
    Ah, little song! the sad and bitter truth
Struck like an arrow when we met that day!
    My life has missed the promise of its youth.

Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler
Chicago : Belford, Clarke & Co, 1883.

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