How can I let my youth go by?
How can I let Time mark my brow,
And steal the light of a laughing eye,
And whiten the locks that are nut brown now.
And the tide that goes,
And ripples, and flows,
Like a beautiful river, on forever,
Over my head, through every vein,
And fills me, and thrills me, with joy like pain,
Old cruel Time,
With a touch of rime,
Will drug, and chill, and freeze, until
It likes a stream,
In its winter dream.
Ho! ho! old Time! you may chuckle and smile,
But Death may cheat you, and beat you yet;
What shall you say, if, after a while,
Ere the sun of my youth has set,
I go with him, to a closet dim,
And closing my eyes, in a long, long rest,
Lie white and cold,
And never grow old,
With my two hands clasped over my breast.
With my song half sung---
Lying under the graves' green mould;
And the world, for a day
Would miss me, and say,
"When will the rest of the tale be told?"
And then go on,
Till its hopes were fears, and its young were old.
And, lying there,
What should I care,
Though Time, in a phrenzy of baffled rage,
Should beat on my grave,
And howl and rave,
That I would not barter my youth, for age;
But lie and sleep,
Down low and deep,
Though suns of a thousand seasons set.
With my song half sung,
And my tale half told--
Ho, ho, old Time, I may cheat you yet!
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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