There was a fair green garden sloping
    From the south-east side of the mountain-ledge;
And the earliest tint of the dawn came groping
    Down through its paths, from the day's dim edge.
The bluest skies and the reddest roses
    Arched and varied its velvet sod;
And the glad birds sang, as the soul supposes
    The angels sing on the hills of God.

I wandered there when my veins seemed bursting
    With life's rare rapture, and keen delight;
And yet in my heart was a constant thirsting
    For something over the mountain-height.
I wanted to stand in the blaze of glory
    That turned to crimson the peaks of snow,
And the winds from the west all breathed a story
    Of realms and regions I longed to know.

I saw on the garden's south side growing
    The brightest blossoms that breathe of June;
I saw in the east how the sun was glowing,
    And the gold air shook with a wild bird's tune;
I heard the drip of a silver fountain,
    And the pulse of a young laugh throbbed with glee;
But still I looked out over the mountain
    Where unnamed wonders awaited me.

I came at last to the western gateway
    That led to the path I longed to climb;
But a shadow fell on my spirit straightway,
    For close at my side stood grey-beard Time.
I paused, with feet that were fain to linger
    Hard by that garden's golden gate;
But Time spoke, pointing with one stern finger;
    "Pass on," he said, "for the day grows late."

And now on the chill grey cliffs I wander;
    The heights recede which I thought to find,
And the light seems dim on the mountain yonder,
    When I think of the garden I left behind.
Should I stand at last on its summit's splendour,
    I know full well it would not repay
For the fair lost tints of the dawn so tender,
    That crept up over the edge o' day.

I would go back, but the ways are winding,
    If ways there are to that land, in sooth;
For what man succeeds in ever finding
    A path to the garden of his lost youth?
But I think sometimes, when the June stars glisten,
    That a rose-scent drifts from far away;
And I know, when I lean from the cliffs and listen
    That a young laugh breaks on the air like spray.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

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