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Poem by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The Love of Maturer Years

  Nay, soother, do not dream thine art
    Can altar Nature's stern decree;
  Or give me back the younger heart,
    Whose tablets had been clear to thee.

  Why seek, fair child, to pierce the dark
    That wraps the giant wrecks of old?
  Thou wert not with me in the ark,
    When o'er my life the deluge roll'd.

  To thee, reclining by the verge,
    The careless waves in music flow
  To me the ripple sighs the dirge
    Of my lost native world below.

  Her tranquil arch as Iris builds
    Above the Anio's torrent roar,
  Thy life is in the life it gilds,
    Born of the wave it trembles o'er.

  For thee a glory leaves the skies
    If from thy side a step depart;
  Thy sunlight beams from human eyes,
    Thy world is in one human heart.

  And in the woman's simple creed
    Since first the helpmate's task began,
  Thou ask'st what more than love should need
    The stern insatiate soul of Man.

  No more, while youth with vernal gale
    Breathes o'er the brief Arcadia still;--
  But when the Wanderer quits the vale,
    But when the footstep scales the hill,

  But when with awe the wide expanse,
    The Pilgrim's earnest eyes explore,
  How shrinks the land of sweet Romance,
    A speck--it was the world before!

  And, hark, the Dorian fifes succeed
    The pastoral reeds of Arcady:
  Lo, where the Spartan meets the Mede,
    Near Tempé lies--Thermopylé!

  Each onward step in hardy life,
    Each scene that memory halts to scan,
  Demands the toil, records the strife,--
    And love but once is all to man.

  Weep'st thou, fair infant, wherefore weep?
    Long ages since the Persian sung
  "The zephyr to the rose should keep,
    And youth should only love the young."

  Ay, lift those chiding eyes of thine;
    The trite, ungenerous moral scorn!
  The diamond's home is in the mine,
    The violet's birth beneath the thorn;

  There, purer light the diamond gives
    Than when to baubles shaped the ray;
  There, safe at least the violet lives
    From hands that clasp--to cast away.

  Bloom still beside the mournful heart,
    Light still the caves denied the star;
  Oh Eve, with Eden pleased to part,
    Since Eden needs no comforter!

  My soft Arcadian, from thy bower
    I hear thy music on the hill;
  And bless the note for many an hour
    When I too--am Arcadian still.

  Whene'er the face of Heaven appears,
    As kind as once it smiled on me,
  I'll steal adown the mount of years,
    And come--a youth once more, to thee.

  From bitter grief and iron wrong
    When Memory sets her captive free,
  When joy is in the skylark's song,
    My blithesome steps shall bound to thee;

  When Thought, the storm-bird, shrinks before
    The width of nature's clouded sea,
  A voice shall charm it home on shore,
    To share the halcyon's nest with thee:

  Lo, how the faithful verse escapes
    The varying chime that laws decree,
  And, like my heart, attracted, shapes
    Each wandering fancy back--to thee.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton's other poems:
  1. The Desire of Fame
  2. Lost and Avenged
  3. The Loyalty of Love
  4. The Treasures by the Wayside
  5. Address to the Soul in Despondency

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