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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes
ON the still water of our childish days The noonday blue and midnight heaven look down, Painting themselves, while every drooping flower Or lovely human thing which haunts its bank Lives in the mirror with a fairer life. Perchance some holy and love-gleaming eyes Gaze in our stream, or music-voiced prayer Ripples the water and floats up to God; But comes a blustering wind, do earthquakes split The trembling globe, does winter's thralling ice Hem in our little path,--and all the peace Of this our life is gone, and we go forth With troublous murmur to encounter man. Nay, less than this, the petty trivial cares, The pebbles flung by hand of idle boys, The fall of leaves upon our waters, and The noiseless drop of an unceasing rain, Such little worthless trifles have the power To mar our glorious mirror; no more stars Lose themselves, gliding thro' the dark twin depths; And he who seeks to find within our breast Aught of tranquillity or loveliness, Finds fragments of a thousand jumbled things, Circle on circle, and the roll confus'd Of unreflective wave succeeding wave, Grief restless and complaining, and past joy, Sadder than sorrow, and a broken tale Of our life's picture; many days must pass Ere the chaf'd waters gain their wonted calm, And then--the leaves have fallen, and the wind Has kill'd the flowers; another time of year Has laid our love in the grave, and gather'd fogs Obscure the glory of the midnight stars. What then, sad spirit? leaving field and glade, And thy sweet progress between blossoming banks, There is no less a glorious destiny For thy vex'd waters; stately ships shall ride In triumph on thy bosom, populous towns Murmur beside thee, noble work be thine, Till thou at last shalt lose thyself within The infinite ocean, and find infinite peace.
Bessie Rayner Parkes
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