THE heart of childhood is all mirth:
We frolic to and fro
As free and blithe, as if on earth
Were no such thing as woe.
But if indeed with reckless faith
We trust the flattering voice,
Which whispers, "Take thy fill ere death,
"Indulge thee and rejoice;"
Too surely, every setting day,
Some lost delight we mourn,
The flowers all die along our way,
Till we, too, die forlorn.
Such is the world’s gay garish feast,
In her first charming bowl
Infusing all that fires the breast,
And cheats th’ unstable soul.
And still, as loud the revel swells,
The fever’d pulse beats higher,
Till the sear’d taste from foulest wells
Is fain to slake its fire.
Unlike the feast of heavenly love
Spread at the Saviour’s word
For souls that hear his call, and prove
Meet for his bridal board.
Why should we fear, youth’s draught of joy,
If pure, would sparkle less?
Why should the cup the sooner cloy,
Which God hath deign’d to bless?
For, it is Hope, that thrills so keen
Along each bounding vein,
Still whispering glorious things unseen?—
Faith makes the vision plain.
The world would kill her soon: but Faith
Her daring dreams will cherish,
Speeding her gaze o’er time and death
To realms where nought can perish.
Or is it Love, the dear delight
Of hearts that know no guile,
That all around see all things bright
With their own magic smile?
The silent joy, that sinks so deep,
Of confidence and rest,
Lull’d in a father’s arms to sleep,
Clasp’d to a mother’s breast?
Who, but a Christian, through all life
That blessing may prolong?
Who, through the world’s sad day of strife,
Still chaunt his morning song?
Fathers may hate us or forsake,
God’s foundlings then are we:
Mother on child no pity take,
But we shall still have Thee.
We may look home, and seek in vain
A fond fraternal heart,
But Christ hath given his promise plain
To do a brother’s part.
Nor shall dull age, as worldlings say,
The heavenward flame annoy:
The Saviour cannot pass away,
And with him lives our joy.
Ever the richest tenderest glow
Sets round th’autumnal sun—
But there sight fails: no heart may know
The bliss when life is done.
Such is thy banquet, dearest Lord;
O give us grace, to cast
Our lot with thine, to trust thy word,
And keep our best till last.