Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spring Among the Ruins / James Lewis Milligan

Spring Among the Ruins

I've tuned my heart to Thirty Springs
     And sighed o'er Thirty Summers flown;
I've watch'd the rise and fall of things
     And stood amid the wrack alone.

And I have learned that Time and Change
     Are Nature's law, and that Decay
And Death are not so very strange,
     But follow as the Night the Day.

How many times I've paused beside
     This Mansion old and desolate,
Musing upon its Builder's pride,
     Reading its parable of Fate,

How oft I've yearn'd to set in rhyme
     The sad, mute rapture of that mood
Which holds me spell-like every time
     I pause amid this Solitude!

He came in that glad year of yore,
     (I knew him, though I was not born),
He brought his Bride unto that door —
     How fair and fragrant was the Morn!

I saw her like a Seraph white
     Steal o'er the lawn with airy tread.
And stoop to pluck the lilies light
     And kiss the roses white and red.

I watch'd her at the even's close
     Sit sewing at the window there;
Till he, on stealthy, silent toes,
     Would come and kiss Her unaware.

On many a night before the fire
     They sat and talk'd on home affairs;
Or sang a ballad to the lyre
     To ease the heart of little cares.

They greeted oft within that Hall
     Their closer friends with hearty jest;
And many a story true and "tall"
     Was spun by sleepy Host and Guest.

I saw. . . . But let the record cease
    The Sequel is too sad a theme:
By yonder Church they lie in peace
    They sleep and fancy 'twas a dream.

Again the Earth her Youth renews,
    Over is Winter's wind and rain:
But Ruin still Man's work pursues,
    Nor comes He to his haunts again.

James Lewis Milligan (1876-1961)
from The Beckoning Skyline, and other poems, 1920

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]

James Lewis Millgan biography

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