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