Henry Timrod

(8 December 1828 - 7 October 1867 / Charleston, South Carolina)

The Past


To-day's most trivial act may hold the seed
Of future fruitfulness, or future dearth;
Oh, cherish always every word and deed!
The simplest record of thyself hath worth.

If thou hast ever slighted one old thought,
Beware lest Grief enforce the truth at last;
The time must come wherein thou shalt be taught
The value and the beauty of the Past.

Not merely as a warner and a guide,
"A voice behind thee," sounding to the strife;
But something never to be put aside,
A part and parcel of thy present life.

Not as a distant and a darkened sky,
Through which the stars peep, and the moon-beams glow;
But a surrounding atmosphere, whereby
We live and breathe, sustained in pain and woe.

A shadowy land, where joy and sorrow kiss,
Each still to each corrective and relief,
Where dim delights are brightened into bliss,
And nothing wholly perishes but Grief.

Ah, me! -- not dies -- no more than spirit dies;
But in a change like death is clothed with wings;
A serious angel, with entranced eyes,
Looking to far-off and celestial things.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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