Henry Timrod

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

Youth And Manhood


Another year! a short one, if it flow
Like that just past,
And I shall stand -- if years can make me so --
A man at last.

Yet, while the hours permit me, I would pause
And contemplate
The lot whereto unalterable laws
Have bound my fate.

Yet, from the starry regions of my youth,
The empyreal height
Where dreams are happiness, and feeling truth,
And life delight --

From that ethereal and serene abode
My soul would gaze
Downward upon the wide and winding road,
Where manhood plays;

Plays with the baubles and the gauds of earth --
Wealth, power, and fame --
Nor knows that in the twelvemonth after birth
He did the same.

Where the descent begins, through long defiles
I see them wind;
And some are looking down with hopeful smiles,
And some are -- blind.

And farther on a gay and glorious green
Dazzles the sight,
While noble forms are moving o'er the scene,
Like things of light.

Towers, temples, domes of perfect symmetry
Rise broad and high,
With pinnacles among the clouds; ah, me!
None touch the sky.

None pierce the pure and lofty atmosphere
Which I breathe now,
And the strong spirits that inhabit there,
Live -- God sees how.

Sick of the very treasure which they heap;
Their tearless eyes
Sealed ever in a heaven-forgetting sleep,
Whose dreams are lies;

And so, a motley, unattractive throng,
They toil and plod,
Dead to the holy ecstasies of song,
To love, and God.

Dear God! if that I may not keep through life
My trust, my truth,
And that I must, in yonder endless strife,
Lose faith with youth;

If the same toil which indurates the hand
Must steel the heart,
Till, in the wonders of the ideal land,
It have no part;

Oh! take me hence! I would no longer stay
Beneath the sky;
Give me to chant one pure and deathless lay,
And let me die!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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