I said unto myself, if I were dead,
What would befall these children? What would be
Their fate, who now are looking up to me
It is autumn; not without
But within me is the cold.
Youth and spring are all about;
It is I that have grown old.
Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a might man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
The sun is set; and in his latest beams
Yon little cloud of ashen gray and gold,
Slowly upon the amber air unrolled,
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.