James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

The Token - Poem by James Russell Lowell

It is a mere wild rosebud,
Quite sallow now, and dry,
Yet there's something wondrous in it,
Some gleams of days gone by,
Dear sights and sounds that are to me
The very moons of memory,
And stir my heart's blood far below
Its short-lived waves of joy and woe.

Lips must fade and roses wither,
All sweet times be o'er;
They only smile, and, murmuring 'Thither!'
Stay with us no more:
And yet ofttimes a look or smile,
Forgotten in a kiss's while,
Years after from the dark will start,
And flash across the trembling heart.

Thou hast given me many roses,
But never one, like this,
O'erfloods both sense and spirit
With such a deep, wild bliss;
We must have instincts that glean up
Sparse drops of this life in the cup,
Whose taste shall give us all that we
Can prove of immortality.

Earth's stablest things are shadows,
And, in the life to come.
Haply some chance-saved trifle
May tell of this old home:
As now sometimes we seem to find,
In a dark crevice of the mind,
Some relic, which, long pondered o'er,
Hints faintly at a life before.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012



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