Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THEN AND NOW, by CHARLES FREDERICK JOHNSON



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THEN AND NOW, by            
First Line: To me the earth once seemed to be
Last Line: That life is war.


To me the earth once seemed to be
Most beautiful and fair;
All living creatures were to me,
In wood or air,
But kindred of a freer class;
I thrilled with keenest joy
To find the young quail in the grass: --
I was a boy.

The robin in the apple-tree,
The brown thrush in the wood,
The meadow larks, all called to me;
I understood:
A sense of union with the whole,
Of love for beast and bird,
Deep chords from man's ancestral soul,
Each wild note stirred.
All that is gone, and now I see
A blood-stained earth, where strife,
Unceasing war, and cruelty,
Make room for life;
Each living thing a helpless prey
To sharper tooth or claw,
Ten thousand murders every day
By nature's law.

But still old earth its glamour casts
O'er the clear eyes of youth,
And still the old illusion lasts
In spite of truth;

For now I find my boy can see
The earth I used to know;
He sees it as it seemed to me
So long ago.

Poor little chap! Sometimes I think
I'll tell him how he's fooled,
But when I see his eyes, I shrink,
My purpose cooled:
Why should I cloud his soul with doubt,
Or youth's illusions mar?
Too soon, alas, he will find out
That life is war.





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