Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MESSAGE BACK TO YOUTH, by ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON



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A MESSAGE BACK TO YOUTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: They told me 'youth is all revolt
Last Line: The better seeks the best.


THEY told me "Youth is all revolt,
And age is all repose";
That Time would medicine my fault,
As every graybeard knows;

Him whom the misty Morn deceives
Sage Noon from doubt would wean,
As the sapling of the restless leaves
Becomes an oak serene.

They told me Love was strongest there,
Unbridled by Content;
Life's tame meridian years could ne'er
Know passion so unpent.

I heard their whispered counselings:
"Be patient with his dreams,
Time to the best ideal brings
The verdict ` It but seems.'"

But I have found not as they planned
The scheme of good and ill.
Though full in sight of Age I stand,
I am a rebel still.

For me and for my kind I feel
The pathos of mistake,
And covet knowledge for my zeal
To help the world awake.

I find in labyrinthine wrong
But one -- Love's silken -- clew.
The way from what we know, how long
It lies, to what we do!

Since there be wings the blue to cleave,
Why be content to plod?
Were man less laggard, he might leave
The patience unto God.

Still the weird figures in the mist,
That held my youth in awe,
Defy the toil of analyst
To range them into law.

And Love? -- What all the youthful fire
(They said would die so soon),
To wiser man's mature desire
But dawn compared to noon?

And though within my happy sight
My children's children play,
I find no fading of the light
That made my magic day.

The clearer vision but discerns
The needs that Youth foreknew:
More wonderful the sun that turns
To rainbow in the dew.

The world's heart still in Music beats
Against this heart of mine,
That, more than ever, gladly greets
Day's pageantry divine.

Still unappeased the boy's desire,
Still tireless is the quest;
As to the summit leaps the fire,
The better seeks the best.





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