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RETROSPECTION, by                    
First Line: When we see our dream ships slipping
Last Line: Joy will crown the endless years
Subject(s): Memory

WHEN we see our dream-ships slipping
From the verge of youth's green slope --
Loosening from the transient moorings
At the golden shore of hope --
Vanishing, like airy bubbles,
On the rough, tried sea of care,
Then the soul grows sick with longing
That is almost wild despair.

Far behind lies sunny childhood --
Fields of flowers our feet have trod
When our vision-bounded Eden
Held no mystery but God;
When in dreams we spoke with angels,
When awake, with brooks and birds,
Reading in the breeze and sunshine
Love's unspoken, tender words.

When the stars were lighted candles
Shining through God's floor of blue,
And the moon was but a window
For the angels to look through;
Clouds took shape of wondrous seeming,
Fairies hid themselves in flowers;
Morning-rise and sunset glories
Were but doors to heaven's bowers.

Ah! the sweet conceits and fancies
With which sunny childhood teems!
'Tis not strange the sickened spirit
Clasps the shadows of such dreams;
That, when life is stern and real,
Hope is crowded out by fears,
Love grown wearied of her vigils,
Back we look with bitter tears.

Life is but a rugged hillside
When cool science puts to flight
Childhood's treasured love of dreaming
Tinted all with rosy light.
For though years may bring us wisdom,
Distrust poisons holy truth;
So we turn, soul-sick with yearning,
To the sweet beliefs of youth!

And sometimes we question sadly,
Wherefore all life's bitter pain?
Are our dreams of hope and gladness --
Are our strivings all in vain?
Shall we find the scattered roses
That our careless hands have lost?
Wander to the thornless pathways
That our feet so thoughtless crossed?

And the answer, deep and solemn,
Seems to vibrate through all space:
Life is but a course of trial,
Childhood starts and ends the race.
For the harvests faithful gathered
Through the strife of toil and tears,
For the burdens borne in patience,
Joy will crown the endless years.

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