By the side of a silvery streamlet,
That flowed through meadows green,
Lay a youth on the verge of manhood
And a boy of fair sixteen;
And the elder spake of the future,
That bright before them lay,
With its hopes full of golden promise
For some sure, distant day.
And he vowed, as his dark eye kindled,
He would climb the heights of fame,
And conquer with mind or weapon
A proud, undying name.
On the darling theme long dwelling
Bright fabrics did he build,
Which the hope in his ardent bosom
With splendor helped to gild.
At length he paused, then questioned:
“Brother, thou dost not speak;
In the vague bright page of the future
To read dost thou never seek?”
Then the other smiled and answered,
“Of that am I thinking now,
And the crown which I too am striving
To win my ambitious brow.”
“What!—a crown? Thou hast spirit, brother;
Say, of laurels will it be?
Thy choice, the life of a soldier,
Though by wind and sun undarkened
Is thy blooming, boyish face,
To thy choice thou’lt do all honor,
For ’tis worthy of thy race!
“Am I wrong? Well, ’tis more likely,
With thy love of ancient lore,
Thou would’st choose the scholar’s garland,
Not laurels wet with gore;
I’ll not chide—’tis surely noble,
By mere simple might of pen,
To rule with master power
The minds of thy fellow-men.”
But still shook his head the younger:
“What! unguessed thy secret yet?
Ha! I know now what thou seekest
To deck thy curls of jet:
Bright buds!” and he, laughing, scattered
Blossoms on brow and cheek,
“Pleasure’s wreath of smiting flowers
Is the crown that thou dost seek.”
“Not so—of all, that were vainest!
’Tis a crown immortal—rare—
Here on earth I must strive to win it,
But, brother, I’ll wear it there!”
And he raised to the blue sky o’er him
Eyes filled with tender thought,—
Who shall doubt that to him was given
The glorious crown he sought?