Alas ! when after years apart,
When every thought of wrong and strife,
And every stinging of the heart
With which lost love is often rife
Have passed away, and nought remains
To tell the love was ever there;
Except some faint accusing pains,
A whisper in the evening prayer,
A little talk between the lights
With some one both have known of old;
Or spectral thoughts on Christmas nights
Of blanks within the household fold;
Until a day when, as we tread
Some dismal, crowded city lane,
The shadowy past gives up its dead,
And shows the missing one again!
And by the unconscious lip and eyes,
In spite of all our flatterers say,
We learn that what he used to prize,
Has faded from our face away:
And that the memory he bears
Is different and fairer far,
Unshaded by the griefs and cares,
Which slowly made us what we are!
And then we feel that not alone
The bitter changes on our brow:
Our very lives have different grown,
We might have little mutual now!
No history that we could tell
Could span the years since last we met;
Or break away each secret spell,
Whose seal upon the soul is set.
Oh! not for friends who wait above,
But for the living friends apart,
We feel the still despair of love,
The hopeless blank within the heart!
Because the lives that parted so,
The hearts that thus were rent in twain,
Can never in one channel flow,
Can never more be joined again!