The Return

HE stood above the well-known shore ;
Behind, the sea stretched dull and gray:
And slowly with the breeze of morn
The great ship forged away.

Almost he wished she might return,
And speed him to some further change ;
The old scenes greeted him again,
And yet all things were strange.

There were the dreams he used to dream
In the long nights when day was here ;
The shady Sunday path to church,
The winding brooklet clear.

The woods with violets blue in Spring,
The fallow where they chased the hare,
The gable peeping through the elms,
All filled him with despair.

For all was there except the past—
The past, his youth for dross had sold !'
The past which after-years in vain
Prize more than all their goid.

Then age fell on him with a flash,
Time smote him, and his soul grew gray,
And thoughts in busier scenes unknown,
Chased youth and hope away,

The past, which seemed so near before,
A step might gain it, came to be
A low cloud sunk beyond a gulf,
Wider than any sea.

Nor what the present had in store,
Knowing ; at last his great suspense
Grew to a bitter load of pain,
Too great for mortal sense.

So, by the well-known paths at last,
He gained the well-remembered door,
Sick for a voice which he should hear,
Ah ! never, never, more

Strange children round, a stranger's face
Of wonder, so the dream was o'er.
He turned ; the dead past comes not back.
No, never, never, more.

by Sir Lewis Morris

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