To A Successful Man
(WHAT THE GHOSTS SAID.)
by Alfred Noyes
And after all the labour and the pains,
After the heaping up of gold on gold,
After success that locked your feet in chains,
And left you with a heart so tired and old,
Strange-is it not?-to find your chief desire
Is what you might have had for nothing then-
The face of love beside a cottage fire
And friendly laughter with your fellow-men?
You were so rich when fools esteemed you poor.
You ruled a field that kings could never buy:
The whisper of the sea was at your door,
And all those quiet stars were in your sky,
The nook of ferns below the breathless wood
Where one poor book could unlock Paradise. . . .
What will you give us now for that lost good?
Better forget. You cannot pay the price.
You left them for the fame in which you trust.
But youth, and hope-did you forsake them too?
Courage! When dust at length returns to dust,
In your last dreams they may come back to you.