Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
586. An Old Man’s Idyl
 
By Richard Realf
 
 
BY the waters of Life we sat together,
  Hand in hand in the golden days
Of the beautiful early summer weather,
  When skies were purple and breath was praise,
When the heart kept tune to the carol of birds,        5
  And the birds kept tune to the songs which ran
Through shimmer of flowers on grassy swards,
  And trees with voices æolian.
 
By the rivers of Life we walked together,
  I and my darling, unafraid;        10
And lighter than any linnet’s feather
  The burdens of being on us weighed.
And Love’s sweet miracles o’er us threw
  Mantles of joy outlasting Time,
And up from the rosy morrows grew        15
  A sound that seemed like a marriage chime.
 
In the gardens of Life we strayed together;
  And the luscious apples were ripe and red,
And the languid lilac and honeyed heather
  Swooned with the fragrance which they shed.        20
And under the trees the angels walked,
  And up in the air a sense of wings
Awed us tenderly while we talked
  Softly in sacred communings.
 
In the meadows of Life we strayed together,        25
  Watching the waving harvests grow;
And under the benison of the Father
  Our hearts, like the lambs, skipped to and fro.
And the cowslip, hearing our low replies,
  Broidered fairer the emerald banks,        30
And glad tears shone in the daisy’s eyes,
  And the timid violet glistened thanks.
 
Who was with us, and what was round us,
  Neither myself nor my darling guessed;
Only we knew that something crowned us        35
  Out from the heavens with crowns of rest;
Only we knew that something bright
  Lingered lovingly where we stood,
Clothed with the incandescent light
  Of something higher than humanhood.        40
 
O the riches Love doth inherit!
  Ah, the alchemy which doth change
Dross of body and dregs of spirit
  Into sanctities rare and strange!
My flesh is feeble and dry and old,        45
  My darling’s beautiful hair is gray;
But our elixir and precious gold
  Laugh at the footsteps of decay.
 
Harms of the world have come unto us,
  Cups of sorrow we yet shall drain;        50
But we have a secret which doth show us
  Wonderful rainbows in the rain.
And we hear the tread of the years move by,
  And the sun is setting behind the hills;
But my darling does not fear to die,        55
  And I am happy in what God wills.
 
So we sit by our household fires together,
  Dreaming the dreams of long ago:
Then it was balmy summer weather,
  And now the valleys are laid in snow.        60
Icicles hang from the slippery eaves;
  The wind blows cold,—’t is growing late;
Well, well! we have garnered all our sheaves,
  I and my darling, and we wait.
 

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