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.
 
655. Then and Now
 
By Charles Frederick Johnson
 
 
TO me the earth once seemed to be
    Most beautiful and fair;
All living creatures were to me,
    In wood or air,
But kindred of a freer class;        5
    I thrilled with keenest joy
To find the young quail in the grass:—
    I was a boy.
 
The robin in the apple-tree,
    The brown thrush in the wood,        10
The meadow larks, all called to me;
    I understood:
A sense of union with the whole,
    Of love for beast and bird,
Deep chords from man’s ancestral soul,        15
    Each wild note stirred.
 
All that is gone, and now I see
    A blood-stained earth, where strife,
Unceasing war, and cruelty,
    Make room for life;        20
Each living thing a helpless prey
    To sharper tooth or claw,
Ten thousand murders every day
    By nature’s law.
 
But still old earth its glamour casts        25
    O’er the clear eyes of youth,
And still the old illusion lasts
    In spite of truth;
For now I find my boy can see
    The earth I used to know;        30
He sees it as it seemed to me
    So long ago.
 
Poor little chap! Sometimes I think
    I ’ll tell him how he ’s fooled,
But when I see his eyes, I shrink,        35
    My purpose cooled:
Why should I cloud his soul with doubt,
    Or youth’s illusions mar?
Too soon, alas, he will find out
    That life is war.        40
 

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