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.
 
719. Once Before
 
By Mary Mapes Dodge
 
 
ONCE before, this self-same air
Passed me, though I know not where.
Strange! how very like it came!
Touch and fragrance were the same;
Sound of mingled voices, too,        5
With a light laugh ringing through;
Some one moving,—here or there,—
Some one passing up the stair,
Some one calling from without,
Or a far-off childish shout,—        10
Simple, home-like, nothing more,
Yet it all hath been before!
 
No: not to-day, nor yesterday,
Nor any day! But far away—
So long ago, so very far.        15
It might have been on other star.
How was it spent? and where? and when?
This life that went, yet comes again?
Was sleep its world, or death its shore?
I still the silent Past implore.        20
Ah! never dream had power to show
Such vexing glimpse of Long Ago.
Never a death could follow death
With love between, and home, and breath.
 
The spell has passed. What spendthrifts we,        25
Of simple, household certainty!
What golden grain we trample low
Searching for flowers that never grow!
Why, home is real, and love is real;
Nor false our honest high ideal.        30
Life,—it is bounding, warm, and strong,—
And all my heart resounds with song.
It must be true, whate’er befall,
This and the world to come are all.
And yet it puzzles me—alack!—        35
When life that could not be, comes back!
 

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