I SPREAD a scanty board too late;
The old-time guests for whom I wait
Come few and slow, methinks, to-day.
Ah! who could hear my messages
Across the dim unsounded seas
On which so many have sailed away!
Come, then, old friends, who linger yet,
And let us meet, as we have met,
Once more beneath this low sunshine;
And grateful for the good we’ve known,
The riddles solved, the ills outgrown,
Shake hands upon the border line.
The favor, asked too oft before,
From your indulgent ears, once more
I crave, and, if belated lays
To slower, feebler measures move,
The silent, sympathy of love
To me is dearer now than praise.
And ye, O younger friends, for whom
My hearth and heart keep open room,
Come smiling through the shadows long,
Be with me while the sun goes down,
And with your cheerful voices drown
The minor of my even-song.
For, equal through the day and night,
The wise Eternal oversight
And love and power and righteous will
Remain: the law of destiny
The best for each and all must be,
And life its promise shall fulfil.