Songs from the Mountains

After Many Years

Henry Kendall

THE SONG that once I dreamed about,
    The tender, touching thing,
As radiant as the rose without—
    The love of wind and wing—
The perfect verses, to the tune
    Of woodland music set,
As beautiful as afternoon,
    Remain unwritten yet.

It is too late to write them now—
    The ancient fire is cold;
No ardent lights illume the brow,
    As in the days of old.
I cannot dream the dream again;
    But when the happy birds
Are singing in the sunny rain,
    I think I hear its words.

I think I hear the echo still
    Of long-forgotten tones,
When evening winds are on the hill
    And sunset fires the cones;
But only in the hours supreme,
    With songs of land and sea,
The lyrics of the leaf and stream,
    This echo comes to me.

No longer doth the earth reveal
    Her gracious green and gold;
I sit where youth was once, and feel
    That I am growing old.
The lustre from the face of things
    Is wearing all away;
Like one who halts with tired wings,
    I rest and muse to-day.

There is a river in the range
    I love to think about;
Perhaps the searching feet of change
    Have never found it out.
Ah! oftentimes I used to look
    Upon its banks, and long
To steal the beauty of that brook
    And put it in a song.

I wonder if the slopes of moss,
    In dreams so dear to me—
The falls of flower, and flower-like floss—
    Are as they used to be!
I wonder if the waterfalls,
    The singers far and fair,
That gleamed between the wet, green walls,
    Are still the marvels there!

Ah! let me hope that in that place
    The old familiar things
To which I turn a wistful face
    Have never taken wings.
Let me retain the fancy still
    That, past the lordly range,
There always shines, in folds of hill,
    One spot secure from change!

I trust that yet the tender screen
    That shades a certain nook,
Remains, with all its gold and green,
    The glory of the brook.
It hides a secret to the birds
    And waters only known:
The letters of two lovely words—
    A poem on a stone.

Perhaps the lady of the past
    Upon these lines may light,
The purest verses, and the last
    That I may ever write.
She need not fear a word of blame—
    Her tale the flowers keep—
The wind that heard me breathe her name
    Has been for years asleep.

But in the night, and when the rain
    The troubled torrent fills,
I often think I see again
    The river in the hills;
And when the day is very near,
    And birds are on the wing,
My spirit fancies it can hear
    The song I cannot sing.

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