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Poem by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

On the Reperusal of Letters Written in Youth

  Strange, as when vaguely through the autumn haze
    Loom the pale scenes last view'd in summer skies,
  Out from the mist the thoughts of sunny days
                And golden youth arise.

  Were ye, in truth, my thoughts?--along the years
    Flies back the wondering and incredulous Mind,
  In the still archives of lost hopes and fears
                Your date and tale to find.

  Gradual and slow, reweaving link to link,
    Epoch, and place, and image it recalls,
  And owns the thoughts it never more can think,--
                Dim pictures in dim halls!

  Dim pictures now; and once ye breathed and moved,
    And took your life as proudly from the sun
  As if immortals!--schemed, aspired, and loved,
                And sunk to rest;--sleep on!

  On a past self the present self amazed
    Looks, and beholds no likeness!--Canst thou see
  In the pale features of the phantom raised
                One trace still true to thee?

  'Twas said "The child is father to the man,"
    By one whose world was but the shepherd's range.
  What seas beyond thy vale, Arcadian,
                Ebb and reflow with change!

  In the great deeps of reason, heart, and soul,
    Through shine or storm still roll the tides unfailing;
  Each separate globule in the restless whole
                In daily airs exhaling.

  Thus evermore, albeit to erring eyes,
    The same wild surface dash to shore the spray,
  That seeming oneness every moment dies,
                Drop after drop, away.

  And stern indeed the prison of our doom
    If self from self had no divine escape;
  If each dead passion slept not in the tomb;
                If childhood, age could shape.

  Happy the man in whom with every year
    New life is born, re-baptized in the past,--
  In whom each change doth but as growth appear,
                The loveliest change the last!

  Full many a sun shall vanish from the skies
    And still the aloe show but leaves of thorn;
  Leaf upon leaf, and thorn on thorn, arise,
                And lo--the flower is born!

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton's other poems:
  1. The Love of Maturer Years
  2. The Everlasting Grave-Digge
  3. Address to the Soul in Despondency
  4. The Sabbath
  5. Love and Fame

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