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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!
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