The Elder's Rebuke
'Listen! When your hair, like mine, Takes a tint of silver gray; When your eyes, with dimmer shine, Watch life's bubbles float away: When you, young man, have borne like me The weary weight of sixty-three, Then shall penance sore be paid For those hours so wildly squandered; And the words that now fall dead On your ear, be deeply pondered— Pondered and approved at last: But their virtue will be past! 'Glorious is the prize of Duty, Though she be 'a serious power'; Treacherous all the lures of Beauty, Thorny bud and poisonous flower! 'Mirth is but a mad beguiling Of the golden-gifted time; Love—a demon-meteor, wiling Heedless feet to gulfs of crime. 'Those who follow earthly pleasure, Heavenly knowledge will not lead; Wisdom hides from them her treasure, Virtue bids them evil-speed! 'Vainly may their hearts repenting. Seek for aid in future years; Wisdom, scorned, knows no relenting; Virtue is not won by fears.' Thus spake the ice-blooded elder gray; The young man scoffed as he turned away, Turned to the call of a sweet lute's measure, Waked by the lightsome touch of pleasure: Had he ne'er met a gentler teacher, Woe had been wrought by that pitiless preacher.
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