David William Paley
Days of childhood are no more
Unknowing of toil or louring shades.
Gone is that innocent hour
Spent by brooks and glades;
Those years should last forever
But golden youth too soon departs.
When I reached the state of man,
I was compelled to set my mark
As, before me, time unfolded
And led me with my weapons shouldered
To bid farewell for unknown parts.
But where to go or how to start?
What hidden lands lie unobserved
Or rosy blush reveals their coasts?
Should I plunge the depths of chance
Perhaps to wade in raging streams
In search of undiscovered gold;
Or first ascend some lofty crag
To view the scene below;
Or tramp along unbeaten paths
Where no sign can tell the way
Nor destination be foretold?
South to where the orange swells,
North to wind and ice;
East to the trackless wastes
Or west to the open skies?
To shake the trees for sustenance
Or to toil in the furnaced night?
To walk the endless byways
Or spend regrets in sighs?
But no seed will grow nor flower bloom
That has no sight of sun.
The bud of early dawn,
Full blossomed in the noon,
Will fade in evening light
And wither in the dark.
Therefore, forth I went
To seek the secrets out
And blow upon the spark
To kindle living flame
That shows the moth as phoenix
Burning into fame.
Apprenticeship has shown the route
From whence I chose the open road
To walk through storm and lightning.
The wind has blown its gales
And I have drawn my cloak the closer;
But the sun has shown its power
And I have opened to its welcome.
Then I faced abundant challenge
As I confronted rattling sabres
But firmly planted opposition
To reap reward from labours.
I left the winding road
To bathe in moonlight beams
Where floods of golden rays,
Flared in tender blaze
To creep through midnight dreams.
Beckoned from the wayside gate,
I took my window seat
To watch the others scurry by
In pursuit of wild ambition
Tantalised by distant goals
Far beyond their vision.
The past recedes as the world revolves
And soon drifts out of sight
As the future flashes by.
I have packed my trunk so full of life
And have not so long to wait
For the seasons' rapid wheels
To reach my local station.
There, I stand upon a platform
Where I await the sleeper train
As expresses thunder through
And Time my leisure steals.
Those passengers gazing blankly
Fight their daily battles
Before they, too, descend
At their appointed destinations
Where they wait without impatience
To be measured for their shrouds.
The clock arouses no frustration
When it shows the slower service
Has not yet arrived
For, they study the departures
With growing apprehension
At their journey to the clouds.
I also muse at that hereafter
When I am swallowed by the dark.
Shall I gaze at sparkling stars
And dream of all my treasure:
The memory of those flashing eyes;
Or one last glimpse of waving trees?
Now, in these, my silver years,
I must face a new adventure
When active lives decline
And careless joys of long ago
Flow past and rush alone
To join the boundless seas.
I may have left my former self
Marooned upon a desert isle
Or abandoned to the waves;
But, here, I have a remnant still
That has, now, rarer value.
I have ceased to count the seasons
Yet hope to mark their reappearance,
For, though the well of life be deep
And its waters drawn with pain,
Its flow is found to taste so sweet,
That I bid the tears of fond farewell
To pause awhile before they weep.
Thick, tangled woodland is bursting at the eaves
Where sun is held at bay by spreading tops
And dappled light blinks down through verdant leaves
With silence broken only by the bird in song
That thrills us from the branches when it sings.
But this enchanted idyll will not last forever
For, nature brings my sojourn to an early close
When the wisps of white above descend in sorrow
Like the curtain falling when the play is ended
Hiding all the action that passed across the stage
Except from those who stand within the wings.
I compose my thoughts in peace and think of long ago
When I righted wrongs encountered as through the past I wandered
And directed every deed towards a purpose
As I mastered every problem that then with ease was conquered,
Whilst others had their worries over which they anguished.
But day defers to evening and evening meets the night
To glimmer with a sunset tint upon the last horizon
As Time dissolves in shades of sombre gloom
Without my being able to command it to resume;
But I leave in my achievements a bequest to all mankind
And thereby show that death can thus be vanquished.