The Land I Knew
David William Paley
Today, I shall go to a distant land,
Far from the sun's domain,
The land from whence I came
And soon will know again;
But it is not so far that I cannot sense
The thoughts that will be mine
As well as those I take from hence
Of which a trace will still remain.
At last, I have been chosen
To walk away from all this cold
Where I see the trees and birds about
That line my new found road.
The tattered trace of winter's reign
Becomes a permanent spring
That throws away the shredded rags
To don the liveried green.
Blooms in the meadow leap into view
To shake their heads at the widened sky.
Then, nature awakes to blossom anew
Hurling its wealth high up in the air
Cheering the flower usurping the throne
Like a god with the boldness of Mars,
The beauty of dawn succeeding the night
With the light that has melted from stars.
Winter has gone with its ice and storms;
Whilst summer and autumn
Perform elsewhere in the world.
Cast quite away is remembrance of thorns
Buried beneath the advent of change
That all my elation with garlands adorns.
These sights that lie so richly in view
Have advanced with a banner unfurled
To give such a pleasing touch to the eye
That I shall retain them evermore new
Sealed in my mind to recall as a sigh
In the last of the glances I take to the sky.
For, now, the course of my life
Calls a halt to its natural charm
As it claps my book to a close.
That bubbling well flows on through the lea
Flushing away the cares that I gathered
To the rocks in the depths of the sea.
The stream has flowed to journey's end
Past the shelter of cradled youth,
Through the torrents of age,
Where it washed the boulders of Time
To scud the shallows of brief acclaim
And shoot the rapids of fame.
As I ascend the steep, mountain path
The moon climbs over the hills,
Rising above the cares of the earth
To fly far away from the mart.
But take me into your heavenly realm
Towards the land that I seek;
For, I have left my faintness of heart
And gained the uttermost peak
Where I can discard my previous fears
Exchanging the bells that have tolled
For the hymns of welcoming skies
That are singing the song of the spheres.
Thus, as free as the wind
That drives the rain and the hail,
I am in command of my fate
Pursuing my course to its goal
No longer enslaved by a date
Nor bound to a future unknown
But stirred to repeat my earthly success
When, as tall as a beech
And as strong as an oak,
With wings that were ready to spread,
I found a world of the brave
Where I slayed the dragons ahead.
Thus, do we march through our lives
With burdens too heavy to bear;
But they, too, give us enjoyment
When we treat them as friends.
They become, then, our duties
Or prove to be even our purpose
Once promoted to serve as our ends;
We turn them into creations
That had no existence without us
But we convert them to milestones
Placed at the side of the road
In order to aid the later arrivals
On the route along which we strode.
That far off land is nearer, now,
Not so far from that first step
When forth I strode upon my way.
Thus, I leave the fog and snow
To the clouds of yesteryear
That heaped unwelcome sorrow
On friends who shed for me a tear.
I, therefore, pass with new found pleasure
Through a realm of sparkling treasure
To undertake what tasks I may;
For, I shall have forever a morrow
To follow the night that closes my day.
There, with angels and artists
Shall I be spending my hours
Lost in a gallery of infinite space,
Neither parted nor distant, absent but near.
I shall be moonbeams in water
And pearls in an oyster as well as a tear;
Nearby in starbursts and shrieks of delight
Then the cool breeze that wafts through the night;
Light and dark circling yet meeting renewed,
Spring with its flowers, forever bedewed;
You on the earth gazing above
Whilst I, in the heavens, remember our love.