In One's Age To One's Youth

By Edith Matilda Thomas

Listen, thou child I used to be!
I know what thou didst fret to know–
Knowledge thou couldst not lure to thee,
Whatever bribe thou wouldst bestow.
That knowledge but a waymark plants
Along the road of ignorance.

Listen, thou child I used to be!
I am enlarged where thou wert bound,
Though vaunting still that thou wast free,
And lord of thine own pleasure crowned.
True freedom heeds a hidden stress,
Whereby desire to range grows less.

Listen, thou child I used to be!
Unmoved I meet thy fear of old,
Where thou, but masked with bravery,
Didst ever charge thyself, Be bold!
True courage owns a dread extreme–
Led blind through the blind battle’s scheme!

Listen, thou child I used to be!
I love, I serve with proffered veins,
Where thou demandest praise thy fee,
And grateful solace for thy pains.
True love and service do but win
That I may more exceed therein.

Listen, thou child I used to be!
My soul to wrath ‘gainst wrong is used,
Where thy rash combat utterly
The doer and the deed confused.
Right wrath the deed stabs soon or late,
The doer spares, his deed to hate.

Listen, thou child I used to be!
Unproud I move, and yet unbowed,
Where thou wast fed with vanity,
Thy chiefest pride–thou wast not proud!
True lowliness forgets its state,
And equal trains with small or great.

Listen, thou child I used to be!
I am what thy dream-wandering sense
Did shape, and thy fresh will decree,
Yet all with subtle difference:
Where heaven’s arc did seem to end,
Still on and on fair fields extend.

Yet listen, child I used to be!
Nothing of thine I dare despise,
Nor passion, deed, nor fantasy;
For lo! the soul’s far years shall rise
And with unripeness charge this hour
Would boast o’er thine its riper power.

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