The Lost Garden

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There was a fair green garden sloping
From the southeast side of the mountain-ledge;
And the earliest tint of the dawn came groping
Down through its paths, from the day’s dim edge.
The bluest skies and the reddest roses
Arched and varied its velvet sod;
And the glad birds sang, as the soul supposes
The angels sing on the hills of God.

I wandered there when my veins seemed bursting
With life’s rare rapture, and keen delight;
And yet in my heart was a constant thirsting
For something over the mountain-height.
I wanted to stand in the blaze of glory
That turned to crimson the peaks of snow,
And the winds from the west all breathed a story
Of realms and regions I longed to know.

I saw on the garden’s south side growing
The brightest blossoms that breathe of June;
I saw in the east how the sun was glowing,
And the gold air shook with a wild bird’s tune;
I heard the drip of a silver fountain,
And the pulse of a young laugh throbbed with glee;
But still I looked out over the mountain
Where unnamed wonders awaited me.

I came at last to the western gateway
That led to the path I longed to climb;
But a shadow fell on my spirit straightway,
For close at my side stood greybeard Time.
I paused, with feet that were fain to linger
Hard by that garden’s golden gate;
But Time spoke, pointing with one stern finger;
“Pass on,” he said, “for the day grows late.”

And now on the chill grey cliffs I wander;
The heights recede which I thought to find,
And the light seems dim on the mountain yonder,
When I think of the garden I left behind.
Should I stand at last on its summit’s splendor,
I know full well it would not repay
For the fair lost tints of the dawn so tender
That crept up over the edge o’ day.

I would go back, but the ways are winding,
If ways there are to that land, in sooth;
For what man succeeds in ever finding
A path to the garden of his lost youth?
But I think sometimes, when the June stars glisten,
That a rose-scent drifts from far away;
And I know, when I lean from the cliffs and listen,
That a young laugh breaks on the air like spray.

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