AUTUMN to winter, winter into spring,
Spring into summer, summer into fall,--
So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
Motion so swift, we know not that we move.
Till at the gate of some memorial hour
We pause--look in its sepulchre to find
The cast-off shape that years since we called "I"--
And start, amazed. Yet on! We may not stay
To weep or laugh. All which is past, is past
Even while we gaze the simulated form
Drops into dust, like many-centuried corpse
At opening of a tomb.
Alack, this world
Is full of change, change, change,--nothing but change!
Is there not one straw in life's whirling flood
To hold by, as the torrent sweeps us down,
Us, scattered leaves; eddied and broken; torn
Roughly asunder; or in smooth mid-stream
Divided each from other without pain;
Collected in what looks like union,
Yet is but stagnant chance,--stopping to rot
By the same pebble till the tide shall turn;
Then on, to find no shelter and no rest,
Forever rootless and forever lone.
O God, we are but leaves upon Thy stream,
Clouds on Thy sky. We do but move across
The silent breast of Thy infinitude
Which bears us all. We pour out day by day
Our long, brief moan of mutability
To Thine immutable--and cease.
Our change yearns after Thine unchangedness;
Our mortal craves Thine immortality;
Our manifold and multiform and weak
Imperfectness, requires the perfect ONE.
For Thou art ONE, and we are all of Thee;
Dropped from Thy bosom, as Thy sky drops down
Its morning dews, which glitter for a space,
Uncertain whence they fell, or whither tend,
Till the great Sun arising on his fields
Upcalls them all, and they rejoicing go.
So, with like joy, O Light Eterne, we spring
Thee-ward, and leave the pleasant fields of earth,
Forgetting equally its blossomed green
And its dry dusty paths which drank us up
Remorseless,--we, poor humble drops of dew,
That only wish to freshen a flower's breast,
And be exhaled to heaven.
O Thou supreme
All-satisfying and immutable One,
It is enough to be absorbed in Thee
And vanish,--though 't were only to a voice
That through all ages with perpetual joy
Goes evermore loud crying, "God! God! God!"