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IN my hot youth I rashly penned
A Sonnet of the After-life.
It was the time of stress and strife
Through which the ardent soul must wend.
It was the Spring-time of my days,
When Doubt, like an inspired sage,
With creeds did eager warfare wage,
And looked with scorn on ancient ways.
But gazing back across the years
That separate my youth from me,
These words and thoughts now seem to be
All dim, as through a mist of tears.
For then I saw, with eager eyes,
A coming world where joy would reign,
And evil pass away, and pain,
When man was rid of priestly ties.
While now I turn a backward gaze
On visions fled, and vanished hours,
On dead dry leaves and perished flow'rs,
That make the story of my days.
And midway on that dreary track
I see a grave-stone, standing white —
Far off. I see it in the night;
It says, “Thy mother comes not back.”
We brought her from the Austral land,
To this the land that gave her birth;
We laid her cold, in English earth,
My sire and I — and now we stand,
Like aliens, on a dreary shore,
Though once he fondly called it “Home.”
Now, old and mateless, he would roam
Back to that southern land once more.
For there her spirit seems to be,
There lie her babes beneath the sod;
And there, but for the hand of God,
Her grandchild would have climbed her knee.
* * * * *
These verses of the heedless Past,
They echo not my saddened thought,
— I held that after death came nought:
The earth was not then on her cast.
Denial now is dumb within,
Without I can but grope my way,
And trust that in some brighter day
Man's soul shall live — absolved of sin.
Arthur Patchett Martin