At Long Bay
FIVE years ago! you cannot choose
But know the face of change,
Though July sleeps and Spring renews
The gloss in gorge and range.
Five years ago! I hardly know
How they have slipped away,
Since here we watched at ebb and flow
The waters of the Bay;
And saw, with eyes of little faith,
From cumbered summits fade
The rainbow and the rainbow wraith,
That shadow of a shade.
For Love and Youth were vext with doubt,
Like ships on driving seas,
And in those days the heart gave out
But let it be! I’ve often said
His lot was hardly cast
Who never turned a happy head
To an unhappy Past—
Who never turned a face of light
To cares beyond recall:
He only fares in sorer plight
Who hath no Past at all!
So take my faith, and let it stand
Between us for a sign
That five bright years have known the land
Since yonder tumbled line
Of seacliff took our troubled talk—
The words at random thrown,
And Echo lived about this walk
Of gap and slimy stone.
Here first we learned the Love which leaves
No lack or loss behind,
The dark, sweet Love which woos the eves
And haunts the morning wind.
And roves with runnels in the dell,
And houses by the wave
What time the storm hath struck the fell
And Terror fills the cave—
A Love, you know, that lives and lies
For moments past control,
And mellows through the Poet’s eyes
And sweetens in his soul.
Here first we faced a briny breeze,
What time the middle gale
Went shrilling over whitened seas
With flying towers of sail.
And here we heard the plovers call
As shattered pauses came,
When Heaven showed a fiery wall
With sheets of wasted flame.
Here grebe and gull and heavy glede
Passed eastward far away,
The while the wind, with slackened speed,
Drooped with the dying Day.
And here our friendship, like a tree,
Perennial grew and grew,
Till you were glad to live for me,
And I to live for you.
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