The Winter of Life
by: Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)
As down the frosty road we came,
My man and I together,
We talked of this, and smiled at that,
Nor felt the chilling weather.
For side by side we trudged along,
Each thought the other sharing,
And in each other’s company
The wintry breezes daring.
The sky above was cold and gray,
The earth below was dreary,
But home was near, and love was warm,
Altho’ the way seemed weary.
John had but me, I had but John,
Life’s twilight skies to brighten,
But every sorrow we had borne,
Some blessing came to lighten.
The summer joys long since were past,
And winter’s snows were o’er us;
The twilight sky was cold and drear,
And night was just before us.
But though the way so weary seemed,
Yet John and I were merry:
For said I not that home was near?
And hearts and thoughts grew cheery.
After so long an absence
At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
Or does it give us pain?
The tree of life has been shaken,
And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet’s two or three berries
In the top of the uttermost bough.
We cordially greet each other
In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
How old and gray he is grown!
We speak of a Merry Christmas
And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
Of those that are not here.
We speak of friends and their fortunes,
And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
And the living alone seem dead.
And at last we hardly distinguish
Between the ghosts and the guests;
And a mist and shadow of sadness
Steals over our merriest jests.
“The Meeting” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Public domain.
by: Carmen Sylva (1843-1916)
Old age is gentle as an autumn morn;
The harvest over, you will put the plough
Into another, stronger hand, and watch
The sowing you were wont to do.
Is like an alabaster room, with soft
White curtains. All is light, but light so mild,
So quiet, that it cannot hurt.
Are hushed, for life is wild no more with strife,
Nor breathless uphill work, nor heavy with
The brewing tempests, which have torn away
So much, that nothing more remains to fear.
What once was hope, is gone. You know. You saw
The worst, and not a sigh is left of all
The heavy sighs that tore your heart, and not
A tear of all those tears that burnt your cheeks,
And ploughed the forrows into them.
How others work again and weep again,
And hope and fear. Thy alabaster room
With marble floor and dainty hangings has
A look so still, that others wonder why
They feel it churchlike. All thy life is here;
Thy life hath built the vault and paved it, and
Thy hands have woven yonder curtains that
Surround thy seat, a shady sunshine.
Is feeble not to thee, as all thy wishes
Are silent and demand no effort. Age
is kind to thee, allows thee all the rest
That never came, when life was hard and toilsome.
Receive it with a smile and clothe thyself
In white, in Nature’s silver crown, and sing
A lullaby of promise and of comfort.
Tell them that life is precious, after work,
And after grief and after all the deaths,
And not a loathsome burden of a life.
Old age is like a room of alabaster,
The curtains silken; thou art priest and Druid!
No mystery for thee, but Light from heaven!