Greybeards at Play
He was, through boyhood's storm and shower,
- My best, my nearest friend;
We wore one hat, smoked one cigar,
- One standing at each end.
We were two hearts with single hope,
- Two faces in one hood;
I knew the secrets of his youth;
- I watched his every mood.
The little things that none but I
- Saw were beyond his wont,
The streaming hair, the tie behind,
- The coat tails worn in front.
I marked the absent-minded scream,
- The little nervous trick
Of rolling in the grate, with eyes
- By friendship's light made quick.
But youth's black storms are gone and past,
- Bare is each aged brow;
And, since with age we're growing bald,
- Let us be babies now.
Learning we knew; but still to-day,
- With spelling-book devotion,
Words of one syllable we seek
- In moments of emotion.
Riches we knew; and well dressed dolls--
- Dolls living--who expressed
No filial thoughts, however much
- You thumped them in the chest.
Old happiness is grey as we,
- And we may still outstrip her;
If we be slippered pantaloons,
- Oh let us hunt the slipper!
The old world glows with colours clear;
- And if, as saith the saint,
The world is but a painted show,
- Oh let us lick the paint!
Far, far behind are morbid hours,
- And lonely hearts that bleed.
Far, far behind us are the days,
- When we were old indeed.
Leave we the child: he is immersed
- With scientists and mystics:
With deep prophetic voice he cries
- Canadian food statistics.
But now I know how few and small,
- The things we crave need be--
Toys and the universe and you--
- A little friend to tea.
Behold the simple sum of things,
- Where, in one splendour spun,
The stars go round the Mulberry Bush,
- The Burning Bush, the Sun.
Now we are old and wise and grey,
- And shaky at the knees;
Now is the true time to delight
- In picture books like these.
Hoary and bent I dance one hour:
- What though I die at morn?
There is a shout among the stars,
- "To-night a child is born."