|For the 70th birthday of James Freeman Clarke|
Threescore and ten!—the crimson sunlight waning
Lights up the landscape with intenser glow:
The arch of days—some bright, some dull with raining—
Is spanned and clasped with heaven's fair, radiant bow.
Threescore and ten!—the years consumed in toiling,
Honored and happy, how they fled away!
Earth of its woes, and time, of stings despoiling,
Day ever brightening into fairer day.
Threescore and ten!—how has the infant's prattle
Changed to the eloquence of active men!
How many, fallen in life's stern storm and battle,
Passed on and crowned, will come no more again!
Threescore and ten!—how fondly memory lingers
With friends and voices known and loved so well!
And, deft with inspiration, fancy's fingers
Weave the old histories with their magic spell.
Threescore and ten!—yet marked by no decaying,
The juicy vine festoons the sunny hill;
Its summer foliage fresh and full displaying,
And clusters ripening on the trellis still.
Threescore and ten!—Oh, is it fact, or dreaming?
How strangely wrong our judgment is of men!
In form and feature strong and youthful seeming,
We lose the date, and think age young again.
Threescore and ten!—the evening shadows lengthen,
And whispering winds their fragrant incense breathe;
Faith, hope, and love the pilgrim spirit strengthen,
And hands unseen their benedictions wreathe.
O life mysterious, whose slow unfolding
Evades the prying of our human ken,
We trust the future to His wise upholding
Whose love has watched the threescore years and ten.