Littell's Living Age/Volume 144/Issue 1856/A Folded Leaf

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Originally published in Chambers' Journal.

A Folded Leaf

A folded page, old, stained, and blurred,
     I found within your book last night.
I did not read the dim dark word
     I saw in the slow-waning light;
So put it back, and left it there,
As if in truth I did not care.

Ah! we have all a folded leaf
     That in Time's book of long ago
We leave: a half-relief
     Falls on us when we hide it so.
We fold it down, then turn away,
And who may read that page to-day?

Not you, my child; nor you, my wife,
     Who sit beside my study chair;
For all have something in their life
     That they, and they alone, may bear —
A trifling lie, a deadly sin,
A something bought they did not win.

My folded leaf! how blue eyes gleam
     And blot the dark-brown eyes I see;
And golden curls at evening beam
     Above the black locks at my knee!
Ah me! that leaf is folded down,
And aye for me the locks are brown.

And yet I love them who sit by,
     My best and dearest — dearest now.
They may not know for what I sigh,
     What brings the shadow on my brow.
Ghosts at the best; so let them be,
Nor come between my life and me.

They only rise at twilight hour;
     So light the lamp, and close the blind.
Small perfume lingers in the flower
     That sleeps that folded page behind.
So let it ever folded lie;
'Twill be unfolded when I die.