How have I caught at fleeting joys
And swifter fleeting sorrows!
And days and nights, and morns and eves,
And seasons, too, aslipping thro' the years, afleet.
And wither hath their trend then led?
How do I to stop amid the very pulse o' life.
Afeared! Yea, fear clutcheth at my very heart!
For what? The night? Nay, night doth shimmer
And flash the jewels I did count
E'er fear had stricken me.
The morn? Nay, I waked with morn atremor,
And know the day-tide's every hour.
How do I then to clutch me
At my heart, afeared?
The morrow? Nay,
The morrow but bringeth old loves
And hopes anew.
Ah, woe is me, 'tis emptiness, aye, naught---
The bottomlessness o' the pit that doth afright!
Afeared? Aye, but driven fearless on!
What! Promise ye 'tis to mart I plod?
What! Promise ye new joys?
Ah, but should I sleep, to waken me
To joys I ne'er had supped!
I see me stand abashed and timid,
As a child who cast a toy beloved,
For bauble that but caught the eye
And left the heart ahungered.
What! Should I search in vain
To find a sorrow that had fleeted hence
Afore my coming and found it not?
Ah, me, the emptiness!
And what! Should joys that but a prick
Of gladness dealt, and teased my hours
To happiness, be lost amid this promised bliss?
Nay, I clutch me to my heart
In fear, in truth!
Do harken Ye! And cast afearing
To the wiles of beating gales and wooing breeze,
I find me throat aswell and voice attuned.
Ah, let me then to sing, for joy consumeth me!
I've builded me a land, my mart,
And fear hath slipped away to leave me sing.
I sleep, and feel afloating.
Whither! Whither! To wake,---
And wonder warmeth at my heart,
I've waked in yester-year!
What! Ye? And what! I'st thou?
Ah, have I then slept, to dream? Come,
Ne'er a dream-wraith looked me such a welcoming!
"Twas yesterday this hand wert then afold,
And now, ---ah, do I dream?
"Tis warm-pressed within mine own!
Dreams! Dreams! And yet, we've met afore!
I see me flitting thro' this vale,
And tho' I strive to spell
The mountain's height and valley's depth,
I do but fall afail.
Wouldst thou then drink a potion
Were I to offer thee an empty cup?
Couldst thou to pluck the rainbow from the sky?
As well, then, might I spell to thee.
But I do promise at the waking,
Old joys, and sorrows ripened to a mellow heart.
And e'en the crime-stained wretch, abasked in light,
Shall cast his seed and spring afruit!
Then do I cease to clutch the emptiness
And sleep, and sleep me unafeared!
HOW HAVE I CAUGHT AT FLEETING JOYS