I STOOD on the brink in childhood,
And watched the bubbles go
From the rock-fretted sunny ripple
To the smoother lymph below;
And over the white creek-bottom,
Under them every one,
Went golden stars in the water,
All luminous with the sun.
But the bubbles brake on the surface,
And under, the stars of gold
Brake, and the hurrying water
Flowed onward, swift and cold.


I stood on the brink in manhood.
And it came to my weary heart,—
In my breast so dull and heavy,
After the years of smart, —
That every hollowest bubble
Which over my life had passed
Still into its deeper current
Some sky-sweet gleam had cast;
That, however I mocked it gayly,
And guessed at its hollowness,
Still shone, with each bursting bubble,
One star in my soul the less.