The Old Grave

’T Is an old, old grave; the snows and rains
Of a hundred years have left their stains
On the broken slab, which some kind hand
Has pieced with an iron bolt and band,
Long since, — for the headstone leans awry,
Like a wheat-sheaf when the wind sweeps by.
’T is an old, old grave; the once trim mound
Is level now with the sloping ground; ,
From the tangled grass the buttercup
With a startled, wild-fawn air looks up,
And the coarse-leaved burdocks make their home
Where the mower’s scythe has ceased to come.
’T is an old, old grave,—how came I here?
I — I don’t know. It is many a year
Since I went from home, and yet to-day
It seems I’ve been but an hour away!
How odd that I’m standing here alone
With the Past so blotted out and gone!
I know the place, — as a boy have played
With my mates beneath that walnut’s shade;
It was smaller then — no! I declare
’T was a chestnut-tree that once stood there!
How all is changed in the spot I knew,—
How thick are the graves that once were few!
How the moss has spread, how the wall sags down,—
I saw it built! . . . Why, I think the town
Is nearer now than it used to be
When I was a boy. . . What’s this I see,
As I scrape the lichen from the stone?
What name do I read? Good God, my own!