AN old song, an old song! But the new are not so sweet,—
Sweet though they be with honeyed words, and sweet with fancies fair,
With thrills of tune in silver troop of answering echoes fleet,
With tender longings slumberous upon enchanted air.
An old song! But across its verse what viewless voices sing!
Through all its simple burden what human pulses stir!
More intimate with grief and joy than any precious thing
That the years have wrapped away in frankincense and myrrh!
Lovers have sung it, summer nights, when earth itself seemed heaven;
Sailors far off on lonely seas have given it to the gale;
Mothers have hushed its measure on the quiet edge of even,
While soft as falling rose-leaves dear eyelids dropped their veil.
Long since the sailor made his grave between two rolling waves,
The lovers and their love are naught, mother and child are dust;
But to-night some maiden lifts it, to-night its sounding staves
Are blowing from the stroller’s lips on this balmy blossom-gust.
A part of life, its music flows as the blood flows in the vein;
Laughter ripples through it, tears make its charm complete;
For the heart of all the ages beats still through this old strain, —
An old song, an old song, but the new are not so sweet!
Harriet Prescott Spofford.