The End of the Game

POUNDING away in a rhythm bound as in fetters of brass,
Marches the band; — behind it, the wildly rhythmical mass
Of headlong, happiest youth, with hats flung high through the space
Where the conquering ball had sailed, with arms chance-linked for the race
To join the swirling, delirious, serpentine measure of joy
That wells from the leaping heart of every precipitate boy.
What sends from my older heart the mist to my musing eyes?
Not envy, I think, for all that niggardly age denies;
But something akin to pity — even at this flaming hour
Filled with the triumph of sharing the joy of triumphant power —
Pity that ever the jubilant springs must fail of their flow,
And that youth, so utterly knowing it not, must one day know.