An Old Man's Dreams by Eliza M. Sherman

An Old Man's Dreams by Eliza M. Sherman

It was the twilight hour;

Behind the western hill the sun had sunk,

Leaving the evening sky aglow with crimson light.

The air is filled with fragrance and with sound;

High in the tops of shadowy vine-wreathed trees,

Grave parent-birds were twittering good-night songs,

To still their restless brood.

Across the way

A noisy little brook made pleasant

Music on the summer air,

And farther on, the sweet, faint sound

Of Whippoorwill Falls rose on the air, and fell

Like some sweet chant at vespers.

The air is heavy

With the scent of mignonette and rose,

And from the beds of flowers the tall

White lilies point like angel fingers upward,

Casting on the air an incense sweet,

That brings to mind the old, old story

Of the alabaster box that loving Mary

Broke upon the Master's feet.

Upon his vine-wreathed porch

An old white-headed man sits dreaming

Happy, happy dreams of days that are no more;

And listening to the quaint old song

With which his daughter lulled her child to rest:

"Abide with me," she says;

"Fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens,—

Lord, with me abide."

And as he listens to the sounds that fill the

Summer air, sweet, dreamy thoughts

Of his "lost youth" come crowding thickly up;

And, for a while, he seems a boy again.

With feet all bare

He wades the rippling brook, and with a boyish shout

Gathers the violets blue, and nodding ferns,

That wave a welcome from the other side.

With those he wreathes

The sunny head of little Nell, a neighbor's child,

Companion of his sorrows and his joys.

Sweet, dainty Nell, whose baby life

Seemed early linked with his,

And whom he loved with all a boy's devotion.

Long years have flown.

No longer boy and girl, but man and woman grown,

They stand again beside the brook, that murmurs

Ever in its course, nor stays for time nor man,

And tell the old, old story,

And promise to be true till life for them shall end.

Again the years roll on,

And they are old. The frost of age

Has touched the once-brown hair,

And left it white as are the chaliced lilies.

Children, whose rosy lips once claimed

A father's blessing and a mother's love,

Have grown to man's estate, save two

Whom God called early home to wait

For them in heaven.

And then the old man thinks

How on a night like this, when faint

And sweet as half-remembered dreams

Old Whippoorwill Falls did murmur soft

Its evening psalms, when fragrant lilies

Pointed up the way her Christ had gone,

God called the wife and mother home,

And bade him wait.

Oh! why is it so hard for

Man to wait? to sit with folded hands,

Apart, amid the busy throng,

And hear the buzz and hum of toil around;

To see men reap and bind the golden sheaves

Of earthly fruits, while he looks idly on,

And knows he may not join,

But only wait till God has said, "Enough!"

And calls him home!

And thus the old man dreams,

And then awakes; awakes to hear

The sweet old song just dying

On the pulsing evening air:

"When other helpers fail,

And comforts flee,

Lord of the helpless,

Oh, abide with me!"