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l'ublished by Longmm, Ram

Trun

u n, Novi 1631

THE THREE AGES.

BY MARY HOWITT.

How beautiful are ye,
Age, Youth, and Infancy!
She, with slowly tottering pace,
She, with light and youthful grace,
And the child with clustering locks ;
All, all are beautiful!
For in them I can see,
Thus pictured forth, a lesson that is full
Of the strong interests of humanity.
Childhood all sorrow mocks;
It dwells in pleasant places;
Sees ever-smiling faces !
Flowers, and fair butterflies, and pebbly brooks,
These are its teachers and its lesson-books!
If chance a cloud come over it to-day,
Before to-morrow it hath passed away.
It has no troubling dreams;
No cogitations dark, no wily schemes;

It counteth not the cost
Of what its soul desires, with thoughtful trouble;
Knows not how days are lost -
How love is but a bubble;
Knows not an aching forehead, a tired brain;
Nor the heart sickening with a hopeless pain !
Oh, happy infancy!
Life's cares have small companionship with thee!

A child no more! a maiden now,
A graceful maiden, with a gentle brow;
A cheek tinged lightly, and a dove-like eye;
And all hearts bless her, as she passes by!
Fair creature, in this morning of her youth,
She is all love, she is all truth!
She doubteth none; she doth believe
All true, for she can not deceive!
Dear maiden, thou must learn, ere long,
That Hope has but a syren's song;
That Love is not what he would swear;
That thou must look before, behind-
The gentlest need be most aware —
A serpent ’mong the flowers is twined !
I mourn, sweet maiden, thou must learn
Aught so ungracious, aught so stern!

Oh, youth! how fair, how dear thou art ;
How fairer yet thy truth of heart!

That guileless innocence, that clings
Unto all pure, all gentle things !
Alas! that Time must take from thee
Thy beautiful simplicity!

Age, leaning on its staff, with feeble limb,
Grey hair, and vision dim,
Doth backward turn its eye,
And few and evil seem the days gone by!
Oh, venerable age! hast thou not proved all things,
Love, Hope, and Promise fair,
And seen them vanish into air,
Like rainbows on a summer's eve !
Riches unto themselves have taken wings ;
Love flattered to deceive;
And Hope has been a traitor unto thee !
And thou hast learned, by many a bitter tear,
By days of weary sorrow, nights of fear,
That all is vanity!

Yet, venerable age,
Full of experience sage,
Well may the good respect thee, and the wise !
For thou hast living faith,
Triumphant over death,
Which makes the future lovely to thine eyes!
Thou knowest that, ere long,
'T will be made known to thee,

Why virtue is so weak, why evil strong;
Why love is sorrow, joy a mockery.
And thus thou walkest on in cheerfulness,
And the fair maiden and the child dost bless!

Oh! beautiful are ye,
Age, Youth, and Infancy!
These are your names in Time,
When the eye darkens and the cheek grows pale;
But in yon fairer clime,
Where Life is not a melancholy tale,
Where woe comes not, where never enters Death,
Ye will have other names — Joy, Love, and Faith!

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