THOU unrelenting Past!
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain
And fetters sure and fast
Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm withdrawn 5
Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom
And glorious ages gone
Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
Childhood with all its mirth
Youth Manhood Age that draws us to the ground 10
And last Man's Life on earth
Glide to thy dim dominions and are bound.
Thou hast my better years;
Thou hast my earlier friends the good the kind
Yielded to thee with tears¡ª 15
The venerable form the exalted mind.
My spirit yearns to bring
The lost ones back¡ªyearns with desire intense
And struggles hard to wring
Thy bolts apart and pluck thy captives thence.
In vain; thy gates deny
All passage save to those who hence depart;
Nor to the streaming eye
Thou giv'st them back¡ªnor to the broken heart.
In thy abysses hide 25
Beauty and excellence unknown; to thee
Earth's wonder and her pride
Are gathered as the waters to the sea;
Labors of good to man
Unpublished charity unbroken faith 30
Love that midst grief began
And grew with years and faltered not in death.
Full many a mighty name
Lurks in thy depths unuttered unrevered;
With thee are silent fame 35
Forgotten arts and wisdom disappeared.
Thine for a space are they¡ª
Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last:
Thy gates shall yet give way
Thy bolts shall fall inexorable Past! 40
All that of good and fair
Has gone into thy womb from earliest time
Shall then come forth to wear
The glory and the beauty of its prime.
They have not perished¡ªno! 45
Kind words remembered voices once so sweet
Smiles radiant long ago
And features the great soul's apparent seat.
All shall come back; each tie
Of pure affection shall be knit again; 50
Alone shall Evil die
And Sorrow dwell a prisoner in thy reign.
And then shall I behold
Him by whose kind paternal side I sprung
And her who still and cold 55
Fills the next grave¡ªthe beautiful and young.