TO MY SONS.
When I began the incidents of yore,
Still in my soul's depths treasured, to record,
A voice within said: Soon, life's journey o'er,
Thy portrait sole remembrance will afford.
And, ere the last hour also strikes for thee,
Search thou the harvest of the vanished years.
Not futile was thy toil, if thou canst see
That for thy sons fruit from one seed appears.
Upon the course of thine own life look back,
Follow thy struggles upwards to the light;
Methinks thy errors will not seem so black,
If they thy loved ones serve to guide aright.
And should they see the star which 'mid the dark
Illumed thy pathway to thy distant goal,
Thither they'll turn the prow of their life bark;
Its radiance their course also will control.
Ay, when the ivy on my grave doth grow,
When my dead hand the helm no more obeys,
This book to them the twofold light will show,
To which I ne'er forget to turn my gaze.
One heavenward draws, with rays so mild and clear,
Eyes dim with tears, when the world darkness veils,
Showing 'mid desert wastes the spring anear,
If, spent with wandering, your courage fails.
Since first your lips could syllable a prayer,
Its mercy you have proved a thousandfold;
I too received it, though unto my share
Fell what I pray life ne'er for you may hold.
The other light, whose power full well you know,
E'en though in words I nor describe nor name,
Alike for me and you its rays aye glow--
Maternal love, by day and night the same.
This light within your youthful hearts has beamed,
Ripening the germs of all things good and fair;
I also fostered them, and joyous dreamed
Of future progress to repay our care.
Thus guarded, unto manhood you have grown;
Still upward, step by step, you steadfast rise
The oldest, healing's noble art has won;
The second, to his country's call replies;
The third, his mind to form is toiling still;
And as this book to you I dedicate,
I see the highest wish life could fulfil
In you, my trinity, now incarnate.
To pay it homage meet, my sons I'll guide
As I revere it, 'mid the world's turmoil,
Love for mankind, which putteth self aside,
In love for native land and blessed toil.
TOTZING ON THE STARNBERGER SEE,
October 1, 1892.