The Voice of Age
 

She'd look upon us, if she could,
As hard as Rhadamanthus would;
Yet one may see, -- who sees her face,
Her crown of silver and of lace,
Her mystical serene address
Of age alloyed with loveliness, --
That she would not annihilate
The frailest of things animate.

She has opinions of our ways,
And if we're not all mad, she says, --
If our ways are not wholly worse
Than others, for not being hers, --
There might somehow be found a few
Less insane things for us to do,
And we might have a little heed
Of what Belshazzar couldn't read.

She feels, with all our furniture,
Room yet for something more secure
Than our self-kindled aureoles
To guide our poor forgotten souls;
But when we have explained that grace
Dwells now in doing for the race,
She nods -- as if she were relieved;
Almost as if she were deceived.

She frowns at much of what she hears,
And shakes her head, and has her fears;
Though none may know, by any chance,
What rose-leaf ashes of romance
Are faintly stirred by later days
That would be well enough, she says,
If only people were more wise,
And grown-up children used their eyes.