To My Sister On Her Eighteenth Birthday
by Achsa White Sprague
Sister, our life is but a dream,
And we are hastening down the stream
That glides so fast;
Just eighteen years have passed away
Since thou beheld the light of day, --
How soon it past!
How short the time now seems to me
Since we sat down beneath the trees,
Beneath the shade;
Or sported on the grass so green,
Or through the fields with joyous mien,
We gaily strayed.
When we would cull the fairest flowers
That grew among the mossy bowers,
In early spring;
And list to hear the wild bird's song,
As through the air it swept along,
A joyous thing.
And when the summer came at last,
And all the berries ripened fast
Beneath the sun:
Then, with our baskets in our hand,
To gather them, -- a happy band, --
We swiftly run.
And when we'd picked a goodly share
Of all that were most nice and fair,
We never stayed;
But hastened home with longing eye,
To gaze upon the strawberry-pie
That mother made.
I well remember how we dressed
Our dolls up in their very best,
To make them show;
And William then would plague and tease,
And never give us any ease,
Or peace, you know.
And when we must to school away,
We almost wished, at home to stay,
To tend them well;
But when once there, we soon forgot
Their wants, in learning in that spot,
To read and spell.
And when the winter came with snow
And ice, -- when all the boys could go,
And slide so smart;
While you stood back with timid fear,
I always thought the
coast was clear,
And took a part.
And then, sometimes, we'd have a slide
Upon the sled that swiftly glides
Adown the hill;
With girls and boys in merry play,
When we could ever steal away
'Gainst mother's will.
But childhood's hours have passed away,
And with them all our merry play,
And dreams of bliss;
For after years bring pain and care,
And we must learn such things to bear
In a world like this.
This life at best, is full of woe,
As all who live too soon must know,
With bitter fears;
For all our hopes are but as dust,
And all their sweetest visions must
Be quenched in tears.
For Hope smiles only to deceive;
And yet we still that smile believe
When all is fair;
But when affliction's hour draws nigh,
Our happy thoughts are fettered by
A dark despair.
I think we both so soon have quaffed
From life's full cup a bitter draught
Of pain and care;
And yet perhaps 'tis but a drop
Compared to all within the cup,
To be our share.
Yet sometimes 'mid the gathering night,
There gushes forth a ray of light
To-guide our way;
That makes all things in gladness bloom,
Once shrouded by the darkest gloom,
And bids us stay.
And earth seems then a region blest,
Where many souls may seek for rest,
And find at last.
But ah, 'tis but a sunbeam stray
That through the clouds had found its way; --
It soon is past.
'Tis thus that life appears to me,
Yet brighter it may seem to thee
Than to my eyes;
May such glad feelings never fade,
And may no deeper, darker shade
E'er dim thy skies.
And thou hast passed from childhood now,
For eighteen years have swept thy brow
With flying wing;
And thou mnust bear life's hopes and fears,
For in thy heart are woman's tears, --
A hidden spring.
Let not the fount be lightly stirred
By winning smiles, and love's soft words
In tender tone;
Who learns to love, but learns to weep,
And tearful, nightly vigils keep,
In sorrow lone.
Shun dark temptation's devious way,
Encompassed round by fancy's gay
And treacherous net;
And let each false, alluring charm,
Spread forth to lure thee on to harm,
Be firmly met.
And if thy heart sometimes will fail,
And shrink beneath the passing gale
That round thee sweeps;
Think of a home beyond the grave, --
Of Him who will thy spirit save,
And ever keep.
An early poem, composed during sickness.
Source:The Poet And Other Poems.
Boston: William White And Co.,
158 Washington Street.