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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 114/114 -


I've wandered to the village, Tom, I've sat beneath the tree, Upon the schoolhouse playground, that sheltered you and me; But none were there to greet me, Tom; and few were left to know, Who played with us upon that green some forty years ago.

The grass is just as green, Tom; barefooted boys at play Were sporting, just as we did then, with spirits just as gay. But the "master" sleeps upon the hill, which, coated o'er with snow, Afforded us a sliding-place some forty years ago.

The old schoolhouse is altered some; the benches are replaced By new ones, very like the same our jackknives once defaced; But the same old bricks are in the wall, the bell swings to and fro; Its music's just the same, dear Tom, 'twas forty years ago.

The boys were playing some old game, beneath that same old tree; I have forgot the name just now - you've played the same with me, On that same spot; 'twas played with knives, by throwing so and so; The loser had a task to do, there, forty years ago.

The river's running just as still; the willows on its side Are larger than they were, Tom; the stream appears less wide; But the grape-vine swing is ruined now, where once we played the beau, And swung our sweethearts - pretty girls - just forty years ago.

The spring that bubbled 'neath the hill, close by the spreading beech, Is very low - 'twas then so high that we could scarcely reach; And, kneeling down to get a drink, dear Tom, I started so, To see how sadly I am changed since forty years ago.

Near by that spring, upon an elm, you know I cut your name, Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom, and you did mine the same; Some heartless wretch has peeled the bark, 'twas dying sure but slow, Just as she died, whose name you cut, some forty years ago.

My lids have long been dry, Tom, but tears came to my eyes; I thought of her I loved so well, those early broken ties; I visited the old churchyard, and took some flowers to strow Upon the graves of those we loved some forty years ago.

Some are in the churchyard laid, some sleep beneath the sea, And none are left of our old class, excepting you and me; But when our time shall come, Tom, and we are called to go, I hope we'll meet with those we loved some forty years ago.

Unknown [Sometimes called "Twenty Years Ago." Claimed for A. J. Gault (1818-1903) by his family]

BEN BOLT

Don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt, - Sweet Alice whose hair was so Brown, Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile, And trembled with fear at your frown? In the old churchyard in the valley, Ben Bolt, In a corner obscure and alone, They have fitted a slab of the granite so gray, And Alice lies under the stone.

Under the hickory tree, Ben Bolt, Which stood at the foot of the hill, Together we've lain in the noonday shade, And listened to Appleton's mill. The mill-wheel has fallen to pieces, Ben Bolt, The rafters have tumbled in, And a quiet which crawls round the walls as you gaze Has followed the olden din.

Do you mind of the cabin of logs, Ben Bolt. At the edge of the pathless wood, And the button-ball tree with its motley limbs, Which nigh by the doorstep stood? The cabin to ruin has gone, Ben Bolt, The tree you would seek for in vain; And where once the lords of the forest waved Are grass and the golden grain.

And don't you remember the school, Ben Bolt, With the master so cruel and grim, And the shaded nook in the running brook Where the children went to swim? Grass grows on the master's grave, Ben Bolt, The spring of the brook is dry, And of all the boys who were schoolmates then There are only you and I.

There is change in the things I loved, Ben Bolt, They have changed from the old to the new; But I feel in the deeps of my spirit the truth, There never was change in you. Twelvemonths twenty have passed, Ben Bolt, Since first we were friends - yet I hail Your presence a blessing, your friendship a truth, Ben Bolt of the salt-sea gale.

Thomas Dunn English [1819-1902]

"BREAK, BREAK, BREAK"

Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy, That he shouts with his sister at play! O, well for the sailor lad, That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on, To their haven under the hill; But O for the touch of a vanished hand, And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break, At the foot of thy crags, O Sea! But the tender grace of a day that is dead Will never come back to me.

Alfred Tennyson [1809-1892]


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1 - 114/114

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