[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]
In the Long Ago.
Once, in the blissful long ago,
What happened? Would you like to know?
Ah! yes, I know you would, quite well,
And yet — and yet I may not tell.
’Twas in the long ago, I say,
And yet it was but yesterday;
Or so it sometimes seems to me,
And sometimes an eternity.
But still, as we count time, I know
It was not very long ago;
And months, not years, must counted be
Since life’s best sunshine gleamed for me.
Ah! well, I think that every heart
Holds in its secret, inmost part
Its sacred shrine, whereon is laid
Soul blossoms that can never fade —
Some secret none may share or know,
From out the blissful long ago.
Maybe a hope that died in tears,
A love that faded with the years;
A joy too frail, too tender far,
To stand the world’s rough jolt and jar.
A friendship, ah! so sweet and pure,
We thought this surely must endure;
We thought because our hearts were true,
That others needs must be so too.
Ah! well, ah! well, we hold them there,
Close hidden from the outer air;
Our dear dead joys, our faded flowers,
That no eye sees but God’s and ours.
But God does see them, and His hand,
Maybe, will plant our desert land —
Will bid white lilies blossom there,
And love’s bright roses, sweet and fair.
And it may be that, at the last,
When all of life lies in the past,
And death has shown a world of bliss
To eyes that only wept in this,
God’s hand may gently lead us where,
More sweet, more tender, and more fair,
Our dear dead hopes, our faded flowers,
Live, blossom in immortal bowers.
Ours for a glad eternity;
God’s love bounds all things — this may be.
Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 87-88
bower = a shaded, leafy resting place or shelter, usually located within a garden or park and often made of latticework upon which plants (especially vines) are grown, or made out of intertwined tree boughs or vines (also known as an “arbor”) (“bower” may also refer to a country cottage or retreat, or to a woman’s bedroom or apartments in a medieval castle or mansion)
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