Poet Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

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The Fallen Leaves


WE stand among the fallen leaves,
Young children at our play,
And laugh to see the yellow things
Go rustling on their way:
Right merrily we hunt them down,
The autumn winds and we,
Nor pause to gaze where snow-drifts lie,
Or sunbeams gild the tree:
With dancing feet we leap along
Where wither'd boughs are strown;
Nor past nor future checks our song--
The present is our own.

We stand among the fallen leaves
In youth's enchanted spring--
When Hope (who wearies at the last)
First spreads her eagle wing.
We tread with steps of conscious strength
Beneath the leafless trees,
And the colour kindles on our cheek
As blows the winter breeze;
While, gazing towards the cold grey sky,
Clouded with snow and rain,
We wish the old year all past by,
And the young spring come again.

We stand among the fallen leaves
In manhood's haughty prime--
When first our pausing hearts begin
To love 'the olden time;'
And, as we gaze, we sigh to think
How many a year hath pass'd
Since 'neath those cold and faded trees
Our footsteps wander'd last;
And old companions--now perchance
Estranged, forgot, or dead--
Come round us, as those autumn leaves
Are crush'd beneath our tread.

We stand among the fallen leaves
In our own autumn day--
And, tott'ring on with feeble steps,
Pursue our cheerless way.
We look not back--too long ago
Hath all we loved been lost;
Nor forward--for we may not live
To see our new hope cross'd:
But on we go--the sun's faint beam
A feeble warmth imparts--
Childhood without its joy returns--
The present fills our hearts!

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