A Fable

SILENT and sunny was the way
Where Youth and I danced on together:
So winding and embowered o'er,
We could not see one rood before.
Nevertheless all merrily
We bounded onward, Youth and I,
Leashed closely in a silken tether:
(Well-a-day, well-a-day!)
Ah Youth, ah Youth, but I would fain
See thy sweet foolish face again!

It came to pass, one morn of May,
All in a swoon of golden weather,
That I through green leaves fluttering
Saw Joy uprise on Psyche wing:
Eagerly, too eagerly
We followed after,--Youth and I,--
Till suddenly he slipped the tether:
(Well-a-day, well-a-day!)
'Where art thou, Youth?' I cried. In vain;
He never more came back again.

Yet onward through the devious way
In rain or shine, I recked not whether,
Like many other maddened boy
I tracked my Psyche-wingèd Joy;
Till, curving round the bowery lane,
Lo,--in the pathway stood pale Pain,
And we met face to face together:
(Well-a-day, well-a-day!)
'Whence comest thou?'--and I writhed in vain--
'Unloose thy cruel grasp, O Pain!'

But he would not. Since, day by day
He has ta'en up Youth's silken tether
And changed it into iron bands.
So through rich vales and barren lands
Solemnly, all solemnly,
March we united, he and I;
And we have grown such friends together
(Well-a-day, well-a-day!)
I and this my brother Pain,
I think we'll never part again.

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