There are many windings in the stream of life, and on this idea I have proceeded. Its course towards the Ocean of Eternity we all know to be certain, but not direct. Each picture I have wished to make a sort of antithesis to the other, thereby the more fully to illustrate the changeable tenor of our mortal existence. I am convinced the opinion of spectators will be various on the subject of the direction of the stream. This I have gathered from remarks already made. That which you have thought might be a defect, has been considered a beauty. 1
I am still a Youth in imagination & build castles still. They will crumble away most likely but if I can find by groping amid the ruins some bits of gold I may perhaps consider myself fortunate. 2
Thine early Hopes are fading one by one
The brightest loftiest are the first to die
Grow faint; or cold; perish mournfully.
So in the splendor of the joyous sun
The burnished clouds do gladden all the sky
And laughing put their evening-glory on.
Till sunk the orb amid the murmuring surge:
The highest in the concave first is dead
And so successive withering to the verge
Of ocean drear—night's fall is o'er them spread
And winds and waves chaunt forth a funeral dirge.
Yet thus benighted; Youthful visions fled
One changeless hope remains to cheer my breast:
A day will dawn in the Eternal East.
Catskill [28 March 1838] 3