The latest footsteps of the year are now being impressed on the unstable, sandy beach of time—that shore which skirts the ocean of eternity. It is a narrow shore that man treads. Before him spread thick mists and darkness: and ever and anon, we hear the plunge of some one who has fallen into the deep. But let us not fear. It is the corporeal part of man that sinks. The soul soars over that vast sea, and finds a fitter dwelling place. 1
Gray hairs, unwelcome monitors, begin
To mingle with the locks that shade my brow
And sadly warn me that I stand within
That pale uncertain called the middle age.
Upon the billow's head which soon must bow
I reel; and gaze into the depths where rage
No more the wars 'twixt Time and Life as now,
And gazing swift, descend towards that great Deep
Whose secrets the Almighty one doth keep.
I am as one on mighty errand bound
Uncertain is the distance—fixed the hour;
He stops to gaze upon the Dial's round
Trembling and earnest; when a rising cloud
Casts its oblivious shadow and no more
The gnomon tells us what he would know and loud
Thunders are heard and gathering tempests lower.
Lamenting misspent time he hastes away
And treads again the dim and dubious way.
1 February 1840 2