Could we forget the widow'd hour
      And look on Spirits breathed away,
      As on a maiden in the day
When first she wears her orange-flower!

When crown'd with blessing she doth rise
      To take her latest leave of home,
      And hopes and light regrets that come
Make April of her tender eyes;

And doubtful joys the father move,
      And tears are on the mother's face,
      As parting with a long embrace
She enters other realms of love;

Her office there to rear, to teach,
      Becoming as is meet and fit
      A link among the days, to knit
The generations each with each;

And, doubtless, unto thee is given
      A life that bears immortal fruit
      In those great offices that suit
The full-grown energies of heaven.

Ay me, the difference I discern!
      How often shall her old fireside
      Be cheer'd with tidings of the bride,
How often she herself return,

And tell them all they would have told,
      And bring her babe, and make her boast,
      Till even those that miss'd her most
Shall count new things as dear as old:

But thou and I have shaken hands,
      Till growing winters lay me low;
      My paths are in the fields I know.
And thine in undiscover'd lands.

Last modified 14 February 2010