Oh what shall I be at fifty
Should nature keep me alive,
If I find the world so bitter
When I am but twenty-five – Tennyson
What! are you sighing for ever,
Through life as you journey on?
And why is your life so sunless,
Weary, and woe-begone?
With nature laughing around you,
Friendship, and love, and truth;
Oh why do your looks betray such
Sorrow in early youth?
I grieve because joy’s so fleeting,
Sigh because hope is gone;
Sorrow for golden prospects
By the finger of fate undone.
Oh my life has been very bitter,
Fortune been very austere;
If I bask in a joy for an hour,
I reap a world of despair.
And you prate of the love and friendship
An innocent heart awards;
I have found them the pippins of Hesperus
The sleepless dragon guards.
If I tried to secure for a moment
Any such golden toy,
The big ugly demon snatched it
The moment I thought of enjoy.
Believe me, I have sought for friendship
Over and over again,
And I have found it an ignis fatuüs,
The dream of guileless brain,
One of the means which the hypocrite
Uses in breaking hearts;
A fell chameleon monster,
Deceitful in all its parts.
And Love, thou alluring demon,
Who hasn’t felt thy rod;
And I thought thee a flower of heaven
Bestowed by a pitying God.
When I tasted, with Moore and Byron,
Of love’s young dream and kiss,
I prayed to my better angel
Always to grant me this.
But I found thee cold and insipid,
Faithless, inconstant, untrue;
A rose with a nest of hornets,
In even thy sunniest hue.
And now when a vision of beauty
Smiles with bewitching smile,
I think of the Dead Sea apples,
Inviting only to spoil.
Then wonder my cheeks so sunken,
Pale as an acted lie;
My heart as cold as a moonbeam,
Kissing the struggling sky.
And death stands away in the distance,
Grinning with gorgon glee,
Waiting for Heaven’s permission
To square his account with me.
Let him come when he may, I don’t fear him,
What can his power avail?
Written up in the seventh heaven
Is a promise that cannot fail.
What though a river be flowing,
Angels of God will come
In the shop of a full atonement,
To bear and welcome me home.
Samuel Fee Given (S.F.G.)
Cullybackey, September 1864