And this is what is left of youth! . . .
There were two boys, who were bred up together,
Shared the same bed, and fed at the same board;
Each tried the other’s sport, from their first chase,
Young hunters of the butterfly and bee,
To when they followed the fleet hare, and tried
The swiftness of the bird. They lay beside
The silver trout stream, watching as the sun
Played on the bubbles: shared each in the store
Of either’s garden: and together read
Of him, the master of the desert isle,
Till a low hut, a gun, and a canoe,
Bounded their wishes. Or if ever came
A thought of future days, ’twas but to say
That they would share each other’s lot, and do
Wonders, no doubt. But this was vain: they parted
With promises of long remembrance, words
Whose kindness was the heart’s, and those warm tears,
Hidden like shame by the young eyes which shed them,
But which are thought upon in after-years
As what we would give worlds to shed once more.
They met again, — but different from themselves,
At least what each remembered of themselves:
The one proud as a soldier of his rank,
And of his many battles: and the other
Proud of his Indian wealth, and of the skill
And toil which gathered it; each with a brow
And heart alike darkened by years and care.
They met with cold words, and yet colder looks:
Each was changed in himself, and yet each thought
The other only changed, himself the same.
And coldness bred dislike, and rivalry
Came like the pestilence o’er some sweet thoughts
That lingered yet, healthy and beautiful,
Amid dark and unkindly ones. And they,
Whose boyhood had not known one jarring word,
Were strangers in their age: if their eyes met,
’Twas but to look contempt, and when they spoke,
Their speech was wormwood! . . .
. . . And this, this is life!