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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Bell Scott 1811–90

Youth and Age

OUR night repast was ended: quietness

Return’d again: the boys were in their books;

The old man slept, and by him slept his dog:

My thoughts were in the dream-land of to-morrow:

A knock is heard; anon the maid brings in

A black-seal’d letter that some over-work’d

Late messenger leaves. Each one looks round and scans,

But lifts it not, and I at last am told

To read it. “Died here at his house this day”—

Some well-known name not needful here to print,

Follows at length. Soon all return again

To their first stillness, but the old man coughs,

And cries, “Ah, he was always like the grave,

And still he was but young!” while those who stand

On life’s green threshold smile within themselves,

Thinking how very old he was to them,

And what long years, what memorable deeds,

Are theirs in prospect! Little care have they

What old man dies, what child is born, indeed;

Their day is coming, and their sun shall shine!