For thirty years I read, and mused, and wrote,
Or idly angled from my fishing-boat;
Or wandered through the woods, or climbed the hills,
Listening to songsters and to murmuring rills;
Or sauntering in my garden talked with flowers,
As friend with friend, for many happy hours;
Or working in my fields ablaze with golden grain,
And herbs and fruits which keep life clean and sane.
Far from the busy mart and huckstering crowd,
Striving for gold or place with brawlings loud,—
From youth to middle age I've passed my days
Midst flowers and fields hearing what Nature says.
And now, alas! I'm on this boat and bound
For far King-chow, with rank and office crowned;
To village home and friends I've bid farewell,
And of life's peace, I fear, I've tolled the knell.
From off the shore a pleasant breeze now blows,
And on and on the placid river flows;
While the pale shining of the Queen of Night
Floods the great universe with silvery light.
I cannot sleep, the future weights my mind,
The calls of office—cares of every kind
Oppress me with a sense of coming woes—
A forlorn hope against unnumbered foes!
I fain would tune my harp and ballads sing,
Some comfort to my sinking heart to bring;
But such poor solace even is denied—
My hands are nerveless and my tongue is tied.
How can I leave my former happy life
To mingle in ambition's worldly strife!
What care I for the spoils of rank and power,
The petty triumphs of the passing hour!
My office I'll resign and homeward turn
To till my farm beside the rippling burn,
Where I in happy freedom may once more
The Muses and the Book of Nature pore.
There in my rustic lodge in leisure time,
I'll cherish every thought and scene sublime,
And following still the teachers of my youth
A name I'll build upon eternal truth.