Follow Your Leader

THE STORY OF A LIFE .

" Follow your leader! " So said Hope ,
In the joyous days when I was young.
O'er meadow path, up mountain slope,
Through fragrant woods, I followed and sung;
And aye in the sunny air she smiled,
Bright as the cherub in Paphos born,
And aye my soul with a glance she wiled,
And tinged all earth with the hues of morn.
Long she led me o'er hill and hollow,
Through rivers wide, o'er mountains dun,
Till she soared at last too high to follow,
And singed her pinions in the sun.

" Follow your leader! " So said L OVE ,
Or a fairy sporting in his guise.
I followed to lift the challenging glove
Of many a maid with tell-tale eyes.
I followed, and dreamed of young delights,
Of passionate kisses, joyous pains,
Of honied words in sleepless nights,
And amorous tear-drops thick as rains.
But, ah! full soon the frenzy slackened;
There came a darkness and dimmed the ray,
The passion cooled, the sunshine blackened,
I lost the glory of my day.

" Follow your leader! " So said F AME
In the calmer hours of my fruitful noon.
O'er briery paths, through frost, through flame,
By torrent, and swamp, and wild lagoon,
Ever she led me, and ever I went,
With bleeding feet and sun-brown skin,
Eager ever and uncontent,
As long as life had a prize to win.
But Dead-Sea apples alone she gave me
To recompense me for my pain,
And still, though her luring hand she wave me,
I may not follow her steps again.

" Follow your leader! " So said G OLD ,
Ere the brown of my locks gave place to grey.
I could not follow — her looks were cold;
Icy and brittle was the way.
And G OLD spread forth her wiles in vain,
So taking P OWER to aid her spell,
" Follow your leaders! " exclaimed the twain,
" For where we go shall pleasure dwell."
I followed, and followed, till age came creeping,
And silvered the hair on my aching head,
And I lamented in vigils weeping
A youth misspent, and a prime misled.

" Follow your leader !" I hear a voice
Whispering to my soul this hour; —
" Who follows my light shall for ever rejoice,
Nor crave the perishing arm of Power ;
Who follows my steps shall for ever hold
A blessing purer than earthly Love ,
Brighter than Fame , richer than Gold —
So follow my light and look above."
'T is late to turn, but refuse I may not,
My trustful eyes are heavenwards cast,
And ever the sweet voice says, " Delay not ,
I'm thy first leader and thy last."

'T is the friend of my youth come back again,
Sobered and chastened — but lovelier far
Than when in those days of sun and rain
She shone in my path as a guiding star.
She led me then, a wayward boy,
To things of Earth, and never of Heaven,
But now she whispers diviner joy,
Of errors blotted, of sins forgiven.
To a purpling sky she points her finger,
As westward wearily I plod,
And while I follow her steps, I linger
Calm as herself, in the faith of God.
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