The Young Earth

Old Earth? Young Earth! — though myriad years,
Since Time's primeval morn,
She may have bloom'd amid the spheres
Before a man was born.

Still young; though race succeeding race
Have trod her breast sublime,
And flourish'd in their pride of place
Their full allotted time, —

Then pass'd away, like daily things,
Nor left a trace behind
To tell how many thousand Springs
They lived before mankind.

We, who for threescore years and ten
Toil deathwards from our birth,
Deem sixty centuries of men
A ripe old age for Earth.

But all our deeds, though back we look
With yearning keen and fond,
Fill but a page: the mighty book
Lies fathomless beyond.

She is not old, or waxing cold,
But vigorous as of yore
When 'mid her kindred globes she roll'd,
Exulting evermore.

Six thousand years of human strife
Are little in the sum;
A morning added to her life,
And noonday yet to come.

Six thousand years! — what have they brought,
O poor ephemeral man?
Go, reckon centuries by thought,
Thou'lt find them but a span.

Go, reckon time by progress made,
And lo, what ages pass,
Swift as the transitory shade
Of clouds upon the grass.

Six thousand years! and what are they?
A cycle scarce begun;
The fragment of a grander day
Unmeasured by the sun;

Too short to purify the sight
Of souls in Error blind —
Too short to show the healing light
Of Love to all mankind.

For lo! the lesson has been read
In every clime and tongue;
The Sea has breathed it from her bed,
And Earth and Air have sung.

The Sun has beam'd it from above
To all his worlds around;
The Stars have preached that God is Love:
But answer never found.

The generations, cold and dark,
Have lived and pass'd away,
And never caught the faintest spark
Of Love's eternal ray.

The myriads, seeking to create
An idol to adore,
Have made their God a God of Hate,
And worshipp'd him with gore.

And living multitudes have heard
That Love is Nature's plan;
Yet shut their souls against the Word
That teaches love to man.

But there is progress in the spheres,
The glorious Earth is young;
The seed has lain six thousand years,
The tender shoots have sprung.

She is not old, but young and fair;
And marching to her prime,
Her teeming bosom yet shall bear
The harvest of her time.

And generations — thought-endued,
Each wiser than the last,
Shall crowd, in one short year, the good
Of centuries of the past; —

Shall, living, aid by loving deeds
The truth for which we pine,
And, dying, sow the fruitful seeds
Of Progress more divine.

The struggle long and sorely fought
Embitter'd as it spread
For simplest rights — free hand, free thought,
And sustenance of bread:

The struggle of the righteous weak
Against th' unrighteous strong —
Of Justice firm, though mild and meek,
Against oppressive Wrong —

Draws in, and must be ended yet —
It ripens to its hour:
The mighty combatants have met;
And Truth has challenged Power.

Young Earth! — her sad six thousand years
Now passing swift away,
Are but her infancy of tears —
The dawn before the day.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.