Poetry of Kansas
 

Sung To Youth

I
I have loved beauty with glad eyes that see
          A singing flame in every living thing;
The hills at dawn-gold sunlight through a tree--
          A woman's face-great birds upon the wings--
A dim cathedral with its chanting choir--
          My dreams have merged in all this warm delight
With matchless ecstasy of pulsing fire--
          I have the song of day, the rune of night.
 
What does it matter that the end is lurking
        To seal the lips and close the laughing eyes,
Or other men are tired of rest and working,
        I have my youth, I have the summer skies.
So I shall sing my little time away--
After youth goes we dream of yesterday!
 
II
The time is short, far shorter than we know
        To live and love these happy days of spring;
Tonight I follow where the warm winds go,
        I follow Pan, I hear his far pipes sing.
What shadows lie beneath these greening trees?
        What voice has called me with an old despair? ...
I hear love's song flow down the April breeze
        Pulsing with youth. Oh you who do not care
 
For wind swept heights may have the life that seems
        Perfect in every way; but give me white
Naiads that dance by singing moonlit streams--
        I hear Pan's music in the throbbing night
And all the world is young. Oh, sweet and rare!
The music of the pipes is in the air!
 
III
I shall grow calmer as years satiate
        The heart that now is thrilling in my breast
And wander with no dreams of love nor hate
        High on the lonely hills, nor know unrest.
I shall grow tired of all my youth's mad laughter,
        And dance no more, nor follow Pan again,
Nor wake to loveliness that follows after
        The gold sun breaks upon a summer rain.
 
Perhaps I shall be weary; if sleep fills
        My eyes when beauty colors all the night,
And glory crowns the summits of the hills,
        Then truly age has stolen all delight!
No matter what the years may bring, God seems
Too kind to end the beauty of my dreams.
 
IV
Only a moment is youth's flame ablaze,
        Burning with love, triumphant-clad in fire,
Then disillusion haunts the ashen days,
        And laughing lips are left without desire.
The slow processional of crushing years
        Chills the dead hearts with walls of silent stone.
And pity goes, and love, and even tears.. .
        And we must tread the last dim path alone.
 
Oh memories that die too soon, too soon, .
        You shall be born again in other dreams
And haunt new hearts beneath the summer moon,
        On city streets, by solitary streams.
The music, of the pipes is in the air--
While I have youth I cannot know despair!
 
___Ralph Leslie Wallace, Jr
 

Contemporary Kansas Poetry
Helen Rhoda Hoopes
pages 117-118
(Kansas City: Joseph D. Havens Company. 1927)

 
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August 2, 2004 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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