On Reading the Twenty-Fifth Year
                
                  Report of My Class at Harvard
        

 
Now on this afternoon

When all the roses shine

Back at the sun,

Their leaves still glinting in

Sparkles of rain,

I see the faces of

Friends again.

 

On that side they are young:

Dark or fair, they bring

Back days among

Them, talk and laughter spun

Into a life-long

Youth that would run

Through everlasting spring.

 

On this side they are old

Already, and the child

Like look is gone.

It is as though they told

Stories no one

Could listen to:

How each has failed.

 

Or do their eyes,

Set in that sombre gaze,

Somehow disguise

A happiness that stays

Secret and never knows

How to appease

Time as it goes?

 

For these are those

Who have succeeded, choose

To be seen

In triumph once again:

They list their wives.

Their children, lose

Themselves as they explain.

 

Others are gone

Into silence, one

By one.

There are the dead

Looking straight ahead

At eighteen

Or twenty-one.

 

But there are more

Who seem unsure

Of welcome, are

Wordless and send no sign.

What do they fear?

In this long war

All victories disappear.

 

They move me most

Whose lives are lost

To our sad view:

Their lives have cost

Them greatly, and few

Of us who boast

Have been as storm-tossed.

 

What all this means,

Wishing back past scenes

Of happiness,

Taking pains

To count up gains,

I cannot guess.

What is success?

 

For all

Of us who fail

God grant we sail

Safe

From memories of the past

Into the last

Youthful life.