Charles Sprague

Charles James Sprague, "C. S." Charles Sprague, Poetical and Prose Writings (1876) tipped in before title page.

Two canes before me stand,
Recalling him by whom they both were borne;
One with the grasp of buoyant youth,
One with old age's pressure sadly worn.

I can remember well
When by that hand my childish steps were led;
The vigor of the manly form,
The lithesome frame and the elastic tread.

A god to me in youth,
Long years ago, when, flushed with the praise and fame,
He was the type of good to me,
And father, guide, and friend were all the same.

Long ere my untaught mind
Could grasp the lofty visions of his own,
I felt the power that in him dwelt,
Yet loved him for his nobleness alone.

Men praised him for his worth,
Integrity and intellect and lore;
But in our home we knew him best
For these, and loved his goodness how much more.

Then many years went by,
And bore away the dear ones of his heart,
Leaving a solitary man
To sit in silence, from the world apart.

In that deserted home,
That once was bright with youth and dance and song,
The father of that gladsome group
Groped in the shadows painfully along.

His books around him still—
Constant companions from a child — were spread;
It was his life's unburied joy
To hold communion with the mighty dead.

The friends of earlier years,
With faithful fondness and unwavering truth,
To cheer his lonely moments came,
Recalling memories of bygone youth.

And ever, to the last,
The iron will, the generous heart, remained;
The intellect of fourscore years
The fibre of its brilliant prime retained.

Then came a troubled time,
When, wavering like the staff he trembling bore,
The light within grew faint and low,
And children, friends, and books could cheer no more.

O father, old and weak,
When, with thy hand in mine, I saw thee die,—
The same to me as when a boy,—
Thy longed-for sleep awoke my agony.

If ever, like thy lot,
A lengthened span of weary life be mine,
May I be loved as thou wert loved,
And leave a name as good and pure as thine!