Back on its golden hinges
  The gate of Memory swings,
And my heart goes into the garden
  And walks with the olden things.
The old-time, joys and pleasures,
  The loves that it used to know,
It meets there in the garden,
  And they wander to and fro.

It heareth a peal of laughter,
  It seeth a face most fair,
It thrills with a wild, strange rapture
  At the glance of a dark eye there;
It strayeth under the sunset
  In the midst of a merry throng,
And beats in a tuneful measure,
  To the snatch of a floating song.

It heareth a strain of music
  Swell on the dreamy air,
A strain that is never sounded,
  Save in the garden there.
It wanders among the roses,
  And thrills at the long-lost kiss,
And glows at the touch of fingers,
  In a tremor of foolish bliss.

But all is not fair in the garden,--
  There's a sorrowing sob of pain;
There are tear-drops, bitter, scalding,
  And the roses are tempest-slain.
And I shut the gate of the garden,
  And walk in the Present's ways,
For its quiet paths are better
  Than the pain of those vanished days!

Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.

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