When love was very young , and youth was joy ,
I passed each day a portrait on the stair :
An old man standing by a merry boy ,
With sunlight on the grey , and golden , hair .
“Learn with the child and me to laugh! ” I said,
“Why so withdrawn , so mournful all the while ?
Be merry living — grave enough when dead . ”
When love was growing old , and age was grief ,
I trod again that half-forgotten stair ,
Weary of heart , despairing of relief .
I saw again the pictured faces there :
“Ah, wise old man , to scorn delight , ” I said ,
“Experience will teach that thoughtless child
When life is only sorrow , better dead .”
He eyed me kindly , and I fear he smiled .
3 Oct. 1952