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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Time, Tireless Tramp

By Clifford Anderson Lanier (1844–1908)

[Born in Griffin, Ga., 1844. Died in Montgomery, Ala., 1908.]

O TIME, thou running tramp so fleet,

If thou wouldst only lag awhile!

I pause to ease my weary feet

And thou hast sped a mile.

How long a journey may I take

With thee? Is life but just one stage?

Our next inn death? New life the break

Of dawning age on age?

Millennial eons round, like flowers,

Thou must have known in bud and bloom;

And secular days from crescent powers

Waning to sunless gloom.

Didst chat with Luna, ere she grew

So chastely sad and ghostly cold,

About her fairness ere she knew

The wrinkle of growing old?

Art come to age’s memory yet?

Wilt gossip of thine earliest days?

The middle countless years forget

And sing us primal lays?

A hundred thousand springs eclipse

In blank forgetfulness. Retrace

Some million stades, and on thy lips

And round thy youthful face

Let speak the word, let shine the light

That sang and shone when stars were born!

Wast thou Beginning’s eremite

Unwed, alone, forlorn?

How old wast thou when Adam played

With Flora and the Fauns and Pan;

What time throned Jah from lustrous shade

Spake music unto man?

Beyond do vaster oceans roll?

How long canst thou expect to be?

All time thy body, timeless soul,

Hast reached maturity?

Thou seem’st a Jack-o’-lantern thought,

E’er dancing over fens of fern,

Fitful, afeard of getting caught,

And dark when thou shouldst burn.

Did God exhale thee while he slept,

The very vapor of his breath,

That, breath of Life, thou yet hast kept

The Elfin-ness of Death?

The Independent. 1889.