Where are they— the Afterwhiles—Luring us the lengthening milesOf our lives? Where is the dawnWith the dew across the lawnStroked with eager feet the farWay the hills and valleys are?Were the sun that smites the frownOf the eastward-gazer down?Where the rifted wreaths of mistO'er us, tinged with amethyst,Round the mountain's steep defiles?Where are the afterwhiles?
Afterwhile— and we will goThither, yon, and too and fro—From the stifling city streetsTo the country's cool retreats—From the riot to the restWere hearts beat the placidest:Afterwhile, and we will fallUnder breezy trees, and lollIn the shade, with thirsty sightDrinking deep the blue delightOf the skies that will beguileUs as children— afterwhile.
Afterwhile— and one intendsTo be gentler to his friends—,To walk with them, in the hushOf still evenings, o'er the plushOf home-leading fields, and standLong at parting, hand in hand:One, in time, will joy to takeNew resolves for some one's sake,And wear then the look that liesClear and pure in other eyes—We will soothe and reconcileHis own conscience— afterwhile.
Afterwhile— we have in viewA far scene to journey to—,Where the old home is, and whereThe old mother waits us there,Peering, as the time grows late,Down the old path to the gate—.How we'll click the latch that locksIn the pinks and hollyhocks,And leap up the path once moreWhere she waits us at the door—!How we'll greet the dear old smile,And the warm tears— afterwhile!
Ah, the endless afterwhiles—!Leagues on leagues, and miles on miles,In distance far withdrawn,Stretching on, and on, and on,Till the fancy is footsoreAnd faints in the dust beforeThe last milestone's granite face,Hacked with: Here Beginneth Space.O far glimmering worlds and wings,Mystic smiles and beckonings,Lead us through the shadowy aislesOut into the afterwhiles.
Herr Weiser—! Three-score-years-and-ten—,A hale white rose of his country-men,Transplanted here in the Hoosier loam,And blossomy as his German home—As blossomy and as pure and sweetAs the cool green glen of his calm retreat,Far withdrawn from the noisy townWhere trade goes clamoring up and down,Whose fret and fever, and stress and strife,May not trouble his tranquil life!
Breath of rest, what a balmy gust—!Quite of the city's heat and dust,Jostling down by the winding road,Through the orchard ways of his quaint abode—.Tether the horse, as we onward fareUnder the pear-trees trailing there,And thumping the wood bridge at nightWith lumps of ripeness and lush delight,Till the stream, as it maunders on till dawn,Is powdered and pelted and smiled upon.
Herr Weiser, with his wholesome face,And the gentle blue of his eyes, and graceOf unassuming honesty,Be there to welcome you and me!And what though the toil of the farm be stoppedAnd the tireless plans of the place be dropped,While the prayerful master's knees are setIn beds of pansy and mignonetteAnd lily and aster and columbine,Offered in love, as yours and mine—...?