TO BOYS UNKNOWN
How often as I drift along the stream
Of city traffic, till the hive-like hum
Lulls me to sleep, and drowsily I dream
Of sweeter days past, or sweeter days to come,
Some boy's fair face breaks on me like a gleam
Of rift-cloud sun, no sooner come than gone.
What if unhailed, unkissed he passes on ?
Our hearts have spoken though our tongues were dumb.
How often as I ramble on the beach,
Where Nature seems asleep, and man is not,
And fairyland lurks all around, I reach
Some sweet, secluded, world-forsaken spot,
And startle there a shy boy bather. Each
Regards the other doubtful. Suddenly
O'ermastered by some secret sympathy,
Each hails a friend, and doubts are all forgot.
These sweet encounters smack not of our earth:
These mystic boys, met once and never seen
In this life more, scarce seem of human birth.
Henceforth, illum'd by Fancy's golden sheen,
They haunt for ever poppied fields of mirth
Far from our workday world. The fairy Prince,
Mine for a honey'd hour, but vanished since,
Ranks with dream creatures that have never been.
The boys I know and love, though dearer far,
Have faults and failings. These fair friends unknown
Are Visions Of Perfection. Naught can mar
The splendour of their memory. Alone
Immaculate, they stand before the bar
Of frowning Justice fearless. Sad-eyed Truth
Knows naught of them; and their immortal youth
No ravages of Time will ever own.
The Reverend E. E. Bradford.