Lake of boyish dreams! I linger round
Thy calm, clear waters and thine altered shores
Till thought brings back the plash of childhood’s oars,–
Long hid in memory’s depths, a vanished sound.
Alone unchanged, the sea-birds yet are found
Far floating on thy wave by threes and fours,
Or grouped in hundreds, while a white gull soars,
Safe, beyond gunshot of the hostile ground.
I am no nearer to those joyous birds
Than when, long since, I watched them as a child;
Nor am I nearer to that flock more wild,
Most shy and vague of all elusive things,
My unattainable thoughts, unreached by words.
I see the flight, but never touch the wings.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson