You wonder that my tears should flow
In listening to that simple strain;
That those unskilful sounds should fill
My soul with joy and pain–
How can you tell what thoughts it stirs
Within my heart again?
You wonder why that common phrase,
So all unmeaning to your ear,
Should stay me in my merriest mood,
And thrill my soul to hear–
How can you tell what ancient charm
Has made me hold it dear?
You marvel that I turn away
From all those flowers so fair and bright,
And gaze at this poor herb, till tears
Arise and dim my sight–
You cannot tell how every leaf
Breathes of a past delight.
You smile to see me turn and speak
With one whose converse you despise;
You do not see the dreams of old
That with his voice arise–
How can you tell what links have made
Him sacred in my eyes?
Oh, these are Voices of the Past,
Links of a broken chain,
Wings that can bear me back to Times
Which cannot come again–
Yet God forbid that I should lose
The echoes that remain!
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