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  I stood on the brink in childhood,
    And watched the bubbles go
  From the rock-fretted, sunny ripple
    To the smoother tide below;

  And over the white creek-bottom,
    Under them every one,
  Went golden stars in the water,
    All luminous with the sun.

  But the bubbles broke on the surface,
    And under, the stars of gold
  Broke; and the hurrying water
    Flowed onward, swift and cold.


  I stood on the brink in manhood,
    And it came to my weary brain,
  And my heart, so dull and heavy
    After the years of pain,--

  That every hollowest bubble
    Which over my life had passed
  Still into its deeper current
    Some heavenly gleam had cast;

  That, however I mocked it gayly,
    And guessed at its hollowness,
  Still shone, with each bursting bubble,
    One star in my soul the less.


William Dean Howells