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.