I've wander'd to the village, Tom, I've sat beneath the tree, Upon the school-house play-ground, That shelter'd you and me; But none were left to greet me, Tom, And few were left to know, Who play'd with us upon that green Just forty years ago.
The grass was just as green, Tom, Barefooted boys at play Were sporting, just as we did then, With spirits just as gay; But the master sleeps upon the hill, Which, coated, o'er with snow, Afforded us a sliding-place Some forty years ago.
The old school-house is alter'd some, The benches are replaced By new ones, very like the same Our jack-knives had defaced; But the same old bricks are in the wall, And the bell swings to and fro, It's music just the same, dear Tom, 'Twas forty years ago.
The boys were playing some old game Beneath that same old tree; I do forget the name just now,-- You've played the same with me On that same spot; 'Twas played with knives, By throwing so and so; The loser had a task to do There forty years ago.
The river's running just as still; The willows on its side Are larger than they were, Tom; The stream appears less wide; But the grape-vine swing is miss'd now, Where once we played the beau, And swung our sweethearts—pretty girls-- Just forty years ago.
The spring that bubbled 'neath the hill, Close by the spreading beech, Is very low; 'twas once so high That we could scarcely reach; And kneeling down to take a drink, Dear Tom, I started so, To think how much I've changed Since forty years ago.
Near by that spring, upon an elm, You know, I cut your name; Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom, And you did mine the same. Some heartless wretch has peel'd the bark; 'Twas dying sure, but slow, Just as she died whose name you cut There forty years ago.
My lids have long been dry, Tom, But tears came in my eyes; I thought of her I loved so well, Those early broken ties. I visited the old church-yard, And took some flowers to strow Upon the graves of those we loved Just forty years ago.
Some are in the church-yard laid, Some sleep beneath the sea; But none are left of our old class Excepting you and me. And when our time shall come, Tom, And we are call'd to go, I hope we'll meet with those we loved Some forty years ago. —Anonymous Fulton and Trueblood's Choice Readings, 1884, pp. 159—161.