The Ancient Man

by Henry Alford

Henry Alford

There is an ancient man who dwells
Without our parish--bounds,
Beyond the poplar--avenue,
Across two meadow--grounds;
And whensoever our two small bells
To church call merrily,
Leaning upon our churchyard gate
This old man ye may see.

He is a man of many thoughts,
That long have found their rest,
Each in its proper dwelling--place
Settled within his breast:
A form erect, a stately brow,
A set and measured mien:
The satisfied unroving look
Of one who much hath seen.

And once, when young in care of souls,
I watched a sick man's bed,
And willing half, and half ashamed,
Lingered, and nothing said:
That ancient man, in accents mild,
Removed my shame away:
``Listen!'' he said; ``the minister
Prepares to kneel and pray.''

These lines of humble thankfulness
Will never meet his eye;
Unknown that old man means to live,
And unremembered die.
The forms of life have severed us:
But when that life shall end,
Fain would I hail that reverend man
A father and a friend.

Last updated January 14, 2019