Littell's Living Age/Volume 144/Issue 1860/A Good Old Man

Originally published in Good Words.

A Good Old Man

"Children, you will soon lay me in the ground. Then you are to be cheerful, and drink some of this wine; for I have lived a joyful life before God all my days." (Life of Ernst Maurice Arndt. London. 1879. P. 38.)

The old man sate beside the fire,
     His years fourscore and two,
His locks were thin and wintry-white,
     But his eyes were bright and blue.

His children's children round him stood,
     His face with joy did shine;
And he called for a glass, and placed on board
     A pint of the ruby wine.

And he said, "Now list to me, brave boys:
     I've lived a life, thank God!
Full of bright hours and happy days,
     And soon beneath the sod

"Your hands must lay my head. This glass
     I fill with thanks to Him
Who made my cup through fourscore years
     With joy to overbrim.

"There might be clouds; but they have passed;
     For this I surely knew,
Behind the clouds there dwelt a sun
     And a dome of glorious blue.

"There might be frets; but not with me
     Might fret and murmur dwell;
For God, I knew, was judge of all,
     And still he judgeth well.

"Then fill the sparkling glass, brave boys,
     And quaff the wine with me
His gift whence flows to men all light
     And love and liberty!

"And keep a stout heart in your breast,
     And trust in God, brave boys;
And march right forward without fear,
     And evermore rejoice.

"And when you lay my head, brave boys,
     Beneath the cool green sod,
Remember how I walked in strength
     And joy before my God."