I thought I held the world within my hand --
A golden ball of beauty and delight --
Rolling it round till every colored land
Flashed on my eager sight.
And there came one on soft and fleecy feet,
Who said "What is't you play with, laughing there --
Young Hope or Joy or Heart's Desires that beat
Through the large circles fair?"
"Who knows?" I smiled, with wide and shining eyes,
Watching the colors of my plaything fade,
As he Who spake drew nearer and my prize
Dulled in his long, grey shade.
"Give it to me," he begged, and took the ball,
Throwing it from him with a moan of pain.
But, as it trembled in its flying fall,
My hands caught it again.
"Good sport," I cried. "Let us play on, my friend."
His black, sad looks were lowered as in death.
But on we played --a game without an end --
And neither paused for breath.
There came an old man, grey and wise of eye,
Who glanced upon our sport of worldly play,
Chuckling to see us make the bright toy fly --
One grave, the other gay.
"Play on! Play on!" he muttered, "Catch or miss!
From Life to Death the merry bauble spins
The greatest and the best of games is this,
And Old Time knows who wins!"
First published in The Bulletin, 26 September 1918