the garden of yesterday

by Mildred Cadmus Childs

Image: Kevin Hagen/Wall Street Journal
Image: Kevin Hagen/Wall Street Journal

Written in Memory of an Old Newark Garden

There was once a beautiful garden,
A Garden of Yesterday—
It was echoing with the laughter
Of children in happy play.
Sweet flowers were in this garden,
And fruit trees, green and tall—
Their branches making a bower,
With the blue sky over all.

Then the years passed over this garden—
This Garden of Yesterday—
The city homes towered above it,
The children all went away.
For Life with its manifold duties
Had called them, rejoicing and glad,
And, alone with the trees and the flowers,
The heart of the garden was sad.

Then over the beautiful garden,
This Garden of Yesterday,
There lingered a faint cloud of memories,
Of days that were far away.
Outside the beautiful garden,
The city’s traffic steamed,
But within its leafy seclusion,
The lovely garden dreamed.

Then at last there came to this garden,
This Garden of Yesterday,
The sound of the laughter of childhood,
Of a tiny laddie at play.
The child of one of the children,
Once dancing beneath the trees,
Or climbing up high in the branches,
With curls tossing bright in the breeze.

And now the old Garden is wakened,
’Tis a Garden of Today.
Once more it is echoing music
Of a child’s voice, sweet and gay.
And the dear, old garden is happy,
Its playtime has come at last,
And the heart of the garden is hearing
The songs of the present and past.

According to a note in the undated manuscript of this poem, found in the files of The New Jersey Historical Society, the “old Newark garden” in the inscription belonged to her sister, Grace Cadmus Ward.

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