Oh the hidden leaves of Life!
Closely folded in the heart;

Oh the hidden leaves of Life!
Closely folded in the heart;
Leaves where Memory's golden finger,
Slowly pointing, loves to linger;
Leaves that bid the old tears start.

Leaves where Hope would read the future,
Sibylline, and charged with fate:
Leaves which calm Submission closeth,
While her tearless eye reposeth
On the legend, "Trust, and wait!"

Leaves which grave Experience ponders
Soundings for her pilot-charts;
Leaves which God Himself is storing,
Records which we read, adoring
Him who writes on human hearts.

All our own, our treasured secrets,
Indestructible archives!
None can copy, none can steal them,
Death itself shall not reveal them,
Sacred manuscripts of lives.

Some are filled with fairy pictures,
Half imagined and half seen;
Radiant faces, fretted towers,
Sunset colors, starry flowers,
Wondrous arabesques between.

Some are traced with liquid sunbeams,
Some with fire, and some with tears;
Some with crimson dyes are flowing,
From a smitten life-rock flowing
Through the wilderness of years.

Some are crossed with later writing,
Palimpsests of earliest days;
Old remembrance faintly gleaming
Through the thinking and the dreaming;
Outlines dim in noontide haze.

One lies open, all unwritten,
To the glance of careless sight;
Yet it bears a shining story,
Traced in phosphorescent glory,
Only legible by night.

One is dark with hieroglyphics
Of some dynasty of grief:
Only God, and just one other,
Dearest friend, or truest brother,
Ever read that hidden leaf.

Many a leaf is undeciphered,
Writ in languages unknown;
O'er the strange inscription bending,
(Every clue in darkness ending,)
Finding no "Rosetta Stone."

Still we study, always failing!
God can read it, we must wait;
Wait, until He teach the mystery,
Then the wisdom-woven history
Faith shall read, and love translate.

Leaflets now unpaged and scattered
Time's great library receives;
When eternity shall bind them,
Golden volumes we shall find them,
God's light falling on the leaves.

~ Frances Ridley Havergal