“Nothing but leaves”

Nothing but leaves; the spirit grieves
Over a wasted life;
Sin committed while conscience slept,
Promises made, but never kept,
Hatred, battle, and strife;
Nothing but leaves!

Nothing but leaves; no garnered sheaves
Of life’s fair, ripened grain;
Words, idle words, for earnest deeds;
We sow our seeds,—lo! tares and weeds:
We reap, with toil and pain,
Nothing but leaves!

Nothing but leaves; memory weaves
No veil to screen the past:
As we retrace our weary way,
Counting each lost and misspent day,
We find, sadly, at last,
Nothing but leaves!

And shall we meet the Master so,
Bearing our withered leaves?
The Saviour looks for perfect fruit,
We stand before him, humbled, mute;
Waiting the words he breathes,—
“Nothing but leaves?”