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ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST PART.
The Poem begins with the description of an obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed sensation is an effect of the Memory. From an effect we naturally ascend to the cause ; and the subject proposed is then unfolded, with an investigation of the nature and leading principles of this faculty.
It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succession, and introduce each other with a certain degree of regularity. They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes ; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Ilence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence, also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Honce a picture directs our thoughts to the original ; and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he who feels the infirmities of age dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigor and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature ; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
TWILIGHT'S soft dews steal o'er the village-green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene.
Stilled is the hum that through the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their ancient oak
The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel play,
And games and carols closed the busy day.
Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more
With treasured tales, and legendary lore.
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows
To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here !
What secret charms this silent spot endear ?
Mark yon old Mansion frowning through the trees,
Whose hollow turret woos the whistling breeze.
That casement, arched with ivy's brownest shade,
First to these eyes the light of heaven conveyed.
The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport;
When all things pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew.
See, through the fractured pediment revealed,
Where moss inlays the rudely-sculptured shield,
The martin's old, hereditary nest.
Long may the ruin spare its hallowed guest !
As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
0, haste, -unfold the hospitable hall!
That hall, where once, in antiquated state,
The chair of justice held the grave debate.
Now 'stained with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung,
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung;
When round yon ample board, in due degree,
We sweetened every meal with social glee.
The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest;
And all was sunshine in each little breast.
'Twas here we chased the slipper by the sound;
And turned the blindfold hero round and round.
’T was here, at eve, we formed our fairy ring;
And Fancy fluttered on her wildest wing.
Giants and Genii chained each wondering ear;
And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wandered in the wood,
Or viewed the forest feats of Robin Hood :
Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,
With startling step we scaled the lonely tower;
O'er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murdered by rufian hands, when smiling in its sleep.
Ye IIousehold Deities ! whose guardian eye? Marked each pure thought, ere registered on high; Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground, And breathe the soul of Inspiration round.
As o'er the dusky furniture I bend, Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend.
The storied arras, source of fond delight,
With old achievement charms the wildered sight;
And still, with Heraldry's rich hues imprest,
On the dim window glows the pictured crest.
The screen unfolds its many-colored chart.
The clock still points its moral to the heart.
That faithful monitor 't was heaven to hear,
When soft it spoke a promised pleasure near;
And has its sober hand, its simple chime,
Forgot to trace the feathered feet of Time ?
That massive beam, with curious carvings wrought,
Whence the caged linnet soothed my pensive thought;
Those muskets, cased with venerable rust;
Those once-loved forms, still breathing through their dust,
Still, from the frame in mould gigantic cast,
Starting to life all whisper of the Past ! !
As through the garden's desert paths I rove,
What fond illusions swarm in every grove !
How oft, when purple evening tinged the west,
We watched the emmet to her grainy nest;
Welcomed the wild-bee home on weary wing,
Laden with sweets, the choicest of the spring !
How oft inscribed, with Friendship’s votive rhyme,
The bark now silvered by the touch of Time;
Soared in the swing, half pleased and half afraid,
Through sister elms that waved their summer-shade;
Or strewed with crumbs yon root-inwoven seat,
To lure the redbreast from his lone retreat !
Childhood's loved group revisits every scene;
The tangled wood-walk and the tufted green!
Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and, lo! they live !
Clothed with far softer hues than Light can give.