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Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below
To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know;
Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm,
When nature fades and life forgets to charm;
Thee would the Muse invoke ! - to thee belong
The sage's precept and the poet's song.
What softened views thy magic glass reveals,
When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steals!
As when in ocean sinks the orb of day,
Long on the wave reflected lustres play;
Thy tempered gleams of happiness resigned
Glance on the darkened mirror of the mind.
The School's lone porch, with reverend mosses gray,
Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay.
Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn,
Quickening my truant-foet across the lawn;
Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air,
When the slow dial gave a pause 'to care.
Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear,
Some little friendship formed and cherished here;
And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems
With golden visions and romantic dreams !
Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blazed The Gypsy's fagot -- there we stood and gazed; Gazed on her sunburnt face with silent awe, Her tattered mantle, and her hood of straw; Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er; The drowsy brood that on her back she bore, Imps, in the barn with mousing owlet bred, From rifled roost at nightly revel fed; Whose dark eyes flashed through locks of blackest shade, When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bayed :
And heroes fled the Sibyl's muttered call,
Whose elfin prowess scaled the orchard-wall.
As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew,
And traced the line of life with searching view,
How throbbed my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears,
To learn the color of my future years !
Ah, then, what honest triumph flushed my breast;
This truth once known — To bless is to be blest !
We led the bending beggar on his way
(Bare were his feet, his tresses silver-gray),
Soothed the keen pangs his aged spirit felt,
And on his tale with mute attention dwelt.
As in his scrip we dropt our little store,
And sighed to think that little was no more,
He breathed his prayer, “Long may such goodness live !"
’T was all he gave, ’t was all he had to give.
Angels, when Mercy's mandate winged their flight,
Had stopt to dwell with pleasure on the sight.
But hark! through those old firs, with sullen swell,
The church-clock strikes ! ye tender scenes, farewell!
It calls me hence, beneath their shade, to trace
The few fond lines that Time may soon efface.
On yon gray stone, that fronts the chancel-door,
Worn smooth by busy feet now seen no more,
Each eve we shot the marble through the ring,
When the heart danced, and life was in its spring;
Alas! unconscious of the kindred earth,
That faintly echoed to the voice of mirth.
The glow-worm loves her emerald-light to shed
Where now the sexton rests his hoary head.
Oft, as he turned the greensward with his spade,
He lectured every youth that round him played;
And, calmly pointing where our fathers lay,
Roused us to rival each, the hero of his day.
Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here alone
I search the records of each mouldering stone.
Guides of my life ! Instructors of my youth !
Who first unveiled the hallowed form of Truth !
Whose every word enlightened and endeared;
In age beloved, in poverty revered ;
In Friendship's silent register ye live,
Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give.
But when the sons of peace, of pleasure sleep,
When only Sorrow wakes, and wakes to weep,
What spells entrance my visionary mind
With sighs so sweet, with transports so refined ?
Ethereal Power! who at the noon of night
Recall'st the far-fled spirit of delight;
From whom that musing, melancholy mood
Which charms the wise, and elevates the good ;
Blest MEMORY, hail! O grant the grateful Muse,
Her pencil dipt in Nature's living hues,
To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll,
And trace its airy precincts in the soul.
Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain.
Awake but one, and, lo! what myriads rise !
Each stamps its image as the other flies.
Each, as the various avenues of sense
Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense,
Brightens or fades; yet all, with magic art,
Control the latent fibres of the heart.
As studious PROSPERO'S mysterious spell
Drew every subject-spirit to his cell;
Each, at thy call, advances or retires,
As judgment dictates or the scene inspires.
Each thrills the seat of sense, that sacred source
Whence the fine nerves direct their mazy course,
And through the frame invisibly convey
The subtle, quick vibrations as they play;
Man's little universe at once o'ercast,
At once illumined when the cloud is past.
Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore;
From Reason's faintest ray to NEWTON soar.
What different spheres to human bliss assigned !
What slow gradations in the scale of mind !
Yet, mark in each these mystic wonders wrought;
0, mark the sleepless energies of thought!
The adventurous boy, that asks his little share,
And hies from home with many a gossip's prayer,
Turns on the neighboring hill, once more to see
The dear abode of peace and privacy;
And, as he turns, the thatch among the trees,
The smoke's blue wreaths ascending with the breeze,
The village-common spotted white with sheep,
The church-yard yews round which his fathers sleep;)
All rouse Reflection's sadly-pleasing train,
And oft he looks and weeps, and looks again.
So, when the mild TUPIA dared explore
Arts yet untaught, and worlds unknown before,
And, with the sons of Science, wooed the gale
That, rising, swelled their strange expanse of sail;
So, when he breathed his firm yet fond adieu,
Borne from his leafy hut, his carved canoe,
And all his soul best loved - such tears he shed,
While each soft scene of summer-beauty fled.
Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast,
Long watched the streaming signal from the mast;
Till twilight's dewy tints deceived his eye,
And fairy-forests fringed the evening sky.
So Scotia's Queen, as slowly dawned the day,
Rose on her couch and gazed her soul away.
Her eyes had blessed the beacon's glimmering height,
That faintly tipt the feathery surge with light;
But now the morn with orient hues portrayed
Each castled cliff and brown monastic shade:
All touched the talisman's resistless spring,
And, lo! what busy tribes were instant on the wing !
Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire, & As summer-clouds flash forth electric fire. And hence this spot gives back the joys of youth, Warm as the life, and with the mirror's truth. Hence home-felt pleasure prompts the Patriot's sigh ;' This makes him wish to live, and dare to die. For this young FOSCARI, whose hapless fate 20 Venice should blush to hear the Muse relate, When exile wore his blooming years away, To Sorrow's long soliloquies a prey, When reason, justice, vainly urged his cause, For this he roused her sanguinary laws; Glad to return, though Hope could grant no more, And chains and torture hailed him to the shore.
And hence the charm historic scenes impart; 11 Hence Tiber awes, and Avon melts the heart. Aërial forms in Tempe's classic vale Glance through the gloom and whisper in the gale; In wild Vaucluse with love and LAURA dwell, And watch and weep in ELOISA's cell.12