« PreviousContinue »
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 fed; 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 !
O, haste, - unfold the hospitable ball!
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.
’T was 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 ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep.
Ye Household 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.
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-feet 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 ;