« PreviousContinue »
TWILIGHT'S soft dews steal o'er the village
With magic tints to harmonize the scene:
Still'd is the hum that thro' the hamlet broke
When round the ruins of their ancient oak
The peasants flock'd to hear the minstrel play,
And games and carols clos'd the busy day:
Her wheel at rest, the matron charms no more
With treasur'd 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 pensive sweets this silent
Mark yon old Mansion frowning thro' the trees, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze! That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heav'n convey'd. The mould'ring gateway strews the grass - grown
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport,
When nature pleas'd, for life itself was new,
And the heart promis'd what the fancy drew.
See, thro' the fractur'd pediment reveal'd,
Where moss inlays the rudely sculptur'd shield,
The Martin's old, hereditary nest!
Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest!
As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
Oh! haste, unfold the hospitable hall!
That hall where once, in antiquated state,
The chair of justice held the grave debate.
Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung
When round yon ample board, in due degree,
We sweeten'd ev'ry meal with social glee.
The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest,
And all was sunshine in each little breast.
'Twas here we chas'd the slipper by its sound,
And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round.
'Twas here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring,
And Fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing.
Giants and Genii chain'd each wond'ring ear,
And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood,
Or view'd the forest-feats of Robin Hood.
Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,
With startling step we scal'd the lonely tower
O'er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murder'd by ruffian hands when smiling in its
Ye Household Deities! whose guardian eye
Mark'd each pure thought ere register'd 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 atchiev❜ment charms the wilder'd sight;
And still with Heraldry's rich hues imprest,
On the dim window glows the pictur'd crest.
The screen unfolds its many colour'd chart;
The clock still points its moral to the heart-
That faithful monitor 'twas heav'n to hear
When soft it spoke a promis'd pleasure near!
And has its sober hand, its simple chime,
Forgot to trace the feather'd feet of Time!
That massive beam, with curious carvings wrought,
Whence the cag'd linnet sooth'd my pensive thought;
Those muskets cas'd with venerable rust;
Those once-lov'd forms, still breathing throR their
Still from the frame, in mould gigantic cast,
Starting to life-all whisper of the past!
As thro' the garden's desert paths I rove, What fond illusions swarm in every grove! How oft, when purple ev'ning ting'd the west, We watch'd the emmet to her grainy nest; Welcom❜d the wild-bee home on wearied wing, Laden with sweets the choicest of the spring! How oft inscrib'd with Friendship's votive rhyme, The bark now silver'd by the touch of Time; Soar'd in the swing, half pleas'd and half afraid, Thro' sister elms that wav'd their summer-shade; Or strew'd with crumbs yon root-inwoven seat To lure the redbreast from his lone retreat!
Childhood's lov❜d group revisits ev'ry scene, The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green. Indulgent Mem'ry wakes-and lo! they live, Cloth'd with far softer hues than Light can give!
Thou last, best friend that Heav'n assigns below To sooth 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 soften'd views thy magic glass reveals When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight
As when in ocean sinks, the orb of day,
Long on the wave reflected lustres play,
Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd
Glance on the darken'd mirror of the mind.
The School's lone porch, with rev'rend mosses
Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay.
Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn,
Quick'ning 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 form'd, and cherish'd here!
And not the lightest leaf but, trembling, teems
With golden visions and romantic dreams!
Down by yon hazel copse, at ev'ning, blaz'd
The Gipsy's faggot-There we stood and gaz'd;
Gaz'd on her sun-burnt face with silent awe,
Her tatter'd 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 owlets bred,
From rifled roost at nightly revel fed,
Whose dark eyes flash'd thro' locks of blackest shade,
When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd;
And heroes fled the Sibyl's mutter'd call
Whose elfin prowess scal'd the orchard-wall.
As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew,
And trac'd the line of life with searching view,
How throbb'd my flutt'ring pulse with hopes and
To learn the colour of my future years!
Ah! then, what honest triumph flush'd 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)
Sooth'd 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 wept to think that little was no more,
He breath'd his prayer: "Long may such goodness
'Twas all he gave, 'twas all he had to give. [live!"
Angels, when Mercy's mandate wing'd their flight,
Had stopt to catch new rapture from the sight.
But hark! thro' 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 thro' the ring,
When the heart danc'd, 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 em'rald light to shed Where now the sexton rests his hoary head.