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Oft has the aged tenant of the vale Leaned on his staff to lengthen out the tale; Oft have his lips the grateful tribute breathed, From sire to son with pious zeal bequeathed. When o'er the blasted heath the day declined, And on the scathed oak warred the winter-wind; When not a distant taper's twinkling ray Gleamed o'er the furze to light him on his way; When not a sheep-bell soothed his listening ear, And the big rain-drops told the tempest near; Then did his horse the homeward track descry, The track that shunned his sad, inquiring eye; And win each wavering purpose to relent, With warmth so mild, so gently violent, That his charmed hand the careless rein resigned, And doubts and terrors vanished from his mind. Recall the traveller, whose altered form Has borne the buffet of the mountain-storm; And who will first his fond impatience meet? His faithful dog's already at his feet!
Yes, though the porter spurn him from the door,
These, when to guard Misfortune's sacred grave,
Led by what chart, transports the timid dove The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love?
Say, through the clouds what compass points her flight?
Sweet bird! thy truth shall Harlem's walls attest,
With looks that asked, yet dared not hope relief,
Crushed by her meagre hand when welcomed from the sky
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn.
ANALYSIS OF THE SECOND PART.
THE Memory has hitherto acted only in subservience to the senses, and BO far man is not eminently distinguished from other animals; but, with respect to man, she has a higher province, and is often busily employed when excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy. She colors all the prospects of life; for we can only anticipate the future by concluding what is possible from what is past. On her agency depends every effusion of the Fancy, who with the boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish, the materials which she has collected, and still retains.
When the first emotions of despair have subsided, and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well. When sleep has suspended the organs of sense from their office, she not only supplies the mind with images, but assists in their combination. And, even in madness itself, when the soul is resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens that train of thought which was formerly most familiar.
Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events the most distressing in their immediate consequences are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm.
But the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favorable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and well-regulated mind that the memory is most perfect; and solitude is her best sphere of action. With this sentiment is introduced a Tale illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness, and sorrow. And the subject having now been considered, so far as it relates to man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with a conjecture that superior beings are blest with a nobler exercise of this faculty.
SWEET MEMORY, wafted by thy gentle gale,
They in their glorious course the guides of Youth,
From thee gay Hope her airy coloring draws: And Fancy's flights are subject to thy laws. From thee that bosom-spring of rapture flows, Which only Virtue, tranquil Virtue, knows.
When Joy's bright sun has shed his evening-ray, And Hope's delusive meteors cease to play; When clouds on clouds the smiling prospect close, Still through the gloom thy star serenely glows: Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night With the mild magic of reflected light.