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They in their glorious course the guides of Youth,
Whose language breathed the eloquence of Truth;
Whose life, beyond preceptive wisdom, taught
The great in conduct, and the pure in thought;
These still exist, by Thee to Fame consigned,
Still speak and act, the models of mankind.
From Thee gay Hope her airy colouring 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 thro' the gloom thy star serenely glows:
Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night
With the mild magic of reflected light.
The beauteous maid, who bids the world adieu,
Oft of that world will snatch a fond review;
Oft at the shrine neglect her beads, to trace
Some social scene, some dear, familiar face:
And ere, with iron-tongue, the vesper-bell
Bursts thro' the cypress-walk, the convent-cell,
Oft will her warm and wayward heart revive,
To love and joy still tremblingly alive;
The whispered vow, the chaste caress prolong,
Weave the light dance and swell the choral song;
With rapt ear drink the enchanting serenade,
And, as it melts along the moonlight-glade,
To each soft note return as soft a sigh,
And bless the youth that bids her slumbers fly.
But not till Time has calmed the ruffled breast, Are these fond dreams of happiness confest. Not till the rushing winds forget to rave, Is Heaven's sweet smile reflected on the wave.
From Guinea's coast pursue the lessening sail, And catch the sounds that sadden every gale. Tell, if thou canst, the sum of sorrows there; Mark the fixed gaze, the wild and frenzied glare, The racks of thought, and freezings of despair ! But pause not then—beyond the western wave, Go, see the captive bartered as a slave ! Crushed till his high, heroic spirit bleeds, And from his nerveless frame indignantly recedes.
Yet here, even here, with pleasures long resigned, Lo! MEMORY bursts the twilight of the mind. Her dear delusions sooth his sinking soul, When the rude scourge assumes its base controul; And o'er Futurity's blank page diffuse The full reflection of her vivid hues. 'Tis but to die, and then, to weep no more, Then will he wake on Congo's distant shore; Beneath his plantain's ancient shade renew The simple transports that with freedom flew; Catch the cool breeze that musky Evening blows, And quaff the palm's rich nectar as it glows;
The oral tale of elder time rehearse,
And chant the rude, traditionary verse
With those, the loved companions of his youth,
When life was luxury, and friendship truth.
Ah! why should Virtue fear the frowns of Fate?
Hers what no wealth can buy, no power create !
A little world of clear and cloudless day,
Nor wrecked by storms, nor mouldered by decay;
A world, with Memory's ceaseless sun-shine blest,
The home of Happiness, an honest breast.
But most we mark the wonders of her reign,
When Sleep has locked the senses in her chain.
When sober Judgment has his throne resigned,
She smiles away the chaos of the mind;
And, as warm Fancy's bright Elysium glows,
From Her each image springs, each colour flows.
She is the sacred guest! the immortal friend!
Oft seen o'er sleeping Innocence to bend,
In that dead hour of night to Silence given,
Whispering seraphic visions of her heaven.
When the blithe son of Savoy, journeying round
With humble wares and pipe of merry sound,
From his green vale and sheltered cabin hies,
And scales the Alps to visit foreign skies;
Tho' far below the forked lightnings play,
And at his feet the thunder dies away,
Oft, in the saddle rudely rocked to sleep,
While his mule browses on the dizzy steep,
With MEMORY's aid, he sits at home, and sees
His children sport beneath their native trees,
And bends to hear their cherub-voices call,
O'er the loud fury of the torrent's fall.
But can her smile with gloomy Madness dwell?
Say, can she chase the horrors of his cell?
Each fiery flight on Frenzy's wing restrain,
And mould the coinage of the fevered brain?
Pass but that grate, which scarce a gleam supplies,
There in the dust the wreck of Genius lies !
He, whose arresting hand divinely wrought
Each bold conception in the sphere of thought;
And round, in colours of the rainbow, threw
Forms ever fair, creations ever new!
But, as he fondly snatched the wreath of Fame,
The spectre Poverty unnerved his frame.
Cold was her grasp, a withering scowl she wore;
And Hope's soft energies were felt no more.
Yet still how sweet the soothings of his art !
From the rude wall what bright ideas start!
Even now he claims the amaranthine wreath,
With scenes that glow, with images that breathe !
And whence these scenes, these images, declare.
Whence but from Her who triumphs o'er despair ?
Awake, arise! with grateful fervour fraught,
Go, spring the mine of elevating thought.
He, who, thro' Nature's various walk, surveys
The good and fair her faultless line pourtrays;
Whose mind, prophaned by no unhallowed guest,
Culls from the crowd the purest and the best;
May range, at will, bright Fancy's golden clime,
Or, musing, mount where Science sits sublime,
Or wake the Spirit of departed Time.
Who acts thus wisely, mark the moral Muse,
A blooming Eden in his life reviews !
So rich the culture, tho' so small the space,
Its scanty limits he forgets to trace.
But the fond fool, when evening shades the sky,
Turns but to start, and gazes but to sigh !
The weary waste, that lengthened as he ran,
Fades to a blank, and dwindles to a span !
Ah! who can tell the triumphs of the mind,
By truth illumined, and by taste refined ?
When age has quenched the eye, and closed the ear,
, Still nerved for action in her native sphere, Oft will she rise—with searching glance pursue Some long-loved image vanished from her view; Dart thro' the deep recesses of the past, O'er dusky forms in chains of slumber cast; With giant-grasp fling back the folds of night, And snatch the faithless fugitive to light. So thro' the grove the impatient mother flies, Each sunless glade, each secret pathway tries; Till the thin leaves the truant boy disclose, Long on the wood-moss stretched in sweet repose.
Nor yet to pleasing objects are confined The silent feasts of the reflecting mind.