The Pleasures Of Memory

Twilight’s soft dews steal o’er the village-green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene.
Still’d is the hum that thro’ the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their antient 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 thrills 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 secret charms this silent spot endear?
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 mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court,
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 hung,
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung;
When round yon ample board, in due degree,
We sweeten’d every 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 the 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 wondering 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 seal’d the lonely tower:
O’er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murder’d by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep.
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 achievement 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 caged linnet sooth’d my pensive thought;
Those muskets, cas’d with venerable rust;
Those once-lov’d forms, still breathing thro’ their dust,
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 evening ting’d the west,
We watch’d the emmet to her grainy nest;
Welcom’d the wild-bee home on weary 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 every scene;
The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green!
Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and lo, they live!
Cloth’d with far softer hues than Light can give.
Thou first, 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 steals!
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 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 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 evening, 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 owlet 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 fluttering pulse with hopes and fears,
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 live!”
’Twas all he gave, ’twas all he had to give.
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 emerald light to shed,
Where now the sexton rests his hoary head.
Oft, as he turn’d the greensward with his spade,
He lectur’d every youth that round him play’d;
And, calmly pointing where his fathers lay,
Rous’d him 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 unveil’d the hallow’d form of Truth;
Whose every word enlighten’d and endear’d;
In age belov’d, in poverty rever’d;
In Friendship’s silent register ye live,
Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give.
—But when the sons of peace and pleasure sleep,
When only Sorrow wakes, and wakes to weep,
What spells entrance my visionary mind,
With sighs so sweet, with transports so refin’d?
Ethereal Power! whose smile, at noon of night,
Recalls the far-fled spirit of delight;
Instils that musing, melancholy mood,
Which charms the wise, and elevates the good;
Blest MEMORY, hail! Oh 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.
Lull’d in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are link’d 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,
Controul the latent fibres of the heart.
As studious PROSPERO’S mysterious spell
Conven’d the subject-spirits 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 thro’ the frame invisibly convey
The subtle, quick vibrations as they play.
Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore;
From Reason’s faintest ray to NEWTON soar,
What different spheres to human bliss assign’d!
What slow gradations in the scale of mind!
Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought;
Oh 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 neighbouring 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 dar’d explore
Arts yet untaught, and worlds unknown before,
And, with the sons of Science, woo’d the gale
That, rising, swell’d their strange expanse of sail;
So, when he breath’d his firm yet fond adieu,
Borne from his leafy hut, his carv’d canoe,
And all his soul best lov’d—such tears he shed,
While each soft scene of summer-beauty fled:
Long o’er the wave a wistful look he cast,
Long watch’d the streaming signal from the mast;
Till twilight’s dewy tints deceiv’d his eye,
And fairy forests fring’d the evening sky.
So Scotia’s Queen, as slowly dawn’d the day,’
Rose on her couch, and gaz’d her soul away.
Her eyes had bless’d the beacon’s glimmering height,
That faintly tipt the feathery surge with light;
But now the morn with orient hues pourtray’d
Each castled cliff, and brown monastic shade:
All touch’d 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[8]
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 urg’d his cause,
For this he rous’d her sanguinary laws;
Glad to return, tho’ Hope could grant no more,
And chains and torture hail’d him to the shore.
And hence the charm historic scenes impart:
Hence Tiber awes, and Avon melts the heart.
Aerial forms, in Tempe’s classic vale,
Glance thro’ the gloom, and whisper in the gale;
In wild Vaucluse with love and LAURA dwell,
And watch and weep in ELOISA’S cell.’
’Twas ever thus. As now at VIRGIL’S tomb,
We bless the shade, and bid the verdure bloom:
So TULLY paus’d, amid the wrecks of Time,
On the rude stone to trace the truth sublime;
When at his feet, in honour’d dust disclos’d,
The immortal Sage of Syracuse repos’d.
And as his youth in sweet delusion hung,
Where once a PLATO taught, a PINDAR sung;
Who now but meets him musing, when he roves
His ruin’d Tusculan’s romantic groves?
In Rome’s great forum, who but hears him roll
His moral thunders o’er the subject soul?
And hence that calm delight the portrait gives:
We gaze on every feature till it lives!
Still the fond lover views the absent maid;
And the lost friend still lingers in his shade!
Say why the pensive widow loves to weep,
When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep:
Tremblingly still, she lifts his veil to trace
The father’s features in his infant face.
The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away,
Won by the charm of Innocence at play;
He bends to meet each artless burst of joy,
Forgets his age, and acts again the boy.
What tho’ the iron school of War erase
Each milder virtue, and each softer grace;
What tho’ the fiend’s torpedo-touch arrest
Each gentler, finer impulse of the breast;
Still shall this active principle preside,
And wake the tear to Pity’s self denied.
The intrepid Swiss, that guards a foreign shore,
Condemn’d to climb his mountain-cliffs no more,
If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild
Which on those cliffs his infant hours beguil’d,
Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise,
And sinks a martyr to repentant sighs.
Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm:
Say why VESPASIAN lov’d his Sabine farm;
Why great NAVARRE, when France and freedom bled,
Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed.
When DIOCLETIAN’S self-corrected mind
The imperial fasces of a world resign’d,
Say why we trace the labours of his spade,
In calm Salona’s philosophic shade.
Say, when contentious CHARLES renounc’d a throne,
To muse with monks unletter’d and unknown,
What from his soul the parting tribute drew?
What claim’d the sorrows of a last adieu?
The still retreats that sooth’d his tranquil breast,
Ere grandeur dazzled, and its cares oppress’d.
Undamp’d by time, the generous Instinct glows
Far as Angola’s sands, as Zembla’s snows;
Glows in the tiger’s den, the serpent’s nest,
On every form of varied life imprest.
The social tribes its choicest influence hail:—
And, when the drum beats briskly in the gale,
The war-worn courser charges at the sound,
And with young vigour wheels the pasture round.
Oft has the aged tenant of the vale
Lean’d on his staff to lengthen out the tale;
Oft have his lips the grateful tribute breath’d,
From sire to son with pious zeal bequeath’d.
When o’er the blasted heath the day declin’d,
And on the scath’d oak warr’d the winter-wind;
When not a distant taper’s twinkling ray
Gleam’d o’er the furze to light him on his way;
When not a sheep-bell sooth’d his listening ear,
And the big rain-drops told the tempest near;
Then did his horse the homeward track descry,
The track that shunn’d his sad, inquiring eye;
And win each wavering purpose to relent,
With warmth so mild, so gently violent,
That his charm’d hand the careless rein resign’d,
And doubts and terrors vanish’d from his mind.
Recall the traveller, whose alter’d 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, tho’ the porter spurn him from the door,
Tho’ all, that knew him, know his face no more,
His faithful dog shall tell his joy to each,
With that mute eloquence which passes speech.—
And see, the master but returns to die!
Yet who shall bid the watchful servant fly?
The blasts of heav’n, the drenching dews of earth,
The wanton insults of unfeeling mirth,
These, when to guard Misfortune’s sacred grave,
Will firm Fidelity exult to brave.
Led by what chart, transports the timid dove
The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love?
Say, thro’ the clouds what compass points her flight?
Monarchs have gaz’d, and nations bless’d the sight.
Pile rocks on rocks, bid woods and mountains rise,
Eclipse her native shades, her native skies;—
’Tis vain! thro’ Ether’s pathless wilds she goes,
And lights at last where all her cares repose.
Sweet bird! thy truth shall Harlem’s walls attest,
And unborn ages consecrate thy nest.
When, with the silent energy of grief,
With looks that ask’d, yet dar’d not hope relief,
Want, with her babes, round generous Valour clung,
To wring the slow surrender from his tongue,
’Twas thine to animate her closing eye;
Alas! ’twas thine perchance the first to die,
Crush’d by her meagre hand, when welcom’d from the sky.
Hark! the bee winds her small but mellow horn,
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn.
O’er thymy downs she bends her busy course,
And many a stream allures her to its source.
’Tis noon, ’tis night. That eye so finely wrought,
Beyond the search of sense, the soar of thought.
Now vainly asks the scenes she left behind;
Its orb so full, its vision so confin’d!
Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell?
Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell?
With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue
Of varied scents, that charm’d her as she flew?
Hail, MEMORY, hail! thy universal reign
Guards the least link of Being’s glorious chain.

Sweet MEMORY, wafted by thy gentle gale,
Oft up the stream of Time I turn my sail,
To view the fairy-haunts of long-lost hours.
Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.
Ages and climes remote to Thee impart
What charms in Genius, and refines in Art;
Thee, in whose hand the keys of Science dwell,
The pensive portress of her holy cell;
Whose constant vigils chase the chilling damp
Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp.
The friends of Reason, and the guides of Youth,
Whose language breath’d 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 consign’d,
Still speak and act, the models of mankind.
From Thee sweet 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, that 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,
Forgot, when first a father’s stern controul
Chas’d the gay visions of her opening soul:
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 whisper’d 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 calm’d the ruffled breast,
Are these fond dreams of happiness confest.
Not till the rushing winds forget to rave,
Is Heav’n’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 fixt gaze, the wild and frenzied glare,
The racks of thought, and freezings of despair!
But pause not then—beyond the western wave,
Go, view the captive barter’d as a slave!
Crush’d till his high, heroic spirit bleeds,
And from his nerveless frame indignantly recedes.
Yet here, ev’n here, with pleasures long resign’d,
Lo! MEMORY bursts the twilight of the mind:
Her dear delusions sooth his sinking soul,
When the rude scourge presumes 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 antient 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 lov’d 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 win, no power create!
A little world of clear and cloudless day,
Nor wreck’d by storms, nor moulder’d 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 lock’d the senses in her chain.
When sober Judgment has his throne resign’d,
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 giv’n,
Whispering seraphic visions of her heav’n.
When the blithe son of Savoy, journeying round
With humble wares and pipe of merry sound,
From his green vale and shelter’d 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 rock’d 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 fever’d brain?
Pass but that grate, which scarce a gleam supplies,
There in the dust the wreck of Genius lies!
He, whose arresting hand sublimely 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 snatch’d the wreath of Fame,
The spectre Poverty unnerv’d 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!
Ev’n 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 fervor 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, prophan’d by no unhallow’d 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 lengthen’d as he ran,
Fades to a blank, and dwindles to a span!
Ah! who can tell the triumphs of the mind,
By truth illumin’d, and by taste refin’d?
When Age has quench’d the eye and clos’d the ear,
Still nerv’d for action in her native sphere,
Oft will she rise—with searching glance pursue
Some long-lov’d image vanish’d 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 light leaves the truant boy disclose,
Long on the wood-moss stretch’d in sweet repose.
Nor yet to pleasing objects are confin’d
The silent feasts of the reflecting mind.
Danger and death a dread delight inspire;
And the bald veteran glows with wonted fire,
When, richly bronz’d by many a summer-sun,
He counts his scars, and tells what deeds were done.
Go, with old Thames, view Chelsea’s glorious pile;
And ask the shatter’d hero, whence his smile?
Go, view the splendid domes of Greenwich—Go,
And own what raptures from Reflection flow.
Hail, noblest structures imag’d in the wave!
A nation’s grateful tribute to the brave.
Hail, blest retreats from war and shipwreck, hail!
That oft arrest the wondering stranger’s sail.
Long have ye heard the narratives of age,
The battle’s havoc, and the tempest’s rage;
Long have ye known Reflection’s genial ray
Gild the calm close of Valour’s various day.
Time’s sombrous touches soon correct the piece,
Mellow each tint, and bid each discord cease:
A softer tone of light pervades the whole,
And steals a pensive languor o’er the soul.
Hast thou thro’ Eden’s wild-wood vales pursued
Each mountain-scene, majestically rude;
To note the sweet simplicity of life,
Far from the din of Folly’s idle strife:
Nor there awhile, with lifted eye, rever’d
That modest stone which pious PEMBROKE rear’d;
Which still records, beyond the pencil’s power,
The silent sorrows of a parting hour;
Still to the musing pilgrim points the place,
Her sainted spirit most delights to trace?
Thus, with the manly glow of honest pride,
O’er his dead son the gallant ORMOND sigh’d.
Thus, thro’ the gloom of SHENSTONE’S fairy grove,
MARIA’S urn still breathes the voice of love.
As the stern grandeur of a Gothic tower
Awes us less deeply in its morning hour,
Than when the shades of Time serenely fall
On every broken arch and ivy’d wall;
The tender images we love to trace,
Steal from each year a melancholy grace!
And as the sparks of social love expand,
As the heart opens in a foreign land;
And, with a brother’s warmth, a brother’s smile,
The stranger greets each native of his isle;
So scenes of life, when present and confest,
Stamp but their bolder features on the breast;
Yet not an image, when remotely view’d,
However trivial, and however rude,
But wins the heart, and wakes the social sigh,
With every claim of close affinity!
But these pure joys the world can never know;
In gentler climes their silver currents flow.
Oft at the silent, shadowy close of day,
When the hush’d grove has sung its parting lay;
When pensive Twilight, in her dusky car,
Comes slowly on to meet the evening-star;
Above, below, aerial murmurs swell,
From hanging wood, brown heath, and bushy dell!
A thousand nameless rills, that shun the light.
Stealing soft music on the ear of night.
So oft the finer movements of the soul,
That shun the sphere of Pleasure’s gay controul,
In the still shades of calm Seclusion rise,
And breathe their sweet, seraphic harmonies!

Once, and domestic annals tell the time,
(Preserv’d in Cumbria’s rude, romantic clime)
When nature smil’d, and o’er the landscape threw
Her richest fragrance, and her brightest hue,
A blithe and blooming Forester explor’d
Those loftier scenes SALVATOR’S soul ador’d;
The rocky pass half hung with shaggy wood,
And the cleft oak flung boldly o’er the flood;
Nor shunn’d the path, unknown to human tread,
That downward to the night of caverns led;
Some antient cataract’s deserted bed.
High on exulting wing the heath-cock rose,
And blew his shrill blast o’er perennial snows
Ere the rapt youth, recoiling from the roar,
Gaz’d on the tumbling tide of dread Lodoar;
And thro’ the rifted cliffs, that scal’d the sky,
Derwent’s clear mirror charm’d his dazzled eye.
Each osier isle, inverted on the wave,
Thro’ morn’s gray mist its melting colours gave;
And, o’er the cygnet’s haunt, the mantling grove
Its emerald arch with wild luxuriance wove.
Light as the breeze that brush’d the orient dew:
From rock to rock the young adventurer flew;
And day’s last sunshine slept along the shore,
When lo, a path the smile of welcome wore.
Imbowering shrubs with verdure veil’d the sky,
And on the musk-rose shed a deeper dye;
Save when a bright and momentary gleam
Glanc’d from the white foam of some shelter’d stream.
O’er the still lake the bell of evening toll’d,
And on the moor the shepherd penn’d his fold;
And on the green hill’s side the meteor play’d;
When, hark! a voice sung sweetly thro’ the shade.
It ceas’d—yet still in FLORIO’S fancy sung,
Still on each note his captive spirit hung;
Till o’er the mead a cool, sequester’d grot
From its rich roof a sparry lustre shot.
A crystal water cross’d the pebbled floor,
And on the front these simple lines it bore:

Hence away, nor dare intrude!
In this secret, shadowy cell
Musing MEMORY loves to dwell,
With her sister Solitude.

Far from the busy world she flies,
To taste that peace the world denies.
Entranc’d she sits; from youth to age,
Reviewing Life’s eventful page;
And noting, ere they fade away,
The little lines of yesterday.

FLORIO had gain’d a rude and rocky seat,
When lo, the Genius of this still retreat!
Fair was her form—but who can hope to trace
The pensive softness of her angel-face?
Can VIRGIL’S verse, can RAPHAEL’S touch impart
Those finer features of the feeling heart,
Those tend’rer tints that shun the careless eye,
And in the world’s contagious climate die?
She left the cave, nor mark’d the stranger there;
Her pastoral beauty, and her artless air
Had breath’d a soft enchantment o’er his soul!
In every nerve he felt her blest controul!
What pure and white-wing’d agents of the sky,
Who rule the springs of sacred sympathy,
Inform congenial spirits when they meet?
Sweet is their office, as their natures sweet!
FLORIO, with fearful joy, pursued the maid,
Till thro’ a vista’s moonlight-checquer’d shade,
Where the bat circled, and the rooks repos’d,
(Their wars suspended, and their councils clos’d)
An antique mansion burst in awful state,
A rich vine clustering round the Gothic gate.
Nor paus’d he there. The master of the scene
Saw his light step imprint the dewy green;
And, slow-advancing, hail’d him as his guest,
Won by the honest warmth his looks express’d,
He wore the rustic manners of a ’Squire;
Age had not quench’d one spark of manly fire;
But giant Gout had bound him in her chain,
And his heart panted for the chase in vain.
Yet here Remembrance, sweetly-soothing power!
Wing’d with delight Confinement’s lingering hour.
The fox’s brush still emulous to wear,
He scour’d the county in his elbow-chair;
And, with view-halloo, rous’d the dreaming hound,
That rung, by starts, his deep-ton’d music round.
Long by the paddock’s humble pale confin’d,
His aged hunters cours’d the viewless wind:
And each, with glowing energy pourtray’d,
The far-fam’d triumphs of the field display’d:
Usurp’d the canvas of the crowded hall,
And chas’d a line of heroes from the wall.
There slept the horn each jocund echo knew.
And many a smile and many a story drew!
High o’er the hearth his forest-trophies hung,
And their fantastic branches wildly flung.
How would he dwell on the vast antlers there!
These dash’d the wave, those fann’d the mountain-air.
All, as they frown’d, unwritten records bore,
Of gallant feats and festivals of yore.

But why the tale prolong?—His only child,
His darling JULIA on the stranger smil’d.
Her little arts a fretful sire to please,
Her gentle gaiety, and native ease
Had won his soul; and rapturous Fancy shed
Her golden lights, and tints of rosy red.
But ah! few days had pass’d, ere the bright vision fled!
When evening ting’d the lake’s ethereal blue,
And her deep shades irregularly threw;
Their shifting sail dropt gently from the cove,
Down by St. Herbert’s consecrated grove;
Whence erst the chanted hymn, the taper’d rite
Amus’d the fisher’s solitary night:
And still the mitred window, richly wreath’d,
A sacred calm thro’ the brown foliage breath’d.
The wild deer, starting thro’ the silent glade,
With fearful gaze their various course survey’d.
High hung in air the hoary goat reclin’d,
His streaming beard the sport of every wind;
And, while the coot her jet-wing lov’d to lave,
Rock’d on the bosom of the sleepless wave;
The eagle rush’d from Skiddaw’s purple crest,
A cloud still brooding o’er her giant-nest.
And now the moon had dimm’d, with dewy ray.
The few fine flushes of departing day;
O’er the wide water’s deep serene she hung,
And her broad lights on every mountain flung;
When lo! a sudden blast the vessel blew,
And to the surge consign’d the little crew.
All, all escap’d—but ere the lover bore
His faint and faded JULIA, to the shore,
Her sense had fled!—Exhausted by the storm,
A fatal trance hang o’er her pallid form;
Her closing eye a trembling lustre fir’d;
’Twas life’s last spark—it flutter’d and expir’d!
The father strew’d his white hairs in the wind,
Call’d on his child—nor linger’d long behind:
And FLORIO liv’d to see the willow wave,
With many an evening-whisper, o’er their grave.
Yes, FLORIO liv’d—and, still of each possest,
The father cherish’d, and the maid caress’d!
For ever would the fond enthusiast rove,
With JULIA’S spirit, thro’ the shadowy grove;
Gaze with delight on every scene she plann’d,
Kiss every flowret planted by her hand.
Ah! still he trac’d her steps along the glade,
When hazy hues and glimmering lights betray’d
Half-viewless forms; still listen’d as the breeze
Heav’d its deep sobs among the aged trees;
And at each pause her melting accents caught,
In sweet delirium of romantic thought!
Dear was the grot that shunn’d the blaze of day;
She gave its spars to shoot a trembling ray.
The spring, that bubbled from its inmost cell,
Murmur’d of JULIA’S virtues as it fell;
And o’er the dripping moss, the fretted stone,
In FLORIO’S ear breath’d language not its own.
Her charm around the enchantress MEMORY threw,
A charm that sooths the mind, and sweetens too!
But is Her magic only felt below?
Say, thro’ what brighter realms she bids it flow;
To what pure beings, in a nobler sphere,[30]
She yields delight but faintly imag’d here:
All that till now their rapt researches knew,
Not call’d in slow succession to review;
But, as a landscape meets the eye of day,
At once presented to their glad survey!
Each scene of bliss reveal’d, since chaos fled,
And dawning light its dazzling glories spread;
Each chain of wonders that sublimely glow’d,
Since first Creation’s choral anthem flow’d;
Each ready flight, at Mercy’s smile divine,
To distant worlds that undiscover’d shine;
Full on her tablet flings its living rays,
And all, combin’d, with blest effulgence blaze.
There thy bright train, immortal Friendship, soar;
No more to part, to mingle tears no more!
And, as the softening hand of Time endears
The joys and sorrows of our infant-years,
So there the soul, releas’d from human strife,
Smiles at the little cares and ills of life;
Its lights and shades, its sunshine and its showers;
As at a dream that charm’d her vacant hours!
Oft may the spirits of the dead descend
To watch the silent slumbers of a friend;
To hover round his evening-walk unseen,
And hold sweet converse on the dusky green;
To hail the spot where first their friendship grew,
And heav’n and nature open’d to their view!
Oft, when he trims his cheerful hearth, and sees
A smiling circle emulous to please;
There may these gentle guests delight to dwell,
And bless the scene they lov’d in life so well!
Oh thou! with whom my heart was wont to share
From Reason’s dawn each pleasure and each care;
With whom, alas! I fondly hop’d to know
The humble walks of happiness below;
If thy blest nature now unites above
An angel’s pity with a brother’s love,
Still o’er my life preserve thy mild controul,
Correct my views, and elevate my soul;
Grant me thy peace and purity of mind,
Devout yet cheerful, active yet resign’d;
Grant me, like thee, whose heart knew no disguise,
Whose blameless wishes never aim’d to rise,
To meet the changes Time and Chance present,
With modest dignity and calm content.
When thy last breath, ere Nature sunk to rest,
Thy meek submission to thy God express’d;
When thy last look, ere thought and feeling fled,
A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed;
What to thy soul its glad assurance gave,
Its hope in death, its triumph o’er the grave?
The sweet Remembrance of unblemish’d youth,
The still inspiring voice of Innocence and Truth!
Hail, MEMORY, hail! in thy exhaustless mine
From age to age unnumber’d treasures shine!
Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
And Place and Time are subject to thy sway!
Thy pleasures most we feel, when most alone;
The only pleasures we can call our own.
Lighter than air, Hope’s summer-visions die,
If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
If but a beam of sober Reason play,
Lo, Fancy’s fairy frost-work melts away!
But can the wiles of Art, the grasp of Power,
Snatch the rich relics of a well-spent hour?
These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight,
Pour round her path a stream of living light;
And gild those pure and perfect realms of rest,
Where Virtue triumphs, and her sons are blest!

Samuel Rogers
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