When man pre-eminent for wealth of mind,
And godlike qualities, was proclaimed good!--
Lord of the universe!--Terrestrial king!--
One rare and precious gift, amid the gleam
Of his crown jewels, was but dimly seen,
And nothing prized!--No radiance shot it forth,
Nor rosy tincture coloured its repose,
Yet, all conspicuous, unsullied, clear,
With virtues marvellous, and infinite--
Without a flaw--with adamantine strength--
With rich design, and cunning workmanship--
The gem was set; a mirror to the brain!
A tablet for each thought, and act, and scene!
With wondrous pow'r to keep their fleeting shades,
And photograph their portraits on its page;
Whether in seraph forms of heav'nly shape,
Shedding a holy rapture o'er the mind,
Or with grim spectres, terrible and fierce,
Haunting the soul impressed with conscious guilt.
Thus memory her talisman concealed,
Till all man's passions drank their fill of bliss,
And sorrow came, and pointed to the past,
And counted o'er the treasures he had lost!
The halcyon hours recklessly enjoyed!
The home of fond affections forfeited!
That theatre of every dear felicity,
Unmeasured, and unsating in excess!
Its noble privileges lost forever!
That innocence and purity of heart--
The inner golden shrine of sacred love,
Wherein th' Eternal sat in holy state--
A broken altar, humbled to the dust!
Its priestly offices and saintly balm,
No more, with unpolluted reverence,
And righteous worship, were sanctified!
Its spiritual offerings corrupt!
Its censers smokeless!--and its fire extinct!
Then memory, with bright enkindling spark,
Struck the first links of her electric chain,
Invisible, and endless in its girth,
Embracing ev'ry chord that thrills the heart,
Or animates the mind; throughout all time,
To rule the moral world, and be the sun,
To gild, with mellow rays, its slow decline!
To tip the past with gleams of golden light!
Hover a halo round the mind eclipsed!
And when old age, with filmy sight sets in,
To gambol round it like a little child,
Twining afresh, in fanciful array,
The scanty flow'rs that grew along its paths,
Pale records of its few, but treasured joys.
How does it linger on their sweet perfume,
Drawing refreshing odours from their leaves,
Withered, and dead, and yet the fragrance there!
Essence of happiness that nought can crush!
Balm to the stricken mind wounded with grief!
Solitude's benign associate and friend!
Memory is the keystone of the arch
On which the mental structure is erect;
That wondrous edifice reaching to heav'n!
Of nature's gifts to man, the great supreme!
Whose fair imposing aspect dazzles most!
Where dwell the sov'reign attributes of mind!
Whose wise and intellectual power,
With exquisite machinery's contrived
To regulate the workings of the soul,
And quell its turbulent and stormy depths,
Or raise its latent genius to success!
O Memory! O potent wondrous pow'r!
Posthumous child of Innocence and Bliss
Reason's appointed treasurer and scribe!
Thought's intellectual and faithful bride!
Stern monitor and sharp sword of conscience,
Blood-stained and foul, with deep corrosive sin!
O dread and sov'reign ruler of the mind!
When Time shall make Corruption lord of all,
Oh then, and not till then, thy reign shall cease!