My boyish days are long past now,
Time's silent chisel prints my brow
With lines of care, and pain;
Love, hope, and joy, my bosom friends,
Are gone! thus life's enchantment ends!
We ne'er shall meet again!
Yet though of them I am bereft,
One dear companion still is left,
That woos the shades of even;
As, when day's choristers are flown,
At night, one sits, and trills alone
Her matchless strains to heav'n.
Thus mem'ry now with folded wings,
And sweet melodious pathos, sings
Within my shelt'ring breast;
Unmindful of the gathered gloom,
Warbles the dulcet song of Home,
And charms my griefs to rest.
Ah! it was there without control
A wild exuberance of soul
Filled all my youthful mind;
Gay as a ship upon a sea,
In summer sailing gallantly,
I bowed before the wind.
I gave no thought to death, or strife,
Nor feared to lose a treasured life,
Nor heeded Time's swift stream.
But with a sense of jocund mirth,
Enjoyed the gifts of mother Earth,
With happiness supreme!
The river shone as rivers should,
The walk was heav'nly through the wood!
THe cuckoo's note was bliss!
The nightingale's, a merry peal,
That made me all enchanted feel,
And think no song like his!
The summits of the elm, and beech,
I'd fearless venture oft to reach,
Rocked on their dizzy height;
From out their nest the fledglings draw,
And laugh to hear the old bird caw
In its maternal fright.
The meadows green, all cowslipp'd o'er,
And violet banks, I'd quite adore;
The harebell, primrose, thyme--
With all the wild flow'rs of the grove,
Would tempt my wand'ring steps to rove,
And ev'ry hillock climb.
And then into the sparkling brook,
For tiny minnows I would look,
And seize one, if I could;
And, when the gasping captive lay
Within my hand a struggling prey,
I thought the pastime good!
When light upon my slumber crept
(And oh! how soundly then I slept!)
I leaped to hail the morn;
Hope's sweet illusions fired my breast,
I spurned luxurious downy rest,
ANd, fresh as newly born,
Bounded to where the heather blows,
Or where the bubbling streamlet flows,
Begirting loud the mill;
With sparkling eyes, and rosy cheek,
Up to each idle, boyish freak,
That piqued my childish skill.
A whistle for my sister Kate--
A boat for Tom he styled first rate--
A kite, and perhaps a swing--
Called forth my genius' handywork,
And made me proud as any Turk,
And happy as a king!
My school days glided quickly by
(Employment always makes time fly);
And then the holidays!
What glorious ecstasy was mine,
To feel that liberty divine,
For which the school-boy prays!
With racy appetite I drew
From ev'ry manly sport I knew,
Fresh pleasure every day;
The Christmas gambols, feast, and fun--
Race, ball, boat, skating, bat, and gun--
Oh, 'twas glorious play!
Thus youth passed by--a happy time!
Still ringing in my ears, a chime
Of sweet familiar tone!
Life never will, or can bestow
A time so blest, and free from woe,
As that delightful one!
Then manhood came with summer heat,
And Folly took the vacant seat
Of noble Wisdom's throne;
A thousand fond delusions came,
And went away again like flame,
And still she ruled alone!
Ah! it was thus for many years,
A checkered lot of hopes and fears;
Of idle bliss, and pain;
When the soul drank its full delight,
On Pleasure's gay and giddy height,
Of all that's false and vain!
But now the sober hand of Truth
Points forward to eternal youth--
One never-fading morn!
Spring, Summer, Autumn--all are past,
The Reaper's come! the lot is cast!
The sickle's in the corn!