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Yet couldst thou learn that thus it fares with age,
When pleasure, wealth, or power the bosom warm,
This baffled hope might tame thy manhood's rage,
And Disappointment of her sting disarm.
But why should foresight thy fond heart alarm?
Perish the lore that deadens young desire;
Pursue, poor imp, th' imaginary charm,
Indulge gay hope, and Fancy's pleasing fire:
Fancy and Hope too soon shall of themselves expire.
When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening, wander'd down the vale.
There would he dream of graves and corses pale;
And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail,
Till silenced by the owl's terrific song, [along.
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering isles
Or, when the setting moon, in crimson dyed,
Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied,
Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep;
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entranced sight.
And, first, a wildly-murmuring wind 'gan creep
Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright,
With instantaneous gleam, illuined the vault of night.
Anon in view a portal's blazon'd arch
Arose; the trumpet bids the valves unfold;
And forth a host of little warriors march,
Grasping the diamond-lance and targe of gold.
Their look was gentle, their demeanour bold,
And green their helms and green their silk attire ;
And here and there, right venerably old,
The long-robed minstrels wake the warbling wire, And some with mellow breath the martial pipe in
With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance;
The little warriors doff the targe and spear,
And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance.
They meet, they dart away, they wheel askance ;
To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze ;
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along with many-colour'd rays
Of tapers, gems, and gold, the echoing forests blaze.
The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day,
Who scared'st the vision with thy clarion shrill,
Fell chanticleer! who oft hath reft away
My fancied good, and brought substantial ill!
Oh, to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Let Harmony aye shut her gentle ear:
Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear,
And ever in thy dreams the ruthless fox appear.
Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line.
Revoke the spell. Thine Edwin frets not so.
For how should he at wicked chance repine,
Who feels from every change amusement flow!
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy in every breeze are borne.
But who the melodies of morn can tell?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain side;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crown'd with her pail, the tripping milkmaid sings; The whistling ploughman stalks a field; and, hark! Down the rough slope the ponderous wagon rings; Through rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs; Slow tolls the village clock the drowsy hour;
'he partridge bursts away on whirring wings; Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower, And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.
"TURN, gentle hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way,
yon taper cheers the vale
With hospitable ray.
"For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow;
Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
Seem length'ning as I go."
"Forbear, my son," the hermit cries,
"To tempt the dang'rous gloom;
For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom.
"Here to the houseless child of want
My door is open still;
And though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good-will.
"Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.
"No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn :
Taught by that Pow'r that pities me,
I learn to pity them:
"But from the mountain's grassy side A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied, And water from the spring.
"Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego;
All earthborn cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long."
Soft as the dew from Heav'n descends,
His gentle accents fell;
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.
Far in a wilderness obscure,
The lonely mansion lay;
A refuge to the neighbouring poor,
And strangers led astray.
No stores beneath its humble thatch
Required a master's care;
The wicket, op'ning with a latch,
Received the harmless pair.
And now, when busy crowds retire
To take their ev'ning rest,
The hermit trimm'd his little fire,
And cheer'd his pensive guest;
And spread his vegetable store,
And gayly press'd and smiled; And, skill'd in legendary lore,
The ling'ring hours beguiled.
Around in sympathetic mirth
Its tricks the kitten tries;
The cricket chirrups in the hearth,
The crackling fagot flies.
But nothing could a charm impart
To sooth the stranger's wo;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.
His rising cares the hermit spied,
With answ'ring care oppress'd:
"And whence, unhappy youth," he cried,
"The sorrows of thy breast?
"From better habitations spurn'd,
Reluctant dost thou rove;
Or grieve for friendship unreturn'd,
Or unregarded love?
"Alas! the joys that fortune brings
Are trifling, and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things,
More trifling still than they.
"And what is friendship but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
And leaves the wretch to weep?
"And love is still an emptier sound,
The modern fair one's jest:
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle's nest.
"For shame, fond youth, thy sorrows hush,
And spurn the sex," he said:
But, while he spoke, a rising blush
His lovelorn guest betray'd.