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Even then by fits, as whim or wildness led,
And now that youth is o'er, and passion dead,
Almost would I forget the strains I sung
In those rash days, when hope and I were young.
Tis true, men praised them; they were fit to please The popular ear; well stored with fancies strang-e,
And quaint conceits, and yet could pass with ease From gay to grave, and skilfully exchange
Mirth and wild wit for tenderest melodies;
So wide and well young phantasy could range;
Yet had her flight been tamer, I had now
Had less to grieve my heart and cloud my brow.
My soul had then from self-reproach been free For lawless revellings of uncheck'd thought;
For wanton sallies of untimely glee;
For errors, half perceived, yet boldly taught;
For dogmas crude, and false philosophy;
For many an idle thought and idler dream,
Which seem'd not to me then so vile as now they seem.
And may I now redeem, in middle age,
The wasted powers and mis-spent days of youth,
And, in my wane of fancy, dare to wage
Is it too late to consecrate my page
To themes of holy love and heavenly ruth? Too late to use aright the powers which Heaven For deeds of high emprize and steadfast aim hath given?
I know not;—in the silent flight of Time
Much hath been lost which I can ne'er regain;
The freshness and the fervour of life's prime;
The power to shape things lovely or sublime,
All these, as life steals on, have pass'd away,
Like morn's last stars that fade before the light of day.
For me no more may young imagination
The treasures of her shadowy world disclose,
With many a wild and wondrous revelation
Into those realms of dreamy contemplation
Wherein the world-worn heart may find repose
From grave reality and vexing care,
Breathing awhile sweet draughts of unpolluted air.
This world, this solid world, hath closed around me Its prison bars and bolts; I could not break,
Even if I would, the fetters which have bound me, Nor from my neck its yoke of bondage shake;
And yet 'tis well that earthly care hath found me,
Tis well my spirit hath been forced to awake From its day-dreams; that I can be no more The idler that I was in days of yore.
xil. So now my summer wreath is cull'd and twined;
Sweet be its breath to gentle hearts and wise; But April and warm May have left behind
Some stray memorials of their changeful skies, Various of scent and hue, of form and kind:
Some which stern critics will perchance despise; Some which harsh censors will perchance condemn— So let it be—they were not meant for them.
But to the lowly, and the pure of heart,
These, my young fancy's offspring, I commend;
Not without hope that they may bear their part In virtue's aid, and truth's high cause defend,
Though framed with careless aim and slender art, In boyhood some, and all ere youth did end.
Nor, haply, vain the contrast they display
Between the noon and morning of my day.
So fare thee well, my book; and ye farewell
Welcome grave cares, on which my heart must dwell,
Hereafter if again I tune my shell
To court the ear of the world's busy throng,
More " certain" be its sound, and every theme
Such as my graver tasks most fitly may beseem.