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And muse alone, till in the vault of night,
Hesper, aspiring, shew'd his golden light.
Here once again, remote from human noise, 25
I sit me down to think of former joys;
Pause on each scene, each treasured scene, once more,
And once again each infant walk explore.
While as each grove and lawn I' recognise,
My melted soul suffuses in my eyes.

And oh! thou: Power, whose myriad trains resort
To distant scenes, and picture them to thought;
Whose mirror, held unto the mourner's eye,
Flings to his soul a borrow'd gleam of joy;
Bless'd memory, guide, with finger nicely true, 35
Back to my youth my retrospective view;
Recal with faithful vigour to my mind,
Each face familiar, each relation kind;
And all the finer traits of them afford,
Whose general outline in my heart is stored. 40

In yonder cot, along whose mouldering walls, In many a fold the mantling woodbine falls, The village matron kept her little school, Gentle of heart, yet knowing well to rule; Staid was the dame, and modest was her mien; 45 Her garb was coarse, yet whole, and nicely clean: Her neatly border'd cap, as lily fair, Beneath her chin was pinn’d with decent care; And pendent ruffles, of the whitest lawn, Of ancient make, her elbows did adorn.

50 Faint with old age, and dim were grown


A pair of spectacles their want supplies;
These does she guard secure in leathern case,
From thoughtless wights, in some unweeted place.

55 Here first I enter?d, though with toil and pain, The low vestibule of learning's fane:


Enter'd with pain, yet soon I found the way,
Though sometimes toilsome, many a sweet display.
Much did I grieve, on that ill-fated morn,
While I was first to school reluctant borne:
Severe I thought the dame, though oft she try'd
To soothe my swelling spirits when I sigh’d;
And oft, when harshly she reproved, I wept,
lone corner broken-hearted crept,

64 And thought of tender home, where anger never

kept. But soon inured to alphabetic toils, Alert I met the dame with jocund smiles ; First at the form, my task for ever true, A little favourite rapidly I grew: And oft she stroked my head with fond delight, 70 Held me a pattern to the dunce's sight; And as she gave my diligence its praise, Talk'd of the honours of my future days.

Oh! had the venerable matron thought Of all the ills by talent often brought;

Could she have seen me when revolving years
Had brought me deeper in the vale of tears;
Then had she wept, and wish'd my wayward fate
Had been a lowlier, an unletter'd state;
Wish'd that, remote from worldly woes and strife, 80
Unknown, unheard, I might have pass'd through life.

Where, in the busy scene, by peace unbless'd,
Shall the poor wanderer find a place of rest?
A lonely mariner on the stormy main,
Without a hope the calms of peace to gain ;

Long toss'd by tempest o'er the world's wide shore,
When shall his spirit rest to toil no more?
Not till the light foam of the sea shall lave
The sandy surface of his unwept grave.

moor, 100

Childhood, to thee I turn, from life's alarms,

90 Serenest season of perpetual calms,Turn with delight, and bid the passions cease, And joy to think with thee I tasted peace. Sweet reign of innocence, when no crime defiles, But each new object brings attendant smiles ; 95 When future evils never haunt the sight, But all is pregnant with unmix'd delight; To thee I turn, from riot and from noise, Turn to partake of more congenial joys. ’Neath yonder elm, that stands upon

the When the clock spoke the hour of labour o’er, What clamorous throngs, what happy groups were seen, In various postures scatt'ring o'er the green! Some shoot the marble, others join the chase Of self-made stag, or run the emulous race;

105 While others, seated on the dappled grass, With doleful tales the light-wing'd minutes pass. Well I remember how, with gesture starch’d, A band of soldiers, oft with pride we march'd ; For banners, to a tall ash we did bind

110 Our handkerchiefs, flapping to the whistling wind; And for our warlike arms we sought the mead, And guns and

spears we made of brittle reed; Then, in uncouth array, our feats to crown, We storm'd some ruin'd pig-sty, for a town.

115 Pleased with our gay disports, the dame was wont To set her wheel before the cottage front, And o'er her spectacles would often peer, To view our gambols, and our boyish geer. Still as she look’d, her wheel kept turning round, 120 With its beloved monotony of sound. When tir’d with play, we'd set us by her side, (For out of school she never knew to chide)


And wonder at her skill-well known to fame
For who could match in spinning with the dame? 125
Her sheets, her linen, which she shew'd with pride
To strangers, still her thriftness testified;
Though we poor wights did wonder much in troth,
How 'twas her spinning manufactured cloth.

Oft would we leave, though well-beloved, our play, To chat at home the vacant hour away.

131 Many's the time I've scamper'd down the glade, To ask the promised ditty from the maid, Which well she loved, as well she knew to sing, While we around her formed a little ring:

135 She told of innocence foredoom'd to bleed, Of wicked guardians bent on bloody deed, Or little children murder'd' as they slept'; While at each pause we wrung our hands and wept. Sad was such tale, and wonder much did we, 140 Such hearts of stone there in the world could be. Poor simple wights, ah! little did we ween The ills that wait on man in life's sad scene! Ah, little thought that we ourselves should know, This world's a world of weeping and of woe! 145

Beloved moment! then 'twas first I caught The first foundation of romantic thought: Then first I shed bold Fancy's thrilling tear, Then first that poesy charm'd' mine infant ear': Soon stored with much of legendary lore,

150 The sports of childhood charm'd


soul no more.
Far from the scene of gaiety and noise,
Far, far from turbulent and empty joys,
I hied me to the thick o'erarching shade,
And there, on mossy carpet, listless laid,

155 While at my feet the rippling runnel ran, The days of wild romance antique I'd scan;

Soar on the wings of fancy through the air,
To realms of light, and pierce the radiance there. 159


THERE are, who think that childhood does not share

сир, the bitter


of care: Alas! they know not this unhappy truth, That

every age, and rank, is born to ruth, From the first dawn of reason in the mind, 5 Man is foredoom'd the thorns of grief to find ; At every step has farther cause to know The draught of pleasure still is dash'd with woe.

Yet in the youthful breast, for ever caught With some new object for romantic thought, 10 Th'impression of the moment quickly flies, And with the morrow every sorrow dies.

How different manhood!—Then does Thought's conSink every pang still deeper in the soul;

(trol Then keen Affliction's sad unceasing smart

15 Becomes a painful resident in the heart; And Care, whom not the gayest can out-brave, Pursues its feeble victim to the

grave. Then, as each long-known friend is summoned hence, We feel a void no joy can recompense,

20 And as we weep


every new-made tomb,
Wish that ourselves the next may meet our doom.

Yes, Childhood, thee no rankling woes pursue,
No forms of future ill salute thy view,
No pangs repentant bid thee wake to weep,

But halcyon peace protects thy downy sleep;
And sanguine Hope, through every storm of life,
Shoots her bright beams, and calms th’internal strife.

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