To swell the mighty choir in unison?
Who in the raging storm sees passion low’ring?
Or flush of earnest thought in evening’s glow?
Who every blossom in sweet spring-time flowering
Along the loved one’s path would strow?
Who, Nature’s green familiar leaves entwining,
Wreathes glory’s garland, won on every field?
Makes sure Olympus, heavenly powers combining?
Man’s mighty spirit, in the bard reveal’d!
Come then, employ your lofty inspiration,
And carry on the poet’s avocation,
Just as we carry on a love affair.
Two meet by chance, are pleased, they linger there,
Insensibly are link’d, they scarce know how;
Fortune seems now propitious, adverse now,
Then come alternate rapture and despair;
And ’tis a true romance ere one’s aware.
Just such a drama let us now compose.
Plunge boldly into life-its, depths disclose!
Each lives it, not to many is it known,
’Twill interest wheresoever seiz’d and shown;
Bright pictures, but obscure their meaning:
A ray of truth through error gleaming,
Thus you the best elixir brew,
To charm mankind, and edify them too.
Then youth’s fair blossoms crowd to view your play,
And wait as on an oracle; while they,
The tender souls, who love the melting mood,
Suck from your work their melancholy food;
Now this one, and now that, you deeply stir,
Each sees the working of his heart laid bare.
Their tears, their laughter, you command with ease,
The lofty still they honor, the illusive love.
Your finish’d gentlemen you ne’er can please;
A growing mind alone will grateful prove.
Then give me back youth’s golden prime,
When my own spirit too was growing,
When from my heart th’ unbidden rhyme
Gush’d forth, a fount for ever flowing;
Then shadowy mist the world conceal’d,
And every bud sweet promise made,
Of wonders yet to be reveal’d,
As through the vales, with blooms inlaid,
Culling a thousand flowers I stray’d.
Naught had I, yet a rich profusion!
The thirst for truth, joy in each fond illusion.
Give me unquell’d those impulses to prove;—
Rapture so deep, its ecstasy was pain,
The power of hate, the energy of love,
Give me, oh give me back my youth again!
Youth, my good friend, you certainly require
When foes in battle round are pressing,
When a fair maid, her heart on fire,
Hangs on your neck with fond caressing,
When from afar, the victor’s crown,
To reach the hard-won goal inciteth;
When from the whirling dance, to drown
Your sense, the nights carouse inviteth.
But the familiar chords among
Boldly to sweep, with graceful cunning,
While to its goal, the verse along
Its winding path is sweetly running;
This task is yours, old gentlemen, today;
Nor are you therefore less in reverence held;
Age does not make us childish, as folk say,
It finds us genuine children e’en in eld.