A timid grace sits trembling in her eye,
As loath to meet the rudeness of men’s sight,
Yet shedding a delicious lunar light,
That steeps in kind oblivious ecstasy
The care-crazed mind, like some still melody:
Speaking most plain the thoughts which do possess
Her gentle sprite: peace, and meek quietness,
And innocent loves, and maiden purity:
A look whereof might heal the cruel smart
Of changed friends, or fortune’s wrongs unkind;
Might to sweet deeds of mercy move the heart
Of him who hates his brethren of mankind.
Turn’d are those lights from me, who fondly yet
Past joys, vain loves, and buried hopes regret.
TO JOHN LAMB, ESQ., OF THE SOUTH-SEA-HOUSE.
John, you were figuring in the gay career
Of blooming manhood with a young man’s joy,
When I was yet a little peevish boy—
Though time has made the difference disappear
Betwixt our ages, which then seem’d so great—
And still by rightful custom you retain
Much of the old authoritative strain,
And keep the elder brother up in state.
O! you do well in this. ’Tis man’s worst deed
To let the “things that have been” run to waste,
And in the unmeaning present sink the past:
In whose dim glass even now I faintly read
Old buried forms, and faces long ago,
Which you, and I, and one more, only know.
O! I could laugh to hear the midnight
That, rushing on its way with careless sweep,
Scatters the ocean waves. And I could weep
Like to a child. For now to my raised mind
On wings of winds comes wild-eyed Fantasy,
And her rude visions give severe delight.
O winged bark! how swift along the night
Pass’d thy proud keel! nor shall I let go by
Lightly of that drear hour the memory,
When wet and chilly on thy deck I stood,
Unbonneted, and gazed upon the flood,
Even till it seem’d a pleasant thing to die,—
To be resolv’d into th’ elemental wave,
Or take my portion with the winds that rave.
We were two pretty babes, the youngest
The youngest, and the loveliest far, I ween,
And INNOCENCE her name. The time has been,
We two did love each other’s company:
Time was, we two had wept to have been apart.
But when by show of seeming good beguiled,
I left the garb and manners of a child,
And my first love for man’s society,
Defiling with the world my virgin heart—
My loved companion dropp’d a tear, and fled,
And hid in deepest shades her awful head.
Beloved, who shall tell me where thou art—
In what delicious Eden to be found—
That I may seek thee the wide world around?