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Little reck’st thou, my earliest born!
Of clouds that gather round thy morn,
Of arts to lure thy soul astray,
Of snares that intersect thy way,
Of secret foes, of friends untrue,
Of fiends who stab the heart they woom
Little thou reck'st of this sad store !
Would thou might'st never reck them more!
But thou wilt burst this transient sleep,
And thou wilt wake, my babe, to weep-
The tenant of a frail abode,
Thy tears must flow, as mine have flowed
Beguiled by follies, every day,
Sorrow must wash thy faults away;
And thou may’st wake perchance to prove
The pang of unrequited love.
Unconscious babe! tho' on that brow
No half-fledged misery nestles now-
Scarce round those placid lips a smile
Maternal fondness shall beguile,
Ere the moist footsteps of a tear
Shall plant their dewy traces there,
And prematurely pave the way
For sorrows of a riper day.
Oh! could a father's prayer repel
The eye's sad grief, the bosom's swell!
Or could a father hope to bear
A darling child's allotted care-
Then thou, my babe, should'st slumber still,
Exempted from all human ill ;
A parent's love thy peace should free,
And ask its wounds again for thee.
Sleep on, my child, thy slumber brief
Too soon shall melt away to grief,
Too soon the dawn of woe shall break,
And briny rills bedew thy cheek-
Too soon shall sadness quench those eyes,
That breast be agonized with sighs,
And anguish o'er the beams of noon
Lead clouds of care-ah! much too soon.
Soon wilt thou reck of cares unknown,
Of wants and sorrows all thine own,
Of many a pang and many a woe,
That thy dear sex alone can know-
Of many an ill, untold, unsung,
That will not, may not find a tongue ;
But, kept concealed without control,
Spread the fell cancers of the soul !
Yet be thy lot, my babe, more blest
May joy still animate thy breast !
Still ’midst thy least propitious days
Shedding its rich inspiring rays !
A father's heart shall daily bear
Thy name upon its secret prayer ;
And, as he seeks his last repose,
Thine image ease life's parting throes.
Then hail sweet miniature of life!
Hail, to this teeming stage of strife!
Pilgrim of many cares untold !
Lamb of the world's extended fold !
Fountain of hopes, and doubts, and fears,
Sweet promise of ecstatic years!
How fainly would I bend the knee,
And turn idolater to thee !
Oft have I seen yon solitary man
Pacing the upland meadow. On his brow
Sits melancholy, marked with decent pride,
As it would fly the busy taunting world,
And feed upon reflection. Sometimes, near
The foot of an old tree he takes his seat,
And with the page of legendary lore
Cheats the dull hour, while evening's sober eye
Looks tearful as it closes. In the dell,
By the swift brook he loiters, sad and mute,
Save when a struggling sigh, half murmured, steals
From his wrung bosom. To the rising moon,
His eye raised wistfully, expression-fraught,
He pours the cherished anguish of his soul,
Silent, yet eloquent: for not a sound
That might alarm the night's lone sentinel,
The dull-eyed owl, escapes his trembling lip,
Unapt in supplication. He is
And yet the stamp of thought so tempers youth,
That all its fires are faded. What is he?
And why, when morning sails upon the breeze,
Fanning the blue hill's summit, does he stay,
Loitering and sullen, like a truant-boy,
Beside the woodland glen; or stretched along
On the green slope, watch his slow-wasting form
Reflected, trembling, on the river's breast ?
His garb is coarse and threadbare, and his cheek Is prematurely faded. The checked tear, Dimming his dark eye's lustre, seems to say,
- This world is now, to me, a barren waste,
A desert full of weeds and wounding thorns,
And I am weary; for my journey here
Has been, though short, but cheerless.' Is it so ?
Poor traveller! oh tell me, tell me all-
For I, like thee, am but a fugitive,
An alien from delight, in this dark scene !
And, now I mark thy features, I behold
The cause of thy complaining. Thou art here
A persecuted exile ! one, whose soul,
Unbowed by guilt, demands no patronage
From blunted feeling, or the frozen hand
Of gilded ostentation. Thou, poor priest !
Art here a stranger, from thy kindred torn-
Thy kindred massacred ! thy quiet home,
The rural palace of some village scant,
Sheltered by vineyards, skirted by fair meads,
And by the music of a shallow rill
Made ever cheerful, now thou hast exchanged
For stranger woods and valleys.
What of that!
Here, or on torrid deserts ; o'er the world
Of trackless waves, or on the frozen cliffs
Of bleak Siberia, thou art not alone.
For there, on each, on all, the Deity
Is thy companion still! Then, exiled man!