Page images
PDF
EPUB

Because I think you'd scarce refuse

To sew one on a button;
Because I know you'd sometimes choose

To dine on simple mutton!
Because I think I'm just so weak

As, some of those fine morrows, To ask you if you'll let me speak

My story—and my sorrows;
Because the rest's a simple thing,

A matter quickly over,
A church--a priest—a sigh-a ring-
And a chaise and four to Dover.

Edward Fitzgerald.

CCCLXIII.

MY LOST OLD AGE.

By a Young Invalid. I'm only nine-and-twenty yet,

Though young experience makes me sage ; So, how on earth can I forget

The memory of my lost old age ? Of manhood's prime let others boast;

It comes too late, or goes too soon :
At times the life I envy most

Is that of slipper'd pantaloon!
In days of old--a twelvemonth back !-

I laughd, and quaff'd, and chaffd my fill; And now, a broken-winded hack,

I'm weak and worn, and faint and ill. Life's opening chapter pleased me well ;

Too hurriedly I turned the page ; I spoil'd the volume—who can tell

What might have been my lost old age ? I lived my lise ; I had my day;

And now I feel it more and more, The game I have no strength to play

Seems better than it seem'd of yore.

U

I watch the sport with earnest eyes,

That gleam with joy before it ends ; For plainly I can hear the cries

That hail the triumph of my friends.

We work so hard, we age so soon,

We live so swiftly, one and all, That ere our day be fairly noon

The shadows eastward seem to fall.
Some tender light may gild them yet,

As yet, it's not so very cold ;
And, on the whole, I won't regret
My slender chance of growing old !

W. J. Prowse.

CCCLXIV.

CHILDHOOD AND HIS VISITORS.

ONCE on a time, when sunny May

Was kissing up the April showers, I saw fair Childhood hard at play

Upon a bank of blushing flowers: Happy—he knew not whence or how,

And smiling, --who could choose but love him ? For not more glad than Childhood's brow,

Was the blue heaven that beam'd above him.

Old Time, in most appalling wrath,

That valley's green repose invaded; The brooks grew dry upon his path,

The birds were mute, the lilies faded. But Time so swiftly wing'd his flight,

In haste a Grecian tomb to batter, That Childhood watch'd his paper kite,

And knew just nothing of the matter.

With curling lip and glancing eye

Guilt gazed upon the scene a minute; But Childhood's glance of purity

Had such a holy spell within it,

That the dark demon to the air

Spread forth again his baffled pinion, And hid his envy and despair,

Self-tortured in his own dominion.

Then stepp'd a gloomy phantom up,

Pale, cypress-crown'd, Night's awful daughter, And proffer'd him a fearful cup

Full to the brim of bitter water:
Poor Childhood bade her tell her name;

And when the beldame mutter'd –“ Sorrow,” He said, -—“Don't interrupt my game ;

I'll taste it, if I must, to-morrow.”

The Muse of Pindus thither came,

And woo'd him with the softest numbers That ever scatter'd wealth and fame

Upon a youthful poet's slumbers; Though sweet the music of the lay,

To Childhood it was all a riddle, And “Oh,” he cried, “ do send away,

That noisy woman with the fiddle !”

Then Wisdom stole his bat and ball,

And taught him with most sage endeavour, Why bubbles rise and acorns fall,

And why no toy may last for ever. She talk'd of all the wondrous laws

Which Nature's open book discloses, And Childhood, ere she made a pause,

Was fast asleep among the roses. Sleep on, sleep on! Oh ! Manhood's dreams

Are all of earthly pain or pleasure, Of Glory's toils, Ambition's schemes,

Of cherish'd love, or hoarded treasure :
But to the couch where Childhood lies

A more delicious trance is given,
Lit up by rays from seraph eyes,
And glimpses of remember'd Heaven !

Winthrop M. Praed.

CCCLXV.

I'd be a Butterfly born in a bower,

Where roses and lilies and violets meet; Roving for ever from flower to flower,

And kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet ! I'd never languish for wealth, or for power;

I'd never sigh to see slaves at my feet: I'd be a Butterfly born in a bower,

Kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet. O could I pilfer the wand of a fairy,

I'd have a pair of those beautiful wings ; Their summer days' ramble is sportive and airy,

They sleep in a rose when the nightingale sings. Those who have wealth must be watchful any wary;

Power, alas ! nought but misery brings ! I'd be a Butterfly, sportive and airy,

Rock'd in a rose when the nightingale sings ! What, though you tell me each gay little rover

Shrinks from the breath of the first autumn day! Surely 'tis better when summer is over

To die when all fair things are fading away.
Some in life's winter may toil to discover

Means of procuring a weary delay-
I'd be a Butterfly; living, a rover,
Dying when fair things are fading away!

Thomas H. Bayly.

CCCLXVI.

MY LITTLE COUSINS.

LAUGH on, fair Cousins, for to you

All life is joyous yet;
Your hearts have all things to pursue,

And nothing to regret;
And every flower to you is fair :

And every month is May :
You've not been introduced to Care, –

Laugh on, laugh on to-day !

Old Time will fling his clouds ere long

Upon those sunny eyes ;
The voice whose every word is song

Will set itself to sighs;
Your quiet slumbers, — hopes and fears

Will chase their rest away:
To-morrow you'll be shedding tears, –

Laugh on, laugh on to-day !
Oh yes, if any truth is found

In the dull schoolman's theme,
If friendship is an empty sound,

And love an idle dream,
If mirth, youth's playmate, feels fatigue

Too soon on life's long way,
At least he'll run with you a league ;-

Laugh on, laugh on to-day!
Perhaps your eyes may grow more bright

As childhood's hues depart;
You may be lovelier to the sight

And dearer to the heart;
You may be sinless still, and see

This earth still green and gay;
But what you are you will not be:

Laugh on, laugh on to-day!
O’er me have many winters crept

With less of grief than joy;
But I have learn'd, and toil'd, and wept;

I am no more a boy!
I've never had the gout, 'tis true;

My hair is hardly grey;
But now I cannot laugh like you :

Laugh on, laugh on to-day!
I used to have as glad a face,

As shadowless a brow;
I once could run as blithe a race

As you are running now;
But never mind how I behave!

Don't interrupt your play;
And though I look so very grave,
Laugh on, laugh on to-day!

Winthrop M. Praed.

« PreviousContinue »