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And Sorrow flies, and Labour slumbers :
And Clio pours her loudest numbers ;
And hundreds of that joyous throng
With whom my life hath lingered long
Give their glad raptures to the gale,
In one united echoing “Hail ! "
I took the harp, I smote the string,
I strove to soar on Fancy's wing,
And murmur in my sovereign's praise
The latest of my boyhood's lays.
Alas! the theme was too divine
To suit so weak a Muse as mine :
I saw-I felt it could not be ;
No song of triumph flows from me ;
The harp from which those sounds ye ask
Is all unfit for such a task ;
And the last echo of its tone,
Dear Eton, must be thine alone!
A few short hours, and I am borne
Far from the fetters I have worn;
A few short hours, and I am free |
And yet I shrink from liberty,
And look, and long to give my soul
Back to thy cherishing control.
Control ? Ah no! thy chain was meant
Far less for bond than ornament;
And though its links are firmly set,
I never found them gall me yet.
Oh still, through many chequered years,
'Mid anxious toils, and hopes, and fears,
Still I have doted on thy fame,
And only gloried in thy name.
How I have loved thee! Thou hast been
My Hope, my Mistress, and my Queen ;
I always found thee kind, and thou
Hast never seen me weep—till now.
I knew that time was fleeting fast,
I knew thy pleasures could not last;
I knew too well that riper age
Must step upon a busier stage;
Yet when around thine ancient towers
I passed secure my tranquil hours,
Or heard beneath thine aged trees
The drowsy humming of the bees,
Or wandered by thy winding stream,
I would not check my fancy's dream;
Glad in my transitory bliss,
I recked not of an hour like this ;
And now the truth comes swiftly on,
The truth I would not think upon,
The last sad thought, so oft delayed, -
“ These joys are only born to fade."
Ye Guardians of my earliest days,
Ye Patrons of my earliest lays,
Custom reminds me, that to you
Thanks and farewell to-day are due.
Thanks and farewell I give you,-not
(As some that leave this holy spot)
In laboured phrase and polished lie
Wrought by the forge of flattery,
But with a heart that cannot tell
The half of what it feels so well.
If I am backward to express,
Believe, my love is not the less;
Be kind as you are wont, and view
A thousand thanks in one Adieu.
My future life shall strive to show
I wish to pay the debt I owe;
The labours that ye give to May
September's fruits shall best repay.
And you, my friends, who loved to share
Whate'er was mine of sport or care,
Antagonists at fives or chess,
Friends in the play-ground or the press,
I leave ye now; and all that rests
Of mutual tastes, and loving breasts,
In the lone vision that shall come,
Where'er my studies and my home,
To cheer my labour and my pain
And make me feel a boy again.
Yes ! when at last I sit me down,
A scholar, in my cap and gown,-
When learned doctrines, dark and deep,
Move me to passion or to sleep,-
When Clio yields to logic's wrangles,
And Long and Short give place to angles, –
When stern Mathesis makes it treason
To like a rhyme, or scorn a reason-
With aching head and weary wit
Your parted friend shall often sit,
Till Fancy's magic spell hath bound him,
And lonely musings flit around him ;
Then shall ye come with all your wiles,
Of gladdening sounds and warming smiles,
And nought shall meet his eye or ear, ---
Yet shall he deem your souls are near.
Others may clothe their valediction
With all the tinsel charms of fiction;
And one may sing of Father Thames,
And Naiads with a hundred names,
And find a Pindus here, and own
The College pump a Helicon,
And search for gods about the College,
Of which old Homer had no knowledge ;
And one may eloquently tell
The triumphs of the Windsor belle,
And sing of Mira's lips and eyes,
In oft-repeated ecstasies.
Oh! he hath much and wondrous skill
To paint the looks that wound and kill,
As the poor maid is doomed to brook,
Unconsciously, her lover's look,
And smiles, and talks, until the poet
Hears the band play, and does not know it.
To speak the plain and simple truth,
I always was a jesting youth,
A friend to merriment and fun,
No foe to quibble and to pun;
Therefore I cannot feign a tear;
And, now that I have uttered here
A few unrounded accents, bred
More from the heart than from the head,
Honestly felt, and plainly told,
My lyre is still, my fancy cold.
MY FIRST FOLLY.
(Stanzas written at Midnight.)
Pretty Coquette, 'the ceaseless play
Of thine unstudied wit,
And thy dark eye's remembered ray
By buoyant fancy lit,
And thy young forehead's clear expanse,
Where the locks slept, as through the dance,
Dreamlike, I saw thee flit,
Are far too warm, and far too fair
To mix with aught of earthly care;
But the vision shall come when my day is done,
A frail and a fair and a fleeting one !
And if the many boldly gaze
On that bright brow of thine, And if thine eye's undying rays
On countless coxcombs shine,
And if thy wit flings out its mirth,
Which echoes more of air than earth,
For other ears than mine,
I heed not this; ye are fickle things,
And I like your very wanderings ;
I gaze, and if thousands share the bliss,
Pretty Capricious! I heed not this.
In sooth I am a wayward youth,
As fickle as the sea,
And very apt to speak the truth,
Unpleasing though it be ;
I am no lover; yet as long
As I have heart for jest or song,
An image, sweet, of thee,