Dear moments of childhood! how sweetly ye smile

Dear moments of childhood! how sweetly ye smile,
As I gaze on the vista of years that are gone!
Ye smile in your innocent loveliness, while
In the downhill of life we are hastening on.

O, could I return to your beautiful prime,
When ye shone like the morn of a clear summer day,
And my spirit ne'er thought how the footsteps of time,
Like the flight of an eagle, were hastening away;

O, could I return to those innocent hours,
When my heart knew no sorrow, that fled not as soon
As the soft drops of April that fall upon flowers,
And vanish at once in the bright air of noon;—

O, then I might taste of the silent delight
That beams in the eye of an infant, and flows
As peacefully on as the dove in her flight,
Or the dew stealing out of the cup of a rose;

O, then I might lay all my sorrows at rest,
And be calm as the first whispered zephyr of spring,
When it comes on its pinions of down from the west,
And shakes the soft fragrance of May from its wing;

O, then I might know what it is to be free
From a burden that presses a heart to the grave,
Might charm back the feeling of lightness and glee,
The first look of love and of gentleness gave.

But no,—I have passed from the fresh blooming shore,
Where life gathers round it its verdure and flowers;
I can fondly look backward,—but ah! never more
Can I taste of your sweetness, ye innocent hours!

Then whither—ah, whither escape from the night,
Which darkens more deeply, the farther I go!
Look out from the gloom, some benevolent light!
Like a star on the traveller who wanders below.

A light now is breaking,—it comes from above,—
Still clearer and purer than life's early dawn;
It descends with the motionless flight of a dove,
And guides me in safety and cheerfulness on.

Then let me not turn to the innocent hours
Of childhood, when brighter hours wait me before;
There are thorns in life's earliest and tenderest flowers,
But yonder are flowers that shall sting me no more.
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