Lines on Viewing, One Summer Evening, the House of My Birth in a State of Desertion


The crescent moon with pallid light
Was silvering o'er the brow of night;
With downy wing the summer breeze
Sported amid the rustling trees,
Waving the leaves that lightly flew,
And kissing off the night-fallen dew.
Along the gently winding vale,
Its surface ruffled by the gale,
The softly flowing rivulet strayed,
While o'er its wave the moonbeam played,
Smiling, as calmly stealing by,
Like tears of joy in beauty's eye.

Through the wood my fancy loved,
Rapt in kindling thought, I roved;
Not a zephyr shook the spray,
To brush the trembling gems away;
Not a warble met my ear,
All was silent far and near,
Still as cypress boughs, that wave
Slowly o'er the lonely grave,
And weave their deep, impressive gloom, —
Fit emblem of the dreary tomb.

Down a glen, where, half unseen,
Banked with turf of deepest green,
Flowed a winding rill along,
Tinkling like the milkmaid's song;
Where the moon's reflected ray
Smiling on the surface lay,
Seeming to sleep in soft repose,
Like morning dew-drops on the rose;
Where the evening splendors fade
In the maple's quiet shade;
Lonely, desolate appears,
Pale as in the vale of years,
The mansion where my infant eye
First saw the rocks, the woods, the sky.
O, it was a lovely sight,
Though obscured by shades of night;
And though the ivy-mantled wall
At intervals was heard to fall,
Breaking with faintly rattling sound
The quiet hush that reigned around.

Through the walks, where privets blew
And purple lilacs wildly grew,
'Mid entangling weeds and briers,
And the rye-grass' waving spires,
'Neath the pear-tree, where, as Spring
Bade her untaught music ring,
Purest blooms of snowy white
Charmed the fond-reposing sight,
And gales of incense whispered by
Gentle as the lover's sigh, —
I wandered slow, and fondly viewed
This scene in evening tears bedewed,
And felt around my heart the throe
Of tender grief and melting woe,
To see a spot so sweet, so dear,
Now laid on desolation's bier,
And view a scene of loveliness
In ruin's wildest, roughest dress.

With trembling hand I oped the door,
And wandered o'er the mouldering floor;
Along the slowly crumbling wall,
Where wintry fires were wont to fall
And smile with beams of ruddy light,
Chasing away the gloom of night,
Naught was seen but shadows drear,
And sights that filled my soul with fear:
Darkened by trickling autumn rains,
That left their wild, fantastic stains,
Seeming, as stars with feeble ray
Reflected o'er the ceiling play,
Spirits that swiftly flutter by,
And glance like visions on my eye.
And there the slowly creeping snail
Drew o'er the wall its slimy veil;
Its silken web the spider wove
To trap the flies that idly rove;
While, slumbering through the summer's day,
The bat in some lone corner lay,
Till, started by my solemn tread,
He flapped his wings around my head,
And, darting through the broken pane,
Sailed on the evening breeze again.

The moonbeam shone along the room,
Like starlight glistening on a tomb;
The clock was still, — its sweet-toned bell
No longer rung Time's funeral knell,
No more its index seemed to say
How swift the moments flew away.
All was lonely, all was still,
The thrush was silent on the hill,
The sheep-bell's shrilly tinkling note
Was heard no longer in the cote,
No breathing soul the silence broke,
No flageolet its sweetness woke,
No voice was singing in the vale,
No echo floated on the gale;
'T was hushed, but when with droning sound
The slow-winged beetle hummed around.

Resting on a broken chair,
Relic of the ruin there,
By the window I reclined
And listened to the moaning wind,
That whispered through the broken pane.
Mournful as the funeral strain.
O'er my head the woodbine blew,
All its flowers were wet with dew,
And sweeter fragrance flowed around,
Than ever charmed enchanted ground;
So sweet the scent, that Eden's gale
Seemed breathing through the desert vale.
Ivy hung its tendrils there,
And trembled in the dewy air,
Twisting around the shattered frame,
Where still a rudely sculptured name
Half hid in lichens caught my eye,
And told me of the years gone by.

Beneath my eye, and in the shade
An aged elm, low bending, made,
A modest rose-bush reared its head,
And far around its sweetness shed.
Two damask flowers, with leaflets pale,
Were lightly trembling on the gale,
And, as the moonbeam o'er them shone,
Seemed like two mourners left alone
Amid those scenes, where gay delight,
Frolic ever dancing light,
Woke their shouts of rapture wild,
And cheerfulness serenely smiled.
All, — all were gone. Like insects gay,
That sport them in the summer ray,
Young Happiness, so sweetly blown,
With hurrying wing away had flown,
Vanished in night the vision fair,
And left these two to wither there.

Soon I glanced my roving eye
On a sprig of rosemary;
Hid in grass that rankly grew,
There the humble floweret blew,
Bashful 'neath the rose's shade
All its modest hues displayed;
As the maiden sweet as May,
With her eye of heavenly ray,
Shrinking from the world's rude storm,
Hides in shades obscure her form.
On its lip of paly blue,
Smiled in peace a pearl of dew;
'T was a melancholy flower,
Such as in affliction's hour
O'er the heaving turf I 'd throw,
To deck the friend that rests below.

Glancing farther o'er the scene,
Gay with flowers and soft with green;
But now beneath the moon's pale light
All seemed one color to the sight.
Such the mellow fading tint,
When the fays their footsteps print,
Where the tiny billows break
On the gently heaving lake:
'T was not ebon, 't was not green,
Mingled hues that melt between;
As when beside the taper's ray
The maiden weeps the hours away,
And seen at distance faintly glows,
Her grief-worn cheek's decaying rose,
Till every soft and winning charm
Dissolves into a sylphid form.

O'er the slowly winding flood,
'Mid the shadows of the wood,
And in the meadow spread before
The ruined mansion's broken door,
I saw in gently veering flight
The insect lightning of the night,
Shining with a feeble ray,
As it slowly sailed away,
Or twinkling with a sudden spark,
Spangling the scenery wild and dark.
So the meteor light of fame
Glows with such a fickle flame,
So all happiness below
Is an insect's transient glow:
For a time it sweetly smiles,
Dressed in fancy's dearest wiles;
Mirth amid his rosy bowers
Laughs away the gliding hours,
The moments of a short-lived day
That steals like air unseen away;
Love entwines his silken chain,
And breathes his soft, enchanting strain;
Joy awakes his twisted shell
To the notes that please him well;
Hope's gay colors richly blend,
And tell of sports that never end;
While jovial Pleasure's golden dawn
Sparkles awhile, and all is gone.

Farther still I turned my eyes,
Where the waving forests rise,
Where the hills with easy swell,
Rising from the lowly dell,
Smile beneath the pallid ray,
Till they fade in mist away.
Upward to the sky I turned,
Where the stars serenely burned,
And around the lonely pole
Saw the Bear its lustre roll.
There amid the lofty blue,
Veiled in robe of silver hue,
Luna showed her crescent pale,
And trembled through her misty veil:
Round her orb the halo shone
Lovely as the milky zone,
When, in winter's cloudless night,
It spreads o'er heaven its belt of light.
" Silvery planet! kindly shed
On thy humble votary's head
Thy serenest rays, and shine
On my brow with beam divine.
Light me through this world of sorrow,
Till I find a fair to-morrow;
Till the woes that rack my breast
Slumber in an infant's rest.
When my corpse is lowly laid
Where the yews in weave their shade,
Through the boughs that slowly wave,
Smile serenely on my grave.

" Never will thy pallid ray
O'er such lovely waters play,
Never shine on fairer bowers
Through the evening's quiet hours,
Nor shed thy flood of spotless light
On scenes more beauteous or more bright. "

Land of my nativity!
How thou charm'st the wearied eye!
O, thou hast a genial balm,
That can the saddest bosom calm!
Smiling in the dewy dawn,
When the songsters o'er the lawn
Open their mellifluous throats
And warble their enchanting notes,
Glowing when the noon-tide beam
Gilds the flowery bordered stream,
And charming at the close of day,
When the twilight fades away.
Mountains swelling to the sky,
Forests frowning on the eye,
Waving woodlands, meadows gay,
Streamlets where the minnows play,
Winding valleys, swelling hills,
Crystal fountains, tinkling rills,
Smile in morning's rosy light,
And melt amid the shades of night.
Such thy scenes, for ever dear,
Whether far away or near;
Whether smiling on the eye,
Or in the hues of memory.
When I leave this desert vale,
Thou wilt ever bid me wail,
Always wake the parting sigh,
And draw the tear-drop from my eye.
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