Mental Harmony

We have had pleasant hours, but they are gone;
And we shall never meet again, to spend
Glad moments in the kindly intercourse
Of blended thought and feeling; they are gone,
Those festivals of fancy and of hope,
Those May-days of the spirit, when the voice
Of nature had a sweetness wholly new
And most delightful to me, and the form
And fashion of all creatures took a tint
From the fair light within me; when we gave
Days to such higher thoughts as lend to life
A swifter pinion, that the flow of hours
Be as the falling of a quiet stream,
Whose current has no sound or sign to tell
It hath an onward motion, and the sun
Go to his setting, and we know it not,
Time steals on such a silent wing away.

There is a holy feeling in the trance
Of thought; it is a calm and quiet sense
Of purer being; we have known such hours,
And they shall be remembered. Who would lose
The memory of our blessings, and the light
The recollection of departed days
Of a serener pleasure, and a deep
And happy friendship, tranquillized and raised
To more exalted union, such as bound
Two intellects in elder time, who loved
To meet in fond endearment, and to lend
In mutual talk their fullest thoughts, — the light
Such recollection pours into the heart,
Till we are circled with a hallowed sphere
Of bright emotions, — who would lose, one day,
Remembrances so gracious, for the wild,
Mad tempest of ambition, or the gay
And glittering dance of pleasure, or the pomp
The rich man piles around him? I could walk,
At the pale hour of twilight, on the path
The willow-tree o'ershadows, by the brink
Of a small run of water, and be wrapped
In a deep loneliness, and yet find more
That has in it an ecstasy, in thoughts
Cast back upon the quick hours we have known
In our long, woodland wanderings, and the sights
That we have mutely gazed on, spread o'er hill,
And plain, and sheeted ocean, than in all
Hope ever promised to my ardent youth
In the bright path of honor, or the way
That winds through roses, sweetly leading on
Its eager victim to the Bower of Love.

Nature hath lent us, with a bounteous hand,
Wherewith to make us happy, and if we
Take not the kindly offer, 't is the fault
Of our perverted hearts, which cannot find
Beauty is what is open unto all.
I have resolved within me, that the still
And pure possession of my own free thoughts
Surpasses earthly treasures, and is life
Heightened to a superior essence; hence
The wild woods are my chosen haunt, and there
I read a fairer tome, a richer page,
Than pen of man has traced with characters
Of reason or of fancy. I become,
In the society of untaught things,
Drawn from my duller and my grosser sense,
And lifted in my longings, and I learn
How little there is great in the pursuit
Of riches or of honor, how the mind,
Let in the channel of heroic thought
To flow in freedom onward, and pervade
The purer regions of philosophy,
And tasteful and impassioned poesy, —
How mind alone is the true worth of man,
And that which raises him above the sense
Of meaner creatures, and permits a hope
Of unembodied being, in a high
And holy dwelling, lifted far above
The reach of tempest, with essential light
Encircled, and with fairest wings of love
O'ershadowed, the reward and resting-place
Of such as hold their journey patiently,
And pause and faint not on their weary way.

The recollection of one upward hour
Hath more in it to tranquillize and cheer
The darkness of despondency, than years
Of gayety and pleasure. Then, alone
We wander not in solitude, but find
Friends in all things around us, for the heart
Sinks not, and in its sinking bends the mind
From its true lofty region, where it lives
Rejoicing in bright energy; and so
All things are open to the searching eye
Of an unclouded intellect, and bring
Their several treasures to it, and unfold
Their fabric to its scrutiny. All life,
And all inferior orders, in the waste
Of being spread before us, are to him
Who lives in meditation, and the search
Of wisdom and of beauty, open books,
Wherein he reads the Godhead, and the ways
He works through his creation, and the links
That fasten us to all things, with a sense
Of fellowship and feeling, so that we
Look not upon a cloud, or falling leaf,
Or flower new blown, or human face divine ,
But we have caught new life, and wider thrown
The door of reason open, and have stored
In memory's secret chamber, for dark years
Of age and weariness, the food of thought,
And thus extended mind, and made it young,
When the thin hair turns gray, and feeling dies.

But this communion with inferior things
Still leaves a void behind it, and we seek
The kindred thoughts of other men, and bend
Attentive o'er their written souls, wherein
We see their better moments, when they cast
The slough of earth aside, and tried a flight
On an ascending pinion, and renewed
Their purer being, as the insect bursts
— The walls that bound it in its second state, —
It might be a gilded prison-house,
But yet it was a prison: when its wing
Unfolded, and it knew the bliss of air,
And free and rapid motion, it had life,
And floated as a spirit floats away,
And wandered gayly on from flower to flower,
And was so light and so ethereal, man
Selected it the symbol of the soul,
And its free flight through ether, on a wing
That, moving through eternity, will ever
Be active and unwearied, and as bright
In its unruffled plumage, after years
Have gathered into ages, and have gone
Beyond the eldest memory of time.

But yet the pen of Genius cannot cheer
And heighten, like the spirit-speaking eye;
And so we seek the living, and we find
That there are spirits that commune with ours,
As if they were our kindred, and were formed
In the same mould; and when we meet with them,
We cling with childlike fondness, as if life
Had not a charm without them, and the sky
With its ethereal beauty, and the earth
Flowering or fading, and the fairest flow
Of pure and tranquil waters, and the words
Of the departed with their might of thought,
Could be to us no solace, and have power
To lend no high conception, nor subdue
The spirit unto meekness; so we lean
On an accordant bosom, and we love
The beating of a heart that beats as ours,
The speaking of an eye that tells us thoughts
Which harmonize with what we feel, and all
The light of beauty, passion, tenderness,
And purity, and love of great, and fair,
And fitly fashioned things, until we deem
A sole existence is a wilderness,
That yieldeth only terror, and a curse.

We two have met a little while, and known
How time may glide unnoticed, in the flow
Of thoughts that have a sympathy; we part,
But this shall be a token thou hast been
A friend to him who traced these hurried lines,
And gave them as a tribute to a friend,
And a remembrance of the few kind hours
Which lightened on the darkness of my path,
And gave a pleasantness to some bright days,
Bright in the light thou gavest them, and warmed
Feelings, that sank in chilliness, and waked
My fancy from its slumber, and thus drew
One volume from its treasures, into day.
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