You ask me, gentle maiden, once again
To tune my lyre, and wake its voice to song.
Alas, it long neglected, mute, hath lain,
Or only chid the breeze that swept along.
For grief has thrown its chill around my heart,
And quench'd for melody my fond desire:
My trembling hand has lost its wonted art
When I would wake the accents of my lyre.
Yet, when thy artless graces I behold,
Thine eyes that beam with innocence and truth,
Thy blushes that no conscious wrong unfold,
All radiant with the roseate light of youth,
Harmonious feelings in my breast will rise;
Within mine ear a distant music rings;
Again my hand its new-felt vigor tries;
Again it tunes and sweeps the once-lov'd strings.
Thus, Memnon's statue, ancient records say,
When night prevail'd, sent forth low sullen moans;
But when it felt the rising solar ray,
Was heard to murmur in melodious tones.
But, o'er the chords my fingers wildly stray,
Like one preluding to th' intended strain:
I find no theme on which to form my lay;
I call on ev'ry Muse, but call in vain.
I cannot join the strains of noisy glee,
The heartless wishes that salute the ear,
The sounds of merriment and revelry
That hail the birthday of another year.
So many a sigh, so many a bitter moan
Beneath these high-wrought notes of joy ascends,
They seem like careless wild-flowers idly grown
Upon the graves of our departed friends.
And what are all the brightest joys we boat
But fading flowers that for a moment bloom?
And what this mighty globe, with all its host,
But an insatiate all-devouring tomb?
Fair maid, I've fall'n upon a theme that's fraught
With gloom too sullen for youth's hopeful day:
Yet will I venture still one serious thought,
One heart-felt wish, ere I conclude my lay.
Dark angry clouds that veil the azure skies
Are like deep sorrows that the soul oppress.
The golden vapors, melting as they rise,
Assemble pleasures in their gaudy dress.
Beyond the gilded mists that o'er us glance,
And darkest clouds that on the mountains rest,
Extends, thro' unknown space, the blue expanse
With stars that shine like spirits of the blest.
And let this glorious view exalt thy mind
When sorrows press or dang'rous pleasures lure;
Think them but passing clouds that leave behind
The burning vault of Heav'n unchang'd and pure.
And when, at last, thy worldly cares shall end,
And then awaken from life's empty dream,
May thy glad spirit to the skies ascend
And, mid the lights of Heav'n, send forth its beam;
And like the lovely star of evening shine,
In modest glory clad, serene though bright;
And, near th' eternal, bounteous Source divine,
For ever and for ever dwell in light.