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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the ‘Pleasures of Memory’
By Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
Opening Lines

TWILIGHT’S soft dews steal o’er the village green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene.
Stilled is the hum that through the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their ancient oak
The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel play,        5
And games and carols closed the busy day.
Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more
With treasured tales and legendary lore.
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows
To chase the dreams of innocent repose.        10
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here!
What secret charms this silent spot endear?
  Mark yon old mansion frowning through the trees,
Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze.
That casement, arched with ivy’s brownest shade,        15
First to these eyes the light of heaven conveyed.
The moldering gateway strews the grass-grown court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport;
When nature pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew….        20
  Childhood’s loved group revisits every scene,
The tangled wood-walk and the tufted green!
Indulgent Memory wakes, and lo, they live!
Clothed with far softer hues than light can give.
Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below,        25
To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know;
Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm,
When nature fades and life forgets to charm,—
Thee would the Muse invoke! to thee belong
The sage’s precept and the poet’s song.        30
What softened views thy magic glass reveals,
When o’er the landscape Time’s meek landscape steals!
As when in ocean sinks the orb of day,
Long on the wave reflected lustres play,—
Thy tempered gleams of happiness resigned,        35
Glance on the darkened mirror of the mind.
The school’s lone porch, with reverend mosses gray,
Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay.
Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn,
Quickening my truant feet across the lawn.        40
Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air
When the slow dial gave a pause to care.
Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear,
Some little friendship formed and cherished here;
And not the lightest leaf but trembling teems        45
With golden visions and romantic dreams.
 
Closing Lines

  OFT may the spirits of the dead descend
To watch the silent slumbers of a friend;
To hover round his evening walk unseen,
And hold sweet converse on the dusky green;        50
To hail the spot where first their friendship grew,
And heaven and nature opened to their view!
Oft when he trims his cheerful hearth and sees
A smiling circle emulous to please,—
There may these gentle guests delight to dwell,        55
And bless the scene they loved in life so well.
  O thou! with whom my heart was wont to share
From Reason’s dawn each pleasure and each care;
With whom, alas, I fondly hoped to know
The humble walks of happiness below;—        60
If thy blest nature now unites above
An angel’s pity with a brother’s love,
Still o’er my life preserve thy mild control,
Correct my views and elevate my soul;
Grant me thy peace and purity of mind,        65
Devout yet cheerful, active yet resigned;
Grant me, like thee, whose heart knew no disguise,
Whose blameless wishes never aimed to rise,
To meet the changes Time and Chance present
With modest dignity and calm content.        70
When thy last breath, ere Nature sunk to rest,
Thy meek submission to thy God expressed,—
When thy last look ere thought and feeling fled,
A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed,—
What to thy soul its glad assurance gave,        75
Its hope in death, its triumph o’er the grave?
The sweet remembrance of unblemished Youth,
The still inspiring voice of Innocence and Truth!
  Hail, Memory, hail! in thy exhaustless mine
From age to age unnumbered treasures shine!        80
Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
And Place and Time are subject to thy sway!
Thy pleasures must we feel, when most alone;
The only pleasures we can call our own.
Lighter than air, Hope’s summer visions die,        85
If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky;
If but a beam of sober Reason play,
Lo, Fancy’s fairy frostwork melts away!
But can the wiles of Art, the grasp of Power,
Snatch the rich relics of a well-spent hour?        90
These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight,
Pour round her path a stream of living light;
And gild those pure and perfect realms of rest,
Where Virtue triumphs and her sons are blest!
 
 
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