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WHEN in the crimson cloud of even,
A pensive youth, of placid mien,
Ye cliffs, in hoary grandeur pil'd,
Where Melancholy strays forlorn,
To you, ye wastes, whose artless charms
Ne'er drew Ambition's eye,
Deep in your most sequester'd bower
"How shall I woo thee, matchless Fair? Thy heavenly smile how win?
Thy smile that smooths the brow of Care, And stills the storm within?
O, wilt thou to thy favourite grove
Thine ardent votary bring,
And bless his hours, and bid them move Serene, on silent wing?
Oft let Remembrance sooth his mind
"'Twas then, O Solitude! to thee His early vows were paid,
From heart sincere, and warm, and frec,
Devoted to the shade.
Ah! why did Fate his steps decoy
"Thy shades, thy silence, now be mine,
Breaks from the rustling boughs,
O, while to thee the woodland pours
And balmy, from the bank of flowers,
"But if some pilgrim through the glade
For he of joys divine shall tell,
"For me, no more the path invites Ambition loves to tread;
No more I climb those toilsome heights,
Leaps my fond fluttering heart no more
And all the past is vain."
(Since which I number threescore winters past,)
It seems idolatry with some excuse, When our forefather Druids in their oaks Imagin'd sanctity. The conscience, yet Unpurified by an authentic act
Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine,
Thou wast a bauble once-a cup and ball, Which babes might play with; and the thievish jay, Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp. But Fate thy growth decreed; autumnal rains Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil Design'd thy cradle; and a skipping deer, With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe, prepar'd The soft receptacle, in which, secure, Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can,
Thou fell'st mature; and in the loamy clod, Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
Did burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,