THE wither’d leaves that float adown the stream,
Scarce tinge its surface with their yellow hue,
Now faintly glimmer with the morning beam,
Then sinking—vanish from my transient view.
Lured by the promised joys of vernal youth,
They burst their gems to court the smile of day,
Matured beneath that smile, the cank’ring tooth
Of some base reptile works their swift decay.
Or, if perchance, succeeding SUNS behold
Their wings wave lightly to the sportive breeze,
Ere AUTUMN’s varying vesture change to gold,
The rude gale tears them from their parent trees.
Yon parent tree before the rising storm
Bends his wild branches to elude the blast,
Tho’ whirlwind rage his tortured limbs deform,
Yet stands unrent his lonely trunk at last.
Thus bloom’d the hope-buds of mine early hours,
Thus frequent fell the prey of insect art:
Or, haply, when increasing manhood’s powers,
Cherish’d some darling vision of the heart.
While FORTUNE pointed with her golden wand
To fairy forms of bliss—gay hovering round,
Lo! FATE descending, scourged with hasty hand,
The sportive phantoms into shades profound.
Tore me from all my heart had deem’d secure,
Tore me from fortune, friends, and native clime:
Torn from my love, he bade my soul endure
A grief that scorn’d the conquering power of TIME.
Scorn’d, but in vain—TIME’s lenient voice prevail’d,
Whispering sweet peace, and charm’d my lonely way,
And while the languid powers of REASON fail’d,
Tormenting MEMORY hasten’d to decay.
Like the fall’n leaves that floated down the stream,
Past sorrows rise to momentary view,
Catch oft from FANCY’s light a wand’ring beam,
Then sinking, bid the mind a dark adieu!
No more I feel the poignancy of wrongs
Which youthful SENSIBILITY endures:
IMPATIENCE now no more my grief prolongs,
Nor painted HOPE my steadier thought allures.
As rest to labour—peace succeeds to strife:
When sinks the storm, the raging waves subside:
Thus undisturb’d my tranquil eve of life
Into an azure twilight seems to glide.
No threat’ning clouds o’erhang my closing day,
But friendly PLANETS shed their mildest ray.