AS the aroma thou hast bravely sung
Floats round some treasure of thy mother tongue,
And memory lures thee from the page awhile,
Let my fond greeting win a passing smile!
Though vanish landmarks of the hallowed past,
And few now linger where their lot was cast,
While kindred migrate like the tribes of old,
And children wander from the parent fold,
As if the world were one vast camp,—ne'er still,
Whose fragile tents are reared and struck at will, —
True as the oak to that one spot of earth
Which gives its strength and leafy honors birth,
Thy loyal soul no other prospect craves
Than the old hearthstone and the household graves!
Enough for thee to feel the Sabbath air.
With touch benign, dispel the clouds of care ;
To meet the twilight, — harbinger of rest,
With genial converse of some friendly guest,
Or, thoughtful, watch the golden sunset play
On the broad waters of thy native bay;
In vain the starry pennons flaunting there,
Wooed thee to older lands, and climes more fair ;
Content with paths thy infant gambols knew,
The grasp of hands to early friendship true ;
Nor for life’s charm and blessing fain to roam
From their pure source, — the atmosphere of home.
Though crowds profane the old sequestered way
Where patient kine once homeward loved to stray,
And lofty structures now usurp the place
Our fathers’ modest homesteads used to grace,—
Though the frank aspect and benignant mien
My grandsire wore are there no longer seen,—
Gone with his dwelling, on whose southern wall
Was left the impress of the Briton’s ball,
Beneath whose arbor, on the garden side,
Plashed the low eddies of the lapsing tide; —
Where streets encroach upon the sea’s domain,
And Fashion triumphs o’er the watery plain,-—-
Gone with his sunny threshold’s ample floor,
Where children played, and neighbors flocked of yore,
While doves his daily largess came to greet,
And, fearless, pecked the kernels at his feet;
Still thou art there ; thy kindred memories twine
Round the old haunts of love’s deserted shrine :
Oft have I followed with youth’s votive eye
Thy step elastic as it flitted by ;
First of the living bards my boyhood knew,
Who from the heart his inspiration drew,
Untrained in schools of academic fame,
And with no title but a freeman’s name.
Amid the frauds and follies of the mart,
With cheering presence and intrepid heart,
Above the lust of gain, yet prompt to wield
O'er humblest trusts thine honor’s faithful shield;
While, like the law that circling planets hold
Each to the orbit that it ranged of old,
Thy bright allegiance rounded, year by year,
The daily circuit of thy duty’s sphere.
And when the sterile task at length was o’er,
And thou wert free on Fancy’s wing to soar,
With freshened zest how eager thou didst turn
Unto the “thoughts that breathe and words that burn!”
Not the vague dreams of transcendental lore,
Nor cold mosaics from a classic shore, —
But the deep wells of “ English undefiled,”
From Rydal’s seer to Avon’s peerless child.
Not thine the subtile fantasies of song
That to the minstrels of to-day belong,
But the chaste fervor of an earlier time,
When crystal grace informed the earnest rhyme :
Though coy thy muse, how buoyant is her flight !
Affection’s tribute, art’s serene delight ;
Whether she trace the myriad lures that bind
The vagrant passion of the curious mind, —
Exalt thy country, mourn thy cherished dead,
Or weave a garland for dear Shakespeare’s head.
Peace to thy age! its tranquil joys prolong!
The ripe contentment of a child of Song;
By faith upheld, by filial love enshrined,
By wisdom guarded, and by taste refined.