What was it filled my youthful dreams,
In place of Greek or Latin themes,
Or beauty’s wild, bewildering beams?
What visions and celestial scenes
I filled with aerial machines,
Montgolfier’s and Mr. Green’s!
What fairy tales seemed things of course!
The roc that brought Sindbad across,
The Calendar’s own winged horse!
How many things I took for facts,
Icarus and his conduct lax,
And how he sealed his fate with wax!
The first balloons I sought to sail,
Soap-bubbles fair, but all too frail,
Or kites, but thereby hangs a tail.
What made me launch from attic tall
A kitten and a parasol,
And watch their bitter, frightful fall?
What youthful dreams of high renown
Bade me inflate the parson’s gown,
That went not up, nor yet came down?
My first ascent I may not tell;
Enough to know that in that well
My first high aspirations fell.
My other failures let me pass:
The dire explosions, and, alas!
The friends I choked with noxious gas.
For lo! I see perfected rise
The vision of my boyish eyes,
The messenger of upper skies.