In days of yore, while yet the world was new,
And all around was beautiful to view
When spring or summer ruled the happy hours,
And golden fruit hung down mid opening flowers;
When, if you chanced among the woods to stray,
The rosy-footed dryad led the way,
Or if, beside a mountain brook, your path,
You ever caught some naïad at her bath:
'Twas in that golden day, that Damon strayed.
Musing, alone, along a Grecian glade.
Retired the scene, yet in the morning light,
Athens in view, shone glimmering to the sight.
'Twas far away, yet painted on the skies,
It seemed a marble cloud of glorious dyes,
Where yet the rosy morn, with lingering ray,
Loved on the sapphire pediments to play.
But why did Damon heed the _distant_ scene?
For he was young, and all around was green:
A noisy brook was romping through the dell,
And on his ear the laughing echoes fell:
Along his path the stooping wild flowers grew,
And woo'd the very zephyrs as they flew.
Then why young Damon, heeding nought around,
Seemed in some thrall of distant vision bound,
I cannot tell but dreamy grew his gaze,
And all his thought was in a misty maze.
Awhile he sauntered then beneath a tree,
He sat him down, and there a reverie
Came o'er his spirit like a spell, and bright,
A truth-like vision, shone upon his sight.
Around on every side, with glowing pinions,
A circling band, as if from Jove's dominions,
All wooing came, and sought with wily art,
To steal away the youthful dreamer's heart.
One offered wealth another spoke of fame,
And held a wreath to twine around his name.
One brought the pallet, and the magic brush,
By which creative art bids nature blush,
To see her rival and the artful boy,
His story told the all-entrancing joy
His skill could give, but well the rogue concealed
The piercing thorns that flourish, unrevealed,
Along the artist's path the poverty, the strife
Of study, and the weary waste of life
All these, the drawback of his wily tale,
The little artist covered with a veil.
Young Damon listened, and his heart beat high
But now a cunning archer gained his eye
And stealing close, he whispered in his ear,
A glowing tale, so musical and dear,
That Damon vowed, like many a panting youth,
To Love, eternal constancy and truth!
But while the whisper from his bosom broke,
A fearful Image to his spirit spoke:
With frowning brow, and giant arm he stood,
Holding a glass, as if in threatening mood,
He waited but a moment for the sand,
To sweep the idle Dreamer from the land!
Young Damon started, and his dream was o'er,
But to his soul, the seeming vision bore
A solemn meaning, which he could not spurn
And Youth, perchance, may from our fable learn,
That while the beckoning passions woo and sigh,
TIME, with his ready scythe, stands listening by.