In days, my Kate, when life was new,
When, lulled with innocence and you,
I heard, in home's beloved shade,
The din the world at distance made;
When, every night my weary head
Sunk on its own unthorned bed,
And, mild as evening's matron hour,
Looks on the faintly shutting flower,
A mother saw our eyelids close,
And blest them into pure repose;
Then, haply if a week, a day,
I lingered from that home away,
How long the little absence seemed!
How bright the look of welcome beamed,
As mute you heard, with eager smile,
My tales of all that past the while!
Yet now, my Kate, a gloomy sea
Bolls wide between that home and me;
The moon may thrice be born and die,
Ere even that seal can reach mine eye.
Which used so oft, so quick to come,
Still breathing all the breath of home,--
As if, still fresh, the cordial air
From lips beloved were lingering there.
But now, alas,--far different fate!
It comes o'er ocean, slow and late,
When the dear hand that filled its fold
With words of sweetness may lie cold.
But hence that gloomy thought! at last,
Beloved Kate, the waves are past;
I tread on earth securely now,
And the green cedar's living bough
Breathes more refreshment to my eyes
Than could a Claude's divinest dyes.
At length I touch the happy sphere
To liberty and virtue dear,
Where man looks up, and, proud to claim
His rank within the social frame,
Sees a grand system round him roll,
Himself its centre, sun, and soul!
Far from the shocks of Europe--far
From every wild, elliptic star
That, shooting with a devious fire,
Kindled by heaven's avenging ire,
So oft hath into chaos hurled
The systems of the ancient world.
The warrior here, in arms no more
Thinks of the toil, the conflict o'er,
And glorying in the freedom won
For hearth and shrine, for sire and son,
Smiles on the dusky webs that hide
His sleeping sword's remembered pride.
While Peace, with sunny cheeks of toil,
Walks o'er the free, unlorded soil,
Effacing with her splendid share
The drops that war had sprinkled there.
Thrice happy land! where he who flies
From the dark ills of other skies,
From scorn, or want's unnerving woes.
May shelter him in proud repose;
Hope sings along the yellow sand
His welcome to a patriot land:
The mighty wood, with pomp, receives
The stranger in its world of leaves,
Which soon their barren glory yield
To the warm shed and cultured field;
And he, who came, of all bereft,
To whom malignant fate had left
Nor hope nor friends nor country dear,
Finds home and friends and country here.
Such is the picture, warmly such,
That Fancy long, with florid touch.
Had painted to my sanguine eye
Of man's new world of liberty.
Oh! ask me not, if Truth have yet
Her seal on Fancy's promise set;
If even a glimpse my eyes behold
Of that imagined age of gold;--
Alas, not yet one gleaming trace!
Never did youth, who loved a face
As sketched by some fond pencil's skill,
And made by fancy lovelier still,
Shrink back with more of sad surprise,
When the live model met his eyes,
Than I have felt, in sorrow felt,
To find a dream on which I've dwelt
From boyhood's hour, thus fade and flee
At touch of stern reality!
But, courage, yet, my wavering heart!
Blame not the temple's meanest part,
Till thou hast traced the fabric o'er;--
As yet, we have beheld no more
Than just the porch to Freedom's fame;
And, though a sable spot may stain
The vestibule, 'tis wrong, 'tis sin
To doubt the godhead reigns within!
So here I pause--and now, my Kate,
To you, and those dear friends, whose fate
Touches more near this home-sick soul
Than all the Powers from pole to pole,
One word at parting,--in the tone
Most sweet to you, and most my own,
The simple strain I send you here,
Wild though it be, would charm your ear,
Did you but know the trance of thought
In which my mind its numbers caught.
'Twas one of those half-waking dreams,
That haunt me oft, when music seems
To bear my soul in sound along,
And turn its feelings all to song.
I thought of home, the according lays
Came full of dreams of other days;
Freshly in each succeeding note
I found some young remembrance float,
Till following, as a clue, that strain
I wandered back to home, again.
Oh! love the song, and let it oft
Live on your lip, in accents soft.
Say that it tells you, simply well,
All I have bid its wild notes tell,--
Of Memory's dream, of thoughts that yet
Glow with the light of joy that's set,
And all the fond heart keeps in store
Of friends and scenes beheld no more.
And now, adieu!--this artless air,
With a few rhymes, in transcript fair,
Are all the gifts I yet can boast
To send you from Columbia's coast;
But when the sun, with warmer smile.
Shall light me to my destined isle.
You shall have many a cowslip-bell,
Where Ariel slept, and many a shell,
In which that gentle spirit drew
From honey flowers the morning dew.