You bid the minstrel strike the lute,
And wake once more a soothing tone
Alas! its strings, untuned, are mute,
Or only echo moan for moan.
The flowers around it twined are dead,
And those who wreathed them there, are flown;
The spring that gave them bloom is fled,
And winter's frost is o'er them thrown.
Poor lute! forgot 'mid strife and care,
I fain would try thy strings once more,
Perchance some lingering tone is there
Some cherished melody of yore.
If flowers that bloom no more are here,
Their odors still around us cling
And though the loved are lost-still dear,
Their memories may wake the string.
I strike but lo, the wonted thrill,
Of joy in sorrowing cadence dies:
Alas! the minstrel's hand is chill,
And the sad lute, responsive, sighs.
'Tis ever thus our life begins,
In Eden, and all fruit seems sweet
We taste and knowledge, with our sins,
Creeps to the heart and spoils the cheat.
In youth, the sun brings light alone
No shade then rests upon the sight
But when the beaming morn is flown,
We see the shadows not the light
I once found music every where
The whistle from the willow wrung
The string, set in the window, there,
Sweet measures to my fancy flung.
But now, this dainty lute is dead
Or answers but to sigh and wail,
Echoing the voices of the fled,
Passing before me dim and pale!
Yet angel forms are in that train,
And One upon the still air flings,
Of woven melody, a strain,
Down trembling from Her heaven-bent wings.
'Tis past that Speaking Form is flown
But memory's pleased and listening ear,
Shall oft recall that choral tone,
To love and poetry so dear.
And far away in after time,
Shall blended Piety and Love
Find fond expression in the rhyme,
Bequeathed to earth by One above.
* * * * *
Poor lute! thy bounding pulse is still,
Yet all thy silence I forgive,
That thus thy last thy dying thrill,
Would make Her gentle virtues live!