Who would himself with shadows entertain,
Or gild his life with lights that shine in vain,
Or nurse false hopes that do but cheat the true?
Though with my dream my heaven should be resigned
Though the free-pinioned soul that once could dwell
In the large empire of the possible,
This workday life with iron chains may bind,
Yet thus the mastery o’er ourselves we find,
And solemn duty to our acts decreed,
Meets us thus tutored in the hour of need,
With a more sober and submissive mind!
How front necessity–yet bid thy youth
Shun the mild rule of life’s calm sovereign, truth.
So speakest thou, friend, how stronger far than I;
As from experience that sure port serene
Thou lookest; and straight, a coldness wraps the sky,
The summer glory withers from the scene,
Scared by the solemn spell; behold them fly,
The godlike images that seemed so fair!
Silent the playful Muse the rosy hours
Halt in their dance; and the May breathing flowers
Fall from the sister-graces’ waving hair.
Sweet-mouthed Apollo breaks his golden lyre,
Hermes, the wand with many a marvel rife;
The veil, rose-woven, by the young desire
With dreams, drops from the hueless cheeks of life.
The world seems what it is – a grave! and love
Casts down the bondage wound his eyes above,
And sees! He sees but images of clay
Where he dreamed gods; and sighs-and glides away.
The youngness of the beautiful grows old,
And on thy lips the bride’s sweet kiss seems cold;
And in the crowd of joys–upon thy throne
Thou sittest in state, and hardenest into stone.