The Old Man And The Boy.

Category: Poetry
"Glenara, Glenara, now read me my dream."

Father, I have dreamed a dream,
When the rosy morning hour
Poured its light on field and stream,
Kindling nature with its pow'r; -

O'er the meadow's dewy breast,
I had chased a butterfly,
Tempted by its gaudy vest,
Still my vain pursuit to ply, -

Till my limbs were weary grown,
With the distance I had strayed,
Then to rest I laid me down,
Where a beech tree cast its shade,

Soon a heaviness came o'er me,
And a deep sleep sealed my eyes;
And a vision past before me,
Full of changing phantasies.

First I stood beside a bower,
Green as summer bow'r could be;
Vine and fruit, and leaf and flower,
Mixed to weave its canopy.

And within reclined a form,
As embodied moonlight fair,
With a soft cheek, fresh and warm,
Deep blue eye and sunny hair.

By her side a goblet stood,
Such as bacchanalians brim;
High the rich grape's crimson blood,
Sparkled o'er its gilded rim.

As I gazed, she bowed her head,
With a gay and graceful move,
And in words of music said,
"Drink, and learn the lore of love!"

Next I stood beside a mountain,
Of majestic form and height;
Cliff and crag, and glen and fountain,
Mingled to make up its might.

On its lofty brow were growing
Flowers never chilled by gloom,
For the sky above them glowing,
Dyed them with a deathless bloom.

And I saw the crystal dome,
Wondrous in its majesty,
Where earth's great ones find a home,
When their spirits are set free.

By its portals, I espied
One who kept the courts within;
High he waved a wreath and cried,
"Come up hither, - strive and win!"

Then my vision changed again:
In a fairy-coloured shell,
O'er the wide sea's pathless plain,
I was speeding, fast and well.

Suddenly, beneath its prow,
Parted were the azure waves,
And I saw where, far below,
Yawn the vast deep's secret caves.

Where the Syren sings her song,
To old Ocean's sons and daughters;
And the mermaids dance along,
To the music of the waters.

Where the coral forest o'er,
Storm or tempest ne'er is driven
And the gems that strew its floor,
Sparkle like the stars in heaven.

Treasures, such as never eye
Of the earth has looked upon,
Gold and pearls of many a dye,
There in rich profusion shone.

And a voice came to my ear,
Saying, in a stern, cold tone,
Such as chills the heart with fear,
"Seize and make the prize thine own."

Then across a clouded wild,
Lone and drear and desolate,
Where no cheerful cottage smiled,
I pursued the steps of fate.

Ever bearing in my breast,
Thoughts almost to madness wrought;
Ever, ever seeking rest,
Never finding what I Sought -

Till I gave my wanderings o'er,
By a black and icy stream, -
Deep I plunged and knew no more: -
Father, read me now my dream.

The old man bowed his head,
And pressed his thin hand to his withered brow,
As if he struggled with some rising thought
Which should have kept its place in memory's urn
Till he had cast the shadow from his soul,
Which for a while had bound it in a spell
Born of the bygone years, - then thus he spoke:

Now listen, boy, and I will show to thee
The import of thy vision, - I will tell
Thee what its scenes and shapes of mystery
Foreshadow of the future, - for full well
I know the wizard lore, whose witchery
Binds e'en the time to come in its wild spell!
And from approaching years a knowledge wrings
Of what they bear upon their viewless wings.

Along life's weary way of pain and care,
From earliest infancy to eldest age,
Forms, viewless as the soft-breathed summer air,
Attend man's footsteps in his pilgrimage;
And if his destiny be dark or fair,
If Pleasure gilds, or Sorrow blots the page
Whereon is traced his history, still his ear
Will ever catch their warning voices near.

And they - those guardian ones, who, while thy sleep
Hung o'er thee like a curtain, came around
And fanned thee till thy slumber grew more deep, -
Flung o'er thy rest, so perfect and profound,
A dream whose mem'ry thou shouldst ever keep
Bound to thy spirit, for altho' it wound,
Thy young heart now, perchance, in after years,
'Twill save thee much of toil, and many tears.

It was a dream of life: of boyhood's strong
And soul-consuming yearnings after love!
His eager search to find, amid the throng,
Some heart to give him thought for thought - to move
And mingle with his own, as twines the song
From Beauty's lyre and lips! to know and prove
The dearest joy to care-cursed mortals given,
The one with least of earth, and most of heaven

Of manhood's ceaseless strivings after fame, -
The veriest phantom of all phantasies -
For which he wields the sword, or lights the flame
Whose red glare mocks a nation's agonies, -
Or by his star-outwatching taper, plies
His pen or pencil, to gain - what? a name,
A passing sound - an echo - a mere breath,
Which he, vain fool, dreams mightier than death!

And of a later period, when the soul
Forsakes its high resolves and wild desires,
When stern Ambition can no more control,
And Love has shrouded o'er its smothered fires;
When Expectation ceases to console,
And Hope, the last kind comforter, expires;
And Avarice, monster of the gilded vest,
Creeps in and occupies the vacant breast.

And then the last sad scene: The sick heart, sore
And fainting from its wounds - the palsied limb -
The brow whose death-sweat peeps from every pore -
The eye with its long, weary watch grown dim -
The withered, wan cheek, that shall bloom no more -
The last dregs dripping slowly from the brim
Of life's drained cup, - behind all gloom, before
A deep, dark gulf - we plunge, and all is o'er!

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English (Original)