"Lines Written in an Album." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
A WISH, fair friend, you late expressed,
–A modest wish, to know
The thoughts that in another's breast
Were passing to and fro.
'T is little worth, I own, to say;
But Grace commands, and I obey.
Yet must I such a task fulfil,
And e'en perform it now?
Yes, fair confessor–yes, I will,
But you shall tell me how:
To see my heart, consult your own,
And all you wish to know, is known.
A free communion thus we hold:
Compare our "common lot;"
And yet no secret need be told;
Convenient–is it not?
So much we may:–no more we dare,
Friends, and yet strangers, as we are.
When wood and vale, and light and shade,
Lay varied late to view,
When sunbeams on the waters played,
And heaven was bright and blue,
We felt;–but what we felt, and why,
Could you explain?–no more could I.
Did fancy dare indulge that day
In sport she loves so well?
Did fairies dance, did zephyrs play
In every sylvan dell–
Then vanish–all reduced to nought,
Touched by the wand of sober thought?
Did pensive musing of the past,
When other skies were bright,
Their momentary shadows cast
O'er hills, and hearts, so light?–
It might be so perhaps with some,
While others glanced at joys to come.
Did lovely nature thus employ
Her magic o'er the mind–
Awaking gladness, sadness, joy,
By turns, or all combined;
Till eye to eye could best impart
The thrill that went from heart to heart?
Thus while the buoyant spirits flow,
How soft the moments glide!
But tell me, tell me, if you know,
Their far-receding tide!
From hence at least you may perceive
What flat and dreary sands they leave.
Then life looks cheerless, does it not?
Not yet, perhaps, to you,
Who see it from a different spot,
And gain a fairer view;
Then ask not if 't is smooth or rough;
For time will tell you soon enough.
But O, forgive the dark presage
That shades too oft my sight;
Turn quickly to a fairer page,
And read in lines of light–
(Most bright when life has lost its zest)
That word of cheer–"There is a rest."
Hull, June 29, 1821.