"Remonstrance to Time." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
STAY hoary Sage! one moment deign
To hear thy duteous child complain;
Nor scorn her pensive lay:
But while a suppliant at thy side,
Thy fearful scythe in pity hide,
And that old hour-glass throw aside;
They fright my song away.
Regardless of thy hoary age,
Thou indefatigable Sage,
Incessant is thy toil:
Thou canst, with an unnatural joy,
Thine own ingenious works destroy;
For 't is thy favorite employ
To perfect and to spoil.
And Beauty's temple, Wisdom's brow,
Old Time! it well befits thee now,
With pains to decorate:
Scatter thy silver honors there,
But, O, good father Time, forbear!
I ask thee not to deck my hair;
It ill becomes thy state.
Go, bind thine ivy o'er the oak,
And spread thy rich embroidered cloak
Around his trunk the while;
Or deck with moss the abbey wall,
And paint grotesque the Gothic hall,
And sculpture, with thy chisel small,
The monumental pile:
But oh! from such majestic height,
Wilt thou, descending, stoop thy flight
To seek my lowly door?
What glory canst thou reap from me,
By all neglected but by thee?–
Consider thine own dignity,
And proudly pass me o'er.
–But false the hope! and vain the prayer!
Thy hand was never known to spare;
Nor will thy speed delay:
Yet hear thy trembling victim's sigh;
If e'er thy microscopic eye
Perchance one youthful grace espy,
May that become thy prey!
Thy wrinkles, and thy locks of snow
(The choicest gifts thy hand bestow)
At those I do not start:
But come not thou a treacherous guest,
To steal those feelings, dearest, best–
That glow that warms the youthful breast:–
With these I cannot part.
Oh! should such joys supplanted be
By frigid worldly policy;
And cold distrust ensue;
Adieu, ye dear poetic powers,
And Fancy's fair enchanted bowers,
And all the sweets that once were ours;
A long, a sad adieu!
But is it in thy power to chill
Affection's dear transporting thrill,
And Friendship's fervid glow?
Ah! if thy cruel aim be this,
I shudder at thy marble kiss,
And clinging to my parting bliss,
Call bitter tears to flow.
But, Sire, command these fears away:
Tell me, affection's milder ray
Shall gild my wintry sky:–
That hope my fainting spirit cheers,
Dispels my sighs, and dries my tears:
Angelic now thy form appears,
And mercy in thine eye.