"Birth-Day Retrospect." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
THUS far life's little journey through,
Of scenes for ever gone
I'll take one retrospective view,
Before I speed me on.
Here, on this little hillock placed,
A moment let me stand–
Before me lies a desert waste;
Behind, a fairy land.
Winding through yon luxuriant vale,
Half hid in distance gray,
By many a hill and many a dale
I trace my youthful way.
But fast those fading scenes retire,
And mingle into one;
Though here a cot, and there a spire,
Still glitter in the sun.
And when athwart my wintry sky
He darts his latest gleam,
Those spots, till closed is memory's eye,
Will sparkle in his beam.
Yes; happy was my youthful day;
I trod enchanted ground;
My spring, like other springs, was gay,
And roses bloomed around:
And now, though flying o'er my head
Are youth's departing years,
And often though the path I tread
Is watered by my tears;–
Still Hope, in many a gloomy hour,
Through many a weary mile,
Has cheered me with the magic power
Of her bewitching smile.
But Hope, farewell!–thy visions bright
Have dazzled me too long;
And shall I stay to watch thy flight,
And hear thy parting song?
No: let me turn–it is enough–
Too many tears have flowed:
The sky is dark, the way is rough;–
But 't is the pilgrim's road:
And pilgrim-like, with staff and shell,
And clothed in habit gray,
I bid the smiling past farewell,
And speed me on my way.
But wherefore should my courage fail,
And strains of sorrow flow?
Why need I through this gloomy vale
A lonely wanderer go?
I see a little cheerful band;
I hear their songs resound;–
Onward they travel, hand in hand;
And all for Zion bound.
The sterile plain, the desert drear,
Where howls the chilling blast–
The pains and perils that I fear–
Already they have past.
And kindly would they welcome me:
They bid me not despond;
For they a fairer land can see,
And brighter skies beyond.–
O then, though fainting and distressed
I will my way pursue:
There is a home, there is a rest,
There is a heaven in view.
September 23, 1809.