A Celebration of Women Writers

"Birth-Day Retrospect." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
Publication: The Writings of Jane Taylor, In Five Volumes by Jane Taylor. Volume I, Memoirs and Poetical Remains.. Edited by Isaac Taylor, Jr., of Stanford Rivers. Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1832. pp. 326-328.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 326] 


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:

[Page 327] 

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.

[Page 328] 

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.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom