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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

VERSES ON SEEING IN AN ALBUM A SKETCH OF AN OLD GATEWAY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Relique of hoar antiquity
Last Line: "we feel ""they were, and they are not!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Antiques

RELIQUE of hoar antiquity!
With moss and weeds array'd,
The debt I long have ow'd to thee
May fitly now be paid;
When, in thy semblance here, I trace
Each well-known, venerable grace,
So livingly portray'd:
For thou hast power to wake a throng
Of thoughts and feelings, dormant long.

Thou wast the earliest monument
Of what, in former days,
Had once been deem'd magnificent,
Which met my boyish gaze.
And first emotions, kindled then,
Now seem to start to life again;
As thou, when morning's rays
Are on thy time-worn forehead shed,
And gild thy brow so garlanded.

For, even in boyhood, I possess'd
Untutor'd love for all
Which since, by Scott, or Froissart dress'd,
Wove fancy's sweetest thrall.
Deride who may, I then could feel
What wildest romance might reveal
At fiction's fairy call:
And thou, for many years hadst been
The only ruin I had seen.

And though thou wert a puny shred
Of Grandeur's vestment hoary,
Before me was not vainly spread
The page of thy past glory.
I of thy history nothing knew,
But with thee rose to memory's view
Fragments of ancient story,
Which I, in boyish days, had ponder'd,
To which again my fancy wander'd.

Through such a gate as this, perchance,
Thought I, once issued free,
All I have read of in romance,
And reading, half could see;
Robed priests, advancing one by one,
And banners gleaming in the sun,
With knights of chivalry:
And then I almost seem'd to hear
The trumpet's clangor thrilling near.

"'Twas idlesse all:" such flights as please
A castle-building boy,
Whom nature early taught to seize
(Far more than childish toy)
Ideal bliss; by thought created,
Such as on marvels strange awaited,
And gave romantic joy;
Who, even then was wont, alone,
To dream adventures of his own.

Such are gone by! experience now
Has fetter'd fancy's flight;
And years upon my pensive brow
Inscrib'd, what time must write
On heads that think, on hearts that feel,
That all the bliss such dreams reveal
Is grief, though passing bright:
Yet not the less, now these are gone,
I love to think how fair they shone.

For oh! the morning of the soul
Has heavenly brightness in it;
And, as the mind's first mists unrol,
Gives years in every minute!
Years of ideal joy! Life's path,
First trod, such dewy freshness hath,
'Tis rapture to begin it:
But soon, too soon, the dew-drops dry,
Or glisten but in sorrow's eye.

And if in mine they gather not,
Nor such by me be shed;
Like waters in a stony grot,
Deep is their fountain head!
They, who in tears can find relief,
Know little of the excess of grief
With which some hearts have bled,
When burning eyes, forbid to sleep,
Have ach'd, because they could not weep.

It boots but little; smiles and tears,
Even from beauty beaming,
Must fade alike with fleeting years,
Like phantoms from the dreaming:
But never can they be so bright,
As when life's sweet and dawning light
On both by turns was gleaming;
Unless it be, when, unforgot,
We feel "they were, and they are not!"

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