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And curling tendrils, gracefully disposed,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair,
A wreath that cannot fade, of flowers that blow
With most sucoess when all besides decay.
The poet's or historian's page, by one
Made vocal for the amusement of the rest;
The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds
The touch of many a trembling chord shakes out;
And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct,
And in the charming strife triumphant still,
Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry; the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds.
The volume closed, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal,
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak's domestic shade,
Enjoyed, spare feast! a radish and an egg.
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth.
Nor do we madly, like an impious world,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note: themes of a graver tone
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with memory's pointing wand
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliverance found
Unlooked for, life preserved and peaoe restored,
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
Oh, evenings worthy of the gods! exclaimed
The Sabine bard. Oh, evenings, I reply,
More to be prized and coveted than yours,
As more illumined and with nobler truths,
That I and mine and those we love, enjoy.
Is winter hideous in a garb like this?
Half so refined or so sincere as ours.
Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks
That idleness has ever yet contrived
To fill the void of an unfurnished brain,
To palliate dulness and give time a shove.
Time as he passes us, has a dove's wing,
Unsoiled and swift and of a silken sound.
But the world's time, is time in masquerade.
Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledged
With motley plumes, and where tue peacock shows
His azure eyes, is tinctured black and red
With spots quadrangular of diamond form,
Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.
What should be, and what was an hour-glass once
Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mast
Well does the work of his destructive scythe.
Thus decked he charms a world whom fashion blinds
To his true worth, most pleased when idle most,
Whose only happy are their wasted hours.
Even misses, at whose age their mothers wore
The back-string and the bib, assume the dress
Of womanhood, sit pupils m the school
Of card-devoted time, and night by night
Placed at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn every trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?
As he that travels far, oft turns aside
To view some rugged rock or mouldering tower,
Which seen delights him not; then coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth;
So I with brush in hand and pallet spread
With colours mixed for a far different use,
Paint cards and dolls, and every idle thing
That fancy finds m her excursive flights.
Come evening once again, season of peace, Return sweet evening, and continue long! Methinks I see thee in the streaky west, With matron-step slow-moving, while the night Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employed In letting fall the curtain of repose On bird and beast, the other charged for man With sweet oblivion of the cares of day; Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid Like homely-featured night, of clustering gems, A star or two just twinkling on thy brow Suffices thee; save that the moon Is thine No less than hers, not worn indeed on high With ostentatious pageantry, but set With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.