Written After Spending A Day At West Point by Frances Anne Kemble
Were they but dreams? Upon the darkening world
Evening comes down, the wings of fire are furled,
On which the day soared to the sunny west:
The moon sits calmly like a soul at rest,
Looking upon the never-resting earth,
All things in heaven wait on the solemn birth
Of night, but where has fled the happy dream
That at this hour, last night, our life did seem?
Where are the mountains with their tangled hair,
The leafy hollow, and the rocky stair?
Where are the shadows of the solemn hills,
And the fresh music of the summer rills?
Where are the wood-paths, winding, long, and steep,
And the great, glorious river, broad and deep,
And the thick copses, where soft breezes meet,
And the wild torrent’s snowy, leaping feet,
The rustling, rocking boughs, the running streams,—
Where are they all? gone, gone! were they but dreams?
And where, oh where are the light footsteps gone,
That from the mountain-side came dancing down?
The voices full of mirth, the loving eyes,
The happy hearts, the human paradise,
The youth, the love, the life that revelled here,—
Are they too gone?—Upon Time’s shadowy bier,
The pale, cold hours of joys now past are laid,
Perhaps not soon from memory’s gaze to fade,
But never to be reckoned o’er again,
In all life’s future store of bliss and pain.
From the bright eyes the sunshine may depart,
Youth flies—love dies—and from the joyous heart
Hope’s gushing fountain ebbs too soon away,
Nor spares one drop for that disastrous day,
When from the barren waste of after life,
The weariness, the worldliness, the strife,
The soul looks o’er the desert of its way
To the green gardens of its early day:
The paradise, for which we vainly mourn,
The heaven, to which our lingering eyes still turn,
To which our footsteps never shall return.