The Wild-Fires.

Oh summer eve, and village peace,1
Clear skies, sweet odours, gushing streams !2
Ye blest my childhood’s simple dreams,3
To cheer my age, oh do not cease !4
World-wearied, here I love to dwell,5
For ev’n these merry wild-fires tell6
Of youth and sweet simplicity.7
Oft did my heart with terror swell8
As from their dance I wont to fly.9
I’ve lost that blissful ignorance ;10
Dance, merry wild-fires, dance, dance.11
On wakeful nights, the tale went round12
Of Jack-a-lantern, cunning, cruel,13
With watch-fires of no earthly fuel,14
Guardian of treasures under ground.15
They told of goblins, unblest powers,16
Ghosts, sorcerers, and mysterious hours,17
Of dragons huge that ever flitted18
Around all dark and ancient towers :19
Such tales my easy faith admitted.20
Age hath dispelled my youthful trance ;21
Dance, pretty wild-fires, dance, dance.22
Scarce ten years old, one winter night,23
Bewildered on the lonely swamp,24
I saw the wild-fire trim his lamp ;25
It is my grandame’s cheerful light26
A pretty cake she has for me,”27
I said, and ran with infant glee.28
A shepherd filled my soul with dread ;29
Oh foolish boy, the lamp you see30
Lights up the revels of the dead.”31
Dispelled is now my youthful trance ;32
Dance, merry wild-fires, dance, dance.33
Love-stirred, at sixteen once I stole34
By the old curate’s lonely mound :35
The wild-fires danced his grave around :36
I paused to bless the curate’s soul.37
From regions of the slumbering dead,38
Methought the aged curate said,39
Alas ! unhappy reprobate,40
So soon hath beauty turned thy head !”41
That night I feared the frowns of fate.42
Still let the voice my ear entrance ;43
Dance, merry wild-fires, dance, dance.44


Now, from such pleasing errors free,45
I feel the chilling touch of time :46
The visions of my early prime47
Have bowed to stern reality.48
But oh! I loved fair nature more,49
Ere I was taught the pedant’s lore.50
The dear delusions of my youth,51
Which bound my heart in days of yore,52
Have fled before the torch of truth.53
Dearest to me my youthful trance,54
Dance, merry wild-fires, dance, dance.55