When the present all around me1
Forms a picture of fair things,2
That awake bright thoughts within me3
Fairy shapes and seraph wings4
Then I quench my thirst at fountains,5
Fountains of eternal springs.6
Fancy sheds o’er all the sunshine7
That is bred of pleasant thoughts ;8
And with pulse that beats unfevered,9
Fancy every object notes,10
Till each individual aspect11
In a sea of beauty floats.12
Then the present is before me,13
Standing in its field of power,14
Till at last the past steals o’er me15
As from clouds the falling shower,16
While its memories restore me17
To another scene and hour.18
One brief glimpse at things familiar19
To the visions of our youth20
One quaint view of objects common21
To our early sense of truth22
One glance at the alien corn-fields23
Bringeth back our boyhood’s ruth !24
Oh it is a mystic wonder25
This same memory of the eye,26
That with no loud sound of thunder27
Pierceth our humanity,28
But with force that keeps time under29
Rouseth up old sympathy !30
One small flower, whose shape and colour31
Noteless to all others is,32
Brings a vivid recollection33
Of some bygone vale or bliss :34
Here a bier, and there a bridal—35
There a tear, and here a kiss !36
Even upon yon wall the shadow,37
As it falleth, calls to mind38
Shades of woods where I, a truant,39
On the thick green boughs could find40
Joys that had no taste of sorrow41
With their fruitage intertwined.42
Often, as we linger idly43
O’er new paths, we come upon44
Something—field, or hill, or streamlet,45
Windmill, glittering in the sun46
That we knew by frequent visits47
Long ago, ere youth was gone.48
Yet these scenes are strangers to us,49
Though their forms are old and dear ;50
And Eye-Memory, through and through us,51
Runneth like some liquid clear52
That is poured from jewelled chalice53
By a spirit hovering near.54
It were well if recollections55
Of the past were always drawn56
From the eyes, whose retrospections57
Have no tempest in their dawn :58
Happy he whose calm reflections59
Pass not the paternal lawn !60
Happier still if our Eye-Memory,61
After travelling far, bring home62
Sweet experiences—telling63
Of the sadness and the gloom64
We have aided in dispelling65
From some fainting neighbour’s room !66