Pictured in memory's mellowing glass, how sweet
Our infant days, our infant joys, to greet;
To roam in fancy in each cherish'd scene,
The village churchyard, and the village green,
The woodland walk remote, the greenwood glade,
The mossy seat beneath the hawthorn shade,
The whitewashed cottage, where the woodbine grew,
And all the favourite haunts our childhood knew!
How sweet, while all the evil shuns the gaze,
To view the unclouded skies of former days!

Beloved age of innocence and smiles,
When each wing'd hour some new delight beguiles.
When the gay heart, to life's sweet dayspring true,
Still finds some insect pleasure to pursue.
Bless'd Childhood, hail!-Thee simply will I sing,
And from myself the artless picture bring;
These long-lost scenes to me the past restore,
Each humble friend, each pleasure now no more,
And every stump familiar to my sight
Recalls some fond idea of delight.

This shrubby knoll was once my favourite seat;
Here did I love at evening to retreat,
And muse alone, till in the vault of night,
Hesper, aspiring, show'd his golden light.
Here once again, remote from human noise,
I sit me down to think of former joys;
Pause on each scene, each treasured scene, once more,
And once again each infant walk explore,
While as each grove and lawn I recognize,
My melted soul suffuses in my eyes.

And oh! thou Power, whose myriad trains resort
To distant scenes, and picture, them to thought;
Whose mirror, held unto the mourner's eye,
Flings to his soul a borrow'd gleam of joy;
Bless'd Memory, guide, with finger nicely true,
Back to my youth my retrospective view;
Recall with faithful vigour to my mind
Each face familiar, each relation kind;
And all the finer traits of them afford,
Whose general outline in my heart is stored.

In yonder cot, along whose mouldering walls
In many a fold the mantling woodbine falls,
The village matron kept her little school,
Gentle of heart, yet knowing well to rule;
Staid was the dame, and modest was her mien;
Her garb was coarse, yet whole, and nicely clean;
Her neatly border'd cap, as lily fair,
Beneath her chin was pinn'd with decent care;
And pendent ruffles, of the whitest lawn,
Of ancient make, her elbows did adorn.
Faint with old age, and dim were grown her eyes,
A pair of spectacles their want supplies;
These does she guard secure, in leathern case,
From thoughtless wights, in some unweeted place.

Here first I enter'd, though with toil and pain,
The low vestibule of learning's fane;
Enter'd with pain, yet soon I found the way,
Though sometimes toilsome, many a sweet display.
Much did I grieve on that ill fated morn
When I was first to school reluctant borne;
Severe I thought the dame, though oft she tried
To soothe my swelling spirits when I sigh'd;
And oft, when harshly she reproved, I wept,
To my lone corner broken-hearted crept,
And thought of tender home, where anger never kept.

But soon inured to alphabetic toils,
Alert I met the dame with jocund smiles;
First at the form, my task for ever true,
A little favourite rapidly I grew:
And oft she stroked my head with fond delight,
Held me a pattern to the dunce's sight;
And as she gave my diligence its praise,
Talk'd of the honours of my future days.

Oh! had the venerable matron thought
Of all the ills by talent often brought;
Could she have seen me when revolving years
Had brought me deeper in the vale of tears,
Then had she wept, and wish'd my wayward fate
Had been a lowlier, an unlettered state;
Wish'd that, remote from worldly woes and strife,
Unknown, unheard, I might have pass'd through life.

Where in the busy scene, by peace unbless'd,
Shall the poor wanderer find a place of rest?
A lonely mariner on the stormy main,
Without a hope the calms of peace to gain;
Long toss'd by tempests o'er the world's wide shore,
When shall his spirit rest to toil no more?
Not till the light foam of the sea shall lave
The sandy surface of his unwept grave.
Childhood, to thee I turn, from life's alarms,
Serenest season of perpetual calms,-
Turn with delight, and bid the passions cease,-
And joy to think with thee I tasted peace.
Sweet reign of innocence, when no crime defiles,
But each new object brings attendant smiles;
When future evils never haunt the sight,
But all is pregnant with unmix'd delight;
To thee I turn from riot and from noise,
Turn to partake of more congenial joys.

'Neath yonder elm, that stands upon the moor,
When the clock spoke the hour of labour o'er,
What clamorous throngs, what happy groups were
In various postures scattering o'er the green!
Some shoot the marble, others join the chase seen,
Of self-made stag, or run the emulous race;
While others, seated on the dappled grass,
With doleful tales the light-wing'd minutes pass.
Well I remember how, with gesture starch'd,
A band of soldiers oft with pride we march'd;
For banners to a tall ash we did bind
Our handkerchiefs, flapping to the whistling wind;
And for our warlike arms we sought the mead,
And guns and spears we made of brittle reed;
Then, in uncouth array, our feats to crown,
We storm'd some ruin'd pigsty for a town.

Pleased with our gay disports, the dame was wont
To set her wheel before the cottage front,
And o'er her spectacles would often peer,
To view our gambols, and our boyish gear.
Still as she look'd, her wheel kept turning round,
With its beloved monotony of sound.
When tired with play, we'd set us by her side
(For out of school she never knew to chide),
And wonder at her skill-well known to fame-
For who could match in spinning with the dame?
Her sheets, her linen, which she show'd with pride
To strangers, still her thriftness testified;
Though we poor wights did wonder much, in troth,
How't was her spinning manufactured cloth.

Oft would we leave, though well beloved, our play
To chat at home the vacant hour away.
Many's the time I' we scamper'd in the glade,
To ask the promised ditty from the maid,
Which well she loved, as well she knew to sing,
While we around her form'd a little ring:
She told of innocence foredoom'd to bleed,
Of wicked guardians bent on bloody deed,
Or little children murder'd as they slept;
While at each pause we wrung our hands and wept.
Sad was such tale, and wonder much did we
Such hearts of stone there in the world could be.
Poor simple wights, ah! little did we ween
The ills that wait on man in life's sad scene!
Ah, little thought that we ourselves should know
This world's a world of weeping and of woe!

Beloved moment! then 'twas first I caught
The first foundation of romantic thought!
Then first I shed bold Fancy's thrilling tear,
Then first that poesy charm'd mine infant ear.
Soon stored with much of legendary lore,
The sports of childhood charm'd my soul no more.
Far from the scene of gaiety and noise,
Far, far from turbulent and empty joys,
I hied me to the thick overarching shade,
And there, on mossy carpet, listless laid,
While at my feet the rippling runnel ran,
The days of wild romance antique I'd scan;
Soar on the wings of fancy through the air,
To realms of light, and pierce the radiance there.