Lo! here a cloud comes sailing, richly clad
In royal purple, which the parting beams
Of bounteous Phoebus edge with tints of gold
And lucid crimson. One might fancy it
A noble bird, that laves its graceful form,
And bathes its rosy bosom in the light.
Look! how it swells and rears its snowy crest
With haughty grandeur; while the blue expanse,
In smiling patience lets the boaster pass,
And swell his train with all the lazy vapours
That hover in the air: an easy prey
To the gigantic phantom, whose curl'd wing,
Sweeps in these worthless triflers of the sky,
And wraps them in his bosom. Go, vain shadow!
Sick with the burthen of thy fancied greatness,
A breath of zephyr wafts thee into nothing,
Scatters thy spreading plumes, uncrowns thy front,
And drives thee downward to thy mother earth,
To mix with vapour and dissolve in dew.

Such are the dreams of hope, which to the eye
Of youthful inexperience, seem to touch
The pure, unclouded sky of certainty.
Buoy'd up by the fond eloquence of thought,
And nurtur'd by the smile of vanity,
Each hour the air-born vision gathers bulk,
And Fancy decks it with a thousand hues,
Varied and wild, till it abounds in charms
Which sink the soul to sadness, when the breath
Of gentle Reason breaks the beauteous bubble,
And leaves us nought but vain regret behind.

FEBRUARY 1, 1797.