This is old age! A slow and sure decay!
A tott'ring edifice, crusted with mould,
Failing in strength and beauty ev'rywhere!
Its vaults, and noble arches, choked with weeds!
Its casements dark, and chambers thick with dust
Its pillars bowed, or prostrate on the ground!
Its fine imposing aspect gone forever!
This is old age--that ends the mortal term
Of human life; that day, we think in youth,
So long, so bright, so sweet! Its pulse beats low,
And sombre shadows darken all the road!
And golden vistas cheer the heart no more!
And the foot wearies of the toilsome way!
And the worn spirit hails the deep'ning gloom,
As sorrow's garment, suitable, though sad!
Fond, dear companions, one by one have gone!
The brittle cords that held them, hanging loose--
Jarring and trembling in faint mem'ry's sighs!
Love blinds no more, and hope no more deceives!
Passion and Pride--those two leviathans
Of human imperfections--low in dust!
Enthusiasm's fire is extinguished!
And imagination, that magic glass
That colours all the pictures of the brain
With bright enchanting hues, has failed to please,
Or so distorts the vagrant images
That cross its lens, that it can charm no more!
Dim and dejected is the mental eye,
Gazing with fondest dotage on the past,
And dwelling wistfully on ev'ry spot
That love invested with enduring tints!
Opinion, once so bold and prompt, now halts,
Staggers, and wavers with uncertain aim;
While judgment tries in vain its scales to poise,
When good and evil must be nicely weighed.
Can music charm the ear? or rouse the heart?
Or sensibility, that earliest gift,
Touch the dull'd sense, and vibrate ev'ry nerve?
Has the eye melting language? sympathy?
Where is its full and fierce discharging fire?
Where its quick glance and pow'rful eloquence?
No cradle now for soft compassion's tear!
Cold and opaque the once resplendent orbs.
The beetling brows contract, and low'ring, frown;
And the fair seat of intellectual pow'r
Is plaited with thick furrows, curved and deep!
Scanty and lank the silv'ry locks appear,
Shrouding the noble head, bowed as it is
By apathy and weakness down. No more
Can the ear be the portal to the mind;
Silent the outer world, and all within,
A misty semblence of proud reason's throne;
The beauteous form--fit temple for a God!
No more, with air majestic, walks erect!
No more, with exquisite perfection,
Challenges all nature's glorious works,
For aught so fair, so wonderful, and wise!
What startling relics of man's grandest thoughts,
Crumbling in dust, decay, and rottenness,
With their proportions partially revealed,
And evidencing genius art, and skill,
Can be compar'd to the sad spectacle
Of the fall'n angel, man? whom to behold
In the full plume of his magnificence--
Vested with all the attributes of mind,
And towering in godlike form and grace--
Is a rich treat for reason's studious eye!
But, when the scene is changed, and those perfections,
Robb'd of their heavenly stamp, and, shrinking,
Withered and prostrate by the hand of time,
Crouch to the earth to hide, ah, then how sad
The ruined temple of humanity!-- Then the heart mourns that such should be its laws!
Oh, what a scene does nature here present!
A doting mother slaying her first born!
By subtle poisons, fell, and sure, and deep,
Sapping her loved one's strength, to undermine
His ev'ry beauty, excellence, and gift!
That same cunning hand, that with such wisdom
And mysterious skill, moulded and formed
The pliant clay into such noble shape,
With equal myst'ry working its decline;
A breath--a breeze--the weapon of its will!
But lift the veil that ignorance thus throws
Over this work of woe, and weep no more!
Mildly divested of his cumbrous shell--
His earthly tendencies all loose, or dead--
Sorrow, and suff'ring, threat'ning him no more--
The agéd pilgrim hails the goal in view;
And gladly doffs his soiled and tattered garb,
For the pure robes that the redeemed put on;
New health, new vigour, swell his shrunken veins!
New beauty tints his cheek! Heav'nly virtue
Fills his new being full of ecstasy!
And glorious youth, and everlasting life,
Are his inheritance for ever more!