Oracle of Trophonius

Nicholas Michell

He who hath lived till years, on-creeping slow,
Their shadowy twilight o'er life's landscape throw,
From whose dim heart the dreams of earlier day,
With all their hopes . and raptures, fade away, —
Let him yon cavern seek, where brightly still
Trophonius pours his memory-waking rill,
Drink, and renew the dying rays of truth,
The joyous dreams of love-delighted youth.
He who hath lived to drag a lengthening chain
Of harrowing care, and heart-consuming pain,
Whom musing thought appals, whose aching breast
Sighs for one heaven — forgetfulness and rest, —
Here let him come, for Lethe's sister stream
Glides, too, hard by, a cure for Memory's dream.
Oh! Lethe, why o'er thee should cypress gloom?
Thy tide should image gladness, not the tomb;
Ay, many a heart would feel it bliss to be
From thought cut off, from retrospection free;
For who would cherish memory, when past years
Are fraught with sighs, can yield us only tears?

Author's Note: The oracular cave of Trophonius, near Lebadea, will be visited with extreme interest by the literary traveller. There still are seen the niches in the rock for the reception of votive offerings, and near the cavern issues the stream, abundant as in former days, called by Pausanias the waters of Lethe and Mnemosyne — that is, of Oblivion and Memory. The sacred grove, however, the temples, and statues, have long disappeared.