On Revisiting Brown University

George Dennison Prentice

It is the noon of night. On this calm spot,
Where passed my boyhood's years, I sit me down
To wander through the dim world of the Past.

The Past! the silent Past! pale Memory kneels
Beside her shadowy urn, and with a deep
And voiceless sorrow weeps above the grave
Of beautiful affections. Her lone harp
Lies broken at her feet, and, as the wind
Goes o'er its moldering chords, a dirge-like sound
Rises upon the air, and all again
Is an unbreathing silence.
Oh, the Past!
Its spirit as a mournful presence lives
In every ray that gilds those ancient spires,
And like a low and melancholy wind
Comes o'er yon distant wood, and faintly breathes
Upon my fevered spirit. Here I roved
Ere I had fancied aught of life beyond
The poet's twilight imaging. Those years
Come o'er me like the breath of fading flowers,
And tones I loved fall on my heart as dew
Upon the withered rose-leaf. They were years
When the rich sunlight blossomed in the air,
And fancy, like a blessed rainbow, spanned
The waves of Time, and joyous thoughts went off
Upon its beautiful unpillared arch
To revel there in cloud, and sun, and sky.

Within yon silent domes, how many hearts
Are beating high with glorious dreams. 'Tis well;
The rosy sunlight of the morn should not
Be darkened by the portents of the storm
That may not burst till eve. Those youthful ones,
Whose thoughts are woven of the hues of heaven,
May see their visions fading tint by tint,
Till naught is left upon the darkened air
Save the gray winter cloud; the brilliant star
That glitters now upon their happy lives
May redden to a scorching flame and burn
Their every hope to dust; yet why should thoughts
. Of coming sorrows cloud their hearts' bright depths
With an untimely shade? Dream on—dream on,
Ye thoughtless ones—dream on while yet ye may!
When life is but a shadow, tear, and sigh,
Ye will turn back to linger round these hours
Like stricken pilgrims, and their music sweet
Will be a dear though melancholy tone
In Memory's ear, sounding forever more.