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Poem by Charlotte Turner Smith
IN early youth's unclouded scene, The brilliant morning of eighteen, With health and sprightly joy elate We gazed on life's enchanting spring , Nor thought how quickly time would bring The mournful period--Thirty-eight. Then the starch maid, or matron sage, Already at the sober age, We view'd with mingled scorn and hate; In whose sharp words, or sharper face, With thoughtless mirth we loved to trace The sad effects of--Thirty-eight. Till saddening, sickening at the view We learn'd to dread what Time might do; And then preferr'd a prayer to Fate To end our days ere that arrived; When (power and pleasure long survived) We met neglect and--Thirty-eight. But time, in spite of wishes, flies And Fate our simple prayer denies, And bids us death's own hour await: The auburn locks are mix'd with grey, The transient roses fade away, But reason comes at--Thirty-eight. Her voice the anguish contradicts That dying vanity inflicts; Her hand new pleasures can create, For us she opens to the view Prospects less bright--but far more true, And bids us smile at--Thirty-eight. No more shall scandal's breath destroy The social converse we enjoy With bard or critic tete a tete;-- O'er youth's bright blooms her blights shall pour, But spare the improving friendly hour That science gives to --Thirty-eight. Stripp'd of their gaudy hues by Truth, We view the glitt'ring toys of youth, And blush to think how poor the bait For which to public scenes we ran And scorn'd of sober sense the plan Which gives content at--Thirty-eight. Though Time's inexorable sway Has torn the myrtle bands away, For other wreaths 'tis not too late, The amaranth's purple glow survives, And still Minerva's olive lives On the calm brow of--Thirty-eight. With eye more steady we engage To contemplate approaching age, And life more justly estimate; With firmer souls, and stronger powers, With reason, faith, and friendship ours, We'll not regret the stealing hours That lead from Thirty--even to Forty-eight.
Charlotte Turner Smith
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