Littell's Living Age/Volume 125/Issue 1614/Once Upon a Time


Oh time of fairy fancies, of youth and its romances,
Of green and happy valleys which our light steps wandered o'er;
With all their sweet birds singing, and dewy blossoms springing,
The spell that once thy gates unsealed our lips repeat no more.

On ivied tower and hoary rests the same soft summer glory.
On banks of yellow cowslips where the same glad streamlets run;
On the garden's scented posies, its white and crimson roses.
And orchard walls where blushing fruits are rip'ning in the sun.

Full in the sunlight golden still stands the dial olden,
With the dainty blooms around it, and above, the laughing day;
But there the shadows linger, where time's effacing finger
O'er each sunny moment passeth, and beareth it away.

Where are the autumn rambles, through the mellow-fruited brambles.
The nuttings in the d^m woods, and the fairy tale and rhyme
To which our hushed hearts listened, while the wintry casement glistened
'Midst the hoarfrost and the starlight in that "once upon a time"?

Till through our childish dreaming swept elfin glories gleaming,
And we wandered 'mid green woodlands all aglow with flowery store;
Where a little loitering maiden, scarlet hooded, blossom-laden,
With her small feet traced the mossy paths — returning nevermore.

Ye plots of blushing flowers, ye fragrance-breathing bowers,
And the blackbird's joyous carol, under skies of softest blue:
Care is the dreary warden of life's enchanted garden,
And the bitter herbs that grow therein, sad rosemary and rue.

The fount grown to a river, it backward floweth never,
And manhood scorns the simple joys that once beguiled the child;
But on sternest paths of duty fall heav'n's dews in balmy beauty,
As upon the daisied meadow, so upon the rugged wild.

After spring-buds, faint and tender, comes the summer's leafy splendour;
After autumn's golden garner, the winter's sterile bough;
And the old man still remembers, sitting idly by the embers
Glowing brightly on the hearth, the faded hopes of long ago.

Argosy.J. I. L.