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Early Love Revisited
by [?]

(“O douleur! j’ai voulu savoir.”)

[XXXIV. i., October, 183-.]

I have wished in the grief of my heart to know
If the vase yet treasured that nectar so clear,
And to see what this beautiful valley could show
Of all that was once to my soul most dear.
In how short a span doth all Nature change,
How quickly she smoothes with her hand serene–
And how rarely she snaps, in her ceaseless range,
The links that bound our hearts to the scene.

Our beautiful bowers are all laid waste;
The fir is felled that our names once bore;
Our rows of roses, by urchins’ haste,
Are destroyed where they leap the barrier o’er.
The fount is walled in where, at noonday pride,
She so gayly drank, from the wood descending;
In her fairy hand was transformed the tide,
And it turned to pearls through her fingers wending

The wild, rugged path is paved with spars,
Where erst in the sand her footsteps were traced,
When so small were the prints that the surface mars,
That they seemed to smile ere by mine effaced.
The bank on the side of the road, day by day,
Where of old she awaited my loved approach,
Is now become the traveller’s way
To avoid the track of the thundering coach.

Here the forest contracts, there the mead extends,
Of all that was ours, there is little left–
Like the ashes that wildly are whisked by winds,
Of all souvenirs is the place bereft.
Do we live no more–is our hour then gone?
Will it give back naught to our hungry cry?
The breeze answers my call with a mocking tone,
The house that was mine makes no reply.

True! others shall pass, as we have passed,
As we have come, so others shall meet,
And the dream that our mind had sketched in haste,
Shall others continue, but never complete.
For none upon earth can achieve his scheme,
The best as the worst are futile here:
We awake at the selfsame point cf the dream–
All is here begun, and finished elsewhere.

Yes! others shall come in the bloom of the heart,
To enjoy in this pure and happy retreat,
All that nature to timid love can impart
Of solemn repose and communion sweet.
In our fields, in our paths, shall strangers stray,
In thy wood, my dearest, new lovers go lost,
And other fair forms in the stream shall play
Which of old thy delicate feet have crossed.

Translated by Author of “Critical Essays.”