“Youth Recalled” by James Gates Percival

by Ann Neilson

Youth Recalled
James Gates Percival
Originally from The Token and Atlantic Souvenir: A Christmas and New Year’s Present of 1836, pp. 227-228.

In deepest shade, by fountain sparkling clear,
High o’er me, darkly heaved, the forest dome,
Sweet tones, long silent, melt upon my ear,—
They soothe my spirit like the voice of home;
And, blended with them, floats a beam of light,
Radiant, but gentle, through the shadowy night.

My heart, that sunk in dim, oblivious dream,
Wakes at the tones, and feels its life again;
My downcast eye uprises to the beam;
Softly untwines my bosom’s heavy chain:
A stream of melody around me flows;
Anew the smothered fire of feeling glows.

The charm, long lost, is found, and gushing pours,
From fancy’s heaven, its beauty, as a shower;
The mystic deep casts up its wondrous stores;
Mind stands in panoply of fullest power.
Heaving with wakened purpose, swells the soul
Its barriers fall; its gathered treasures roll.

Light covers all around,—light from on high,
Soft as the last retiring tint of even,
Full as the glow that fills the morning sky,
Pure as the midmost blue of cloudless heaven:
Like pillared bronze the lofty trunks aspire,
And every leaf above is tipped with fire.

And round me still the magic music flows;
A thousand different tones dissolve in one:
Softer than ever gale of evening blows,
They blend in harmony’s enchanted zone.
With pictured web and golden fringe they bind,
For higher flight, the renovated mind.

I feel it round me twine,—the band of power;
Youth beats in every vein; life bursts in bloom:
All seems as when, at twilight’s blissful hour,
Breathed from the flowery grove the gale’s perfume;
The laugh, the shout, the dance,—and then the strain
Of tenderest love dissolved the heart again.

Ye greet me far, ye years of hope and joy,
Ye days of trembling fears and ardent loves,
The reeling madness of the impassioned boy;—
Through wizard wilds again my spirit roves,
And beauty, veiled in fancy’s heavenly hue,
Smiles and recedes before my longing view.

The light has fled; the tones that won my heart
Back to its early heaven, again are still:
A deeper darkness broods,—with sudden start
Repelled, my life relapses from its thrill:
Heavier the shades descend, and on my ear
Only the bubbling fountain murmurs near.