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IN those blest days, when free from care,
And happy as the birds in air,
I roamed the hills and dales,
By purling rills oft passed the day,
Or on green banks recumbent lay,
Listening the shepherds' tales,
My fancy, rising on the wing,
Would visions fair before me bring,
Of castles high, and towers,
With knights in radiant panoply,
And ladies of the beaming eye,
Within their fragrant bowers;
Or lead me thence away to shades
Of woods, and show me, in the glades,
The cottages serene,
Where Peace dwelt with Content, among
The happy, gay Arcadian throng
That tenanted the scene.
But whether cot or tower arose
In vision, at the dawn or close
Of summer-days, to me,
The lovely form of woman still
Shone bright by dale, by mend, by rill,
Amid my extacy.
I saw her robed in every grace
With youth, with loveliness of face,
And virtue's gentle eye;
And from her tongue heard accents fail,
That would the rudest heart enthral,
And raise emotions high.
But like the Eastern prince, who loved
The pictured form of one that moved
In life full many a year
Ere he beheld the light, I deemed
The lovely form of which I dreamed
Would ne'er to me appear.
And years came on, and years went by,
And yet I never found me nigh
My youthful vision bright.
I said,--I might as well, I ween,
Expect to see the Fairy-queen
Descend, to bless my sight.
But often, when we hope it least,
And when our search has well nigh ceased,
Good fortune will befall:
So I one evening saw a maid,
Who every grace and charm displayed
That decked my Ideal.
Her portrait here I need not show,
For, reader, thou must surely know
That peerless, gentle maid:
To her these lines I consecrate;
And if she smiles I'II deem, elate,
My toil far overpaid.


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