And I was once like this! that glowing cheek Was mine, those pleasure-sparkling eyes, that brow Smooth as the level lake, when not a breeze Dies o'er the sleeping surface! twenty years Have wrought strange alteration! Of the friends Who once so dearly prized this miniature, And loved it for its likeness, some are gone To their last home; and some, estranged in heart, Beholding me with quick-averted glance Pass on the other side! But still these hues Remain unalter'd, and these features wear The look of Infancy and Innocence. I search myself in vain, and find no trace Of what I was: those lightly-arching lines Dark and o'erhanging now; and that mild face Settled in these strong lineaments!--There were Who form'd high hopes and flattering ones of thee Young Robert! for thine eye was quick to speak Each opening feeling: should they not have known When the rich rainbow on the morning cloud Reflects its radiant dies, the husbandman Beholds the ominous glory sad, and fears Impending storms? they augur'd happily, For thou didst love each wild and wonderous tale Of faery fiction, and thine infant tongue Lisp'd with delight the godlike deeds of Greece And rising Rome; therefore they deem'd forsooth That thou shouldst tread PREFERMENT'S pleasant path. Ill-judging ones! they let thy little feet Stray in the pleasant paths of POESY, And when thou shouldst have prest amid the crowd There didst thou love to linger out the day Loitering beneath the laurels barren shade. SPIRIT of SPENSER! was the wanderer wrong? This little picture was for ornament Design'd, to shine amid the motley mob Of Fashion and of Folly,--is it not More honour'd by this solitary song?
Robert Southey