1 WHEN, young, life's journey I began,
2 The glittering prospect charm'd my eyes,
3 I saw along th' extended plan
4 Joy after joy successive rise:
5 And Fame her golden trumpet blew;
6 And Power display'd her gorgeous charms;
7 And Wealth engag'd my wandering view;
8 And Pleasure woo'd me to her arms:
9 To each by turns my vows I paid,
10 As Folly led me to admire;
11 While Fancy magnified each shade,
12 And Hope increas'd each fond desire:
13 But soon I found 'twas all a dream;
14 And learn'd the fond pursuit to shun,
15 Where few can reach their purpos'd aim,
16 And thousands daily are undone:
17 And Fame, I found, was empty air;
18 And Wealth had Terror for her guest;
19 And Pleasure's path was strewn with care;
20 And Power was vanity at best.
21 Tir'd of the chace, I gave it o'er;
22 And, in a far sequester'd shade,
23 To Contemplation's sober power
24 My youth's next services I paid.
25 There Health and Peace adorn'd the scene;
26 And oft, indulgent to my prayer,
27 With mirthful eye and frolic mien,
28 The Muse would deign to visit there:
29 There would she oft delighted rove
30 The slower-enamell'd vale along;
31 Or wander with me thro' the grove,
32 And listen to the woodlark's song;
33 Or, 'mid the forest's awful gloom,
34 Whilst wild amazement fill'd my eyes,
35 Recal past ages from the tomb,
36 And bid ideal worlds arise.
37 Thus in the Muse's favour blest,
38 One wish alone my soul could frame,
39 And Heaven bestow'd, to crown the rest,
40 A friend, and Thyrsis was his name.
41 For manly constancy, and truth,
42 And worth, unconscious of a stain,
43 He bloom'd the flower of Britain's youth,
44 The boast and wonder of the plain.
45 Still with our years our friendship grew;
46 No cares did then my peace destroy;
47 Time brought new blessings as he flew,
48 And every hour was wing'd with joy.
49 But soon the blissful scene was lost,
50 Soon did the sad reverse appear;
51 Love came, like an untimely frost,
52 To blast the promise of my year.
53 I saw young Daphne's angel-form,
54 (Fool that I was, I bless'd the smart)
55 And, while I gaz'd, nor thought of harm,
56 The dear infection seiz'd my heart.
57 She was — at least in Damon's eyes —
58 Made up of loveliness and grace,
59 Her heart a stranger to disguise,
60 Her mind as perfect as her face:
61 To hear her speak, to see her move,
62 (Unhappy I, alas! the while)
63 Her voice was joy, her look was love,
64 And Heaven was open'd in her smile!
65 She heard me breathe my amorous prayers,
66 She listen'd to the tender strain,
67 She heard my sighs, she saw my tears,
68 And seem'd at length to share my pain:
69 She said she lov'd — and I, poor youth!
70 (How soon, alas, can Hope persuade!)
71 Thought all she said no more than truth,
72 And all my love was well repaid.
73 In joys unknown to courts or kings,
74 With her I sate the live-long day,
75 And said and look'd such tender things,
76 As none beside could look or say!
77 How soon can Fortune shift the scene,
78 And all our earthly bliss destroy?
79 Care hovers round, and Grief's fell train
80 Still treads upon the heels of Joy.
81 My age's hope, my youth's best boast,
82 My soul's chief blessing, and my pride,
83 In one sad moment all were lost,
84 And Daphne chang'd, and Thyrsis died.
85 O who, that heard her vows ere-while,
86 Could dream these vows were insincere?
87 Or who could think, that saw her smile,
88 That fraud could find admittance there?
89 Yet she was false — my heart will break!
90 Her frauds, her perjuries were such —
91 Some other tongue than mine must speak —
92 I have not power to say how much!
93 Ye swains, hence warn'd, avoid the bait,
94 O shun her paths, the traitress shun!
95 Her voice is death, her smile is fate,
96 Who hears, or sees her, is undone.
97 And, when Death's hand shall close my eye,
98 (For soon, I know, the day will come)
99 O chear my spirit with a sigh,
100 And grave these lines upon my tomb!
101 Consign'd to dust, beneath this stone,
102 In manhood's prime is Damon laid;
103 Joyless he liv'd, and dy'd unknown
104 In bleak misfortune's barren shade.
105 Lov'd by the Muse, but lov'd in vain —
106 'Twas beauty drew his ruin on;
107 He saw young Daphne on the plain;
108 He lov'd, believ'd, and was undone.
109 His heart then sunk beneath the storm,
110 (Sad meed of unexampled truth)
111 And sorrow, like an cnvious worm,
112 Devour'd the blossom of his youth.
113 Beneath this stone the youth is laid —
114 O greet his ashes with a tear!
115 May Heaven with blessings crown his shade,
116 And grant that peace he wanted here!