Sweet expectation! sister fair
Of soft solicitude and prayer,
Allied to hope, allied to fear,
Those joint companions of the year,
Who thro' all chequer'd scenes must run
That fall beneath the rolling sun;
And light and shade to pictures give
Where men are drawn that really live.
Now lively hope in frolic measure
Trips in the silken round of pleasure,
And still with joy--shot glance proposes
Sweet walks, midst groves tied up with roses:
Where fancy keeps her glow--worm court,
Where wearied wishes all resort,
Who mixing in her tinsell'd train
Still keep their title light and vain.
For now with Fancy's glass they see
That long sought spot in destiny
Which hope had ever in her view
And which her hand keeps pointing to.
Tho' oft her castles rest on air,
And golden clouds the columns are,
Till from beneath the farthest mound
Pale fear--that starts at her own sound--
A train of vapours brings along,
Which winding all the scenes among,
Forms here and there a misty veil
Now hides the hill and now the dale.
While Hope to find a purer air
Strays far from hence we know not where;
Till expectation wandering near
Lifts up the veil drawn close by fear.
'Tis then we see the playful maid
So busy in the opening glade,
A tuft of roses scatter here,
A bed of lilies sprinkle there,
Along the meads carnations throw,
And sod--seats make where hare--bells grow.
Where o'er the stream the poplars bend,
The woodbines little arms extend,
While climbing up its curls diffuse
The sweets of long--collected dews.
A thousand knots fond hope will tie
Entangling oft the wandering eye;
She, like the sun--beam, ever throws
The loveliest tincture on the rose,
Hide but a while her gilding ray
The fleeting colour cannot stay,
Tho' nature's cunning hand should try
To mix it for the admiring eye.
In expectation scenes arise
That drop not from the bounteous skies
The groves bestow a cooler shade,
And softer sounds by streams are made;
More sweetly blows the fragrant breeze,
More softly whisper whispering trees;
While every insect gilds his wing,
And every bird essays to sing.
How blissful is this state of mind
Thro' which such scenes of pleasure wind,
Thro' which lone thought can safely stray,
Delighted, though she lose her way:
Still certain that the path will end
Where happiness would seat a friend.
Yet even amidst these sacred bowers
The blest retreat of cheerful hours,
The tender heart will sometimes sigh
And the round tear fill up the eye;
Solicitude will hither come
Whose numerous wishes keep her dumb,
And panting with both hope and fear
Will now retreat, now venture near;
Will sometimes essay to believe
Then doubt again that all deceive;
That promises are shadowy things
Which flit away on airy wings;
That joy will never meet the heart
For those who love must live apart.
Ah! cease, Solicitude to dwell
On ills, alas! we know too well;
Too well we know hope will deceive,
Yet they're ne'er blest who ne'er believe.
The present hour is all we boast
And happiest they who prize it most;
Who most enjoy the good it brings
Deserve the best of nature's things;
And grateful be that heart esteem'd
Who most of happiness has dream'd.