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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

A Retrospect

Aaron Hill (1685–1750)

TWENTY lost years have stolen their hours away,

Since in this inn, e’en in this room I lay.

How chang’d! what then was rapture, fire, and air,

Seems now sad silence all and blank despair.

Is it that youth paints every view too bright,

And, life advancing, fancy fades her light!

Ah! no,—nor yet is day so far declin’d,

Nor can time’s creeping coldness reach the mind.

’Tis that I miss th’ inspirer of that youth;

Her, whose soft smile was love, whose soul was truth;

Death snatch’d my joys, cutting off her share,

But left her griefs to multiply my care.

Pensive and cold this room in each chang’d part,

I view, and shock’d from ev’ry object start;

There hung the watch that, beating hours from day,

Told its sweet owner’s lessening life away.

There her dear diamond taught the sash my name,

’Tis gone! frail image of love, life, and fame;

That glass she dress’d at, keeps her form no more,

Not one dear footstep tunes th’ unconscious floor.

Oh life! deceitful lure of lost desires!

How short thy period, yet how fierce thy fires!

Scarce can a passion start, we change so fast,

Ere new lights strike us, and the old are past.

Schemes following schemes, so long life’s taste explore,

That ere we learn to live, we live no more.

Who then can think, yet sigh to part with breath,

Or shun the healing hand of friendly death?