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ANOTHER PREFACE TO AN ALBUM.
AN ALBUM, while an ALBUM, is a thing,
(If clean the paper, and the binding fair,) Pretty to look at; and the poets sing
Of many similes that appropriate are; And which 'tis easy to our mind to bring
As none of them are new, or strange, or rare ; Such asma maiden's heart-a baby's mindOr the first state of those two parents of mankind.
But ah! upon the simple maiden's heart,
Will Love, too soon, some guileful image trace; And Sin and Satan soon will play their part,
And alter much the helpless infant's case.
From Paradise, a while their resting place;
Oh! and alas ! while on this volume's brink,
Still a white sea, I stand, and meditate Upon the many-coloured kinds of ink,
Whose tortuous currents here must permeate,
When on the tortures of those brains I think,
Whose oozings here must be incorporate, Upon the geese that must the quills supply, And those that must commit the poetry,–
I sorrow, that all fair things must decay,
While time, and accident, and mischief last; That the red rose so soon must fade away,
The white be sullied by the ruthless blast;
Even heaven's own glorious azure be o'ercast;
Thou snow-white altar! which, to friendship rear'd,
With freshest garlands should alone be hung, And with no dull and smoky incense smeard,
But such as perfume-laden Zephyr flung; Strange hieroglyphics, soon, I am afeard,
Thy graceful sculpture will appear among; The vulgar love their names to cut or write On every post that's new, or tablet that is white !
Of what an ALBUM's like, before 'tis used,
I thus have chanted in my homely phrase ; But what it's like, by fate when long abused,
To tell, perplexes me in various ways: Fancy invoked assistance has refused,
To yield resemblances; because, she says, It were to Love and Friendship treason vile, To comment coarsely on their honest toil.
Then, without thee, O Nymph! so often pray'd,
So rarely won, to listen to our cry!
Of roseate morn, or eve's empurpled sky;--
And patched, and tattered in thy drapery;Without thee, Fancy! I must strive to find Such similes as suit the common mind.
'Tis like a trunk, with ancient clothes replete,
Of every colour, fashion, age, and shape ; 'Tis like a virtuoso's cabinet,
Thro' which with listless eye we walk and gape ; Where beauty and deformity we meet,
Birds of bright plumes and bats, the deer and ape : 'Tis like the Legislature,—whereunto Few swans, some hawks, and many goslings go.
'Tis like an ancient, single lady's chest,
Where rummaging, the curious heir discovers Old patterns, worn-out thimbles, and the rest
Of antique trumpery; fans, and flowers, and covers Of pincushions; a petrified wasp's nest;
Letters from long defunct or married lovers ; Work-boxes, ten-pences that once were knew, And murdered metre, if she was a blue.
'Tis like a doomsday book, wherein is writ
Of every man's capacity the measure,—The length, and breadth, and boundaries of his wit,
And value of his intellectual treasure :
'Tis like a party, when you ask to it
Clowns, who derive from such soirées no pleasure, But are compelled in company to go, Their awkwardness and ignorance to show.
'Tis like a church-yard—where, in crooked rows,
Tomb-stones, and urns, and crosses are arrayed, Memorials of the persons that repose
Beneath, whose virtues are thereon displayed ;
Together sleep, beneath the cypress shade :
For, as those pale memorials to the eye
Of unforgetful friendship, can restore The loved and lovely in the days gone by,
The forms once dear, that we behold no more, So can these pages bring the absent nigh,
And summon back the ghosts from Lethe's shore: Therefore, they are sacred; and I am ashamed In any wise their uses to have blamed.
'Tis like a TALISMAN, by magic hands [strange,
Framed with quaint spells, and graved with figures That, by the instructed finger touched, commands
All images that float in nature's range;
And shows the shrouded dead without a change :
'Tis like the enchanted mirror, 'huge and high,
Wherein the archimage Agrippa show'd The lady of his love to Surrey's eye,
• Albeit betwixt them' the 'grim ocean’ flow'd : For, as we read, surrounding mists roll by,
And we forget life's intervening road.
O ye! who herein are required to write,
Be wise, before you undertake the same; Remember that whatever you indite,
Remaineth, to your credit or your shame; That you had better leave the paper white,
Than rack your hapless brains with idle aim : But above all things, if the book you take, Don't wait a year, before you bring it back.