They say that love had once a book,
(The urchin likes to copy you,)
Where all who came, the pencil took,
And wrote, like us, a line or two.
’Twas Innocence, the maid divine,
Who kept this volume bright and fair,
And saw that no unhallow’d line,
Or thought profane should enter there.
And sweetly did the pages fill
With fond device and loving lore,
And ev’ry leaf she turned was still
More bright than that she turn’d before!
Beneath the touch of Hope, how soft
How light the magic pencil ran!
Till Fear would come, alas! as oft,
And trembling close what Hope began.
A tear or two had dropped from Grief
And Jealousy would now and then
Ruffle in haste some snowy leaf
Which Love had still to smooth again!
But oh! there was a blooming boy,
Who often turned the pages o’er,
And wrote therein such words of joy,
As all who read still sigh’d for more!
And Pleasure was this spirit’s name
And tho’ so soft his voice and look,
Yet Innocence whene’er he came
Would tremble for the spotless book!
For still she saw his playful fingers
Filled with sweets and wanton toys
And well she knew the stain that lingers
After sweets from wanton boys!
And so it chanced on luckless night
He let his honey goblet fall
O’er the dear book, so pure, so white,
And sullied lines, and marge, and all.
In vain he sought with eager lip,
The honey from the leaf to drink,
For still the more the boy would sip
The deeper still the blot would sink!
Oh it would make you weep to see
The traces of this honey flood
Steal o’er a page where Modesty
Had freshly drawn a rose’s bud.
And Fancy’s emblems lost their glow
And Hope’s sweet lines were all defaced
And Love himself could scarcely know,
What Love himself had lately traced!
At length the urchin Pleasure fled,
(For how alas could Pleasure stay)
And Love while many a tear he shed
In blushes flung the book away!
The index now alone remains
Of all the pages spoil’d by Pleasure,
And tho’ it bears some honey stains
Yet Memory counts the leaf a treasure.
And oft they say she scans it o’er,
And oft by this memorial aided
Brings back the pages now no more,
And thinks of lines that long are faded.