SIGNS OF THE SEASON. 113
from me by long years of absence and death,—as if it were very long since I had beheld thee,—as if I gazed upon thee, from a far distance, across the lengthened and dreary alleys of the valley of the dead ! Physically speaking, thou art, still, within my reach ; and yet art thou to me as if the tomb, or the cloister, had received thee,—and made of thee (what the world, or the grave, makes of all things we have loved) a dream of the night—a phantom of the imagination—an angel of the memory—a creation of the hour of shadows ! Whatever may be thy" future fortunes—however thy name may, hereafter, be borne to my mortal ear,—my heart will ever refuse to picture thee, but as one who died in her youth !
And, thou !— thou too, art there with thy long fair hair, and that harp of thine, which was so long an ark of harmony for me. " Alas ! we had been friends in youth." But all things bring thee back ; and I am haunted yet,—and shall be through the world,— by the airs which thou wert wont to sing me, long ago. 1 remember that—even in those days,—at times, in the silent night, when broken snatches of melodies imperfectly remembered stole through the chambers of my heart,—ever in the sweet tones in which it had learnt to love them—I have asked myself if the ties that bound us might ever be like those passing and half-forgotten melodies ! If the time could ever come when they should be like an old song, learnt in life's happier day,—and whose memory has been treasured, to make us weep, in the years when the heart has need to be soothed by weeping ! If there would ever be a day when thy name might be sounded in mine ear, as the name of a stranger !—And that day has, long since, come;
" For whispering tongues will poison truth."
How truly may we be said to live but in the past, and in the future—to have our hearts made up of memory and of hope— for which the present becomes, hour after hour, more and more of a void ! And, alas ! is it not true, as a consequence, that the more they are occupied with memory, the less room have they for hope ? And thus, the one is ever gaining upon the other; and the dark waters of the memory are hourly spreading upon that shore, where hope had room to build her edifices, and to play 9