The Fountain, a conversation


A Conversation.

We talk’d with open heart, and tongue
Affectionate and true;
A pair of Friends, though I was young,
And Matthew seventy-two.
We lay beneath a spreading oak,5
Beside a mossy seat;
And from the turf a fountain broke,
And gurgled at our feet.
“Now, Matthew! let us try to match
“This water’s pleasant tune10
“With some old Border-song, or Catch
“That suits a summer’s noon.
“Or of the Church-clock and the chimes
“Sing here beneath the shade,
“That half-mad thing of whitty rhymes15
“Which you last April made!”
In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree;
And thus the dear old Man replied,
The gray-hair’d Man of glee.20
“Down to the vale this water steers,
“How merrily it goes!
“’Twill murmur on a thousand years,
“And flow as now it flows.
“And here on this delightful day,25
“I cannot chuse but think
“How oft, a vigorous Man, I lay
“Beside this Fountain’s brink.
“My eyes are dim with childish tears,
“My heart is idly stirr’d,30
“For the same sound is in my ears,
“Which in those days I heard.
“Thus fares it still in our decay:
“And yet the wiser mind
“Mourns less for what age takes away35
“Than what it leaves behind.
“The Blackbird in the summer trees,
“The Lark upon the hill,
“Let loose their carols when they please,
“Are quiet when they will.40
“With Nature never do they wage
“A foolish strife; they see
“A happy youth, and their old age
“Is beautiful and free:
“But we are press’d by heavy laws;45
“And often, glad no more,
“We wear a face of joy, because
“We have been glad of yore.
“If there is one who need bemoan
“His kindred laid in earth,50
“The houshold hearts that were his own,
“It is the man of mirth.
“My days, my Friend, are almost gone,
“My life has been approv’d,
“And many love me; but by none55
“Am I enough belov’d.”
“Now both himself and me he wrongs,
“The man who thus complains!
“I live and sing my idle songs
“Upon these happy plains,60
“And, Matthew, for thy Children dead
“I’ll be a son to thee!”
At this he grasp’d his hands, and said
“Alas! that cannot be.”
We rose up from the fountain-side;65
And down the smooth descent
Of the green sheep-track did we glide;
And through the wood we went;
And, ere we came to Leonard’s Rock,
He sang those witty rhymes70
About the crazy old church-clock
And the bewilder’d chimes.