Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1838/Captain Cook
o you recall the fancies of many years ago,
When the pulse danced those light measures that again it cannot know?
Ah! we both of us are altered, and now we talk no more
Of all the old creations that haunted us of yore.
Then any favourite volume was a mine of long delight,
From whence we took our future to fashion as we might.
We lived again its pages, we were its chiefs and kings,
As actual, but more pleasant, than what the day now brings.
It was an August evening, with sunset in the trees,
When home you brought his Voyages who found the fair South Seas.
We read it till the sunset amid the boughs grew dim;
All other favourite heroes were nothing beside him.
For weeks he was our idol, we sailed with him at sea,
And the pond amid the willows the ocean seemed to be.
The water-lilies growing beneath the morning smile,
We called the South Sea islands, each flower a different isle.
No golden lot that fortune could draw for human life,
To us seemed like a sailor’s, mid the storm and strife.
Our talk was of fair vessels that swept before the breeze,
And new-discovered countries amid the Southern Seas.
Within that lonely garden what happy hours went by,
While we fancied that around us spread foreign sea and sky.
Ah! the dreaming and the distant no longer haunt the mind;
We leave, in leaving childhood, life’s fairy land behind.
There is not of that garden a single tree or flower;
They have ploughed its long green grasses, and cut down the lime-tree bower.
Where are the Guelder roses, whose silver used to bring,
With the gold of the laburnums, their tribute to the Spring.
They have vanished with the childhood that with their treasures played;
The life that cometh after dwells in a darker shade.
Yet the name of that sea-captain, it cannot but recall
How much we loved his dangers, and how we mourned his fall.