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HE tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground; 'Twas therefore said by ancient sages,
That love of life increased with years
The greatest love of life
Which all confess, but few perceive,
Be pleased to hear a modern tale.
When sports went round, and all were gay,
With him into another room,
And, looking grave, "You must," says he,
Quit your sweet bride, and come with me." "With you! and quit my Susan's side ?
With you!" the hapless husband cried :
Young as I am! 'tis monstrous hard!
Besides, in truth, I'm not prepared:
Yet calling up a serious look,
His hour-glass trembled while he spoke :
In hopes you'll have no more to say,
Well pleased the world will leave."
What next the hero of our tale befell,
He chaffered, then he bought, he sold,
Nor thought of Death as near;
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Brought on his eightieth year.
When lo! one night, in musing mood,
As all alone he sate,
The unwelcome messenger of fate
Once more before him stood.
Half-killed with anger and surprise,
"Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you are now fourscore."
"So much the worse," the clown rejoined; "To spare the aged would be kind:
Besides, you promised me Three Warnings, Which I have looked for nights and mornings: And for that loss of time and ease,
I can recover damages.'
I know," says Death, "that, at the best,
But don't be captious, friend, at least;
"Hold," says the farmer;
not so fast; I have been lame these four years past."
"And no great wonder," Death replies; 66 However, you still keep your eyes; And sure to see one's loves and friends, For legs and arms may make amends."
Dobson," so it might,
"Perhaps," says Dobson,
But latterly I've lost my sight."
"This is a shocking tale, in truth;
Yet there's some comfort still," says Death;
I warrant you hear all the news."
“and, if there were,
"Nay then," the spectre stern rejoined,
“These are unjustifiable yearnings;
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
Restore him to my sight-great Jove, restore!"
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands; While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her count'nance brightens and her eye expands; Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows; And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived?—O joy!
His vital presence? his corporeal mould?
It is if sense deceive her not 'tis he!
And a god leads him-winged Mercury!
Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
Laodamia! that at Jove's command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air;
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;
Accept the gift, behold him face to face!"