Joanna Baillie

(1762-1851 / Scotland)

On Memory - Poem by Joanna Baillie


NO ! this is not the land of Memory,
It is not the home where she dwells,
Though her wandering, wayward votary
Is ever the thrall of her spells;
Far off were the fetters woven which bind
Still closer and closer the exile's mind!
Yet this land was the boast of minstrelsy,
Of the song of the Troubadour,
Whence Charlemagne led his chivalry
To the fields which were fought of yore;
Still the eye of Fancy may see them glance,
Gilded banner, and quivering lance!
But Memory from Fancy turns away,
She has wealth of her own to guard;
And whisperings come to her ear, which say
Sweeter things than the song of the bard:
They are solemn and low, and none can hear
The whispers which come to Memory's ear.

They tell of the dews which brighten'd the way
By our earliest footsteps press'd,
They tell of the visions, hopeful and gay,
Which were born, and which died in the breast;
They recall the accents which sweetly spake
To the soul, when the soul was first awake.
In Memory's land springs never a flower,
Nor the lowliest daisy blooms;
Ne'er a robin chirps from its russet bower,
But to call from their silent tombs
The thoughts and things which Time's pitiless sway
Has long since swept from the world away!
In Memory's land waves never a leaf,
There never a summer-breeze blows,
But some long smother'd thought of joy or grief
Starts up from its solemn repose:
And forms are living and visible there
Which vanished long since from our earthly sphere.
I would not escape from Memory's land
For all that the eye can view,
For there's dearer dust in Memory's land
Than the ore of rich Peru.
I clasp the fetter by Memory twin'd
The wanderer's heart and soul to bind.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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