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To An Old Grammar
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To An Old Grammar

Oh, mighty conjuror, you raise
   The ghost of my lost youth --
The happy, golden-tinted days
When earth her treasure-trove displays,
   And everything is truth.

Your compeers may be sage and dry,
   But in your page appears
A very fairyland, where I
Played 'neath a changeful Irish sky --
   A sky of smiles and tears.

Dear native land! this little book
   Brings back the varied charm
Of emerald hill and flashing brook,
Deep mountain glen and woodland nook,
   And homely sheltered farm.

I see the hayrick where I sat
   In golden autumn days,
And conned thy page, and wondered what
Could be the use, excepting that
   It gained the master's praise.

I conjugate thy verbs again
   Beside the winter's fire,
And, as the solemn clock strikes ten,
I lay thee on the shelf, and then
   To dreams of thee retire.

Thy Saxon roots reveal to me
   A silent, empty school,
And one poor prisoner who could see,
As if to increase her misery,
   Her mates released from rule,

Rushing to catch the rounder ball,
   Or circling in the ring.
Those merry groups! I see them all,
And even now I can recall
   The songs they used to sing.

Thy syntax conjures forth a morn
   Of spring, when blossoms rare
Conspired the solemn earth to adorn,
And spread themselves on bank and thorn,
   And perfumed all the air.

The dewdrops lent their aid and threw
   Their gems with lavish hand
On every flower of brilliant hue,
On every blade of grass that grew
   In that enchanted land.

The lark her warbling music lent,
   To give an added charm,
And sleek-haired kine, in deep content,
Forth from their milking slowly went
   Towards the homestead farm.

And here thy page on logic shows
   A troop of merry girls,
A meadow smooth where clover grows,
And lanes where scented hawthorn blows,
   And woodbine twines and curls.

And, turning o'er thy leaves, I find
   Of many a friend the trace;
Forgotten scenes rush to my mind,
And some whom memory left behind
   Now stare me in the face.

Ah, happy days! when hope was high,
   And faith was calm and deep!
When all was real and God was nigh,
And heaven was "just beyond the sky",
   And angels watched my sleep.

Your dreams are gone, and here instead
   Fair science reigns alone,
And, when I come to her for bread,
She smiles and bows her stately head
   And offers me -- a stone.

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