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Musings in Maoriland

Old Letters

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Old Letters.

What stories of the vanished time those dear old letter bring;
They strike the chords of memory that round the heart's core cling.
These whisper softly in our ears of forms and faces fled;
They summon back the distant ones, and conjure up the dead;
They fan the smouldering flame of thought that slumbers in the brain;
They preach a plaintive sermon, and they chant a sad refrain.

With trembling hands and beating hearts we ope those letters old;
A little history is hid within each crumpled fold.
They tell of love, they tell of grief, perchance they tell of shame;

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And oft they call a heart's pearl up to bathe some cherished name.
And sometimes too they bring us back deceit in friendship's guise:
The shallow thing that comes in spring, and in the winter dies.

Whilst pondering On the faded ink, ambition wakes once more;
And Hope, exulting, cheers us on, and calls us to the fore;
Proud thoughts and noble impulses flash through the joyous mind;
But soon they're blown by reason's breath, like thistledown by wind.
The bright ideal dreamings fade before the lamp of truth,
Ah, still 'tis hard to part with those dear nurslings of our youth.

Old letters, oft ye tell us tales of pleasant evenings spent,
Where mirth, and wit, and beauty reigned, surrounded by content!
And tender forms are stayed again, and little hands are pressed,
And vows are breathéd softly too, and sweet lips are caressed,
We spell the fond words o'er and o'er, until each sentence seems
A passage in some magic book that tells of fairy dreams.

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Sweet messengers! some of ye crossed the wild expansive foam
With throbbings of affection culled from many a breast at Home;
The tear-stained paper yet recalls bright eyes that used to glow
With pleasure in our joyousness, and in our grief o'erflow;
The merry haunts of boyhood's days before our visions start—
The queen of painters, Nature, finds her easel in the heart.

And sometimes in the heap we find a missive edged with gloom—
We open up the envelope, and peep into the tomb;
What! have they placed these noble forms to rot beneath the sod?
Has Heaven no higher mission for the images of God?
The spirit gusts that sigh at night through cypress trees, reply—
"The jewel wears no casket in the treasury on high."

Old letters! ye are records of events which leave a trace
Upon the map of memory, and marching on apace,
We often turn and gaze across the continents and isles—

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Those tracts are robed in sombre hues—these spots are decked with smiles;
When evening shades the mountain tops, and twilight shadows swell,
Old letters! ye are wizards then, that weave a dreamy spell.