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An Old Sweetheart of Mine

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The ordered interminglingof the real and the dream,—The mill above the river,and the mist above the stream;The life of ceaseless labor,brave with song and cheery call—The radiant skies of evening,with its rainbow o'er us all. An Old Sweetheart of Mine!—Is thisher presence here with me,Or but a vain creation ofa lover's memory? A fair, illusive visionthat would vanish into airDared I even touch the silencewith the whisper of a prayer?   Nay, let me then believe in allthe blended false and true—The semblance of the old loveand the substance of the new,— The then of changeless sunny days—the now of shower and shine—But Love forever smiling,—as that old sweetheart of mine.   This ever-restful sense of home,though shouts ring in the hall.—The easy-chair—the old bookshelvesand prints along the wall; The rare Habanas in their box,or gaunt churchwarden-stemThat often wags, above the jar,derisively at them.   As one who cons at eveningo'er an album, all alone,And muses on the facesof the friends that he has known, So I turn the leaves of Fancy,till, in shadowy design,I find the smiling features ofan old sweetheart of mine.   The lamplight seems to glimmerwith a flicker of surprise,As I turn it low—to rest meof the dazzle in my eyes, And light my pipe in silence,save a sigh that seems to yokeIts fate with my tobaccoand to vanish with the smoke.   'Tis a fragrant retrospection,—for the loving thoughts that startInto being are like perfumefrom the blossom of the heart; And to dream the old dreams overis a luxury divine—When my truant fancies wanderwith that old sweetheart of mine.   Though I hear beneath my study,like a fluttering of wings,The voices of my childrenand the mother as she sings— I feel no twinge of conscienceto deny me any themeWhen Care has cast her anchorIn the harbor of a dream—   In fact, to speak in earnest,I believe it adds a charmTo spice the good a triflewith a little dust of harm,— For I find an extra flavorin Memory's mellow wineThat makes me drink the deeperto that old sweetheart of mine.   O Childhood-days enchanted!O the magic of the Spring!—With all green boughs to blossom white,and all bluebirds to sing! When all the air, to toss and quaff,made life a jubileeAnd changed the children's song andlaugh to shrieks of ecstasy.   With eyes half closed in clouds that oozefrom lips that taste, as well,The peppermint and cinnamon,I hear the old School-bell, And from "Recess" romp in againfrom "Blackman's" broken line,To—smile, behind my "lesson",at that old sweetheart of mine.   A face of lily-beauty,with a form of airy grace,Floats out of my tobaccoas the "Genii" from the vase And I thrill beneath the glancesof a pair of azure eyesAs glowing as the summerand as tender as the skies.   I can see the pink sunbonnetand the little, checkered dressShe wore when first I kissed herand she answered the caress With the written declaration that,"As surely as the vineGrew 'round the stump," she loved me—that old sweetheart of mine....