For ever, since my childish looks
    Could rest on Nature's pictured books;
    For ever, since my childish tongue
    Could name the themes our bards have sung;
    So long, the sweetness of their singing
    Hath been to me a rapture bringing!
    Yet ask me not the reason why
    I have delight in minstrelsy.

    I know that much whereof I sing,
    Is shapen but for vanishing;
    I know that summer's flower and leaf
    And shine and shade are very brief,
    And that the heart they brighten, may,
    Before them all, be sheathed in clay!
    I do not know the reason why
    I have delight in minstrelsy.

    A few there are, whose smile and praise
    My minstrel hope, would kindly raise:
    But, of those few, Death may impress
    The lips of some with silentness;
    While some may friendship's faith resign,
    And heed no more a song of mine.
    Ask not, ask not the reason why
    I have delight in minstrelsy.

    The sweetest song that minstrels sing,
    Will charm not Joy to tarrying;
    The greenest bay that earth can grow,
    Will shelter not in burning woe;
    A thousand voices will not cheer,
    When one is mute that aye is dear!
    Is there, alas! no reason why
    I have delight in minstrelsy.

    I do not know! The turf is green
    Beneath the rain's fast-dropping sheen,
    Yet asks not why that deeper hue
    Doth all its tender leaves renew;
    And I, like-minded, am content,
    While music to my soul is sent,
    To question not the reason why
    I have delight in minstrelsy.

    Years pass, my life with them shall pass:
    And soon, the cricket in the grass
    And summer bird, shall louder sing
    Than she who owns a minstrel's string.
    Oh then may some, the dear and few,
    Recall her love, whose truth they knew;
    When all forget to question why
    She had delight in minstrelsy!


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