"Remembered Joys Are Never Past"
Context: James Montgomery, called by his early editor R. W. Griswold the "head of the religious poets of the present age," expresses the fervor of his devotion in this lyric poem describing the beauty of a cloud and its effect upon the soul of the observer. Gazing over the countryside during an excursion among the woods and rocks of Wharncliffe in 1818, the poet feels the presence of God in the beauty of nature. In particular his eye is caught by a fleecy, gold-lined cloud gleaming in the sun–for a moment he almost expects Raphael to step from the "splendid mystery." But with dusk the cloud recedes into the darkness and leaves only its image in the mind of the poet. Much like Wordsworth, who recollects "emotion in tranquillity" by imaginatively recreating "spots of time," Montgomery asserts that the beauty of this moment "lives within me; this shall be/ A part of my eternity." The poem closes:
Bliss in possession will not last;Remember'd joys are never past;At once the fountain, stream, and sea,They were,–they are,–they yet shall be.