But to the hero, when his sword Has won the battle for the free, Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word; And in its hollow tones are heard The thanks of millions yet to be. Come, when his task of fame is wrought— Come, with her laurel-leaf blood-bought— Come, in her crowning hour—and then Thy sunken eye's unearthly light To him is welcome as the sight Of sky and stars to prison'd men: Thy grasp is welcome as the hand Of brother in a foreign land; Thy summons welcome as the cry That told the Indian isles were nigh, To the world-seeking Genoese; When the land-wind from woods of palm, And orange-groves, and fields of balm, Blew o'er the Haytian seas.
Bozzaris! with the storied brave Greece nurtured in her glory's time, Rest thee—there is no prouder grave, E'en in her own proud clime. Site wore no funeral weeds for thee, Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume, Like torn branch, from death's leafless tree, In sorrow's pomp and pageantry, The heartless luxury of the tomb: But she remembers thee as one Long loved and for a season gone, For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed, Her marble wrought, her music breathed: For thee she rings the birth-day bells; Of thee her babes' first lisping tells, For thine, her evening prayer is said At palace couch, and cottage bed; Her soldier, closing with the foe, Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow; His plighted maiden, when she fears For him, the joy of her young years, Thinks of thy fate, and checks her tears. And she, the mother of thy boys, Though in her eye and faded cheek Is read the grief she will not speak, The memory of her buried joys, And even she who gave thee birth, Will by their pilgrim-circled hearth, Talk of thy doom without a sigh: For thou art Freedom's now, and Fame's, One of the few, the immortal names, That were not born to die.
* * * * *
347. THE BROKEN MERCHANT.
Fanny! 'twas with her name my song began; 'Tis proper and polite her name should end it; If in my story of her woes, or plan Or moral can be traced, 'twas not intended; And if I've wronged her, I can only tell her I'm sorry for it—so is my bookseller.
* * * * *
Her father sent to Albany a prayer For office, told how fortune had abused him, And modestly requested to be mayor— The council very civilly refused him; Because, however much they might desire it, The "public good," it seems, did not require it.
Some evenings since, he took a lonely stroll Along Broadway, scene of past joys and evils; He felt that withering bitterness of soul, Quaintly denominated the "blue devils;" And thought of Bonaparte and Belisarius, Pompey, and Colonel Burr, and Caius Marius.
And envying the loud playfulness and mirth. Of those who passed him, gay in youth and hope, He took at Jupiter a shilling's worth Of gazing, through the showman's telescope; Sounds as of far-off bells came on his ears, He fancied 'twas the music of the spheres.
He was mistaken, it was no such thing, 'Twas Yankee Doodle, played by Scudder's band; He muttered, as he lingered listening, Something of freedom and our happy land; Then sketched, as to his home he hurried fast, This sentimental song—his saddest and his last.
* * * * *
John G.C. Brainard, 1796-1828. (Manual, p. 523.)
From Lines "To the Connecticut River."
348. THE PAST AND THE PRESENT.
From that lone lake, the sweetest of the chain, That links the mountain to the mighty main, Fresh from the rock and swelling by the tree, Rushing to meet, and dare, and breast the sea— Fair, noble, glorious river! in thy wave The sunniest slopes and sweetest pastures lave; The mountain torrent, with its wintry roar, Springs from its home and leaps upon thy shore: The promontories love thee—and for this Turn their rough cheeks, and stay thee for thy kiss.
* * * * *
Dark as the forest leaves that strew the ground, The Indian hunter here his shelter found; Here cut his bow and shaped his arrows true, Here built his wigwam and his bark canoe, Speared the quick salmon leaping up the fall, And slew the deer without the rifle-ball.
* * * * *
What Art can execute, or Taste devise, Decks thy fair course and gladdens in thine eyes— As broader sweep the bendings of thy stream, To meet the southern sun's more constant beam. Here cities rise, and sea-washed commerce hails Thy shores and winds with all her flapping sails, From Tropic isles, or from the torrid main— Where grows the grape, or sprouts the sugar-cane— Or from the haunts where the striped haddock play, By each cold northern bank and frozen bay. Here, safe returned from every stormy sea, Waves the striped flag, the mantle of the free— That star-lit flag, by all the breezes curled Of yon vast deep whose waters grasp the world.
* * * * *
Robert C. Sands, 1799-1832. (Manual, p. 504.)
349. HISTORICAL REMINISCENCES.
Eve o'er our path is stealing fast: Yon quivering splendors are the last The sun will fling, to tremble o'er The waves that kiss the opposing shore; His latest glories fringe the height Behind us, with their golden light.
* * * * *
Yet should the stranger ask what lore Of by-gone days, this winding shore, Yon cliffs, and fir-clad steeps, could tell If vocal made by Fancy's spell, The varying legend might rehearse Fit themes for high romantic verse.
O'er yon rough heights and moss-clad sod Oft hath the stalwart warrior trod; Or peered with hunter's gaze, to mark The progress of the glancing bark. Spoils, strangely won on distant waves. Have lurked in yon obstructed caves.
When the great strife for Freedom rose, Here scouted oft her friends and foes, Alternate, through the changeful war, And beacon-fires flashed bright and far; And here, when Freedom's strife was won, Fell, in sad feud, her favored son;—
Her son,—the second of the band, The Romans of the rescued land. Where round yon capes the banks descend, Long shall the pilgrim's footsteps bend; There, mirthful hearts shall pause to sigh There, tears shall dim the patriot's eye.
There last he stood. Before his sight Flowed the fair river, free and bright; The rising Mart, and isles and bay, Before him in their glory lay,— Scenes of his love and of his fame,— The instant ere the death-shot came.
* * * * *
George W. Doane, 1799-1859. (Manual, p. 523.)
Softly now the light of day Fades upon my sight away; Free from care, from labor free, Lord, I would commune with thee.
Thou, whose all-pervading eye Nought escapes, without, within, Pardon each infirmity, Open fault, and secret sin.
Soon for me the light of day Shall forever pass away; Then, from sin and sorrow free, Take me, Lord, to dwell with thee!
Thou who sinless, yet hast known All of man's infirmity; Then, from thy eternal throne, Jesus, look with pitying eye.
* * * * *
George P. Morris, 1801-1864. (Manual, p. 523.)
351. HIGHLANDS OF THE HUDSON.
Where Hudson's wave o'er silvery sands Winds through the hills afar, Old Crow-nest like a monarch stands, Crowned with, a single star. And there amid the billowy swells Of rock-ribbed, cloud-capped earth, My fair and gentle Ida dwells, A nymph of mountain birth.
The snow-flake that the cliff receives— The diamonds of the showers— Spring's tender blossoms, buds, and leaves— The sisterhood of flowers— Morn's early beam, eve's balmy breeze— Her purity define;— But Ida's dearer far than these To this fond breast of mine.
* * * * *
George D. Prentice, 1802-1869. (Manual, p. 487.)
From "The Mammoth Cave."
352. CONTRAST OF NATURE WITHOUT.
All day, as day is reckoned on the earth, I've wandered in these dim and awful aisles, Shut from the blue and breezy dome of heaven, ... And now I'll sit me down upon yon broken rock, To muse upon the strange and solemn things Of this mysterious realm. All day my steps Have been amid the beautiful, the wild, The gloomy, the terrific; crystal founts Almost invisible in their serene And pure transparency, high pillared domes With stars and flowers, all fretted like the halls Of Oriental monarchs—rivers dark, And drear, and voiceless, as Oblivion's stream, That flows through Death's dim vale of silence,—gulfs All fathomless, down which the loosened rock Plunges, until its far-off echoes come Fainter and fainter, like the dying roll Of thunders in the distance. ... Beautiful Are all the thousand snow-white gems that lie In these mysterious chambers, gleaming out Amid the melancholy gloom, and wild These rocky hills and cliffs, and gulfs, but far More beautiful and wild, the things that greet The wanderer in our world of light—the stars Floating on high, like islands of the blest,— The autumn sunsets glowing like the gate Of far-off Paradise; the gorgeous clouds On which the glories of the earth and sky Meet, and commingle; earth's unnumbered flowers, All turning up their gentle eyes to heaven; The birds, with bright wings glancing in the sun, Filling the air with rainbow miniatures; The green old forests surging in the gale; The everlasting mountains, on whose peaks The setting sun burns like an altar-flame.
* * * * *
Charles Constantine Pise, 1802-1866. (Manual, p. 532.)
From "The Pleasures of Religion."
353. THE RAINBOW.
Mark, o'er yon wild, as melts the storm away, The rainbow tints their various hues display; Beauteous, though faint, though deeply shaded, bright, They span the clearing heavens, and charm the sight. Yes, as I gaze, methinks I view—the while, Hope's radiant form, and Mercy's genial smile. Who doth not see, in that sweet bow of heaven, Circling around the twilight hills of even, Religion's light, which o'er the wilds of life Shoots its pure rays through misery and strife; Soothes the lone bosom, as it pines in woe, And turns to heaven this barren world below? O, what were man, did not her hallowed ray Disperse, the clouds that thicken on his way! A weary pilgrim, left in cheerless gloom, To grope his midnight journey to the tomb; His life a tempest, death, a wreck forlorn, In sorrow dying, as in sorrow born.
* * * * *
From "The Tourist"
354. VIEW AT GIBRALTAR.
And from this height, how beauteous to survey The neighboring shores, the bright cerulean bay: Myriads of sails are swelling on the deep, And oars, in myriads, through the waters sweep. Behold, in peace, all nations here unite, Their various pennons streaming to the sight: The red cross glows, the Danish crown appears, The half-moon rises, and the lion rears, But mark, bold-towering o'er the conscious wave, The starry banners of my country brave, Stream like a meteor to the wooing breeze, And float all-radiant o'er the sunny seas! Hail, native flag! for ever mayst thou blow— Hope to the friend, and terror to the foe! Again I hail thee, Calpe! on thy steep I wandered high, and gazed upon the deep! Nature's best fortress, which no warlike foe, No martial scheme, can ever overthrow. Art, too, had added strength, and given a grace That smooths the rugged aspect of thy face. What wondrous halls along the mountain made! What trains of cannon in those halls arrayed! They frown imperious from their lofty state, Prepared around to deal the scourge of fate.
* * * * *
Elijah P. Lovejoy, 1802-1816.
From "Lines to my Mother."
There is a fire that burns on earth, A pure and holy flame; It came to men from heavenly birth, And still it is the same As when it burned the chords along That bore the first-born seraph's song; Sweet as the hymn of gratitude That swelled to Heaven when "all was good." No passion in the choirs above Is purer than a mother's love. * * * * * My mother! I am far away From home, and love, and thee; And stranger hands may heap the clay That soon may cover me; Yet we shall meet—perhaps not here, But in yon shining, azure sphere; And if there's aught assures me more, Ere yet my spirit fly, That Heaven has mercy still in store For such a wretch as I, 'Tis that a heart so good as thine Must bleed, must burst, along with mine.
And life is short, at best, and time Must soon prepare the tomb; And there is sure a happier clime Beyond this world of gloom. And should it be my happy lot, After a life of care and pain, In sadness spent, or spent in vain, To go where sighs and sin are not, 'Twill make the half my heaven to be, My mother, evermore with thee.
[Footnote 81: Born in Maine, but lived at the West; was editor of a religions newspaper, which early assailed slavery as wrong; lost his life in defending his press against a mob at Alton, Illinois, July, 1836.]
* * * * *
Edward Coate Pinkney, 1802-1828. (Manual, p. 521.)
356. A HEALTH.
I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone; A woman, of her gentle sex the seeming paragon, To whom the better elements and kindly stars have given A form so fair, that, like the air, 'tis less of earth than heaven.
Her every tone is music's own, like those of morning birds; And something more than melody dwells ever in her words. The coinage of her heart are they, and from her lips each flows, As one may see the burdened bee forth issue from the rose.
Affections are as thoughts to her, the measures of her hours; Her feelings have the fragrance and the freshness of young flowers; And lovely passions, changing oft, so fill her, she appears The image of themselves by turns, the idol of past years.
Of her bright face, one glance will trace a picture on the brain, And of her voice, in echoing hearts a sound must long remain; But memory such as mine of her, so very much, endears When death is nigh, my latest sigh will not be life's, but hers.
I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone, A woman, of her gentle sex, the seeming paragon. Her health! and would on earth there stood some more of such a frame, That life might be all poetry, and weariness a name.
* * * * *
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-. (Manual, pp. 478, 503, 531.)
357. HYMN SUNG AT THE COMPLETION OF THE CONCORD MONUMENT.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone, That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, or leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
* * * * *
From "May Day."
358. DISAPPEARANCE OF WINTER.
Not for a regiment's parade, Nor evil laws or rulers made, Blue Walden rolls its cannonade, But for a lofty sign Which the Zodiac threw, That the bondage-days are told, And waters free as winds shall flow. Lo! how all the tribes combine To rout the flying foe. See, every patriot oak-leaf throws His elfin length upon the snows, Not idle, since the leaf all day Draws to the spot the solar ray, Ere sunset quarrying inches down, And half-way to the mosses brown; While the grass beneath the rime Has hints of the propitious time, And upward pries and perforates Through the cold slab a thousand gates, Till the green lances peering through Bend happy in the welkin blue, * * * * * The ground-pines wash their rusty green, The maple-tops their crimson tint, On the soft path each track is seen, The girl's foot leaves its neater print. The pebble loosened from the frost Asks of the urchin to be tost. In flint and marble beats a heart, The kind Earth takes her children's part, The green lane is the school-boy's friend, Low leaves his quarrel apprehend, The fresh ground loves his top and ball, The air rings jocund to his call, The brimming brook invites a leap, He dives the hollow, climbs the steep. The youth reads omens where he goes, And speaks all languages, the rose. The wood-fly mocks with tiny noise The far halloo of human voice; The perfumed berry on the spray Smacks of faint memories far away. A subtle chain of countless rings The next unto the farthest brings, And, striving to be man, the worm Mounts through all the spires of form.
* * * * *
From "Voluntaries II."
359. INSPIRATION OF DUTY.
In an age of joys and toys, Wanting wisdom, void of right, Who shall nerve heroic boys To hazard all in Freedom's fight,— Break shortly off their jolly games, Forsake their comrades gay, And quit proud homes and youthful dames, For famine, toil, and fray? Yet on the nimble air benign Speed nimbler messages, That waft the breath of grace divine To hearts in sloth and ease. So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When duty whispers low, Thou must, The youth replies, I can. * * * * * Stainless soldier on the walls, Knowing this,—and knows no more,— Whoever fights, whoever falls Justice conquers evermore, Justice after as before.—
* * * * *
Thomas C. Upham, 1799-1873.
360. ON A SON LOST AT SEA.
Boy of my earlier days and hopes! Once more, Dear child of memory, of love, of tears! I see thee, as I saw in days of yore, As in thy young, and in thy lovely, years.
The same in youthful look, the same in form; The same the gentle voice I used to hear; Though many a year hath passed, and many a storm Hath dashed its foam around thy cruel bier.
Deep in the stormy ocean's hidden cave Buried, and lost to human care and sight, What power hath interposed to rend thy grave? What arm hath brought thee thus to life and light?
I weep,—the tears my aged cheek that stain, The throbs that once more swell my aching breast, Embodying one of anxious thought and pain, That wept and watched around that place of rest.
O leave me not, my child! Or, if it be, That coming thus, thou canst not longer stay, Yet shall this kindly visit's mystery Give rise to hopes that never can decay.
Dear cherished image from thy stormy bed! Child of my early woe, and early joy! 'Tis thus at last the sea shall yield her dead, And give again my loved, my buried boy.
[Footnote 82: A philosophical and religious writer of much merit and earnestness; author of a volume of poems; for a long time professor of moral and mental philosophy in Bowdoin College. A native of New Hampshire.]
* * * * *
Jacob Leonard Martin, 1803-1848.
361. THE CHURCH OF SANTA CROCE, FLORENCE.
Tomb of the mighty dead, illustrious shrine, Where genius, in the majesty of death, Reposes solemn, sepulchred beneath, Temple o'er every other fane divine! Dark Santa Croce, in whose dust recline Their mouldering relics whose immortal wreath. Blooms on, unfaded by Time's withering breath, In these proud ashes what a prize is thine! Sure it is holy ground I tread upon; Nor do I breathe unconsecrated air, As, rapt, I gaze on each undying name. These monuments are fragments of the throne Once reared by genius on this spot so fair, When Florence was the seat of arts and early fame.
[Footnote 83: A native of North Carolina; best known in political life, but meritorious in literature.]
[Footnote 84: In this church repose Galileo, Michael Angelo, Alfieri, and other illustrious Italians.]
* * * * *
Geo. W. Bethune, 1803-1862. (Manual, p. 487.)
362. MYTHOLOGY GIVES PLACE TO CHRISTIANITY.
Hushed is their song; from long-frequented grove, Pale Memory, are thy bright-eyed daughters gone; No more in strains of melody and love, Gush forth thy sacred waters, Helicon; Prostrate on Egypt's plain, Aurora's son, God of the sunbeam and the living lyre, No more shall hail thee with mellifluous tone; Nor shall thy Pythia, raving from thy fire, Speak of the future sooth to those who would inquire.
No more at Delos, or at Delphi now, Or e'en at mighty Ammon's Lybian shrine, The white-robed priests before the altar bow, To slay the victim and to pour the wine, While gifts of kingdoms round each pillar twine; Scarce can the classic pilgrim, sweeping free From fallen architrave the desert vine. Trace the dim names of their divinity— Gods of the ruined temples, where, oh where! are ye?
The Naiad bathing in her crystal spring, The guardian Nymph of every leafy tree, The rushing Aeolus on viewless wing, The flower-crowned Queen of every cultured lea, And he who walked, with monarch-tread, the sea, The awful Thunderer, threatening them aloud, God! were their vain imaginings of Thee, Who saw Thee only through the illusive cloud That sin had flung around their spirits, like a shroud.
As fly the shadows of uncertain night, On misty vapors of the early day, When bursts o'er earth the sun's resplendent light— Fantastic visions! they have passed away, Chased by the purer Gospel's orient ray. My soul's bright waters flow from out thy throne, And on my ardent breast thy sunbeam's play; Fountain of thought! True Source of light! I own In joyful strains of praise, thy sovereign power alone.
O breathe upon my soul thy Spirit's fire, That I may glow like seraphim on high, Or rapt Isaiah kindling o'er his lyre; And sent by Thee, let holy Hope be nigh, To fill with prescient joy my ravished eye, And gentle Love; to tune each jarring string Accordant with the heavenly harmony; Then upward borne, on Faith's aspiring wing, The praises of my God to listening earth, I sing.
* * * * *
Charles Fenno Hoffman, 1806-. (Manual, pp. 487, 505, 519.)
From "The Vigil of Faith."
363. THE RED MAN'S HEAVEN.
White man! I say not that they lie Who preach a faith so dark and drear, That wedded hearts in yon cold sky Meet not as they were mated here. But scorning not thy faith, thou must Stranger, in mine have equal trust,— The Red man's faith, by Him implanted, Who souls to both our bodies granted. Thou know'st in life we mingle not; Death cannot change our different lot! He who hath placed the White man's heaven Where hymns in vapory clouds are chanted, To harps by angel fingers play'd, Not less on his Red children smiles, To whom a land of souls is given, Where in the ruddy West array'd. Brighten our blessed hunting isles.
* * * * *
Those blissful ISLANDS OF THE WEST! I've seen, myself, at sunset time, The golden lake in which they rest; Seen, too, the barks that bear The Blest, Floating toward that fadeless clime: First dark, just as they leave our shore, Their sides then brightening more and more, Till in a flood of crimson light They melted from my straining sight. And she who climb'd the storm-swept steep, She who the foaming wave would dare, So oft love's vigil here to keep,— Stranger, albeit thou think'st I dote, I know, I know she watches there! Watches upon that radiant strand, Watches to see her lover's boat Approach The Spirit-Land.
He ceased, and spoke no more that night, Though oft, when chillier blew the blast, I saw him moving in the light The fire, that he was feeding, cast; While I, still wakeful, ponder'd o'er His wondrous story more and more. I thought, not wholly waste the mind Where Faith so deep a root could find, Faith which both love and life could save, And keep the first, in age still fond. Thus blossoming this side the grave In steadfast trust of fruit beyond. And when in after years I stood By INCA-PAH-CHO'S haunted water, Where long ago that hunter woo'd In early youth its island daughter, And traced the voiceless solitude Once witness of his loved one's slaughter— At that same season of the leaf In which I heard him tell his grief,— I thought some day I'd weave in rhyme, That tale of mellow autumn time.
* * * * *
William Gilmore Simms, 1806-1870. (Manual, pp. 523, 490, 510.)
From "The Cassique of Accabee."
364. NATURE INSPIRES SENTIMENT.
It was a night of calm. O'er Ashley's waters Crept the sweet billows to their own soft tune, While she, most bright of Keawah's fair daughters, Whose voice might spell the footsteps of the moon, As slow we swept along, Poured forth her own sweet song— A lay of rapture not forgotten soon.
Hushed was our breathing, stayed the lifted oar, Our spirits rapt, our souls no longer free, While the boat, drifting softly to the shore, Brought us within the shades of Accabee. "Ah!" sudden cried the maid, In the dim light afraid, "'Tis here the ghost still walks of the old Yemassee."
And sure the spot was haunted by a power To fix the pulses in each youthful heart; Never was moon more gracious in a bower, Making delicious fancy-work for art, Weaving so meekly bright Her pictures of delight, That, though afraid to stay, we sorrowed to depart.
"If these old groves are haunted"—sudden then, Said she, our sweet companion,—"it must be By one who loved, and was beloved again, And joy'd all forms of loveliness to see:— Here, in these groves they went, Where love and worship, blent, Still framed the proper God for each idolatry.
"It could not be that love should here be stern, Or beauty fail to sway with sov'reign might; These from so blessed scenes should something learn, And swell with tenderness, and shape delight: These groves have had their power, And bliss, in by-gone hour, Hath charm'd with sight and song the passage of the night."
"It were a bliss to think so;" made reply Our Hubert—"yet the tale is something old, That checks us with denial;—and our sky, And these brown woods that, in its glittering fold, Look like a fairy clime, Still unsubdued by time, Have evermore the tale of wrong'd devotion told."
"Give us thy legend, Hubert;" cried the maid;— And, with down-dropping oars, our yielding prow Shot to a still lagoon, whose ample shade Droop'd from the gray moss of an old oak's brow: The groves, meanwhile, lay bright, Like the broad stream, in light, Soft, sweet as ever yet the lunar loom display'd.
* * * * *
Nathaniel Parker Willis, 1807-1867. (Manual, pp. 504, 519.)
From the "Sacred Poems."
365. HAGAR IN THE WILDERNESS.
* * * * * The morning pass'd, and Asia's sun rose up In the clear heaven, and every beam was heat. The cattle of the hills were in the shade, And the bright plumage of the Orient lay On beating bosoms in her spicy trees. It was an hour of rest; but Hagar found No shelter in the wilderness, and on She kept her weary way, until the boy Hung down his head, and open'd his parch'd lips For water; but she could not give it him. She laid him down beneath the sultry sky,— For it was better than the close, hot breath Of the thick pines,—and tried to comfort him,— But he was sore athirst, and his blue eyes Were dim and bloodshot, and he could not know Why God denied him water in the wild.
She sat a little longer, and he grew Ghastly and faint, as if he would have died. It was too much for her, she lifted him, And bore him further on, and laid his head Beneath the shadow of a desert shrub; And, shrouding up her face, she went away, And sat to watch where he could see her not, Till he should die; and watching him, she mourned:
"God stay thee in thine agony, my boy! I cannot see thee die; I cannot brook Upon thy brow to look, And see death settle on my cradle-joy. How have I drunk the light of thy blue eye! And could I see thee die?
"I did not dream of this when thou wert straying, Like an unbound gazelle, among the flowers; Or wearing rosy hours, By the rich gush of water-sources playing, Then sinking weary to thy smiling sleep, So beautiful and deep.
"O, no! and when I watch'd by thee the while, And saw thy bright lip curling in thy dream, And thought of the dark stream In my own land of Egypt, the far Nile, How pray'd I that my father's land might be An heritage for thee!
"And now the grave for its cold breast hath won thee, And thy white, delicate limbs the earth will press; And, O, my last caress Must feel thee cold, for a chill hand is on thee. How can I leave my boy, so pillow'd there Upon his clustering hair!"
She stood beside the well her God had given To gush in that deep wilderness, and bathed The forehead of her child until he laugh'd In his reviving happiness, and lisp'd His infant thought of gladness at the sight Of the cool plashing of his mother's hand.
* * * * *
366. UNSEEN SPIRITS.
The shadows lay along Broadway,— 'Twas near the twilight tide,— And slowly there, a lady fair Was waiting in her pride. Alone walked she, yet viewlessly Walked spirits at her side.
Peace charmed the street beneath her feet, And honor charmed the air, And all astir looked kind on her, And called her good as fair; For all God ever gave to her, She kept with chary care.
She kept with care her beauties rare, From lovers warm and true; For her heart was cold to all but gold, And the rich came not to woo. Ah, honored well, are charms to sell, When priests the selling do!
Now, walking there, was one more fair— A slight girl, lily pale, And she had unseen company To make the spirit quail; 'Twixt want and scorn, she walked forlorn, And nothing could avail.
No mercy now can clear her brow For this world's peace to pray; For, as love's wild prayer dissolved in air, Her woman's heart gave way, And the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven By man is cursed alway.
* * * * *
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-. (Manual, pp. 503, 505, 519, 531.)
367. LINES TO RESIGNATION.
There is no flock, however watched and tended But one dead lamb is there! There is no fireside, howso'er defended, But has one vacant chair!
The air is full of farewells to the dying, And mournings for the dead; The heart of Rachel, for her children crying, Will not be comforted!
Let us be patient! these severe afflictions Not from the ground arise, But oftentimes celestial benedictions Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors; Amid these earthly damps, What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition. This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life elysian, Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead,—the child of our affection,— But gone unto that school Where she no longer needs our poor protection, And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion, By guardian angels led, Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution, She lives, whom we call dead.
Day after day we think what she is doing In those bright realms of air; Year after year, her tender steps pursuing, Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken The bond which nature gives, Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken, May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her; For when with raptures wild In our embraces we again enfold her, She will not be a child;
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion, Clothed with celestial grace; And beautiful with all the soul's expansion Shall we behold her face.
And though at times impetuous with emotion And anguish long suppressed, The swelling heart heaves, moaning like the ocean, That cannot be at rest,—
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling We may not wholly stay; By silence sanctifying, not concealing, The grief that must have way.
* * * * *
From "The Seaside and The Fireside."
368. THE WEDDING; THE LAUNCH; THE SHIP.
The prayer is said, The service read, The joyous bridegroom bows his head; And in tears the good old Master Shakes the brown hand of his son, Kisses his daughter's glowing cheek In silence, for he cannot speak, And ever faster Down his own the tears begin to run. The worthy pastor— The Shepherd of that wandering flock, That has the ocean for its wold, That has the vessel for its fold, Leaping ever from rock to rock— Spake, with accents mild and clear, Words of warning, words of cheer, But tedious to the bridegroom's ear.
* * * * *
Then the Master, With a gesture of command, Waved his hand; And at the word, Loud and sudden there was heard, All around them and below, The sound of hammers, blow on blow, Knocking away the shores and spurs. And see! she stirs! She starts,—she moves,—she seems to feel The thrill of life along her keel, And, spurning with her foot the ground, With one exulting, joyous bound, She leaps into the ocean's arms!
And lo! from the assembled crowd There rose a shout, prolonged and loud, That to the ocean, seemed to say,— "Take her, O bridegroom, old and gray, Take her to thy protecting arms, With all her youth and all her charms!" How beautiful she is! How fair She lies within those arms, that press Her form with many a soft caress Of tenderness and watchful care! Sail forth into the sea, O ship! Through wind and wave, right onward steer! The moistened eye, the trembling lip, Are not the signs of doubt or fear.
Sail forth into the sea of life, O gentle, loving, trusting wife, And safe from all adversity Upon the bosom of that sea Thy comings and thy goings be! For gentleness and love and trust Prevail o'er angry wave and gust; And in the wreck of noble lives Something immortal still survives!
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate! We know what master laid thy keel, What workman wrought thy ribs of steel, Who made each mast, and sail, and rope, What anvils rang, what hammers beat, In what a forge and what a heat Were shaped the anchors of thy hope! Fear not each sudden sound and shock, 'Tis of the wave and not the rock; 'Tis but the flapping of the sail, And not a rent made by the gale! In spite of rock and tempest-roar, In spite of false lights on the shore, Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea! Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee, Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, Our faith triumphant o'er our fears, Are all with thee,—are all with thee.
* * * * *
369. SONG OF THE MOCKING-BIRD, AT SUNSET.
Softly the evening came. The sun, from the western horizon, Like a magician, extended his golden wand o'er the landscape; Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together. Hanging between two skies, a cloud with edges of silver, Floated the boat, with its dripping oars, on the motionless water. Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness. Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her. Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water, Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music, That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen. Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness, Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes. Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation; Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision, As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches. With such a prelude as this, and hearts that throbbed with emotion, Slowly they entered the Teche, where it flows through the green Opelousas, And through the amber air, above the crest of the woodland, Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighboring dwelling;— Sounds of a horn they heard, and the distant lowing of cattle.
* * * * *
From "The Song of Hiawatha."
370. HIAWATHA'S DEPARTURE.
On the shore stood Hiawatha, Turned and waved his hand at parting; On the clear and luminous water Launched his birch canoe for sailing, From the pebbles of the margin Shoved it forth into the water; Whispered to it, "Westward! westward!" And with speed it darted forward. And the evening sun descending Set the clouds on fire with redness, Burned the broad sky, like a prairie, Left upon the level water One long track and trail of splendor, Down whose streams, as down a river, Westward, westward Hiawatha Sailed into the fiery sunset, Sailed into the purple vapors, Sailed into the dusk of evening. And the people from the margin Watched him floating, rising, sinking, Till the birch canoe seemed lifted High into that sea of splendor, Till it sank into the vapors Like the new moon slowly, slowly Sinking in the purple distance. And they said, "Farewell for ever!" Said, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the forests, dark and lonely, Moved through all their depth of darkness, Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the waves upon the margin Rising, rippling on the pebbles, Sobbed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the heron, the Shu-shuh-gah, From her haunts among the fen-lands, Screamed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" Thus departed Hiawatha, Hiawatha the beloved, In the glory of the sunset, In the purple mists of evening, To the regions of the home-wind, Of the Northwest wind Keewaydin, To the islands of the Blessed, To the kingdom of Ponemah, To the land of the Hereafter!
* * * * *
William D. Gallagher, 1808-. (Manual, p. 523.)
371. THE LABORER.
Stand up—erect! Thou hast the form, And likeness of thy God!—who more? A soul as dauntless mid the storm Of daily life, a heart as warm And pure, as breast e'er bore.
What then?—Thou art as true a Man As moves the human mass among; As much a part of the Great plan That with creation's dawn began, As any of the throng.
Who is thine enemy? the high In station, or in wealth the chief? The great, who coldly pass thee by, With proud step and averted eye? Nay! nurse not such belief.
* * * * *
No:—uncurbed passions—low desires— Absence of noble self-respect— Death, in the breast's consuming fires, To that high Nature which aspires For ever, till thus checked:
* * * * *
True, wealth thou hast not: 'tis but dust! Nor place; uncertain as the wind! But that thou hast, which, with thy crust And water, may despise the lust Of both—a noble mind.
With this and passions under ban, True faith, and holy trust in God, Thou art the peer of any man. Look up, then—that thy little span Of life, may be well trod!
* * * * *
John G. Whittier, 1808-. (Manual, pp. 490, 522.)
372. WHAT THE VOICE SAID.
Maddened by Earth's wrong and evil, "Lord," I cried in sudden ire, "From thy right hand, clothed with thunder, Shake the bolted fire!
"Love is lost, and Faith is dying; With the brute, the man is sold; And the dropping blood of labor Hardens into gold."
* * * * *
"Thou, the patient Heaven upbraiding," Spake a solemn Voice within; "Weary of our Lord's forbearance, Art thou free from sin?"
* * * * *
"Earnest words must needs be spoken When the warm heart bleeds or burns With its scorn of wrong, or pity For the wronged, by turns.
"But, by all thy nature's weakness, Hidden faults and follies known, Be thou, in rebuking evil, Conscious of thine own.
"Not the less shall stern-eyed Duty To thy lips her trumpet set, But with harsher blasts shall mingle Wailings of regret."
Cease not, Voice of holy speaking, Teacher sent of God, be near, Whispering through the day's cool silence, Let my spirit hear!
So, when thoughts of evil doers Waken scorn, or hatred move, Shall a mournful fellow-feeling Temper all with love.
* * * * *
From "The Tent on the Beach."
373. THE ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH.
O lonely bay of Trinity, O dreary shores, give ear! Lean down unto the white-lipped sea The voice of God to hear!
From world to world his couriers fly, Thought-winged, and shod with fire; The angel of his stormy sky Rides down the sunken wire.
What saith the herald of the Lord? "The world's long strife is done; Close wedded by that mystic cord, Its continents are one.
"And one in heart, as one in blood, Shall all her peoples be; The hands of human brotherhood Are clasped beneath the sea.
"Through Orient seas, o'er Afric's plain And Asian mountains borne, The vigor of the Northern brain Shall nerve the world outworn.
"From clime to clime, from shore to shore, Shall thrill the magic thread; The new Prometheus steals once more The fire that wakes the dead."
Throb on, strong pulse of thunder! beat From answering beach to beach; Fuse nations in thy kindly heat, And melt the chains of each!
Wild terror of the sky above, Glide tamed and dumb below! Bear gently, Ocean's carrier-dove, Thy errands to and fro.
Weave on, swift shuttle of the Lord, Beneath the deep so far, The bridal robe of earth's accord, The funeral shroud of war!
For lo! the fall of Ocean's wall, Space mocked, and time outrun; And round the world the thought of all Is as the thought of one!
The poles unite, the zones agree, The tongues of striving cease; As on the sea of Galilee, The Christ is whispering, Peace!
* * * * *
374. DESCRIPTION OF A SNOW STORM.
The sun that brief December day Rose cheerless over hills of gray, And, darkly circled, gave at noon A sadder light than waning moon, Slow tracing down the thickening sky Its mute and ominous prophecy, A portent seeming less than threat, It sank from sight before it set. A chill no coat, however stout, Of homespun stuff could quite shut out, A hard, dull bitterness of cold, That checked, mid-vein, the circling race Of life-blood in the sharpened face, The coming of the snow-storm told. The wind blew east: we heard the roar Of Ocean on his wintry shore, And felt the strong pulse throbbing there Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
* * * * *
Unwarmed by any sunset light The gray day darkened into night, A night made hoary with the swarm And whirl-dance of the blinding storm, A zigzag wavering to and fro Crossed and recrossed the winged snow: And ere the early bed-time came The white drift piled the window-frame, And, through the glass, the clothes-line posts Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
So all night long the storm rolled on: The morning broke without a sun; In tiny spherule traced with lines Of Nature's geometric signs, In starry flake and pellicle, All day the hoary meteor fell; And, when the second morning shone, We looked upon a world unknown, On nothing we could call our own. Around the glistening wonder bent The blue walls of the firmament, No cloud above, no earth below,— A universe of sky and snow!
* * * * *
From "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim."
375. THE QUAKER'S CREED.
* * * * *
Gathered from many sects, the Quaker brought His old beliefs, adjusting to the thought That moved his soul, the creed his fathers taught.
One faith alone, so broad that all mankind Within themselves its secret witness find, The soul's communion with the Eternal Mind,
The Spirit's law, the Inward Rule and Guide, Scholar and peasant, lord and serf, allied, The polished Penn, and Cromwell's Ironside.
As still in Hemskerck's Quaker meeting, face By face, in Flemish detail, we may trace How loose-mouthed boor, and fine ancestral grace,
Sat in close contrast,—the clipt-headed churl, Broad market-dame, and simple serving-girl, By skirt of silk and periwig in curl!
For soul touched soul; the spiritual treasure-trove Made all men equal, none could rise above, Nor sink below, that level of God's love.
So, with his rustic neighbors sitting down, The homespun frock beside the scholar's gown, Pastorius, to the manners of the town
Added the freedom of the woods, and sought The bookless wisdom by experience taught, And learned to love his new-found home, while not
Forgetful of the old; the seasons went Their rounds, and somewhat to his spirit lent Of their own calm and measureless content.
Glad even to tears, he heard the robin sing His song of welcome to the Western spring, And bluebird borrowing from the sky his wing.
And when the miracle of autumn came, And all the woods with many-colored flame Of splendor, making summer's greenness tame,
Burned unconsumed, a voice without a sound Spake to him from each kindled bush around And made the strange, new landscape holy ground.
* * * * *
Albert Pike, 1809-. (Manual, p. 523.)
From "Lines on the Rocky Mountains."
376. THE EVERLASTING HILLS.
The deep, transparent sky is full Of many thousand glittering lights— Unnumbered stars that calmly rule The dark dominions of the night. The mild, bright moon has upward risen, Out of the gray and boundless plain, And all around the white snows glisten, Where frost, and ice, and silence, reign,— While ages roll away, and they unchanged remain.
These mountains, piercing the blue sky With their eternal cones of ice,— The torrents dashing from on high, O'er rock, and crag, and precipice,— Change not, but still remain as ever, Unwasting, deathless, and sublime, And will remain while lightnings quiver, Or stars the hoary summits climb, Or rolls the thunder-chariot of eternal Time.
* * * * *
Anne C. Lynch Botta.
From her "Poems."
377. THE DUMB CREATION.
Deal kindly with those speechless ones, That throng our gladsome earth; Say not the bounteous gift of life Alone is nothing worth.
What though with mournful memories They sigh not for the past? What though their ever joyous now No future overcast.
No aspirations fill their breast With longings undefined; They live, they love, and they are blest For what they seek they find.
They see no mystery in the stars, No wonder in the plain, And Life's enigma wakes in them, No questions dark and vain.
To them earth is a final home, A bright and blest abode; Their lives unconsciously flow on In harmony with God.
To this fair world our human hearts Their hopes and longings bring, And o'er its beauty and its bloom, Their own dark shadows fling.
Between the future and the past In wild unrest we stand, And ever as our feet advance, Retreats the promised land.
And though Love, Fame, and Wealth, and Power Bind in their gilded bond, We pine to grasp the unattained— The something still beyond.
And, beating on their prison bars, Our spirits ask more room, And with unanswered questionings, They pierce beyond the tomb.
Then say thou not, oh, doubtful heart! There is no life to come: That in some tearless, cloudless land; Thou shalt not find thy home.
* * * * *
Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-. (Manual, pp. 478, 520.)
From his Poems.
378. THE LAST LEAF.
I saw him once before, As he passed by the door, And again The pavement stones resound, As he totters o'er the ground With his cane.
My grandmamma has said,— Poor old lady, she is dead Long ago,— That he had a Roman nose, And his cheek was like a rose In the snow.
But now his nose is thin, And it rests upon his chin Like a staff, And a crook is in his back. And a melancholy crack In his laugh.
I know it is a sin For me to sit and grin At him here; But the old three-cornered hat, And the breeches, and all that, Are so queer!
And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring,— Let them smile, as I do now, At the old forsaken bough Where I cling.
* * * * *
From "The Professor at the Breakfast Table."
379. A MOTHER'S SECRET.
* * * * *
They reach the holy place, fulfill the days To solemn feasting given, and grateful praise. At last they turn, and far Moriah's height Melts into southern sky and fades from sight. All day the dusky caravan has flowed In devious trails along the winding road,— (For many a step their homeward path attends, And all the sons of Abraham are as friends.) Evening has come,—the hour of rest and joy;— Hush! hush! that whisper,—"Where is Mary's boy?" O weary hour! O aching days that passed, Filled with strange fears, each wilder than the last: The soldier's lance,—the fierce centurion's sword,— The crushing wheels that whirl some Roman lord,— The midnight crypt that sucks the captive's breath,— The blistering sun on Hinnom's vale of death! Thrice on his cheek had rained the morning light, Thrice on his lips the mildewed kiss of night, Crouched by some porphyry column's shining plinth, Or stretched beneath the odorous terebinth. At last, in desperate mood, they sought once more The Temple's porches, searched in vain before; They found him seated with the ancient men,— The grim old rufflers of the tongue and pen,— Their bald heads glistening as they clustered near, Their gray beards slanting as they turned to hear, Lost In half-envious wonder and surprise That lips so fresh should utter words so wise. And Mary said,—as one who, tried too long, Tells all her grief and half her sense of wrong.— "What is this thoughtless thing which thou hast done? Lo, we have sought thee sorrowing, O my son!" Few words he spake, and scarce of filial tone,— Strange words, their sense a mystery yet unknown; Then turned with them and left the holy hill, To all their mild commands obedient still. The tale was told to Nazareth's sober men, And Nazareth's matrons told it oft again; The maids retold it at the fountain's side; The youthful shepherds doubted or denied; It passed around among the listening friends, With all that fancy adds and fiction lends, Till newer marvels dimmed the young renown Of Joseph's son, who talked the Rabbies down. But Mary, faithful to its lightest word, Kept in her heart the sayings she had heard, Till the dread morning rent the Temple's veil, And shuddering Earth confirmed the wondrous tale.
Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all.
* * * * *
Willis Gaylord Clark, 1810-1841. (Manual, pp. 503, 523.)
From his "Literary Remains."
380. AN INVITATION TO EARLY PIETY.
Come, while the morning of thy life is glowing— Ere the dim phantoms thou art chasing die; Ere the gay spell which earth is round thee throwing, Fade like the sunset of a summer sky; Life hath but shadows, save a promise given, Which lights the future with a fadeless ray; O, touch the sceptre—win a hope in heaven— Come—turn thy spirit from the world away.
Then will the crosses of this brief existence, Seem airy nothings to thine ardent soul; And shining brightly in the forward distance, Will of thy patient race appear the goal; Home of the weary! where in peace reposing, The spirit lingers in unclouded bliss, Though o'er its dust the curtained grave is closing— Who would not early choose a lot like this?
* * * * *
James Russell Lowell, 1819-. (Manual, p. 520.)
From his "Miscellaneous Poems," &c.
381. A SONG.
Violet! sweet violet! Thine eyes are full of tears; Are they wet Even yet, With the thought of other years? Or with gladness are they full, For the night so beautiful, And longing for those far-off spheres?
Loved-one of my youth thou wast, Of my merry youth, And I see, Tearfully, All the fair and sunny past, All its openness and truth, Ever fresh and green in thee As the moss is in the sea.
Thy little heart, that hath with love Grown colored like the sky above, On which thou lookest ever,— Can it know All the woe Of hope for what returneth never, All the sorrow and the longing To these hearts of ours belonging?
Out on it! no foolish pining For the sky Dims thine eye, Or for the stars so calmly shining; Like thee let this soul of mine Take hue from that wherefor I long, Self-stayed and high, serene and strong, Not satisfied with hoping—but divine.
Violet! dear violet! Thy blue eyes are only wet With joy and love of him who sent thee, And for the fulfilling sense Of that glad obedience Which made thee all that Nature meant thee!
* * * * *
From "The Present Crisis."
382. IMPORTANCE OF A NOBLE DEED.
When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west, And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime Of a century, bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.
* * * * *
Once, to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side; Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, And the choice goes by for ever, twist that darkness and that light.
* * * * *
We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great, Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate, But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din, List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,— "They enslave their children's children, who make compromise with sin."
* * * * *
From The Atlantic Monthly.
383. THE SPANIARDS' GRAVES AT THE ISLES OF SHOALS.
O sailors, did sweet eyes look after you, The day you sailed away from sunny Spain? Bright eyes that followed fading ship and crew, Melting in tender rain?
Did no one dream of that drear night to be, Wild with the wind, fierce with the stinging snow, When, on yon granite point that frets the sea, The ship met her death-blow?
Fifty long years ago these sailors died: (None know how many sleep beneath the waves:) Fourteen gray head-stones, rising side by side, Point out their nameless graves,—
Lonely, unknown, deserted, but for me, And the wild birds that flit with mournful cry, And sadder winds, and voices of the sea That moans perpetually.
Wives, mothers, maidens, wistfully, in vain Questioned the distance for the yearning sail, That, leaning landward, should have stretched again White arms wide on the gale,
To bring back their beloved. Year by year, Weary they watched, till youth and beauty passed, And lustrous eyes grew dim, and age drew near, And hope was dead at last.
Still summer broods o'er that delicious land, Rich, fragrant, warm with skies of golden glow: Live any yet of that forsaken band Who loved so long ago?
O Spanish women, over the far seas, Could I but show you where your dead repose! Could I send tidings on this northern breeze, That strong and steady blows!
Dear dark-eyed sisters, you remember yet These you have lost, but you can never know One stands at their bleak graves whose eyes are wet With thinking of your woe!
* * * * *
Edgar Allen Poe. (Manual, p. 510.)
From his Works.
384. "THE RAVEN."
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door; "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door,— Only this, and nothing more."
Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow, From my books, surcease of sorrow,—sorrow for the lost Lenore,— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,— Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, "'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; This it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door; Darkness there,—and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whisper'd word, "Lenore!" This I whisper'd, and an echo murmur'd back the word, "Lenore!" Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before. "Surely," said I,—"surely that is something at my window-lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore,— Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;— 'Tis the wind, and nothing more."
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore. Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or staid he; But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door,— Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,— Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then, this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, Ghastly, grim, and ancient Raven wandering from the nightly shore— Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
Much I marvell'd this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was bless'd with seeing bird above his chamber door,— Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,— With such name as "Nevermore."
But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing further then he utter'd; not a feather then he flutter'd— Till I scarcely more than mutter'd, "Other friends have flown before— On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before," Then the bird said, "Nevermore."
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster Follow'd fast and follow'd faster, till his songs one burden bore— Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never—never—more!'"
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheel'd a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust, and door; Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore— What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore."
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining which the lamp-light gloated o'er She shall press, ah, never more!
Then methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor. "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore! Quaff, O quaff, this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Never more."
"Prophet," said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil!— Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest toss'd thee here ashore, Desolate, though all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted— On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Never more."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil! By that heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore— Tell this soul, with sorrow laden, if within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore— Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Never more."
"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting— "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Never more."
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor, Shall be lifted—never more.
* * * * *
Alfred B. Street, 1811-. (Manual, pp. 522, 531.)
From his "Poems."
385. AN AUTUMN LANDSCAPE.
Overhead There is a blending of cloud, haze, and sky; A silvery sheet, with spaces of soft hue; A trembling veil of gauze is stretched athwart The shadowy hill-sides and dark forest-flanks; A soothing quiet broods upon the air, And the faint sunshine winks with drowsiness. Far sounds melt mellow on the ear: the bark, The bleat, the tinkle, whistle, blast of horn, The rattle of the wagon-wheel, the low, The fowler's shot, the twitter of the bird, And even the hue of converse from the road.
* * * * *
The sunshine flashed on streams, Sparkled on leaves, and laughed on fields and woods. All, all was life and motion, as all now Is sleep and quiet. Nature in her change Varies each day, as in the world of man She moulds the differing features. Yea, each leaf Is variant from its fellow. Yet her works Are blended in a glorious harmony, For thus God made his earth. Perchance His breath Was music when He spake it into life, Adding thereby another instrument To the innumerable choral orbs Sending the tribute of their grateful praise In ceaseless anthems towards His sacred throne.
* * * * *
From "Drawings and Tintings."
386. THE FALLS OF THE MONGAUP.
Struggling along the mountain path, We hear, amid the gloom, Like a roused giant's voice of wrath, A deep-toned, sullen boom: Emerging on the platform high, Burst sudden to the startled eye Rocks, woods, and waters, wild and rude— A scene of savage solitude.
Swift as an arrow from the bow; Headlong the torrent leaps, Then tumbling round, in dazzling snow And dizzy whirls it sweeps; Then, shooting through the narrow aisle Of this sublime cathedral pile, Amidst its vastness, dark and grim, It peals its everlasting hymn.
Pyramid on pyramid of rock Towers upward, wild and riven, As piled by Titan hand, to mock The distant smiling heaven. And where its blue streak is displayed, Branches their emerald net-work braid So high, the eagle in his flight Seems but a dot upon the sight.
Here column'd hemlocks point in air Their cone-like fringes green; Their trunks hang knotted, black and bare, Like spectres o'er the scene; Here lofty crag and deep abyss, And awe-inspiring precipice; There grottoes bright in wave-worn gloss, And carpeted with velvet moss.
No wandering ray e'er kissed with light This rock-walled sable pool, Spangled with foam-gems thick and white, And slumbering deep and cool; But where yon cataract roars down, Set by the sun, a rainbow crown Is dancing, o'er the dashing strife— Hope glittering o'er the storm of life.
Beyond, the smooth and mirror'd sheet So gently steals along, The very ripples, murmuring sweet, Scarce drown the wild bee's song; The violet from the grassy side Dips its blue chalice in the tide; And, gliding o'er the leafy brink, The deer, unfrightened, stoops to drink.
Myriads of man's time-measured race Have vanished from the earth, Nor left a memory of their trace, Since first this scene had birth; These waters, thundering now along, Joined in Creation's matin-song; And only by their dial-trees Have known the lapse of centuries!
* * * * *
Laura M.H. Thurston, 1812-1842. (Manual, P. 524.)
387. LINES ON CROSSING THE ALLEGHANIES.
I hail thee, Valley of the West, For what thou yet shalt be! I hail thee for the hopes that rest Upon thy destiny! Here from this mountain height, I see Thy bright waves floating rapidly, Thine emerald fields outspread; And feel that in the book of fame, Proudly shall thy recorded name In later days be read.
Oh! brightly, brightly glow thy skies In Summer's sunny hours! The green earth seems a paradise Arrayed in summer flowers! But oh! there is a land afar, Whose skies to me all brighter are, Along the Atlantic shore! For eyes beneath their radiant shrine In kindlier glances answered mine: Can these their light restore?
Upon the lofty bound I stand, That parts the East and West; Before me lies a fairy land; Behind—a home of rest! Here, Hope her wild enchantment flings, Portrays all bright and lovely things, My footsteps to allure— But there, in memory's light I see All that was once most dear to me— My young heart's cynosure!
* * * * *
Francis S. Osgood, 1812-1850 (Manual, p. 523.)
388. "The Parting."
I looked not, I sighed not, I dared not betray The wild storm of feeling that strove to have way, For I knew that each sign of the sorrow I felt Her soul to fresh pity and passion would melt, And calm was my voice, and averted my eyes, As I parted from all that in being I prize.
I pined but one moment that form to enfold. Yet the hand that touched hers, like the marble was cold,— I heard her voice falter a timid farewell, Nor trembled, though soft on my spirit it fell, And she knew not, she dreamed not, the anguish of soul Which only my pity for her could control.
It is over—the loveliest dream of delight That ever illumined a wanderer's night! Yet one gleam of comfort will brighten my way, Though mournful and desolate ever I stray: It is this—that to her, to my idol, I spared The pang that her love could have softened and shared!
* * * * *
Harriet Beecher Stowe. (Manual, p. 484.)
From the "Religious Poems."
389. THE PEACE OF FAITH.
When winds are raging o'er the upper ocean, And billows wild contend with angry roar, 'Tis said, far down, beneath the wild commotion, That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.
Far, far beneath, the noise of tempests dieth, And silver waves chime ever peacefully, And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth, Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest! There is a temple, sacred evermore, And all the babble of life's angry voices Dies in hushed stillness at its peaceful door.
Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth, And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully, And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth, Disturbs that soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.
O Rest of rests! O Peace, serene, eternal! Thou ever livest, and Thou changest never; And in the secret of Thy presence dwelleth Fullness of joy, for ever and for ever.
* * * * *
390. "ONLY A YEAR."
One year ago,—a ringing voice, A clear blue eye, And clustering curls of sunny hair, Too fair to die.
Only a year,—no voice, no smile, No glance of eye, No clustering curls of golden hair, Fair but to die!
One year ago,—what loves, what schemes Far into life! What joyous hopes, what high, resolves, What generous strife!
The silent picture on the wall, The burial stone, Of all that beauty, life, and joy Remain alone!
One year,—one year,—one little year, And so much gone! And yet the even flow of life Moves calmly on.
The grave grows green, the flowers bloom fair, Above that head; No sorrowing tint of leaf or spray Says he is dead.
No pause or hush of merry birds That sing above, Tells us how coldly sleeps below The form we love.
Where hast thou been this year, beloved? What hast thou seen? What visions fair, what glorious life, Where thou hast been?
The veil! the veil! so thin, so strong! 'Twixt us and thee; The mystic veil! when shall it fall, That we may see?
Not dead, not sleeping, not even gone, But present still, And waiting for the coming hour Of God's sweet will.
Lord of the living and the dead, Our Saviour dear! We lay in silence at thy feet This sad, sad year!
* * * * *
Henry T. Tuckerman.
From his "Poems."
391. THE STATUE OF WASHINGTON.
The quarry whence thy form majestic sprung, Has peopled earth with grace, Heroes and gods that elder bards have sung, A bright and peerless race, But from its sleeping veins ne'er rose before, A shape of loftier name Than his, who, Glory's wreath with meekness wore, The noblest son of fame Sheathed is the sword that Passion never stained; His gaze around is cast, As if the joys of Freedom, newly gained, Before his vision passed; As if a nation's shout of love and pride With music filled the air, And his calm soul was lifted on the tide Of deep and grateful prayer; As if the crystal mirror of his life To fancy sweetly came, With scenes of patient toil and noble strife, Undimmed by doubt or shame; As if the lofty purpose of his soul Expression would betray— The high resolve Ambition to control, And thrust her crown away! O, it was well in marble, firm and white, To carve our hero's form, Whose angel guidance was our strength in fight, Our star amid the storm; Whose matchless truth has made his name divine, And human freedom sure, His country great, his tomb earth's dearest shrine, While man and time endure! And it is well to place his image there, Beneath, the dome he blest; Let meaner spirits who its councils share, Revere that silent guest! Let us go up with high and sacred love, To look on his pure brow, And as, with solemn grace, he points above, Renew the patriot's vow!
* * * * *
John G. Saxe, 1816-. (Manual, p. 523, 531.)
From "Early Rising."
392. THE BLESSING OF SLEEP.
"God bless the man who first invented sleep!" So Sancho Panza said, and so say I: And bless him, also, that he didn't keep His great discovery to himself; nor try To make it—as the lucky fellow might— A close monopoly by patent-right!
* * * * *
'Tis beautiful to leave the world a while For the soft visions of the gentle night; And free, at last, from mortal care or guile, To live as only in the angels' sight, In Sleep's sweet realm so cosily shut in, Where, at the worst, we only dream of sin!
So let us sleep, and give the Maker praise. I like the lad, who, when his father thought To clip his morning nap by hackneyed praise Of vagrant worm by early songster caught, Cried, "Served him right!—it's not at all surprising; The worm was punished, sir, for early rising!"
* * * * *
393. "YE TAILYOR-MAN; A CONTEMPLATIVE BALLAD."
Right jollie is ye tailyor-man As annie man may be; And all ye daye, upon ye benche He worketh merrilie.
And oft, ye while in pleasante wise He coileth up his lymbes, He singeth songs ye like whereof Are not in Watts his hymns.
And yet he toileth all ye while His merrie catches rolle; As true unto ye needle as Ye needle to ye pole.
What cares ye valiant tailyor-man For all ye cowarde fears? Against ye scissors of ye Fates, He points his mightie shears.
He heedeth not ye anciente jests That witless sinners use; What feareth ye bolde tailyor-man Ye hissinge of a goose?
He pulleth at ye busie threade, To feede his lovinge wife And eke his childe; for unto them It is the threade of life.
He cutteth well ye rich man's coate, And with unseemlie pride, He sees ye little waistcoate In Ye cabbage bye his side,
Meanwhile ye tailyor-man his wife, To labor nothing loth, Sits bye with readie hande to baste Ye urchin, and ye cloth.
Full happie is ye tailyor-man Yet is he often tried, Lest he, from fullness of ye dimes, Wax wanton in his pride.
Full happie is ye tailyor-man, And yet he hath a foe, A cunning enemie that none So well as tailyors knowe.
It is ye slipperie customer Who goes his wicked wayes, And wears ye tailyor-man his coate, But never, never payes!
* * * * *
From "The Money King."
394. ANCIENT AND MODERN GHOSTS CONTRASTED.
In olden times,—if classic poets say The simple truth, as poets do to-day,— When Charon's boat conveyed a spirit o'er The Lethean water to the Hadean shore, The fare was just a penny,—not too great, The moderate, regular, Stygian statute rate. Now, for a shilling, he will cross the stream, (His paddles whirling to the force of steam!) And bring, obedient to some wizard power, Back to the Earth more spirits in an hour, Than Brooklyn's famous ferry could convey, Or thine, Hoboken, in the longest day! Time was when men bereaved of vital breath, Were calm and silent in the realms of Death; When mortals dead and decently inurned Were heard no more; no traveler returned, Who once had crossed the dark Plutonian strand, To whisper secrets of the spirit-land,— Save when perchance some sad, unquiet soul— Among the tombs might wander on parole,— A well-bred ghost, at night's bewitching noon, Returned to catch some glimpses of the moon, Wrapt in a mantle of unearthly white, (The only rapping of an ancient sprite!) Stalked round in silence till the break of day, Then from the Earth passed unperceived away. Now all is changed: the musty maxim fails, And dead men do repeat the queerest tales! Alas, that here, as in the books, we see The travelers clash, the doctors disagree! Alas, that all, the further they explore, For all their search are but confused the more! Ye great departed!—men of mighty mark,— Bacon and Newton, Adams, Adam Clarke, Edwards and Whitefield, Franklin, Robert Hall, Calhoun, Clay, Channing, Daniel Webster,—all Ye great quit-tenants of this earthly ball,— If in your new abodes ye cannot rest, But must return, O, grant us this request: Come with a noble and celestial air, To prove your title to the names ye bear! Give some clear token of your heavenly birth; Write as good English as ye wrote on earth! Show not to all, in ranting prose and verse, The spirit's progress is from bad to worse; And, what were once superfluous to advise, Don't tell, I beg you, such, egregious lies!— Or if perchance your agents are to blame, Don't let them trifle with your honest fame; Let chairs and tables rest, and "rap" instead, Ay, "knock" your slippery "Mediums" on the head!
* * * * *
"The proper study of mankind is man,"— The most perplexing one, no doubt, is woman, The subtlest study that the mind can scan, Of all deep problems, heavenly or human!
But of all studies in the round of learning, From nature's marvels down to human toys, To minds well fitted for acute discerning, The very queerest one is that of boys!
If to ask questions that would puzzle Plato, And all the schoolmen of the Middle Age,— If to make precepts worthy of old Cato, Be deemed philosophy, your boy's a sage!
If the possession of a teeming fancy, (Although, forsooth, the younker doesn't know it,) Which he can use in rarest necromancy, Be thought poetical, your boy's a poet!
If a strong will and most courageous bearing, If to be cruel as the Roman Nero; If all that's chivalrous, and all that's daring, Can make a hero, then the boy's a hero!
But changing soon with his increasing stature, The boy is lost in manhood's riper age, And with him goes his former triple nature,— No longer Poet, Hero, now, nor Sage!
* * * * *
396. SONNET TO A CLAM.
Inglorious friend! most confident I am Thy life is one of very little ease; Albeit men mock thee with their similes, And prate of being "happy as a clam!" What though thy shell protects thy fragile head From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea? Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee, While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed, And bear thee off,—as foemen take their spoil,— Far from thy friends and family to roam; Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home, To meet destruction in a foreign broil! Though thou art tender, yet thy humble bard Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!
* * * * *
Lucy Hooper, 1816-1841. (Manual, p. 524.)
397. "THE DEATH-SUMMONS."
A voice is on mine ear—a solemn voice: I come, I come, it calls me to my rest; Faint not, my yearning heart; rejoice, rejoice; Soon shalt thou reach the gardens of the blest: On the bright waters there, the living streams, Soon shalt thou launch in peace thy weary bark, Waked by rude waves no more from gentle dreams, Sadly to feel that earth to thee is dark— Not bright as once; O, vain, vain memories, cease, I cast your burden down—I strive for peace.
I heed the warning voice: oh, spurn me not, My early friend; let the bruised heart go free: Mine were high fancies, but a wayward lot Hath made my youthful dreams in sadness flee; Then chide not, I would linger yet awhile, Thinking o'er wasted hours, a weary train, Cheered by the moon's soft light, the sun's glad smile, Watching the blue sky o'er my path of pain, Waiting nay summons: whose shall be the eye To glance unkindly—I have come to die!
Sweet words—to die! O, pleasant, pleasant sounds, What bright revealings to my heart they bring; What melody, unheard in earth's dull rounds, And floating from the land of glorious Spring The eternal home! my weary thoughts revive, Fresh flowers my mind puts forth, and buds of love, Gentle and kindly thoughts for all that live, Fanned by soft breezes from the world above: And pausing not, I hasten to my rest— Again, O, gentle summons, thou art blest!
* * * * *
Catharine Ann Warfield.
398. "THE RETURN TO ASHLAND."
Unfold the silent gates, The Lord of Ashland waits Patient without, to enter his domain; Tell not who sits within, With sad and stricken mien, That he, her soul's beloved, hath come again.
Long hath she watched for him, Till hope itself grew dim, And sorrow ceased to wake the frequent tear; But let these griefs depart, Like shadows from her heart— Tell her, the long expected host is here.
He comes—but not alone, For darkly pressing on, The people pass beneath his bending trees, Not as they came of yore, When torch and banner bore Their part amid exulting harmonies.
But still, and sad, they sweep Amid the foliage deep, Even to the threshold of that mansion gray, Whither from life's unrest, As an eagle seeks his nest, It ever was his wont to flee away.
And he once more hath come To that accustomed home, To taste a calm, life never offered yet; To know a rest so deep, That they who watch and weep, In this vain world may well its peace regret.
[Footnote 85: The home of Henry Clay.]
* * * * *
Arthur Cleveland Coxe, 1818-. (Manual, p. 523.)
399. THE HEART'S SONG.
In the silent midnight watches, List thy bosom door; How it knocketh, knocketh, knocketh, Knocketh evermore! Say not 'tis thy pulse's beating; 'Tis thy heart of sin; 'Tis thy Saviour knocks, and crieth, "Rise, and let me in."
Death comes down with reckless footstep To the hall and hut; Think you Death will tarry knocking Where the door is shut? Jesus waiteth, waiteth, waiteth; But thy door is fast. Grieved, away thy Saviour goeth; Death breaks in at last.
Then 'tis thine to stand entreating Christ to let thee in, At the gate of heaven beating, Wailing for thy sin. Nay, alas! thou foolish virgin, Hast thou then forgot? Jesus waited long to know thee,— Now he knows thee not.
* * * * *
William Ross Wallace, 1819-. (Manual, p. 523.)
400. THE NORTH EDDA.
Noble was the old North Edda, Filling many a noble grave, That for "man the one thing needful In his world is to be brave."
This, the Norland's blue-eyed mother Nightly chanted to her child, While the Sea-King, grim and stately, Looked upon his boy and smiled.
* * * * *
Let us learn that old North Edda Chanted grandly on the grave, Still for man the one thing needful In his world is to be brave.
Valkyrs yet are forth and choosing Who must be among the slain; Let us, like that grim old Sea-King, Smile at Death upon the plain,—
Smile at tyrants leagued with falsehood, Knowing Truth, eternal, stands With the book God wrote for Freedom Always open in her hands,—
Smile at fear when in our duty, Smile at Slander's Jotun-breath, Smile upon our shrouds when summoned Down the darkling deep of death.
Valor only grows a manhood; Only this upon our sod, Keeps us in the golden shadow Falling from the throne of God.
* * * * *
Walter Whitman, 1819-.
From Leaves of Grass.
401. THE BROOKLYN FERRY AT TWILIGHT.
I too, many and many a time cross'd the river, the sun half an hour high; I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow, I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.
I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my head, in the sun-lit water, Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward, Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet, Look'd towards the lower bay to notice the arriving ships, Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me, Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at anchor, The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars, The round masts, the swimming motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants, The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-houses, The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels, The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set, The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening, The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite store-houses by the docks, On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd on each side by the barges—the hay-boat, the belated lighter, On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning high and glaringly into the night. Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of streets.
These and all else, were to me the same as they are to you; I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return.
[Footnote 86: Was born in New York in 1819, and has been printer, teacher, and later, an official at Washington. His poetry, though irregular in form, and often coarse in sentiment, is decidedly original and vigorous.]
* * * * *
Amelia B. Welby, 1819-1852. (Manual, p. 523.)
402. "THE BEREAVED."
It is a still and lovely spot Where they have laid thee down to rest; The white rose and forget-me-not Bloom sweetly on thy breast, And birds and streams with liquid lull Have made the stillness beautiful.
And softly through the forest bars Light, lovely shapes, on glossy plumes, Float ever in, like winged stars, Amid the purpling glooms. Their sweet songs, borne from tree to tree, Thrill the light leaves with melody.
Alas! too deep a weight of thought Had filled thy heart in youth's sweet hour; It seemed with love and bliss o'erfraught; As fleeting passion-flower Unfolding 'neath a southern sky, To blossom soon, and soon to die.
Alas! the very path I trace, In happier hours thy footsteps made; This spot was once thy resting place, Within the silent shade. Thy white hand trained the fragrant bough That drops its blossoms o'er me now.
* * * * *
Yet in those calm and blooming bowers I seem to feel thy presence still, Thy breath seems floating o'er the flowers, Thy whisper on the hill; The clear, faint starlight, and the sea, Are whispering to my heart of thee.
No more thy smiles my heart rejoice, Yet still I start to meet thy eye, And call upon the low, sweet voice, That gives me no reply— And list within my silent door For the light feet that come no more.
* * * * *
Rebecca S. Nichols, about 1820-. (Manual, pp. 503, 524.)
How like a conquerer the king of day Folds back the curtains of his orient couch, Bestrides the fleecy clouds, and speeds his way Through skies made brighter by his burning touch; For, as a warrior from the tented field Victorious, hastes his wearied limbs to rest, So doth the sun his brazen sceptre yield, And sink, fair Night, upon thy gentle breast.
* * * * *
Fair Vesper, when thy golden tresses gleam Amid the banners of the sunset sky, Thy spirit floats on every radiant beam That gilds with beauty thy sweet home on high; Then hath my soul its hour of deepest bliss, And gentle thoughts like angels round me throng, Breathing of worlds (O, how unlike to this!) Where dwell eternal melody and song.
* * * * *
"The Old House."
404. ATTRACTIONS OF OUR EARLY HOME.
My little birds, with backs as brown As sand, and throats as white as frost, I've searched the summer up and down, And think the other birds have lost The tunes, you sang so sweet, so low, About the old house, long ago.
My little flowers, that with your bloom So hid the grass you grew upon, A child's foot scarce had any room Between you,—are you dead and gone? I've searched through fields and gardens rare, Nor found your likeness any where.
My little hearts, that beat so high With love to God, and trust in men, Oh come to me, and say if I But dream, or was I dreaming then, What time we sat within the glow Of the old house-hearth, long ago?
My little hearts, so fond, so true, I searched the world all far and wide, And never found the like of you: God grant we meet the other side The darkness 'twixt us, now that stands, In that new house not made with hands!
* * * * *
Sidney Dyer, about 1820-.
405. THE POWER OF SONG.
However humble be the bard who sings, If he can touch one chord of love that slumbers, His name, above the proudest line of kings, Shall live immortal in his truthful numbers.
The name of him who sung of "Home, sweet home," Is now enshrined with every holy feeling; And though he sleeps beneath no sainted dome, Each heart a pilgrim at his shrine is kneeling.
The simple lays that wake no tear when sung, Like chords of feeling from the music taken, Are, in the bosom of the singer, strung, Which every throbbing heart-pulse will awaken.
[Footnote 87: A Baptist clergyman, who has lived for many years at Indianapolis, Indiana; the author of numerous songs.]
[Footnote 88: John Howard Payne.]
* * * * *
Austin T. Earle, 1821-.
From "Warm Hearts had We."
The autumn winds were damp and cold, And dark the clouds that swept along, As from the fields, the grains of gold We gathered, with the husker's song. Our hardy forms, though thinly clad, Scarce felt the winds that swept us by, For she a child, and I a lad, Warm hearts had we, my Kate and I.
We heaped the ears of yellow corn, More worth than bars of gold to view: The crispy covering from it torn, The noblest grain that ever grew; Nor heeded we, though thinly clad, The chilly winds that swept us by; For she a child, and I a lad, Warm hearts had we, my Kate and I.
[Footnote 89: Was born in Tennessee; a well-known Western writer of both verse and prose.]
* * * * *
Thomas Buchanan Read, 1822-1872. (Manual, p. 523.)
From "Sylvia, or the Last Shepherd."
407. THE MOURNFUL MOWERS.
* * * * *
Thus sang the shepherd crowned at noon And every breast was heaved with sighs;— Attracted by the tree and tune, The winged singers left the skies.
Close to the minstrel sat the maid; His song had drawn her fondly near: Her large and dewy eyes betrayed The secret to her bosom dear.
The factory people through the fields, Pale men and maids and children pale, Listened, forgetful of the wheel, Till the last summons woke the vale.
And all the mowers rising said, "The world has lost its dewy prime; Alas! the Golden age is dead, And we are of the Iron time!
"The wheel and loom have left our homes,— Our maidens sit with empty hands, Or toil beneath yon roaring domes, And fill the factory's pallid bands,
"The fields are swept as by a war, Our harvests are no longer blythe; Yonder the iron mower's-car, Comes with his devastating scythe.
"They lay us waste by fire and steel, Besiege us to our very doors; Our crops before the driving wheel Fall captive to the conquerors.
"The pastoral age is dead, is dead! Of all the happy ages chief; Let every mower bow his head, In token of sincerest grief.
"And let our brows be thickly bound With every saddest flower that blows; And all our scythes be deeply wound With every mournful herb that grows."
Thus sang the mowers; and they said, "The world has lost its dewy prime; Alas! the Golden age is dead, And we are of the Iron time!"
Each wreathed his scythe and twined his head; They took their slow way through the plain: The minstrel and the maiden led Across the fields the solemn train.
The air was rife with clamorous sounds, Of clattering factory-thundering forge,— Conveyed from the remotest bounds Of smoky plain and mountain gorge.
Here, with a sudden shriek and roar, The rattling engine thundered by; A steamer past the neighboring shore Convulsed the river and the sky.
The brook that erewhile laughed abroad, And o'er one light wheel loved to play, Now, like a felon, groaning trod Its hundred treadmills night and day.
The fields were tilled with steeds of steam, Whose fearful neighing shook the vales; Along the road there rang no team,— The barns were loud, but not with flails.
And still the mournful mowers said, "The world has lost its dewy prime; Alas! the Golden age is dead, And we are of the Iron time!"
* * * * *
From "The Closing Scene."
All sights were mellowed, and all sounds subdued, The hills seemed farther, and the streams sang low; As in a dream, the distant woodman hewed His winter log, with many a muffled blow.
* * * * *
The sentinel cock upon the hill-side crew, Crew thrice, and all was stiller than before, Silent, till some replying warder blew His alien horn, and then was heard no more.
Where erst the jay, within the elm's tall crest, Made garrulous trouble round her unfledged young, And where the oriole hung her swaying nest, By every light wind, like a censer, swung.
* * * * *
Amid all this, the centre of the scene, The white-haired matron, with monotonous tread, Plied the swift wheel, and, with her joyless mien, Sat like a Fate, and watched the flying thread.
* * * * *
While yet her cheek was bright with summer bloom, Her country summoned, and she gave her all; And twice war bowed to her his sable plume, Re-gave the swords to rust upon the wall—
Re-gave the swords, but not the hand that drew, And struck for Liberty its dying blow; Nor him who, to his sire and country true, Fell 'mid the ranks of the invading foe.
Long, but not loud, the droning wheel went on, Like the low murmur of a hive at noon; Long, but not loud, the memory of the gone Breathed through her lips a sad and tremulous tune.
At last the thread was snapped; her head was bowed; Life dropped the distaff through his hands serene; And loving neighbors smoothed her careful shroud, While death and winter closed the autumn scene.
* * * * *
Margaret M. Davidson, 1823-1837. (Manual, p. 523.)
From Lines in Memory of her Sister Lucretia.
O thou, so early lost, so long deplored! Pure spirit of my sister, be thou near; And, while I touch this hallowed harp of thine, Bend from the skies, sweet sister, bend and hear.
For thee I pour this unaffected lay; To thee these simple numbers all belong: For though thine earthly form has passed away, Thy memory still inspires my childish song.
Take, then, this feeble tribute; 'tis thine own; Thy fingers sweep my trembling heartstrings o'er, Arouse to harmony each buried tone, And bid its wakened music sleep no more.
Long has thy voice been silent, and thy lyre Hung o'er thy grave, in death's unbroken rest; But when its last sweet tones were borne away, One answering echo lingered in my breast.
O thou pure spirit! if thou hoverest near, Accept these lines, unworthy though they be, Faint echoes from thy fount of song divine, By thee inspired, and dedicate to thee.
* * * * *
John R. Thompson, 1823-1873.
410. MUSIC IN CAMP.
Two armies covered hill and plain, Where Rappahannock's waters Ran deeply crimsoned with the stain Of battle's recent slaughters.
The summer clouds lay pitched like tents In meads of heavenly azure, And each dread gun of the elements Slept in its hid embrazure.
The breeze so softly blew, it made No forest leaf to quiver, And the smoke of the random cannonade Rolled slowly from the river.
And now, where circling hills looked down, With cannon grimly planted, O'er listless camp and silent town The golden sunset slanted.
When on the fervid air there came A strain—now rich and tender; The music seemed itself aflame With day's departing splendor.
And yet once more the bugles sang Above the stormy riot; No shout upon the evening rang— There reigned a holy quiet,
The sad, slow stream, its noiseless flood Poured o'er the glistening pebbles; All silent now the Yankees stood, And silent stood the Rebels.
No unresponsive soul had heard That plaintive note's appealing, So deeply "Home, Sweet Home" had stirred The hidden founts of feeling.
Or Blue, or Gray, the soldier sees, As by the wand of fairy, The cottage 'neath the live-oak trees, The cabin by the prairie.
Or cold or warm, his native skies Bend in their beauty o'er him; Seen through the tear-mist in his eyes, His loved ones stand before him.
As fades the iris after rain In April's tearful weather, The vision vanished, as the strain And daylight died together.
But memory, waked by music's art, Expressed in simplest numbers, Subdued the sternest Yankee's heart, Made light the Rebel's slumbers.
And fair the form of music shines, That bright, celestial creature, Who still 'mid war's embattled lines, Gave this one touch of Nature.
[Footnote 90: Received a liberal education and relinquishing his profession—the law—for literature, was for some years editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. Has written chiefly for the magazines and for the newspapers. A native of Virginia.]
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George Henry Boker, 1824-. (Manual, p. 520.)
From the "Ode to a Mountain Oak."
411. THE OAK AN EMBLEM.
Type of unbending Will! Type of majestic self-sustaining Power! Elate in sunshine, firm when tempests lower, May thy calm strength my wavering spirit fill! Oh! let me learn from thee, Thou proud and steadfast tree, To bear unmurmuring what stern Time may send; Nor 'neath life's ruthless tempests bend: But calmly stand like thee, Though wrath and storm shake me, Though vernal hopes in yellow Autumn end, And, strong in truth, work out my destiny. Type of long-suffering Power! Type of unbending Will! Strong in the tempest's hour, Bright when the storm is still; Rising from every contest with an unbroken heart, Strengthen'd by every struggle, emblem of might thou art! Sign of what man can compass, spite of an adverse state, Still from thy rocky summit, teach us to war with Fate!
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412. DIRGE FOR A SAILOR.
Slow, slow! toll it low, As the sea-waves break and flow; With the same dull slumberous motion. As his ancient mother, Ocean, Rocked him on, through storm and calm, From the iceberg to the palm: So his drowsy ears may deem That the sound which breaks his dream Is the ever-moaning tide Washing on his vessel's side.
Slow, slow! as we go. Swing his coffin to and fro; As of old the lusty billow Swayed him on his heaving pillow: So that he may fancy still, Climbing up the watery hill, Plunging in the watery vale, With her wide-distended sail, His good ship securely stands Onward to the golden lands.
Slow, slow! heave-a-ho!— Lower him to the mould below; With the well-known sailor ballad, Lest he grow more cold and pallid At the thought that Ocean's child, From his mother's arms beguiled. Must repose for countless years, Reft of all her briny tears, All the rights he owned by birth, In the dusty lap of earth.
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William Allen Butler, 1825-. (Manual, p. 521.)
From "Nothing to Wear."
O ladies, dear ladies, the next sunny day Please trundle your hoops just out of Broadway, From its whirl and its bustle, its fashion and pride, And the temples of Trade which tower on each side, To the alleys and lanes, where Misfortune and Guilt Their children have gathered, their city have built; Where Hunger and Vice, like twin beasts of prey, Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair; Raise the rich, dainty dress, and the fine broidered skirt, Pick your delicate way through the dampness and dirt, Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair To the garret, where wretches, the young and the old, Half-starved, and half-naked, lie crouched from the cold. See those skeleton limbs, and those frost-bitten feet, All bleeding and bruised by the stones of the street; Hear the sharp cry of childhood, the deep groans that swell From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor, Hear the curses that sound like the echoes of Hell, As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door; Then home to your wardrobes, and say, if you dare, Spoiled children of Fashion—you've nothing to wear!
And O, if perchance there should be a sphere, Where all is made right which so puzzles us here,
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Where the soul, disenchanted of flesh and of sense, Unscreened by its trappings, and shows, and pretence, Must be clothed for the life and the service above, With purity, truth, faith, meekness, and love; O daughters of Earth! foolish virgins, beware! Lest in that upper realm, you have nothing to wear!
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Bayard Taylor, 1825-. (Manual, pp. 523, 531.)
From "The Atlantic Monthly."
414. "THE BURDEN OF THE DAY."
Who shall rise and cast away, First, the Burden of the Day? Who assert his place, and teach Lighter labor, nobler speech, Standing firm, erect, and strong, Proud as Freedom, free as song?
Lo! we groan beneath the weight Our own weaknesses create; Crook the knee and shut the lip, All for tamer fellowship; Load our slack, compliant clay With the Burden of the Day!