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Hesperus - and Other Poems and Lyrics
by Charles Sangster
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O, fading dream of human life! What can this change portend? I long for higher walks, and true Progression without end.

Here I know nothing, and my search Can find no secret out; I cannot think a single thought That is not mixed with doubt.

Relying on the higher source, The influence divine, I can but hope that light may dawn Within this soul of mine.

I ask not wisdom, such as that To which the world is prone, Nor knowledge ask, unless it come Direct from God alone.

Send down then, God! in mercy send Thy Love and Truth to me, That I may henceforth walk in light That comes direct from Thee.



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HER STAR.

When the heavens throb and vibrate All along their silver veins, To the mellow storm of music Sweeping o'er the starry trains, Heard by few, as erst by shepherds On the far Chaldean plains:

Not the blazing, torch-like planets, Not the Pleiads wild and free, Not Arcturus, Mars, Uranus, Bring the brightest dreams to me; But I gaze in rapt devotion On the central star of three.

Central star of three that tingle In the balmy southern sky; One above, and one below it, Dreamily they pale and die, As two lesser minds might dwindle, When some great soul, passing by,

Stops, and reads their cherished secrets, With a calm and godlike air, Luring all their radiance from them Leaving a dim twilight there, Something vague, and half unreal, Like the Alpha of despair.

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Gazing thus, and holding converse With the silence of my heart, I would speak with famed Orion, I would question it apart, Wrest her love's strange secret from it, If there's strength in human art.

And there come to me sweet whispers, Half in answer, half in thought:— "Be but strong, impassioned mortal! Love will come to thee unsought; Love is the divine Irene,— It is given, and not bought.

[Transcriber's note: In the original book, the e's in the "Irene" in the above verse were e-macrons, Unicode U+0113.]

Strong of heart. Be wise, be steadfast, Learn, endeavour, and endure; Blest with strength and light, in wisdom Make the higher purpose sure; Never can her heart receive thee Till thine own is rendered pure.

I but shone in truth above her; Psyche-like, she yearned to me, And her soul, an Aphrodite, Rose above the ether sea. Love. Love should and will inherit The divine Euphrosyne."

When at night, the gleaming heavens Throb through all their starry veins, Oft I ponder on Orion, And I hear celestial strains Passing through my soul, and flooding All its green immortal plains.

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Then I pray for strength Promethean, Pray for power to endure; Then I say, O soul, be steadfast! Make the lofty purpose sure; And that love may be all-worthy, God of heaven, make me pure!



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THE MYSTERY.

My mind is like a troubled sea O'er which the winds forever sweep; Within its depths, eternally, My being's pulses throb and leap; There germs of contemplation sleep, Like stars beyond the Milky Way,— Like pearls within the gloomy deep, That never saw the light of day.

Oh, wondrous mind, how little known! Whence comes the thought that through my brain Floats weirdlike as the pleasing tone That quickens a beloved strain? It may have graced some sweet refrain A thousand years ago, or more; Some Norman Prince, some valiant Dane, May have imbibed it with their lore.

It may have strengthened Plato's soul, Its clarion echoes ringing through His brain, the heaven-reaching goal Whence wisdom had its starry view; It may have cheered the gifted few Whose minds were mints of royal song, Who toiled where Shakespeare soared, and drew Down blessings from the grateful throng.

And on for ages yet to come, Through minds by heavenly impulse fired, That thought may strike some scorner dumb, In all its regal guise attired;

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Divinely blest, though uninspired, Some soul may change its swift career, Bearing the great truth, long-desired, In triumph to the highest sphere.

Unbounded universe of Thought! Illimitable realms of mind! Regions of Fancy, wonder-fraught! Imagination unconfined! Temples of mystery! behind Whose veils the God-appointed plan In perfect wisdom is enshrined, Beyond the pigmy reach of man:

I cannot—dare not—seek to know What finite vision, to the end, Through years of strictest search below, Must ever fail to comprehend! God! whose intents so far transcend Our poor discernment, let me see Some portion of the truths that tend By slow gradations up to Thee:

That in the less imperfect years, When human frailty shall have died, When the vexed riddle of the spheres, Interpreted and glorified, Shall be as nothing to the tide Of light in which Thy hidden ways Will be revealed: I may abide Thy meanest instrument of praise, And from the broad calm ocean of Thy truth And wisdom drinking, find eternal youth.



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LOVE AND TRUTH.

Young Love sat in a rosy bower, Towards the close of a summer day; At the evening's dusky hour, Truth bent her blessed steps that way; Over her face Beaming a grace Never bestowed on child of clay.

Truth looked on with an ardent joy, Wondering Love could grow so tired; Hovering o'er him she kissed the boy, When, with a sudden impulse fired, Exquisite pains Burning his veins, Wildly he woke, as one inspired.

Eagerly Truth embraced the god, Filling his soul with a sense divine; Rightly he knew the paths she trod, Springing from heaven's royal line; Far had he strayed From his guardian maid, Perilling all for his rash design.

Still as they went, the tricksy youth Wandered afar from the maiden fair; Many a plot he laid, in sooth, Wherein the maid could have no share Sowing his seeds, Bringing forth weeds, Seldom a rose, and many a tare.

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Save when the maiden was by his side, Love was erratic, and rarely true; When she smiled on the graceful bride, Over the old world rose the new, Into life's skies Blending her dyes, Fairer than those of the rainbow's hue.

Sunny-eyed maidens, whom Love decoys, Mark well the arts of the wayward youth! Sorrows he bringeth, disguised as joys, Rose-hued delights with cores of ruth; Learn to believe Love will deceive, Save when he comes with his guardian, Truth.



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THE WREN.

Early each spring the little wren Came scolding to his nest of moss; We knew him by his peevish cry, He always sung so very cross. His quiet little mate would lay Her eggs in peace, and think all day.

He was a sturdy little wren; And when he came in spring, we knew, Or seemed to know, the flowers would grow To please him, where they always grew, Among the rushes, cheerfully; But not a rush so straight as he!

All summer long that little wren Would chatter like a saucy thing; And in the bush attack the thrush That on the hawthorn perched to sing. Like many noisy little men, Lived, bragged, and fought that little wren.

There was a thoughtful maid, and I, We used to play along the shore, Searching for shells, and culling flowers, As at the threshold of life's door, Through which we had to pass, we stood, Twin types of childish hardihood.

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Year after year we gathered flowers, And grew apace, as children do; And each returning spring we marked The little wrens, they never grew; One over-quiet and sedate, The other, a bird-reprobate.

But now the marsh is overflowed, The rushes rot beneath the sand; No spring brings back the little wrens, No children loiter hand in hand; The maiden rose-bud, pure and good, Grown to the flower of womanhood.



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GRANDPERE.

Old Grandpere gat in the corner, With his grandchild on his knee, Looking up at his wrinkled visage, For his winters were ninety-three.

Fair Eleanor's locks were flaxen, The old man's once were gray, But now, they were white as the snow-drift That lay on the bleak highway.

Her summers rolled on as golden As waves over sunny seas; But Grandpere could perceive no summers, The winters alone were his.

He folded his arms around her, Like Winter embracing Spring; And the angels looked down from heaven, And smiled on their slumbering.

But soon the angelic faces Were filled with seraphic light, As they gazed on a beauteous spirit Passing up through the frosty night:

Till it stood serene before them, A youth most divinely fair; And they saw that the new-born angel Was the spirit of old Grandpere.



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ENGLAND'S HOPE AND ENGLAND'S HEIR.

England's Hope and England's Heir! Head and crown of Britain's glory, Be thy future half so fair As her past is famed in story, Then wilt thou be great, indeed, Daring, where there's cause to dare; Greatest in the hour of need, England's Hope and England's Heir.

By her past, in acts supreme, By her present grand endeavour, By her future, which the gleam Of our fond hopes brings us ever: We can trust that thou wilt be Worthy of a fame so rare, Worthy of thy destiny, England's Hope and England's Heir.

Be thy spirit fraught with hers, Queen, whom we revere and honour; Be thine acts love's messengers, Brightly flashing back upon her; Be what most her trust would deem, Help the answer to her prayer, Realize her holiest dream, England's Hope and England's Heir.

Welcome, Prince! the land is wide, Wider still the love we cherish; Love that thou shalt find, when tried, Is not born to droop and perish;

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Welcome to our heart of hearts; You will find no falsehood there, But the zeal that truth imparts, England's Hope and England's Heir.

Welcome to our woodland deeps, To our inland lakes, and rivers, Where the rapid roars and sweeps, Where the brightest sunlight quivers. Loyal souls can never fail; Serfdom crouches in its lair; But our British hearts are hale, England's Hope and England's Heir.



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ROSE.

When the evening broods quiescent Over mountain, vale and lea, And the moon uplifts her crescent Far above the peaceful sea, Little Rose, the fisher's daughter, Passes in her cedar skiff O'er the dreamy waste of water, To the signal on the cliff.

Have a care, my merry maiden! Young Adonis though he be, Many hearts are secret-laden That have trusted such as he. Has he worth, and is he truthful? Thoughtless maiden rarely knows; But, "He's handsome, brave and youthful," Says the heart of little Rose.

Hark! the horn—its shrill vibrations Tremble through the maiden's breast, As the sweet reverberations Dwindle to their whispered rest; Sweeter far the honied sentence Sealing up her mind's repose; Love as yet needs no repentance In the heart of little Rose.

Heaven shield thee, trusting mortal! Love has heaved its firstborn sigh; But from the pellucid portal Of her calm, indignant eye,

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Darts that make the strong man tremble Pierce his bosom ere he goes; Rank and station may dissemble, There is truth in little Rose.

Take my hand, my fisher maiden, There's a grasp for thee and thine; Constancy is love's bright Aiden, Self-denial is divine. Take my hand upon this plateau, Let me share thy mortal throes; Come, dear Love! we'll build our chateau In the heart of little Rose.



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THE DREAMER.

Spirit of Song! whose whispers Delight my pensive brain, When will the perfect harmony Ring through my feeble strain?

When will the rills of melody Be widened to a stream! When will the bright and gladsome Day Succeed this morning dream?

"Mortal," the spirit whispered, "If thou wouldst truly win The race thou art pursuing, Heed well the voice within:

And it shall gently teach thee To read thy heart, and know No human strain is perfect, However sweet it flow.

And if thou readest truly, As surely shalt thou find That truths, like rills, though diverse, Are choicest in their kind.

The souls of Poet-Dreamers Touch heaven on their way; With the light of Song to guide them It should be always Day."



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NIGHT AND MORNING.

The winds are piping loud to-night, And the waves roll strong and high; God pity the watchful mariner Who toils 'neath yonder sky!

I saw the vessel speed away, With a free, majestic sweep, At evening as the sun went down To his palace in the deep.

An aged crone sat on the beach, And, pointing to the ship, "She'll never return again," she said, With a scorn upon her lip.

———

The morning rose tempestuous, The winds blew to the shore, There were corpses on the sands that morn, But the ship came nevermore!



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WITHIN THINE EYES.

Within thine eyes two spirits dwell, The sweetest and the purest That ever wove Love's mystic spell, Or plied his arts the surest: No smile of morn, Though heaven-born, Nor sunshine earthward straying, E'er charmed the sight With half the light That round thy lips is playing.

The stars may shine, the moon may smile, The earth in beauty languish, Life's sorrows these can but beguile, But thou canst heal its anguish. Thy voice, like rills Of silver, trills Such sounds of liquid sweetness, Each accent rolls Along our souls, In lyrical completeness.

If Friendship lend thee such a grace, That men nor gods may slight it, How blest the one who views thy face When Love comes down to light it! And, oh, if he Who holds in fee Thy beauty, truth, and reason, A traitor prove To thee and Love, We'll spurn him for his treason.



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GERTRUDE.

Underneath the maple-tree Gertrude worked her filigree, All the summer long; To sweet airs her voice was wed, As she plied her golden thread; Echo stealing through the grove Filched away the words of love, And the birds, from tree to tree, Bore the witching melody Through avenues of Song.

Underneath the maple-trees Zephyrs chant her melodies, All the summer long; Words and airs no longer wed, Death has snapped the vocal thread Echo sleeping in the grove Dreams of liquid airs of love, And the birds among the trees Fill with sweetest symphonies Whole avenues of Song.



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FLOWERS.

Thank God I love the Flowers! Mute voices of the Spring, That gladden all her bowers With their varied blossoming; They weave a charm around them On each summer dale and bough, For a Fairy train has bound them In wreaths upon her brow.

Far up along the mountain, And in the valleys green, In the field, and by the fountain, The smiling ones are seen; Some looking up to heaven, With eyes of deepest blue; Some stooping down at even To quaff the sparkling dew.

And from them all there speaketh A language sweet and pure, Fitted for him who seeketh A God's nomenclature. As tidal pulses thrill the seas, And moments build the hours, Heaven breathes her unvoiced mysteries In sermons from the Flowers.



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THE UNATTAINABLE.

I yearn for the Unattainable; For a glimpse of a brighter day, When hatred and strife, With their legions rife, Shall forever have passed away; When pain shall cease, And the dawn of peace Come down from heaven above, And man can meet his fellow-man In the spirit of Christian Love.

I yearn for the Unattainable; For a Voice that may long be still, To compel the mind, As heaven designed, To work the Eternal Will; When the brute that sleeps In the heart's still deeps Will be changed to Pity's dove, And man can meet his fellow-man In the spirit of Perfect Love.



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YEARNINGS.

I long for diviner regions,— The spirit would reach its goal; Though, this world hath surpassing beauty, It warreth against the soul.

There's a cloud in the eastern heaven; Beyond it, a cold gray sky; But I know that the sun's rare radiance Will brighten it by and by.

In the fane of my soul is glowing The joy of a hope to come, That will touch with its Memnon finger The lips that are cold and dumb:

Till illumed by the smile of heaven, And blest with a purer life, Will the gloom that o'ershades my spirit Depart like a vanquished strife.



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INGRATITUDE.

Full on the wave the moonlight weeps, To quiet its weary breast; Cruelly cold the mad wave leaps, With the moonshine on its crest; Or with scowl, or growl, to the shore it creeps, And sinks to its selfish rest.

Full on yon man-brute smiles the wife, To gladden his turbid breast; Savagely stern he seeks the life Where he erewhile sought for zest; With a curse, or worse, he ends the strife, And sinks to his drunken rest.

Sea! has the moon no charms for thee That can touch thy cruel breast? Man! cannot woman's charity Give ease to thy soul oppressed? Thou shalt flee, O sea! the moon's witchery, Till man has his final rest!



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TRUE LOVE.

Her love is like the hardy flower That blooms amid the Alpine snows; Deep-rooted in an icy bower, No blast can chill its sweet repose; But fresh as is the tropic rose, Drenched in mellowest sunny beams, It has as sweet delicious dreams As any flower that grows.

And though an avalanche came down And robbed it of the light of day, That which withstood the tempest's frown In grief would never pine away. Hope might withhold her feeblest ray, Within her bosom's snowy tomb Love still would wear its everbloom, The gayest of the gay.



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AN EVENING THOUGHT.

Bird of the fanciful plumage, That foldest thy wings in the west, Imbuing the shimmering ocean With the hues of thy delicate breast, Passing away into Dreamland, To visions of heavenly rest!

Spirit! when thou art permitted To bask in the sunset of life; Serene in thine eventide splendour, Thy countenance victory rife; Leaving the world where thou'st triumphed Alike o'er its greatness and strife:

Thine be the destiny, spirit, To set like the sun in the west; Folding thy wings of rare plumage, Conscious of infinite rest, Heralded on to thy haven, The Fortunate Isles of the Blest.



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A THOUGHT FOR SPRING.

I am happier for the Spring; For my heart is like a bird That has many songs to sing, But whose voice is never heard Till the happy year is caroling To the daisies on the sward.

I'd be happier for the Spring, Though my heart had grown so old Like a crone 'twould sit and sing Its shrill runes of wintry cold; For I'd know the year was caroling To the daisies on the wold.



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THE SWALLOWS.

I asked the first stray swallow of the spring, "Where hast thou been through all the winter drear? Beneath what distant skies did'st fold thy wing, Since thou wast with us here, When Autumn's withered leaves foretold the passing year?"

And it replied, "Whither has Fancy led The plumy thoughts that circle through thy brain? Like birds about some mountain's lofty head, Singing a sweet refrain: There, without bound, I've been, and must return again."



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SONG.—CLARA AND I.

We have a joke whenever we meet, Clara and I; Prattle and laughter, and kisses sweet, Clara and I. Were I but twenty, and not two score, Clara and I would laugh still more, With plenty of hopeful years in store For Clara and I, Clara and I; With plenty of hopeful years in store For Clara and I.

We will be true as Damascus steel, Clara and I; Sealing our truth with a honied seal, Clara and I. Eyes so loving, and lips of rose, Cheeks where the dainty ripe peach grows, And mouth where the sly god smiles jocose At Clara and I, Clara and I; And mouth where the sly god smiles jocose At Clara and I.

We have a kiss whenever we part, Clara and I; Grasping of hand, and flutter of heart, Clara and I. Were she but twenty, and not sixteen, Over my love she'd reign the queen,

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And no fair rival should come between My Clara and I, Clara and I; And no fair rival should come between My Clara and I.



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THE APRIL SNOW-STORM—1858.

Spread lightly, virgin shower, Your winding-sheet of snow; Winter has lost his power, But mock not at his woe.

Fall not so cold and bleak, Nor blow the breath of scorn; Gently. Thy sire is weak; And thou, his latest-born.

Frail type of life thou art: At first, pure as the snow We come—abide—depart; What more, th' Immortals know.

Fall gently, virgin shower, Though wild the west wind raves; Watch through this midnight hour Above the new-made graves!

———

Spread gently, virgin shower, Your winding sheet of snow; My heart has lost its power, But mock not at its woe.

Fall not so cold and bleak, Treat not her corse with scorn; Gently. My heart is weak; She, too, was April-born.

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Fall gently, virgin shower; The heart once strong and brave Hath lost its wonted power; 'Tis buried in her grave.



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GOOD NIGHT.

We never say, "Good Night;" For our eager lips are fleeter Than the tongue, and a kiss is sweeter Than parting words, That out like swords; So we always kiss Good Night.

We never say "Good Night." Words are precious, love, why lose 'em? Fold them up in your maiden bosom; There let them rest, Like love unconfessed, While we kiss a sweet Good Night.

There comes a last Good Night. Human life—not love—is fleeting; Heaven send many a birth-day greeting; Dim years roll on To life's gray-haired dawn, Ere we kiss our last Good Night.

———

We've kissed our last Good Night! Love's warm tendrils torn and bleeding, Vain all human interceding! Oh, life! how dark! Its one vital spark Was quenched with our last GOOD NIGHT!



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HOPELESS.

I think through the long, long evenings, Such thoughts of intensest pain, And I hope and watch for her coming, But I hope and watch in vain, My life is a long, long journey Over a barren moor, With nought but my own dark shadow Hastening on before.

I'm weary of all this watching, Aweary of life and thought; For there's little hope in the distance, And for peace—I know it not! Oh, why must we think and shudder, And shudder and think again? When life's but a dance of shadows Haunting a barren plain!



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INTO THE SILENT LAND.

I.

"Oh for a pen of light, a tongue of fire, That every word might burn in living flame Upon the age's brow, and leave one name Engraven on the future! One desire Fills every nook and cranny of my heart; One hope—one sorrow—one beloved aim! She whose pure life was of my life a part, As light is of the day, could she inspire My unmelodious muse, or tune the lyre To diapasons worthy of the theme, How would her joy put on its robes of light, And nestle in my bosom once again, As when life, like an Oriental dream, Fanned by Arabian airs, glode down the stream To music whose remembrance is a pain. The foot of time might trample on my strain, But could not quench its essence. There was might, And majesty, and greatness in the love She blest me with—a blessing without stain, And that was earthly; since her spirit-sight Looked through the veil, and learned love's true delight, Which sainted ministrants alone can prove Who taste the waters of eternal love: I pause to think how wonderful has grown The love that was to me so wondrous here! Chained as I am to this terrestrial sphere, Groping my way through darkness, and alone,

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Like a blind eaglet soaring towards the sun, How would her full experience lift and cheer The heart that never feels its duty done, And with a girdle of pure light enzone My flowery world of thought, and make it all her own."

Thus mused the Minstrel, for his heart was sad. Death had bereaved him of his bride, while youth, And looming years of future trust and truth, Knit them together, till their souls were clad With joy ineffable. Love's great High Priest Sacrificed in their hearts to Him that doeth All things well; and such rare, perpetual feast Of love and truth no mortals ever had, To keep their memories green, their lives serene and glad,

He sat again within the quiet room, Where Death had snapped one golden thread of life, And the pale hand of Sickness, sorrow-rife, Robbed the plump cheek of childhood of its bloom; Where she, another Philomena, moved Like a fond Charity—the coming wife Ordained to crown his being: And he loved. The future rose before him, joy and gloom; For where the sunlight shone, there waved the sable plume.

And yet he failed not, for the coming pain; The coming bliss would counterbalance all. The sight prophetic that perceived the pall, Looked far beyond for the celestial gain.

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They do not truly love who cannot yield The mortal up at the Immortal's call, Or fail to triumph for the soul that's sealed. His mind was strung to one harmonious strain: To give when God should ask, and not resign in vain.

Love was to him life's chiefest victory; He knew no greater, and he sought no less. Like a green isle surrounded by the sea That gives it health and vigour, so was he The centre of love's sphere of perfectness; He breathed its heavenly atmosphere; the key That opened every chamber in love's court Was in his hand; love's mystery was his sport, He knelt within love's fane and worshipped there— But not alone, for one was by his side Whose love refined his being, filled the air Of life's irradiated sky with light, As the sun floods the heavens with a tide Of renovating freshness, as the night Is mellowed by the ample moon. And hoping for the recompense That would be theirs in life's approaching noon, They built on hope's high eminence Their airy palaces, whose magnificence Surpassed the dreams that fancy drew, So fair the promised land that lay within their view.

And here they lived; just within reach of heaven. They could put forth their hands and touch the skies That brooded o'er the walls of chrysolite, The airy minarets, and golden domes

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Of their new home, by Love, the Maker, given, Steeped in his brightest dyes. All nature opened up her ponderous tomes, Whereby they had new knowledge and new sight, Learned greater truths, and saw the paths of light, Mosaic-paven, which to Duty led. And there were secrets written overhead, In burning hieroglyphs of thought, From which they gleaned such lessons as are taught Only to those whom heaven, in graciousness, Lifts in her arms with a divine caress. Earth, like a joyous maiden whose pure soul Is filled with sudden ecstacy, became A fruitful Eden; and the golden bowl That held their elixir of life was filled To overflowing with the rarest draught Ever by gods or men in rapture quaffed; Till from the altar of their hearts love's flame Passed through the veins of the world, and thrilled The soul of the rejoicing universe, Which became theirs, and like true neophytes They drained the sweet nepenthe, and love's rites Wiped from their hearts all trace of the primeval curse.

The happy months rolled on; each wedded day A bridal; and each calm and holy eve Strewed with rare blessings all the sunny way Through which they passed, with so divine a joy That in his brain would meditation weave Love's roses into garlands of sweet song, To deck the brow of his devoted wife.

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In this their El Dorado, no alloy Mixed with the coinage of their wedded life; The workmen in the mint an honest throng. No wonder, then, that with go fine a bliss Informing every fibre of his brain, His thoughts begat impressions such as this; Linking their lives together with a chain Of melody as rare as some divine refrain:

Like dew to the thirsty flower, Like sweets to the hungry bee, Is love's divinest dower, Its tenderness and power, To thee, dear Wife! to thee.

Like light to the darkened spirit, Like oil to the turbid sea, Like truthful words to merit, Are the blessings I inherit With thee, dear Wife! with thee.

Afar in the distant ages, Soul-ransomed, and spirit-free, I'll read all being's pages, Unread by mortal sages, With thee, dear Wife! with thee.

None but the happy heart could carol thus; A feather stolen from Devotion's wing, To keep as a memento of the time When earth met heaven, in life's duteous And prayerful journey towards the shadowy clime;

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Ere they descended from their height sublime, Where at Love's well-filled table, banqueting, They sat, and watched the first glad year, Earthlike, revolving round the sun Of their true life. Within that sphere Was the new Eden. One by one The precious moments dropped like golden sands, And formed the solid hours. No perilous strands Delayed life's blissful current, as it sped Through flowery realms with blue skies overhead, To songs and laughter musically sweet, As if all sorrow had forever fled; And idylls, sung with cheerful tone, Haunted the calm, enchanted zone That hemmed them in, Where, like a stately queen, Sate Peace, beatified, serene, The guardian, heaven-sent, of this their fair demesne:

———

LOVE'S ANNIVERSARY.

Like a bold, adventurous swain, Just a year ago to-day, I launched my bark on a radiant main, And Hymen led the way: "Breakers ahead!" he cried, As he sought to overwhelm My daring craft in the shrieking tide, But Love, like a pilot bold and tried, Sat, watchful, at the helm.

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And we passed the treacherous shoals, Where many a hope lay dead, And splendid wrecks were piled, like the ghouls Of joys forever fled. Once safely over these, We sped by a fairy realm, Across the bluest and calmest seas That were ever kissed by a truant breeze, With Love still at the helm.

We sailed by sweet, odorous isles, Where the flowers and trees were one; Through lakes that vied with the golden smiles Of heaven's unclouded sun: Still speeds our merry bark, Threading life's peaceful realm, And 'tis ever morn with our marriage-lark, For the Pilot-Love of our safety-ark Stands, watchful, at the helm.

II.

A beautiful land is the Land of Dreams, Green hills and valleys, and deep lagoons, Swift-rushing torrents and gentle streams, Glassing a myriad silver moons; Mirror-like lakelets with lovely isles, And verdurous headlands looking down On the Neread shapes, whose smiles Were worth the price of a peaceful crown.

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We clutch at the silvery bars Flung from the motionless stars, And climb far into space, Defying the race Who ride in aerial cars.

We take up the harp of the mind, And finger its delicate strings; The notes, soft and light As a moonbeam's flight, Departing on viewless wings. Afar in some fanciful bower, Some region of exquisite calm, Where the starlight falls in a gleaming shower, We sink to repose On our couch of rose, Inhaling no mortal balm. The worlds are no longer unknown, We pass through the uttermost sky, Our eyelids are kissed By a gentle mist, And we feel the tone Of a calmer zone, As if heaven were wondrous nigh.

A fanciful land is the Land of Dreams, Where earth and heaven are clasping hands; No heaven—no earth, But one wide, new birth, Where Beauty and Goodness, and human worth, Make earth of heaven and heaven of earth; And angels are walking on golden strands.

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And the pearly gates of the universe Of mind and fancy, opening To the touch of the dainty finger-tips Of elegant Peris with rose-bud lips, Delicate, weird-like sounds are born From the amber depths of odorous morn, And spirits of beauty and light rehearse Such strains as the young immortals sing, When the souls of the blest Are borne to their rest, On luminous pinions of light serene To the fragrant bowers of evergreen; O'er the rosy plains, where the dying hours Are changed by a spell to celestial flowers, Where the skies have a hue no name can express, For the tone of their passionate loveliness Surpasseth all human imagining.

Such was their beautiful Dream of Life; Each stern reality softened down; Earth seemed to have ended her age of Strife, And Harmony reigned, her olive crown Besting on the Parian brow Of the fair victor, like the gleam Of the silvery moon on waves that flow Thoughtfully down the summer stream. Such was their earnest Dream of Life! Was it some angel, with jealous eye, Seeing such love beneath the sky As never yet in world or star, Or spheral height, that reached so far 'Twas never beheld by mortal sight,

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Or elsewhere, save in highest heaven, Was duly earned, or truly given, That leagued with the usurper, Death, To quench the light that shone so bright That in all the earth there was not a breath So foul as to change their day to night?

Alone! alone! Oh, word of fearful tone! Well might the moon withhold her light, The stars withdraw from human sight, When Love was overthrown. The Minstrel's heart how changed! Love's principalities, O'er which he reigned supreme, Usurped by earth's realities; The realm through which he ranged Become a vanished dream! And yet he sung, as sings The dying swan that droops its wings And drifts along the stream:

———

THE LIGHT IN THE WINDOW PANE.

A joy from my soul's departed, A bliss from my heart is flown, As weary, weary-hearted, I wander alone—alone! The night wind sadly sigheth A withering, wild refrain, And my heart within me dieth For the light in the window pane.

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The stars overhead are shining, As brightly as e'er they shone, As heartless—sad—repining, I wander alone—alone! A sudden flash comes streaming, And flickers adown the lane, But no more for me is gleaming The light in the window pane.

The voices that pass are cheerful, Men laugh as the night winds moan; They cannot tell how fearful 'Tis to wander alone—alone! For them, with each night's returning, Life singeth its tenderest strain, Where the beacon of love is burning— The light in the window pane.

Oh, sorrow beyond all sorrows To which human life is prone: Without thee, through all the morrows, To wander alone—alone! Oh, dark, deserted dwelling! Where Hope like a lamb was slain, No voice from thy lone walls welling, No light in thy window pane.

But memory, sainted angel! Rolls back the sepulchral stone, And sings like a sweet evangel: "No—never, never alone!

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True grief has its royal palace, Each loss is a greater gain; And Sorrow ne'er filled a chalice That Joy did not wait to drain!

———

"Man must be perfected By suffering," he said; "And Death is but the stepping-stone, whereby We mount towards the gate Of heaven, soon or late. Death is the penalty of life; we die,

Because we live; and life Is but a constant strife With the immortal Impulse that within Our bodies seeks control— The time-abiding Soul, That wrestles with us—yet we fain would win.

And what? the victory Would make us slaves; and we, Who in our blindness struggle for the prize Of this illusive state Called Life, do but frustrate The higher law—refusing to be wise."

Rightly he knew, indeed, Earth's brightest paths but lead To the true wisdom of that perfect state, Where Knowledge, heaven-born, And Love's eternal morn, Awaiteth those who would be truly great.

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With what abiding trust He rose from out the dust, As Death's swift chariot passed him by the way; No visionary dream Was his—no trifling theme— The Soul's great Mystery before him lay:

———

THE SOUL.

All my mind has sat in state, Pond'ring on the deathless Soul: What must be the Perfect Whole, When the atom is so great!

God! I fall in spirit down, Low as Persian to the sun; All my senses, one by one, In the stream of Thought must drown.

On the tide of mystery, Like a waif, I'm seaward borne, Ever looking for the morn That will yet interpret Thee,

Opening my blinded eyes, That have strove to look within, 'Whelmed in clouds of doubt and sin, Sinking where I dared to rise:

Could I trace one Spirit's flight, Track it to its final goal, Know that 'Spirit' meant 'the Soul,' I must perish in the light.

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All in vain I search, and cry: "What, O Soul, and whence art thou?" Lower than the earth I bow, Stricken with the grave reply:

"Wouldst thou ope what God has sealed— Sealed in mercy here below? What is best for man to know, Shall most surely be revealed!"

Deep on deep of mystery! Ask the sage, he knows no more Of the soul's unspoken lore Than the child upon his knee!

Cannot tell me whence the thought That is passing through my mind! Where the mystic soul is shrined, Wherewith all my life is fraught?

Knows not how the brain conceives Images almost divine; Cannot work my mental mine, Cannot bind my golden sheaves.

Is he wiser, then, than I, Seeing he can read the stars? I have rode in fancy's oars Leagues beyond his farthest sky!

Some old Rabbi, dreaming o'er The sweet legends of his race, Ask him for some certain trace Of the far, eternal shore.

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No. The Talmud page is dark, Though it burn with quenchless fire, And the insight must pierce higher, That would find the vital spark.

O, my Soul! be firm and wait, Hoping with the zealous few, Till the Shekinah of the True Lead thee through the Golden Gate.



SONNETS,

WRITTEN IN THE ORILLIA WOODS.

August, 1859.



DEDICATED

TO

My friends

AT

"ROCKRIDGE," ORILLIA, C. W.



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SONNETS.

PROEM.

Alice, I need not tell you that the Art That copies Nature, even at its best, Is but the echo of a splendid tone, Or like the answer of a little child To the deep question of some frosted sage. For Nature in her grand magnificence, Compared to Art, must ever raise her head Beyond the cognizance of human minds: This is the spirit merely; that, the soul. We watch her passing, like some gentle dream, And catch sweet glimpses of her perfect face; We see the flashing of her gorgeous robes, And, if her mantle ever falls at all, How few Elishas wear it sacredly, As if it were a valued gift from heaven. God has created; we but re-create, According to the temper of our minds; According to the grace He has bequeathed; According to the uses we have made Of His good-pleasure given unto us. And so I love my art; chiefly, because Through it I rev'rence Nature, and improve The tone and tenor of the mind He gave. God sends a Gift; we crown it with high Art,

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And make it worthy the bestower, when The talent is not hidden in the dust Of pampered negligence and venial sin, But put to studious use, that it may work The end and aim for which it was bestowed. All Good is God's; all Love and Truth are His; We are His workers; and we dare not plead But that He gave us largely of all these, Demanding a discreet return, that when The page of life is written to its close It may receive the seal and autograph Of His good pleasure—the right royal sign And signet of approval, to the end That we were worthy of the gift divine, And through it praised the Great Artificer.

In my long rambles through Orillian woods; Out on the ever-changing Couchiching; By the rough margin of the Lake St. John; Down the steep Severn, where the artist sun, In dainty dalliance with the blushing stream, Transcribes each tree, branch, leaf, and rock and flower, Perfect in shape and colour, clear, distinct, With all the panoramic change of sky— Even as Youth's bright river, toying with The fairy craft where Inexperience dreams, And subtle Fancy builds its airy halls, In blest imagination pictures most Of bright or lovely that adorn life's banks, With the blue vault of heaven over all; On that serene and wizard afternoon, As hunters chase the wild and timid deer

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We chased the quiet of Medonte's shades Through the green windings of the forest road, Past Nature's venerable rank and file Of primal woods—her Old Guard, sylvan-plumed— The far-off Huron, like a silver thread, The clue to some enchanted labyrinth, Dimly perceived beyond the stretch of woods, Th' approaches tinted by a purple haze, And softened into beauty like the dream Of some rapt seer's Apocalyptic mood; And when at Rockridge we sat looking out Upon the softened shadows of the night, And the wild glory of the throbbing stars; Where'er we bent our Eden-tinted way: My brain was a weird wilderness of Thought: My heart, love's sea of passion tossed and torn, Calmed by the presence of the loving souls By whom I was surrounded. All the while They deemed me passing tame, and wondered when My dreamy castle would come toppling down. I was but driving back the aching past, And mirroring the future. And these leaves Of meditation are but perfumes from The censer of my feelings; honied drops Wrung from the busy hives of heart and brain; Mere etchings of the artist; grains of sand From the calm shores of that unsounded deep Of speculation, where all thought is lost Amid the realms of Nature and of God.



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I.

My soul goes out to meet her, and my heart Flings wide the portals of its love, and yearns To have her enter its serene retreat. A poor stray lamb, not wand'ring from the fold, But all unstudied in the worldling's art, Turning life's mintage into seeming gold, Wherewith to purchase love and love's returns; Unknowing that love's waters, though so sweet, Lead to some bitter Marah. So my soul Goes out to meet her, and it clasps her home, And seeks to bear her upward to the goal At which the righteous enter. From the dome Of starriest Night two blest Immortals come, To bear us spheral-ward to God's own mercy-seat.



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II.

'Tis summer still, yet now and then a leaf Falls from some stately tree. True type of life! How emblamatic of the pangs that grief Wrings from our blighted hopes, that one by one Drop from us in our wrestle with the strife And natural passions of our stately youth. And thus we fall beneath life's summer sun. Each step conducts us through an opening door Into new halls of being, hand in hand With grave Experience, until we command The open, wide-spread autumn fields, and store The full ripe grain of Wisdom and of Truth. As on life's tott'ring precipice we stand, Our sins like withered leaves are blown about the land.



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III.

Oh, holy sabbath morn! thrice blessed day Of solemn rest, true peace, and earnest prayer. How many hearts that never knelt to pray Are glad to breathe thy soul-sustaining air. I sit within the quiet woods, and hear The village church-bell's soft inviting sound, And to the confines of the loftiest sphere Imagination wings its airy round; A myriad spirits have assembled there, Whose prayers on earth a sweet acceptance found. I go to worship in Thy House, O God! With her, thy young creation bright and fair; Help us to do Thy will, and not despair, Though both our hearts should bend beneath Thy chastening rod.



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IV.

The birds are singing merrily, and here A squirrel claims the lordship of the woods, And scolds me for intruding. At my feet The tireless ants all silently proclaim The dignity of labour. In my ear The bee hums drowsily; from sweet to sweet Careering, like a lover weak in aim. I hear faint music in the solitudes; A dreamlike melody that whispers peace Imbues the calmy forest, and sweet rills Of pensive feeling murmur through my brain, Like ripplings of pure water down the hills That slumber in the moonlight. Cease, oh, cease! Some day my weary heart will coin these into pain.



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V.

Blest Spirit of Calm that dwellest in these woods! Thou art a part of that serene repose That ofttimes lingers in the solitudes Of my lone heart, when the tumultuous throes Of some vast Grief have borne me to the earth. For I have fought with Sorrow face to face; Have tasted of the cup that brings to some A frantic madness and delirious mirth, But prayed and trusted for the light to come, To break the gloom and darkness of the place. Through the dim aisles the sunlight penetrates, And nature's self rejoices; heaven's light Comes down into my heart, and in its might My soul stands up and knocks at God's own temple-gates.



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VI.

Through every sense a sweet balm permeates, As music strikes new tones from every nerve. The soul of Feeling enters at the gates Of Intellect, and Fancy comes to serve With fitting homage the propitious guest. Nature, erewhile so lonely and oppressed, Stands like a stately Presence, and looks down As from a throne of power. I have grown Full twenty summers backwards, and my youth Is surging in upon me till my hopes Are as fresh-tinted as the checkered leaves That the sun shines through. All the future opes Its endless corridors, where time unweaves The threads of Error from the golden warp of Truth.



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VIII.

Our life is like a forest, where the sun Glints down upon us through the throbbing leaves; The full light rarely finds us. One by one, Deep rooted in our souls, there springeth up Dark groves of human passion, rich in gloom, At first no bigger than an acorn-cup. Hope threads the tangled labyrinth, but grieves Till all our sins have rotted in their tomb, And made the rich loam of each yearning heart To bring forth fruits and flowers to new life. We feel the dew from heaven, and there start From some deep fountain little rills whose strife Is drowned in music. Thus in light and shade We live, and move, and die, through all this earthly glade.



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VIII.

Above where I am sitting, o'er these stones, The ocean waves once heaved their mighty forms; And vengeful tempests and appalling storms Wrung from the stricken sea portentous moans, That rent stupendous icebergs, whose huge heights Crashed down in fragments through the startled nights. Change, change, eternal change in all but God! Mysterious nature! thrice mysterious state Of body, soul, and spirit! Man is awed, But triumphs in his littleness. A mote, He specks the eye of the age and turns to dust, And is the sport of centuries. We note More surely nature's ever-changing fate; Her fossil records tell how she performs her trust.



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IX.

Another day of rest, and I sit here Among the trees, green mounds, and leaves as sere As my own blasted hopes. There was a time When Love and perfect Happiness did chime Like two sweet sounds upon this blessed day; But one has flown forever, far away From this poor Earth's unsatisfied desires To love eternal, and the sacred fires With which the other lighted up my mind Have faded out and left no trace behind, But dust and bitter ashes. Like a bark Becalmed, I anchor through the midnight dark, Still hoping for another dawn of Love. Bring back my olive branch of Happiness, O dove!



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X.

Poor snail, that toilest at my weary feet, Thou, too, must have thy burden! Life is sweet If we would make it so. How vast a load To carry all its days along the road Of its serene existence! Christian-like, It toils with patience, seeking sweet repose Within itself when wearied with the throes Of its life-struggle. The low sounds that strike Upon the ear in wafts of melody, Are cruel mockeries, O snail, of thee. The cricket's chirp, the grasshopper's shrill tone, The locust's jarring cry, all mock thy lone And dumb-like presence. May this heart of mine, When tried, put on a resignation such as thine.



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XI.

Oh, that I were the spirit of these wilds! I'd make the zephyrs dance for my delight, And lead a life as happy as a child's. Echo should tremble with unfeigned affright, And mock its own weird answers. I would kiss Eliza's cheek, and touch her lips with dew Stol'n from the scented rose. And Carrie's laugh Should be a portion of the silver rills' Sweet music, breathed mellifluously through The hearts of generations. She should quaff The nectar of inspired song, and thrills Of sweet remembrances of her should strew The woodland air, as sand-grains strew the shore; And these two hearts should be my joy for evermore.



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XII.

The moon shone down on fair Eliza's face, And made it beautiful. No fitter place Could she have chosen for her gracious smile; For as she sat there in the languid light, Methought I'd found a soul as free from guile As ever came from God. Oh, favored Night! Oh, mild, impassioned moon and starry spheres! To gaze upon her through the silent years Without rebuke. But I have looked within, And found the truest beauty; have laid bare A spiritual excellence as rare As ever mortal being hoped to win. Heart, mind, and soul, I analysed them all, And saw where heaven kept divinest carnival.



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XIII.

I've almost grown a portion of this place, I seem familiar with each mossy stone; Even the nimble chipmunk passes on, And looks, but never scolds me. Birds have flown And almost touched my hand; and I can trace The wild bees to their hives. I've never known So sweet a pause from labour. But the tone Of a past sorrow, like a mournful rill Threading the heart of some melodious hill, Or the complainings of the whippoorwill, Passes through every thought, and hope, and aim. It has its uses; for it cools the flame Of ardent love that burns my being up— Love, life's celestial pearl, diffused through all its cup.



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XIV.

There is no sadness here. Oh, that my heart Were calm and peaceful as these dreamy groves! That all my hopes and passions, and deep loves, Could sit in such an atmosphere of peace, Where no unholy impulses would start Responsive to the throes that never cease To keep my spirit in such wild unrest. 'Tis only in the struggling human breast That the true sorrow lives. Our fruitful joys Have stony kernels hidden in their core. Life in a myriad phases passeth here, And death as various—an equal poise; Yet all is but a solemn change—no more; And not a sound save joy pervades the atmosphere.



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XV.

Last night I heard the plaintive whippoorwill, And straightway Sorrow shot his swiftest dart. I know not why, but it has chilled my heart Like some dread thing of evil. All night long My nerves were shaken, and my pulse stood still, And waited for a terror yet to come To strike harsh discords through my life's sweet song. Sleep came—an incubus that filled the sum Of wretchedness with dreams so wild and chill The sweat oozed from me like great drops of gall; An evil spirit kept my mind in thrall, And rolled my body up like a poor scroll On which is written curses that the soul Shrinks back from when it sees some hellish carnival.



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XVI.

My footsteps press where, centuries ago, The Red Men fought and conquered; lost and won. Whole tribes and races, gone like last year's snow, Have found the Eternal Hunting-Grounds, and run The fiery gauntlet of their active days, Till few are left to tell the mournful tale: And these inspire us with such wild amaze They seem like spectres passing down a vale Steeped in uncertain moonlight, on their way Towards some bourn where darkness blinds the day, And night is wrapped in mystery profound. We cannot lift the mantle of the past: We seem to wander over hallowed ground: We scan the trail of Thought, but all is overcast.



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XVII.

THERE WAS A TIME—and that is all we know! No record lives of their ensanguined deeds: The past seems palsied with some giant blow, And grows the more obscure on what it feeds. A rotted fragment of a human leaf; A few stray skulls; a heap of human bones! These are the records—the traditions brief— 'Twere easier far to read the speechless stones. The fierce Ojibwas, with tornado force, Striking white terror to the hearts of braves! The mighty Hurons, rolling on their course, Compact and steady as the ocean waves! The stately Chippewas, a warrior host! Who were they?—Whence?—And why? no human tongue can boast!



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XVIII.

I do not wonder that the Druids built Their sacred altars in the sacred groves. Fit place to worship God. The native guilt Of our poor weak humanity behoves That we should set aside no little part Of the devotion of the yearning heart To rest and peace, as typical of that Sweet tranquil rest to which the good aspire. Calm thoughts are as the purifying fire That burns the useless dross from life's mixed gold, And lights the torch of mind. While grasping at The shadow for the substance, youth grows old, And groves of palm spring up in every heart— Temples to God, wherein we pray and sit apart.



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XIX.

How my heart yearns towards my friends at home! Poor suffering souls, whose lives are like the trees, Bent, crushed, and broken in the storm of life! A whirlwind of existence seems to roam Through some poor hearts continually. These Have neither rest nor pause; one day is rife With tempest, and another dashed with gloom; And the few rays of light that might illume Their thorny path are drenched with tearful rain. Yet these pure souls live not their lives in vain; For they become as spiritual guides And lights to others; rising with the tides Of their full being into higher spheres, Brighter and brighter still through all the coming years.



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XX.

I sat within the temple of her heart, And watched the living Soul as it passed through, Arrayed in pearly vestments, white and pure. The calm, immortal Presence made me start. It searched through all the chambers of her mind With one mild glance of love, and smiled to view The fastnesses of feeling, strong—secure, And safe from all surprise. It sits enshrined And offers incense in her heart, as on An altar sacred unto God. The dawn Of an imperishable love passed through The lattice of my senses, and I, too, Did offer incense in that solemn place— A woman's heart made pure and sanctified by Grace.



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XXI.

Intense young soul, that takest hearts by storm, And chills them into sorrow with a look! Some minds are open as a well-read book; But here the leaves are still uncut—unscanned, The volume clasped and sealed, and all the warm And passionate exuberance of love Held in submission to these threadbare flaws And creeds of weaknesses, poor human laws. Stand up erect—nay kneel—for from above God's light is streaming on thee. Fashion's daws May fawn and natter like a cringing pack Of servile hounds beneath the keeper's hand, But these are not thy peers; they drive thee back: Urge on the car of Thought, and take a higher stand!



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XXII.

Dark, dismal day—the first of many such! The wind is sighing through the plaintive trees, In fitful gusts of a half-frenzied woe; Affrighted clouds the hand might almost touch, Their black wings bend so mournfully and low, Sweep through the skies like night-winds o'er the seas. There is no chirp of bird through all the grove, Save that of the young fledgeling rudely flung From its warm nest; and like the clouds above My soul is dark, and restless as the breeze That leaps and dances over Couchiching. Soon will the last duett be sweetly sung; But through the years to come our hearts will ring With memories, as dear as time and love can bring.



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AU REVOIR.

That morn our hearts were like artesian wells, Both deep and calm, and brimming with pure love. And in each one, like to an April day, Truth smiled and wept, while Courage wound his horn, Dispatching echoes that are whispering still Through all the vacant chambers of our souls; While Sorrow sat with drooped and aimless wing, Within the solitary fane of thought. We wished some warlike Joshua were there To make the sun stand still, or to put back The dial to the brighter side of time. A cloud hung over Couchiching; a cloud Eclipsed the merry sunshine of our hearts. We needed no philosopher to teach That laughter is not always born of joy. "All's for the best," the fair Eliza said; And we derived new courage from her lips, That spake the maxim of her trusting heart. We even smiled, at some portentous sign That signified—well, if it turn out true, Then, I'll believe it. Heaven works in signs More parting words, more lingering farewells, Pressure of hands, and thrilling touch of lips, A waving of white handkerchiefs, and Love Grew prayerful, and knelt down, and wept His scattered rosary of human hearts.

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Soon looking back, we saw where Ramah lay; Cold, wan, and cheerless as the race it holds. And as we neared the Lake the sun came forth, As tardily as if the sluggard day Had slept more soundly for the piping storm, That, veering round, had flung its challenge out In sullen menace to the western sky, Now black with clouds. A flash, a muffled roll Of elemental passion, broke the spell, And down on Simcoe fell the sudden rain, Veiling the gloomy landscape from our sight. Throughout the changeful day, alternate cloud And sunshine left their traces on our hearts, Until the evening reared its dreamy piles Of cloud-built chateaux steeped in gorgeous tints, That from celestial censers are outpoured When the grand miracle of sunset draws Our souls, all yearning with a joy divine, To share the fleeting glory, ere it goes To glean new splendors for the ruby morn. 'Tis ever thus with true impassioned love; Love's sun, like that of day, may set, and set, It hath as bright a rising in the morn. True love has no gray hairs; his golden looks Can never whiten with the snows of time. Sorrow lies drear on many a youthful heart, Like snow upon the evergreens; but love Can gather sweetest honey by the way, E'en from the carcass of some prostrate grief. We have been spoiled with blessings. Though the world

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Holds nothing dearer than the hope that's fled, God ever opens up new founts of bliss— Spiritual Bethsaidas where the soul Can wash the earth-stains from its fevered loins. We carve our sorrows on the face of joy, Reversing the true image; we are weak Where strength is needed most, and most is given.

Thus musing, as they chatted in the train, The whistle broke my reverie, as one Might be awakened from a truthful dream. The city gas-lights flashed into our eyes; And we, half-shrinking from the glare and din, Thought but of two more partings on the morn, When Love should be enfettered, hand and foot, For the long aeon of a human year.



THE END.

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