Then rose another hoary man and said, In faltering accents, to that weeping train: "Why mourn ye that our aged friend is dead? Ye are not sad to see the gathered grain, Nor when their mellow fruit the orchards cast, Nor when the yellow woods let fall the ripened mast.
"Ye sigh not when the sun, his course fulfilled, His glorious course, rejoicing earth and sky, In the soft evening, when the winds are stilled, Sinks where his islands of refreshment lie, And leaves the smile of his departure, spread O'er the warm-colored heaven and ruddy mountain head.
"Why weep ye then for him, who, having won The bound of man's appointed years, at last, Life's blessings all enjoyed, life's labors done, Serenely to his final rest has passed; While the soft memory of his virtues, yet, Lingers like twilight hues, when the bright sun is set?
"His youth was innocent; his riper age Marked with some act of goodness every day; And watched by eyes that loved him, calm and sage, Faded his late declining years away. Meekly he gave his being up, and went To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent.
"That life was happy; every day he gave Thanks for the fair existence that was his; For a sick fancy made him not her slave, To mock him with her phantom miseries. No chronic tortures racked his aged limb, For luxury and sloth had nourished none for him.
"And I am glad that he has lived thus long, And glad that he has gone to his reward; Nor can I deem that Nature did him wrong, Softly to disengage the vital cord. For when his hand grew palsied, and his eye Dark with the mists of age, it was his time to die."
This little rill, that from the springs Of yonder grove its current brings, Plays on the slope awhile, and then Goes prattling into groves again, Oft to its warbling waters drew My little feet, when life was new. When woods in early green were dressed, And from the chambers of the west The warm breezes, travelling out, Breathed the new scent of flowers about, My truant steps from home would stray, Upon its grassy side to play, List the brown thrasher's vernal hymn, And crop the violet on its brim, With blooming cheek and open brow, As young and gay, sweet rill, as thou.
And when the days of boyhood came, And I had grown in love with fame, Duly I sought thy banks, and tried My first rude numbers by thy side. Words cannot tell how bright and gay The scenes of life before me lay. Then glorious hopes, that now to speak Would bring the blood into my cheek, Passed o'er me; and I wrote, on high, A name I deemed should never die.
Years change thee not. Upon yon hill The tall old maples, verdant still, Yet tell, in grandeur of decay, How swift the years have passed away, Since first, a child, and half afraid, I wandered in the forest shade. Thou, ever-joyous rivulet, Dost dimple, leap, and prattle yet; And sporting with the sands that pave The windings of thy silver wave, And dancing to thy own wild chime, Thou laughest at the lapse of time. The same sweet sounds are in my ear My early childhood loved to hear; As pure thy limpid waters run; As bright they sparkle to the sun; As fresh and thick the bending ranks Of herbs that line thy oozy banks; The violet there, in soft May dew, Comes up, as modest and as blue; As green amid thy current's stress, Floats the scarce-rooted watercress; And the brown ground-bird, in thy glen, Still chirps as merrily as then.
Thou changest not—but I am changed Since first thy pleasant banks I ranged; And the grave stranger, come to see The play-place of his infancy, Has scarce a single trace of him Who sported once upon thy brim. The visions of my youth are past— Too bright, too beautiful to last. I've tried the world—it wears no more The coloring of romance it wore. Yet well has Nature kept the truth She promised in my earliest youth. The radiant beauty shed abroad On all the glorious works of God, Shows freshly, to my sobered eye, Each charm it wore in days gone by.
Yet a few years shall pass away, And I, all trembling, weak, and gray, Bowed to the earth, which waits to fold My ashes in the embracing mould, (If haply the dark will of Fate Indulge my life so long a date), May come for the last time to look Upon my childhood's favorite brook. Then dimly on my eye shall gleam The sparkle of thy dancing stream; And faintly on my ear shall fall Thy prattling current's merry call; Yet shalt thou flow as glad and bright As when thou met'st my infant sight.
And I shall sleep—and on thy side, As ages after ages glide, Children their early sports shall try, And pass to hoary age and die. But thou, unchanged from year to year, Gayly shalt play and glitter here; Amid young flowers and tender grass Thy endless infancy shall pass; And, singing down thy narrow glen, Shalt mock the fading race of men.
The stormy March is come at last, With wind, and cloud, and changing skies; I hear the rushing of the blast, That through the snowy valley flies.
Ah, passing few are they who speak, Wild, stormy month! in praise of thee; Yet though thy winds are loud and bleak, Thou art a welcome month to me.
For thou, to northern lands, again The glad and glorious sun dost bring, And thou hast joined the gentle train And wear'st the gentle name of Spring.
And, in thy reign of blast and storm, Smiles many a long, bright, sunny day, When the changed winds are soft and warm, And heaven puts on the blue of May.
Then sing aloud the gushing rills In joy that they again are free, And, brightly leaping down the hills, Renew their journey to the sea.
The year's departing beauty hides Of wintry storms the sullen threat; But in thy sternest frown abides A look of kindly promise yet.
Thou bring'st the hope of those calm skies, And that soft time of sunny showers, When the wide bloom, on earth that lies, Seems of a brighter world than ours.
Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine Too brightly to shine long; another Spring Shall deck her for men's eyes—but not for thine— Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening. The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf, And the vexed ore no mineral of power; And they who love thee wait in anxious grief Till the slow plague shall bring the fatal hour. Glide softly to thy rest then; Death should come Gently, to one of gentle mould like thee, As light winds wandering through groves of bloom Detach the delicate blossom from the tree. Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain; And we will trust in God to see thee yet again.
AN INDIAN STORY.
"I know where the timid fawn abides In the depths of the shaded dell, Where the leaves are broad and the thicket hides, With its many stems and its tangled sides, From the eye of the hunter well.
"I know where the young May violet grows, In its lone and lowly nook, On the mossy bank, where the larch-tree throws Its broad dark bough, in solemn repose, Far over the silent brook.
"And that timid fawn starts not with fear When I steal to her secret bower; And that young May violet to me is dear, And I visit the silent streamlet near, To look on the lovely flower."
Thus Maquon sings as he lightly walks To the hunting-ground on the hills; 'Tis a song of his maid of the woods and rocks, With her bright black eyes and long black locks, And voice like the music of rills.
He goes to the chase—but evil eyes Are at watch in the thicker shades; For she was lovely that smiled on his sighs, And he bore, from a hundred lovers, his prize, The flower of the forest maids.
The boughs in the morning wind are stirred, And the woods their song renew, With the early carol of many a bird, And the quickened tune of the streamlet heard Where the hazels trickle with dew.
And Maquon has promised his dark-haired maid, Ere eve shall redden the sky, A good red deer from the forest shade, That bounds with the herd through grove and glade, At her cabin-door shall lie.
The hollow woods, in the setting sun, Ring shrill with the fire-bird's lay; And Maquon's sylvan labors are done, And his shafts are spent, but the spoil they won He bears on his homeward way.
He stops near his bower—his eye perceives Strange traces along the ground— At once to the earth his burden he heaves; He breaks through the veil of boughs and leaves; And gains its door with a bound.
But the vines are torn on its walls that leant, And all from the young shrubs there By struggling hands have the leaves been rent, And there hangs on the sassafras, broken and bent, One tress of the well-known hair.
But where is she who, at this calm hour, Ever watched his coming to see? She is not at the door, nor yet in the bower; He calls—but he only hears on the flower The hum of the laden bee.
It is not a time for idle grief, Nor a time for tears to flow; The horror that freezes his limbs is brief— He grasps his war-axe and bow, and a sheaf Of darts made sharp for the foe.
And he looks for the print of the ruffian's feet Where he bore the maiden away; And he darts on the fatal path more fleet Than the blast hurries the vapor and sleet O'er the wild November day.
'Twas early summer when Maquon's bride Was stolen away from his door; But at length the maples in crimson are dyed, And the grape is black on the cabin-side— And she smiles at his hearth once more.
But far in the pine-grove, dark and cold, Where the yellow leaf falls not, Nor the autumn shines in scarlet and gold, There lies a hillock of fresh dark mould, In the deepest gloom of the spot.
And the Indian girls, that pass that way, Point out the ravisher's grave; "And how soon to the bower she loved," they say, "Returned the maid that was borne away From Maquon, the fond and the brave."
It is a sultry day; the sun has drunk The dew that lay upon the morning grass; There is no rustling in the lofty elm That canopies my dwelling, and its shade Scarce cools me. All is silent, save the faint And interrupted murmur of the bee, Settling on the sick flowers, and then again Instantly on the wing. The plants around Feel the too potent fervors: the tall maize Rolls up its long green leaves; the clover droops Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms. But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills, With all their growth of woods, silent and stern, As if the scorching heat and dazzling light Were but an element they loved. Bright clouds, Motionless pillars of the brazen heaven— Their bases on the mountains—their white tops Shining in the far ether—fire the air With a reflected radiance, and make turn The gazer's eye away. For me, I lie Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf, Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun, Retains some freshness, and I woo the wind That still delays his coming. Why so slow, Gentle and voluble spirit of the air? Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth Coolness and life. Is it that in his caves He hears me? See, on yonder woody ridge, The pine is bending his proud top, and now Among the nearer groves, chestnut and oak Are tossing their green boughs about. He comes; Lo, where the grassy meadow runs in waves! The deep distressful silence of the scene Breaks up with mingling of unnumbered sounds And universal motion. He is come, Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs, And bearing on their fragrance; and he brings Music of birds, and rustling of young boughs, And sound of swaying branches, and the voice Of distant waterfalls. All the green herbs Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers, By the road-side and the borders of the brook, Nod gayly to each other; glossy leaves Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew Were on them yet, and silver waters break Into small waves and sparkle as he comes.
AN INDIAN AT THE BURIAL-PLACE OF HIS FATHERS.
It is the spot I came to seek— My father's ancient burial-place, Ere from these vales, ashamed and weak, Withdrew our wasted race. It is the spot—I know it well—- Of which our old traditions tell.
For here the upland bank sends out A ridge toward the river-side; I know the shaggy hills about, The meadows smooth and wide, The plains, that, toward the southern sky, Fenced east and west by mountains lie.
A white man, gazing on the scene, Would say a lovely spot was here, And praise the lawns, so fresh and green, Between the hills so sheer. I like it not—I would the plain Lay in its tall old groves again.
The sheep are on the slopes around, The cattle in the meadows feed, And laborers turn the crumbling ground, Or drop the yellow seed, And prancing steeds, in trappings gay, Whirl the bright chariot o'er the way.
Methinks it were a nobler sight To see these vales in woods arrayed, Their summits in the golden light, Their trunks in grateful shade, And herds of deer that bounding go O'er hills and prostrate trees below.
And then to mark the lord of all, The forest hero, trained to wars, Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall, And seamed with glorious scars, Walk forth, amid his reign, to dare The wolf, and grapple with the bear.
This bank, in which the dead were laid, Was sacred when its soil was ours; Hither the silent Indian maid Brought wreaths of beads and flowers, And the gray chief and gifted seer Worshipped the god of thunders here.
But now the wheat is green and high On clods that hid the warrior's breast, And scattered in the furrows lie The weapons of his rest; And there, in the loose sand, is thrown Of his large arm the mouldering bone.
Ah, little thought the strong and brave Who bore their lifeless chieftain forth— Or the young wife that weeping gave Her first-born to the earth, That the pale race, who waste us now, Among their bones should guide the plough.
They waste us—ay—like April snow In the warm noon, we shrink away; And fast they follow, as we go Toward the setting day— Till they shall fill the land, and we Are driven into the Western sea.
But I behold a fearful sign, To which the white men's eyes are blind; Their race may vanish hence, like mine, And leave no trace behind, Save ruins o'er the region spread, And the white stones above the dead.
Before these fields were shorn and tilled, Full to the brim our rivers flowed; The melody of waters filled The fresh and boundless wood; And torrents dashed and rivulets played, And fountains spouted in the shade.
Those grateful sounds are heard no more, The springs are silent in the sun; The rivers, by the blackened shore, With lessening current run; The realm our tribes are crushed to get May be a barren desert yet.
Dost thou idly ask to hear At what gentle seasons Nymphs relent, when lovers near Press the tenderest reasons? Ah, they give their faith too oft To the careless wooer; Maidens' hearts are always soft: Would that men's were truer!
Woo the fair one when around Early birds are singing; When, o'er all the fragrant ground, Early herbs are springing: When the brookside, bank, and grove, All with blossoms laden, Shine with beauty, breathe of love,— Woo the timid maiden.
Woo her when, with rosy blush, Summer eve is sinking; When, on rills that softly gush, Stars are softly winking; When through boughs that knit the bower Moonlight gleams are stealing; Woo her, till the gentle hour Wake a gentler feeling.
Woo her when autumnal dyes Tinge the woody mountain; When the dropping foliage lies In the weedy fountain; Let the scene, that tells how fast Youth is passing over, Warn her, ere her bloom is past, To secure her lover.
Woo her when the north winds call At the lattice nightly; When, within the cheerful hall, Blaze the fagots brightly; While the wintry tempest round Sweeps the landscape hoary, Sweeter in her ear shall sound Love's delightful story.
HYMN OF THE WALDENSES.
Hear, Father, hear thy faint afflicted flock Cry to thee, from the desert and the rock; While those, who seek to slay thy children, hold Blasphemous worship under roofs of gold; And the broad goodly lands, with pleasant airs That nurse the grape and wave the grain, are theirs.
Yet better were this mountain wilderness, And this wild life of danger and distress— Watchings by night and perilous flight by day, And meetings in the depths of earth to pray— Better, far better, than to kneel with them, And pay the impious rite thy laws condemn.
Thou, Lord, dost hold the thunder; the firm land Tosses in billows when it feels thy hand; Thou dashest nation against nation, then Stillest the angry world to peace again. Oh, touch their stony hearts who hunt thy sons— The murderers of our wives and little ones.
Yet, mighty God, yet shall thy frown look forth Unveiled, and terribly shall shake the earth. Then the foul power of priestly sin and all Its long-upheld idolatries shall fall. Thou shalt raise up the trampled and oppressed, And thy delivered saints shall dwell in rest.
Thou who wouldst see the lovely and the wild Mingled in harmony on Nature's face, Ascend our rocky mountains. Let thy foot Fail not with weariness, for on their tops The beauty and the majesty of earth, Spread wide beneath, shall make thee to forget The steep and toilsome way. There, as thou stand'st, The haunts of men below thee, and around The mountain-summits, thy expanding heart Shall feel a kindred with that loftier world To which thou art translated, and partake The enlargement of thy vision. Thou shalt look Upon the green and rolling forest-tops, And down into the secrets of the glens, And streams that with their bordering thickets strive To hide their windings. Thou shalt gaze, at once, Here on white villages, and tilth, and herds, And swarming roads, and there on solitudes That only hear the torrent, and the wind, And eagle's shriek. There is a precipice That seems a fragment of some mighty wall, Built by the hand that fashioned the old world, To separate its nations, and thrown down When the flood drowned them. To the north, a path Conducts you up the narrow battlement. Steep is the western side, shaggy and wild With mossy trees, and pinnacles of flint, And many a hanging crag. But, to the east, Sheer to the vale go down the bare old cliffs— Huge pillars, that in middle heaven upbear Their weather-beaten capitals, here dark With moss, the growth of centuries, and there Of chalky whiteness where the thunderbolt Has splintered them. It is a fearful thing To stand upon the beetling verge, and see Where storm and lightning, from that huge gray wall, Have tumbled down vast blocks, and at the base Dashed them in fragments, and to lay thine ear Over the dizzy depth, and hear the sound Of winds, that struggle with the woods below, Come up like ocean murmurs. But the scene Is lovely round; a beautiful river there Wanders amid the fresh and fertile meads, The paradise he made unto himself, Mining the soil for ages. On each side The fields swell upward to the hills; beyond, Above the hills, in the blue distance, rise The mountain-columns with which earth props heaven.
There is a tale about these reverend rocks, A sad tradition of unhappy love, And sorrows borne and ended, long ago, When over these fair vales the savage sought His game in the thick woods. There was a maid, The fairest of the Indian maids, bright-eyed, With wealth of raven tresses, a light form, And a gay heart. About her cabin-door The wide old woods resounded with her song And fairy laughter all the summer day. She loved her cousin; such a love was deemed, By the morality of those stern tribes, Incestuous, and she struggled hard and long Against her love, and reasoned with her heart, As simple Indian maiden might. In vain. Then her eye lost its lustre, and her step Its lightness, and the gray-haired men that passed Her dwelling, wondered that they heard no more The accustomed song and laugh of her, whose looks Were like the cheerful smile of Spring, they said, Upon the Winter of their age. She went To weep where no eye saw, and was not found Where all the merry girls were met to dance, And all the hunters of the tribe were out; Nor when they gathered from the rustling husk The shining ear; nor when, by the river's side, They pulled the grape and startled the wild shades With sounds of mirth. The keen-eyed Indian dames Would whisper to each other, as they saw Her wasting form, and say, The girl will die.
One day into the bosom of a friend, A playmate of her young and innocent years, She poured her griefs. "Thou know'st, and thou alone," She said, "for I have told thee, all my love, And guilt, and sorrow. I am sick of life. All night I weep in darkness, and the morn Glares on me, as upon a thing accursed, That has no business on the earth. I hate The pastimes and the pleasant toils that once I loved; the cheerful voices of my friends Sound in my ear like mockings, and, at night, In dreams, my mother, from the land of souls, Calls me and chides me. All that look on me Do seem to know my shame; I cannot bear Their eyes; I cannot from my heart root out The love that wrings it so, and I must die."
It was a summer morning, and they went To this old precipice. About the cliffs Lay garlands, ears of maize, and shaggy skins Of wolf and bear, the offerings of the tribe Here made to the Great Spirit, for they deemed, Like worshippers of the elder time, that God Doth walk on the high places and affect The earth-o'erlooking mountains. She had on The ornaments with which her father loved To deck the beauty of his bright-eyed girl, And bade her wear when stranger warriors came To be his guests. Here the friends sat them down, And sang, all day, old songs of love and death, And decked the poor wan victim's hair with flowers, And prayed that safe and swift might be her way To the calm world of sunshine, where no grief Makes the heart heavy and the eyelids red. Beautiful lay the region of her tribe Below her—waters resting in the embrace Of the wide forest, and maize-planted glades Opening amid the leafy wilderness. She gazed upon it long, and at the sight Of her own village peeping through the trees, And her own dwelling, and the cabin roof Of him she loved with an unlawful love, And came to die for, a warm gush of tears Ran from her eyes. But when the sun grew low And the hill shadows long, she threw herself From the steep rock and perished. There was scooped, Upon the mountain's southern slope, a grave; And there they laid her, in the very garb With which the maiden decked herself for death, With the same withering wild-flowers in her hair. And o'er the mould that covered her, the tribe Built up a simple monument, a cone Of small loose stones. Thenceforward all who passed, Hunter, and dame, and virgin, laid a stone In silence on the pile. It stands there yet. And Indians from the distant West, who come To visit where their fathers' bones are laid, Yet tell the sorrowful tale, and to this day The mountain where the hapless maiden died Is called the Mountain of the Monument.
AFTER A TEMPEST.
The day had been a day of wind and storm, The wind was laid, the storm was overpast, And stooping from the zenith, bright and warm, Shone the great sun on the wide earth at last. I stood upon the upland slope, and cast Mine eye upon a broad and beauteous scene, Where the vast plain lay girt by mountains vast, And hills o'er hills lifted their heads of green, With pleasant vales scooped out and villages between.
The rain-drops glistened on the trees around, Whose shadows on the tall grass were not stirred, Save when a shower of diamonds, to the ground, Was shaken by the flight of startled bird; For birds were warbling round, and bees were heard About the flowers; the cheerful rivulet sung And gossiped, as he hastened oceanward; To the gray oak the squirrel, chiding, clung, And chirping from the ground the grasshopper upsprung.
And from beneath the leaves that kept them dry Flew many a glittering insect here and there, And darted up and down the butterfly, That seemed a living blossom of the air, The flocks came scattering from the thicket, where The violent rain had pent them; in the way Strolled groups of damsels frolicsome and fair; The farmer swung the scythe or turned the hay, And 'twixt the heavy swaths his children were at play.
It was a scene of peace—and, like a spell, Did that serene and golden sunlight fall Upon the motionless wood that clothed the fell, And precipice upspringing like a wall, And glassy river and white waterfall, And happy living things that trod the bright And beauteous scene; while far beyond them all, On many a lovely valley, out of sight, Was poured from the blue heavens the same soft golden light.
I looked, and thought the quiet of the scene An emblem of the peace that yet shall be, When o'er earth's continents, and isles between, The noise of war shall cease from sea to sea, And married nations dwell in harmony; When millions, crouching in the dust to one, No more shall beg their lives on bended knee, Nor the black stake be dressed, nor in the sun The o'erlabored captive toil, and wish his life were done.
Too long, at clash of arms amid her bowers And pools of blood, the earth has stood aghast, The fair earth, that should only blush with flowers And ruddy fruits; but not for aye can last The storm, and sweet the sunshine when 'tis past. Lo, the clouds roll away—they break—they fly, And, like the glorious light of summer, cast O'er the wide landscape from the embracing sky, On all the peaceful world the smile of heaven shall lie.
Ere, in the northern gale, The summer tresses of the trees are gone, The woods of Autumn, all around our vale, Have put their glory on.
The mountains that infold, In their wide sweep, the colored landscape round, Seem groups of giant kings, in purple and gold, That guard the enchanted ground.
I roam the woods that crown The uplands, where the mingled splendors glow, Where the gay company of trees look down On the green fields below.
My steps are not alone In these bright walks; the sweet southwest, at play, Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown Along the winding way.
And far in heaven, the while, The sun, that sends that gale to wander here, Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile— The sweetest of the year.
Where now the solemn shade, Verdure and gloom where many branches meet; So grateful, when the noon of summer made The valleys sick with heat?
Let in through all the trees Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright; Their sunny colored foliage, in the breeze, Twinkles, like beams of light.
The rivulet, late unseen, Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run, Shines with the image of its golden screen, And glimmerings of the sun.
But 'neath you crimson tree, Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, Nor mark, within its roseate canopy, Her blush of maiden shame.
Oh, Autumn! why so soon Depart the hues that make thy forests glad, Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon, And leave thee wild and sad!
Ah! 'twere a lot too blest Forever in thy colored shades to stray; Amid the kisses of the soft southwest To roam and dream for aye;
And leave the vain low strife That makes men mad—the tug for wealth and power— The passions and the cares that wither life, And waste its little hour.
They talk of short-lived pleasure—be it so— Pain dies as quickly: stern, hard-featured pain Expires, and lets her weary prisoner go. The fiercest agonies have shortest reign; And after dreams of horror, comes again The welcome morning with its rays of peace. Oblivion, softly wiping out the stain, Makes the strong secret pangs of shame to cease: Remorse is virtue's root; its fair increase Are fruits of innocence and blessedness: Thus joy, o'erborne and bound, doth still release His young limbs from the chains that round him press. Weep not that the world changes—did it keep A stable, changeless state, 'twere cause indeed to weep.
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! One mellow smile through the soft vapory air, Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run, Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare. One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze, Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last. Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way, The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, And man delight to linger in thy ray. Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.
SONG OF THE GREEK AMAZON.
I buckle to my slender side The pistol and the scimitar, And in my maiden flower and pride Am come to share the task of war. And yonder stands the fiery steed, That paws the ground and neighs to go, My charger of the Arab breed— I took him from the routed foe.
My mirror is the mountain-spring, At which I dress my ruffled hair; My dimmed and dusty arms I bring, And wash away the blood-stain there. Why should I guard from wind and sun This cheek, whose virgin rose is fled? It was for one—oh, only one— I kept its bloom, and he is dead.
But they who slew him—unaware Of coward murderers lurking nigh— And left him to the fowls of air, Are yet alive—and they must die! They slew him—and my virgin years Are vowed to Greece and vengeance now. And many an Othman dame, in tears, Shall rue the Grecian maiden's vow.
I touched the lute in better days, I led in dance the joyous band; Ah! they may move to mirthful lays Whose hands can touch a lover's hand. The march of hosts that haste to meet Seems gayer than the dance to me; The lute's sweet tones are not so sweet As the fierce shout of victory.
TO A CLOUD.
Beautiful cloud! with folds so soft and fair, Swimming in the pure quiet air! Thy fleeces bathed in sunlight, while below Thy shadow o'er the vale moves slow; Where, midst their labor, pause the reaper train, As cool it comes along the grain. Beautiful cloud! I would I were with thee In thy calm way o'er land and sea; To rest on thy unrolling skirts, and look On Earth as on an open book; On streams that tie her realms with silver bands, And the long ways that seam her lands; And hear her humming cities, and the sound Of the great ocean breaking round. Ay—I would sail, upon thy air-borne car, To blooming regions distant far, To where the sun of Andalusia shines On his own olive-groves and vines, Or the soft lights of Italy's clear sky In smiles upon her ruins lie. But I would woo the winds to let us rest O'er Greece, long fettered and oppressed, Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes From the old battle-fields and tombs, And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe Have dealt the swift and desperate blow, And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke Has touched its chains, and they are broke. Ay, we would linger, till the sunset there Should come, to purple all the air, And thou reflect upon the sacred ground The ruddy radiance streaming round. Bright meteor! for the summer noontide made! Thy peerless beauty yet shall fade. The sun, that fills with light each glistening fold, Shall set, and leave thee dark and cold: The blast shall rend thy skirts, or thou mayst frown In the dark heaven when storms come down; And weep in rain, till man's inquiring eye Miss thee, forever, from the sky.
THE MURDERED TRAVELLER.
When Spring, to woods and wastes around, Brought bloom and joy again, The murdered traveller's bones were found, Far down a narrow glen.
The fragrant birch, above him, hung Her tassels in the sky; And many a vernal blossom sprung, And nodded careless by.
The red-bird warbled, as he wrought His hanging nest o'erhead, And fearless, near the fatal spot, Her young the partridge led.
But there was weeping far away, And gentle eyes, for him, With watching many an anxious day, Were sorrowful and dim.
They little knew, who loved him so, The fearful death he met, When shouting o'er the desert snow, Unarmed, and hard beset;—
Nor how, when round the frosty pole The northern dawn was red, The mountain-wolf and wild-cat stole To banquet on the dead;
Nor how, when, strangers found his bones, They dressed the hasty bier, And marked his grave with nameless stones, Unmoistened by a tear.
But long they looked, and feared, and wept, Within his distant home; And dreamed, and started as they slept, For joy that he was come.
Long, long they looked—but never spied His welcome step again, Nor knew the fearful death he died Far down that narrow glen.
HYMN TO THE NORTH STAR.
The sad and solemn night Hath yet her multitude of cheerful fires; The glorious host of light Walk the dark hemisphere till she retires; All through her silent watches, gliding slow, Her constellations come, and climb the heavens, and go.
Day, too, hath many a star To grace his gorgeous reign, as bright as they: Through the blue fields afar, Unseen, they follow in his flaming way: Many a bright lingerer, as the eve grows dim, Tells what a radiant troop arose and set with him.
And thou dost see them rise, Star of the Pole! and thou dost see them set. Alone, in thy cold skies, Thou keep'st thy old unmoving station yet, Nor join'st the dances of that glittering train, Nor dipp'st thy virgin orb in the blue western main.
There, at morn's rosy birth, Thou lookest meekly through the kindling air, And eve, that round the earth Chases the day, beholds thee watching there; There noontide finds thee, and the hour that calls The shapes of polar flame to scale heaven's azure walls.
Alike, beneath thine eye, The deeds of darkness and of light are gone; High toward the starlit sky Towns blaze, the smoke of battle blots the sun, The night storm on a thousand hills is loud, And the strong wind of day doth mingle sea and cloud.
On thy unaltering blaze The half-wrecked mariner, his compass lost, Fixes his steady gaze, And steers, undoubting, to the friendly coast; And they who stray in perilous wastes, by night, Are glad when thou dost shine to guide their footsteps right.
And, therefore, bards of old, Sages and hermits of the solemn wood, Did in thy beams behold A beauteous type of that unchanging good, That bright eternal beacon, by whose ray The voyager of time should shape his heedful way.
THE LAPSE OF TIME.
Lament who will, in fruitless tears, The speed with which our moments fly; I sigh not over vanished years, But watch the years that hasten by.
Look, how they come—a mingled crowd Of bright and dark, but rapid days; Beneath them, like a summer cloud, The wide world changes as I gaze.
What! grieve that time has brought so soon The sober age of manhood on! As idly might I weep, at noon, To see the blush of morning gone.
Could I give up the hopes that glow In prospect like Elysian isles; And let the cheerful future go, With all her promises and smiles?
The future!—cruel were the power Whose doom would tear thee from my heart, Thou sweetener of the present hour! We cannot—no—we will not part.
Oh, leave me, still, the rapid flight That makes the changing seasons gay, The grateful speed that brings the night, The swift and glad return of day;
The months that touch, with added grace, This little prattler at my knee, In whose arch eye and speaking face New meaning every hour I see;
The years, that o'er each sister land Shall lift the country of my birth, And nurse her strength, till she shall stand The pride and pattern of the earth:
Till younger commonwealths, for aid, Shall cling about her ample robe, And from her frown shall shrink afraid The crowned oppressors of the globe.
True—time will seam and blanch my brow— Well—I shall sit with aged men, And my good glass will tell me how A grizzly beard becomes me then.
And then, should no dishonor lie Upon my head, when I am gray, Love yet shall watch my fading eye, And smooth the path of my decay.
Then haste thee, Time—'tis kindness all That speeds thy winged feet so fast: Thy pleasures stay not till they pall, And all thy pains are quickly past.
Thou fliest and bear'st away our woes, And as thy shadowy train depart, The memory of sorrow grows A lighter burden on the heart.
THE SONG OF THE STARS.
When the radiant morn of creation broke, And the world in the smile of God awoke, And the empty realms of darkness and death Were moved through their depths by his mighty breath, And orbs of beauty and spheres of flame From the void abyss by myriads came— In the joy of youth as they darted away, Through the widening wastes of space to play, Their silver voices in chorus rang, And this was the song the bright ones sang:
"Away, away, through the wide, wide sky, The fair blue fields that before us lie— Each sun with the worlds that round him roll, Each planet, poised on her turning pole; With her isles of green, and her clouds of white, And her waters that lie like fluid light.
"For the source of glory uncovers his face, And the brightness o'erflows unbounded space, And we drink as we go to the luminous tides In our ruddy air and our blooming sides: Lo, yonder the living splendors play; Away, on our joyous path, away!
"Look, look, through our glittering ranks afar, In the infinite azure, star after star, How they brighten and bloom as they swiftly pass! How the verdure runs o'er each rolling mass! And the path of the gentle winds is seen, Where the small waves dance, and the young woods lean.
"And see, where the brighter day-beams pour, How the rainbows hang in the sunny shower; And the morn and eve, with their pomp of hues, Shift o'er the bright planets and shed their dews; And 'twixt them both, o'er the teeming ground, With her shadowy cone the night goes round!
"Away, away! in our blossoming bowers, In the soft airs wrapping these spheres of ours, In the seas and fountains that shine with morn, See, Love is brooding, and Life is born, And breathing myriads are breaking from night, To rejoice, like us, in motion and light.
"Glide on in your beauty, ye youthful spheres, To weave the dance that measures the years; Glide on, in the glory and gladness sent To the furthest wall of the firmament— The boundless visible smile of Him To the veil of whose brow your lamps are dim."
A FOREST HYMN.
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them—ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication. For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn—thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in thy breeze, And shot toward heaven. The century-living crow Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride Report not. No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill'st The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee. Here is continual worship;—Nature, here, In the tranquillity that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs, Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness, in the shades, Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak— By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated—not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as loftily as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower, With scented breath and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, An emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me—the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever. Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity. Lo! all grow old and die—but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses—ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch-enemy Death—yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne—the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;—and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus. But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue. Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still. O God! when thou Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the villages; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities—who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of thy works Learn to conform the order of our lives.
"OH FAIREST OF THE RURAL MAIDS."
Oh fairest of the rural maids! Thy birth was in the forest shades; Green boughs, and glimpses of the sky, Were all that met thine infant eye.
Thy sports, thy wanderings, when a child, Were ever in the sylvan wild; And all the beauty of the place Is in thy heart and on thy face.
The twilight of the trees and rocks Is in the light shade of thy locks; Thy step is as the wind, that weaves Its playful way among the leaves.
Thine eyes are springs, in whose serene And silent waters heaven is seen; Their lashes are the herbs that look On their young figures in the brook.
The forest depths, by foot unpressed, Are not more sinless than thy breast; The holy peace, that fills the air Of those calm solitudes, is there.
"I BROKE THE SPELL THAT HELD ME LONG."
I broke the spell that held me long, The dear, dear witchery of song. I said, the poet's idle lore Shall waste my prime of years no more, For Poetry, though heavenly born, Consorts with poverty and scorn.
I broke the spell—nor deemed its power Could fetter me another hour. Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget Its causes were around me yet? For wheresoe'er I looked, the while, Was Nature's everlasting smile.
Still came and lingered on my sight Of flowers and streams the bloom and light, And glory of the stars and sun;— And these and poetry are one. They, ere the world had held me long, Recalled me to the love of song.
I gazed upon the glorious sky And the green mountains round, And thought that when I came to lie At rest within the ground, 'Twere pleasant, that in flowery June, When brooks send up a cheerful tune, And groves a joyous sound, The sexton's hand, my grave to make, The rich, green mountain-turf should break.
A cell within the frozen mould, A coffin borne through sleet, And icy clods above it rolled, While fierce the tempests beat— Away!—I will not think of these— Blue be the sky and soft the breeze, Earth green beneath the feet, And be the damp mould gently pressed Into my narrow place of rest.
There through the long, long summer hours, The golden light should lie, And thick young herbs and groups of flowers Stand in their beauty by. The oriole should build and tell His love-tale close beside my cell; The idle butterfly Should rest him there, and there be heard The housewife bee and humming-bird.
And what if cheerful shouts at noon Come, from the village sent, Or songs of maids, beneath the moon With fairy laughter blent? And what if, in the evening light, Betrothed lovers walk in sight Of my low monument? I would the lovely scene around Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
I know that I no more should see The season's glorious show, Nor would its brightness shine for me, Nor its wild music flow; But if, around my place of sleep, The friends I love should come to weep, They might not haste to go. Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom Should keep them lingering by my tomb.
These to their softened hearts should bear The thought of what has been, And speak of one who cannot share The gladness of the scene; Whose part, in all the pomp that fills The circuit of the summer hills, Is that his grave is green; And deeply would their hearts rejoice To hear again his living voice.
A SONG OF PITCAIRN'S ISLAND.
Come, take our boy, and we will go Before our cabin-door; The winds shall bring us, as they blow, The murmurs of the shore; And we will kiss his young blue eyes, And I will sing him, as he lies, Songs that were made of yore: I'll sing, in his delighted ear, The island lays thou lov'st to hear.
And thou, while stammering I repeat, Thy country's tongue shalt teach; 'Tis not so soft, but far more sweet Than my own native speech: For thou no other tongue didst know, When, scarcely twenty moons ago, Upon Tahete's beach, Thou cam'st to woo me to be thine, With many a speaking look and sign.
I knew thy meaning—thou didst praise My eyes, my locks of jet; Ah! well for me they won thy gaze, But thine were fairer yet! I'm glad to see my infant wear Thy soft blue eyes and sunny hair, And when my sight is met By his white brow and blooming cheek, I feel a joy I cannot speak.
Come, talk of Europe's maids with me, Whose necks and cheeks, they tell, Outshine the beauty of the sea, White foam and crimson shell. I'll shape like theirs my simple dress, And bind like them each jetty tress, A sight to please thee well; And for my dusky brow will braid A bonnet like an English maid.
Come, for the soft low sunlight calls, We lose the pleasant hours; 'Tis lovelier than these cottage walls,— That seat among the flowers. And I will learn of thee a prayer, To Him who gave a home so fair, A lot so blest as ours— The God who made, for thee and me, This sweet lone isle amid the sea.
Ay! gloriously thou standest there, Beautiful, boundless firmament! That, swelling wide o'er earth and air, And round the horizon bent, With thy bright vault, and sapphire wall, Dost overhang and circle all.
Far, far below thee, tall gray trees Arise, and piles built up of old, And hills, whose ancient summits freeze In the fierce light and cold. The eagle soars his utmost height, Yet far thou stretchest o'er his flight.
Thou hast thy frowns—with thee on high The storm has made his airy seat, Beyond that soft blue curtain lie His stores of hail and sleet. Thence the consuming lightnings break, There the strong hurricanes awake.
Yet art thou prodigal of smiles— Smiles, sweeter than thy frowns are stern. Earth sends, from all her thousand isles, A shout at their return. The glory that comes down from thee, Bathes, in deep joy, the land and sea.
The sun, the gorgeous sun is thine, The pomp that brings and shuts the day, The clouds that round him change and shine, The airs that fan his way. Thence look the thoughtful stars, and there The meek moon walks the silent air.
The sunny Italy may boast The beauteous tints that flush her skies, And lovely, round the Grecian coast, May thy blue pillars rise. I only know how fair they stand Around my own beloved land.
And they are fair—a charm is theirs, That earth, the proud green earth, has not, With all the forms, and hues, and airs, That haunt her sweetest spot. We gaze upon thy calm pure sphere, And read of Heaven's eternal year.
Oh, when, amid the throng of men, The heart grows sick of hollow mirth, How willingly we turn us then Away from this cold earth, And look into thy azure breast, For seats of innocence and rest!
"I CANNOT FORGET WITH WHAT FERVID DEVOTION."
I cannot forget with what fervid devotion I worshipped the visions of verse and of fame; Each gaze at the glories of earth, sky, and ocean, To my kindled emotions, was wind over flame.
And deep were my musings in life's early blossom, Mid the twilight of mountain-groves wandering long; How thrilled my young veins, and how throbbed my full bosom, When o'er me descended the spirit of song!
'Mong the deep-cloven fells that for ages had listened To the rush of the pebble-paved river between, Where the kingfisher screamed and gray precipice glistened, All breathless with awe have I gazed on the scene;
Till I felt the dark power o'er my reveries stealing, From the gloom of the thicket that over me hung, And the thoughts that awoke, in that rapture of feeling, Were formed into verse as they rose to my tongue.
Bright visions! I mixed with the world, and ye faded, No longer your pure rural worshipper now; In the haunts your continual presence pervaded, Ye shrink from the signet of care on my brow.
In the old mossy groves on the breast of the mountains, In deep lonely glens where the waters complain, By the shade of the rock, by the gush of the fountain, I seek your loved footsteps, but seek them in vain.
Oh, leave not forlorn and forever forsaken, Your pupil and victim to life and its tears! But sometimes return, and in mercy awaken The glories ye showed to his earlier years.
TO A MOSQUITO.
Fair insect! that, with threadlike legs spread out, And blood-extracting bill and filmy wing, Dost murmur, as thou slowly sail'st about, In pitiless ears full many a plaintive thing, And tell how little our large veins would bleed, Would we but yield them to thy bitter need.
Unwillingly, I own, and, what is worse, Full angrily men hearken to thy plaint; Thou gettest many a brush, and many a curse, For saying thou art gaunt, and starved, and faint; Even the old beggar, while he asks for food, Would kill thee, hapless stranger, if he could.
I call thee stranger, for the town, I ween, Has not the honor of so proud a birth,— Thou com'st from Jersey meadows, fresh and green, The offspring of the gods, though born on earth; For Titan was thy sire, and fair was she, The ocean-nymph that nursed thy infancy.
Beneath the rushes was thy cradle swung, And when at length thy gauzy wings grew strong, Abroad to gentle airs their folds were flung, Rose in the sky and bore thee soft along; The south wind breathed to waft thee on the way, And danced and shone beneath the billowy bay.
Calm rose afar the city spires, and thence Came the deep murmur of its throng of men, And as its grateful odors met thy sense, They seemed the perfumes of thy native fen. Fair lay its crowded streets, and at the sight Thy tiny song grew shriller with delight.
At length thy pinions fluttered in Broadway— Ah, there were fairy steps, and white necks kissed By wanton airs, and eyes whose killing ray Shone through the snowy veils like stars through mist; And fresh as morn, on many a cheek and chin, Bloomed the bright blood through the transparent skin.
Sure these were sights to touch an anchorite! What! do I hear thy slender voice complain? Thou wailest when I talk of beauty's light, As if it brought the memory of pain: Thou art a wayward being—well—come near, And pour thy tale of sorrow in my ear.
What sayest thou—slanderer!—rouge makes thee sick? And China bloom at best is sorry food? And Rowland's Kalydor, if laid on thick, Poisons the thirsty wretch that bores for blood? Go! 'twas a just reward that met thy crime— But shun the sacrilege another time.
That bloom was made to look at, not to touch; To worship, not approach, that radiant white; And well might sudden vengeance light on such As dared, like thee, most impiously to bite. Thou shouldst have gazed at distance and admired, Murmured thy adoration, and retired.
Thou'rt welcome to the town; but why come here To bleed a brother poet, gaunt like thee? Alas! the little blood I have is dear, And thin will be the banquet drawn from me. Look round—the pale-eyed sisters in my cell, Thy old acquaintance, Song and Famine, dwell.
Try some plump alderman, and suck the blood Enriched by generous wine and costly meat; On well-filled skins, sleek as thy native mud, Fix thy light pump and press thy freckled feet. Go to the men for whom, in ocean's halls, The oyster breeds, and the green turtle sprawls.
There corks are drawn, and the red vintage flows To fill the swelling veins for thee, and now The ruddy cheek and now the ruddier nose Shall tempt thee, as thou flittest round the brow; And when the hour of sleep its quiet brings, No angry hands shall rise to brush thy wings.
LINES ON REVISITING THE COUNTRY.
I stand upon my native hills again, Broad, round, and green, that in the summer sky With garniture of waving grass and grain, Orchards, and beechen forests, basking lie, While deep the sunless glens are scooped between, Where brawl o'er shallow beds the streams unseen.
A lisping voice and glancing eyes are near, And ever-restless feet of one, who, now, Gathers the blossoms of her fourth bright year; There plays a gladness o'er her fair young brow As breaks the varied scene upon her sight, Upheaved and spread in verdure and in light.
For I have taught her, with delighted eye, To gaze upon the mountains,—to behold, With deep affection, the pure ample sky And clouds along its blue abysses rolled, To love the song of waters, and to hear The melody of winds with charmed ear.
Here, have I 'scaped the city's stifling heat, Its horrid sounds, and its polluted air, And, where the season's milder fervors beat, And gales, that sweep the forest borders, bear The song of bird and sound of running stream, Am come awhile to wander and to dream.
Ay, flame thy fiercest, sun! thou canst not wake, In this pure air, the plague that walks unseen. The maize-leaf and the maple-bough but take, From thy strong heats, a deeper, glossier green. The mountain wind, that faints not in thy ray, Sweeps the blue steams of pestilence away.
The mountain wind! most spiritual thing of all The wide earth knows; when, in the sultry tune, He stoops him from his vast cerulean hall, He seems the breath of a celestial clime! As if from heaven's wide-open gates did flow Health and refreshment on the world below.
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS.
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread; The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay, And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves, the gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours. The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow; But on the hills the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood, And the yellow sun-flower by the brook in autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees' added are still, And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill, The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died, The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side. In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the leaf, And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief: Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend of ours, So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.
When freedom, from the land of Spain, By Spain's degenerate sons was driven, Who gave their willing limbs again To wear the chain so lately riven; Romero broke the sword he wore— "Go, faithful brand," the warrior said, "Go, undishonored, never more The blood of man shall make thee red. I grieve for that already shed; And I am sick at heart to know, That faithful friend and noble foe Have only bled to make more strong The yoke that Spain has worn so long. Wear it who will, in abject fear— I wear it not who have been free; The perjured Ferdinand shall hear No oath of loyalty from me." Then, hunted by the hounds of power, Romero chose a safe retreat, Where bleak Nevada's summits tower Above the beauty at their feet. There once, when on his cabin lay The crimson light of setting day, When, even on the mountain's breast, The chainless winds were all at rest, And he could hear the river's flow From the calm paradise below; Warmed with his former fires again He framed this rude but solemn strain:
"Here will I make my home—for here at least I see, Upon this wild Sierra's side, the steps of Liberty; Where the locust chirps unscared beneath the unpruned lime, And the merry bee doth hide from man the spoil of the mountain-thyme; Where the pure winds come and go, and the wild-vine strays at will, An outcast from the haunts of men, she dwells with Nature still.
"I see the valleys, Spain! where thy mighty rivers run, And the hills that lift thy harvests and vineyards to the sun, And the flocks that drink thy brooks and sprinkle all the green, Where lie thy plains, with sheep-walks seamed, and olive-shades between: I see thy fig-trees bask, with the fair pomegranate near, And the fragrance of thy lemon-groves can almost reach me here.
"Fair—fair—but fallen Spain! 'tis with a swelling heart, That I think on all thou mightst have been, and look at what thou art; But the strife is over now, and all the good and brave, That would have raised thee up, are gone, to exile or the grave. Thy fleeces are for monks, thy grapes for the convent feast, And the wealth of all thy harvest-fields for the pampered lord and priest.
"But I shall see the day—it will come before I die— I shall see it in my silver hairs, and with an age-dimmed eye; When the spirit of the land to liberty shall bound, As yonder fountain leaps away from the darkness of the ground: And to my mountain-cell, the voices of the free Shall rise as from the beaten shore the thunders of the sea."
A MEDITATION ON RHODE ISLAND COAL.
"Decolor, obscurus, vilis, non ille repexam Cesariem regum, non candida virginis ornat Colla, nec insigni splendet per cingula morsu Sed nova si nigri videas miracula saxi, Tune superat pulchroa cultus et quicquid Eois Indus litoribus rubra scrutatur in alga."
I sat beside the glowing grate, fresh heaped With Newport coal, and as the flame grew bright —The many-colored flame—and played and leaped, I thought of rainbows, and the northern light, Moore's Lalla Rookh, the Treasury Report, And other brilliant matters of the sort.
And last I thought of that fair isle which sent The mineral fuel; on a summer day I saw it once, with heat and travel spent, And scratched by dwarf-oaks in the hollow way. Now dragged through sand, now jolted over stone— A rugged road through rugged Tiverton.
And hotter grew the air, and hollower grew The deep-worn path, and horror-struck, I thought, Where will this dreary passage lead me to? This long dull road, so narrow, deep, and hot? I looked to see it dive in earth outright; I looked—but saw a far more welcome sight.
Like a soft mist upon the evening shore, At once a lovely isle before me lay, Smooth, and with tender verdure covered o'er, As if just risen from its calm inland bay; Sloped each way gently to the grassy edge, And the small waves that dallied with the sedge.
The barley was just reaped; the heavy sheaves Lay on the stubble-field; the tall maize stood Dark in its summer growth, and shook its leaves, And bright the sunlight played on the young wood— For fifty years ago, the old men say, The Briton hewed their ancient groves away.
I saw where fountains freshened the green land, And where the pleasant road, from door to door, With rows of cherry-trees on either hand, Went wandering all that fertile region o'er— Rogue's Island once—but when the rogues were dead, Rhode Island was the name it took instead.
Beautiful island! then it only seemed A lovely stranger; it has grown a friend. I gazed on its smooth slopes, but never dreamed How soon that green and quiet isle would send The treasures of its womb across the sea, To warm a poet's room and boil his tea.
Dark anthracite! that reddenest on my hearth, Thou in those island mines didst slumber long; But now thou art come forth to move the earth, And put to shame the men that mean thee wrong: Thou shalt be coals of fire to those that hate thee, And warm the shins of all that underrate thee.
Yea, they did wrong thee foully—they who mocked Thy honest face, and said thou wouldst not burn; Of hewing thee to chimney-pieces talked, And grew profane, and swore, in bitter scorn, That men might to thy inner caves retire, And there, unsinged, abide the day of fire.
Yet is thy greatness nigh. I pause to state, That I too have seen greatness—even I— Shook hands with Adams, stared at La Fayette, When, barehead, in the hot noon of July, He would not let the umbrella be held o'er him, For which three cheers burst from the mob before him.
And I have seen—not many months ago— An eastern Governor in chapeau bras And military coat, a glorious show! Ride forth to visit the reviews, and ah! How oft he smiled and bowed to Jonathan! How many hands were shook and votes were won!
'Twas a great Governor; thou too shalt be Great in thy turn, and wide shall spread thy fame And swiftly; furthest Maine shall hear of thee, And cold New Brunswick gladden at thy name; And, faintly through its sleets, the weeping isle That sends the Boston folks their cod shall smile.
For thou shalt forge vast railways, and shalt heat The hissing rivers into steam, and drive Huge masses from thy mines, on iron feet, Walking their steady way, as if alive, Northward, till everlasting ice besets thee, And South as far as the grim Spaniard lets thee.
Thou shalt make mighty engines swim the sea, Like its own monsters—boats that for a guinea Will take a man to Havre—and shalt be The moving soul of many a spinning-jenny, And ply thy shuttles, till a bard can wear As good a suit of broadcloth as the mayor.
Then we will laugh at winter when we hear The grim old churl about our dwellings rave: Thou, from that "ruler of the inverted year," Shalt pluck the knotty sceptre Cowper gave, And pull him from his sledge, and drag him in, And melt the icicles from off his chin.
THE NEW MOON.
When, as the garish day is done, Heaven burns with the descended sun, 'Tis passing sweet to mark, Amid that flush of crimson light, The new moon's modest bow grow bright, As earth and sky grow dark.
Few are the hearts too cold to feel A thrill of gladness o'er them steal, When first the wandering eye Sees faintly, in the evening blaze, That glimmering curve of tender rays Just planted in the sky.
The sight of that young crescent brings Thoughts of all fair and youthful things— The hopes of early years; And childhood's purity and grace, And joys that like a rainbow chase The passing shower of tears.
The captive yields him to the dream Of freedom, when that virgin beam Comes out upon the air; And painfully the sick man tries To fix his dim and burning eyes On the sweet promise there.
Most welcome to the lover's sight Glitters that pure, emerging light; For prattling poets say, That sweetest is the lovers' walk, And tenderest is their murmured talk, Beneath its gentle ray.
And there do graver men behold A type of errors, loved of old, Forsaken and forgiven; And thoughts and wishes not of earth Just opening in their early birth, Like that new light in heaven.
Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath! When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf, And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief, And the year smiles as it draws near its death. Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay In the gay woods and in the golden air, Like to a good old age released from care, Journeying, in long serenity, away. In such a bright, late quiet, would that I Might wear out life like thee, mid bowers and brooks, And, dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks, And music of kind voices ever nigh; And when my last sand twinkled in the glass, Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.
THE DAMSEL OF PERU.
Where olive-leaves were twinkling in every wind that blew, There sat beneath the pleasant shade a damsel of Peru. Betwixt the slender boughs, as they opened to the air, Came glimpses of her ivory neck and of her glossy hair; And sweetly rang her silver voice, within that shady nook, As from the shrubby glen is heard the sound of hidden brook.
'Tis a song of love and valor, in the noble Spanish tongue, That once upon the sunny plains of old Castile was sung; When, from their mountain-holds, on the Moorish rout below, Had rushed the Christians like a flood, and swept away the foe. Awhile that melody is still, and then breaks forth anew A wilder rhyme, a livelier note, of freedom and Peru.
For she has bound the sword to a youthful lover's side, And sent him to the war the day she should have been his bride, And bade him bear a faithful heart to battle for the right, And held the fountains of her eyes till he was out of sight. Since the parting kiss was given, six weary months are fled, And yet the foe is in the land, and blood must yet be shed.
A white hand parts the branches, a lovely face looks forth, And bright dark eyes gaze steadfastly and sadly toward the north. Thou look'st in vain, sweet maiden, the sharpest sight would fail To spy a sign of human life abroad in all the vale; For the noon is coming on, and the sunbeams fiercely beat, And the silent hills and forest-tops seem reeling in the heat.
That white hand is withdrawn, that fair sad face is gone, But the music of that silver voice is flowing sweetly on, Not as of late, in cheerful tones, but mournfully and low,— A ballad of a tender maid heart-broken long ago, Of him who died in battle, the youthful and the brave, And her who died of sorrow, upon his early grave.
And see, along that mountain-slope, a fiery horseman ride; Mark his torn plume, his tarnished belt, the sabre at his side. His spurs are buried rowel-deep, he rides with loosened rain, There's blood upon his charger's flank and foam upon the mane. He speeds him toward the olive-grove, along that shaded hill! God shield the helpless maiden there, if he should mean her ill!
And suddenly that song has ceased, and suddenly I hear A shriek sent up amid the shade, a shriek—but not of fear. For tender accents follow, and tender pauses speak The overflow of gladness, when words are all too weak; "I lay my good sword at thy feet, for now Peru is free, And I am come to dwell beside the olive-grove with thee."
THE AFRICAN CHIEF.
Chained in the market-place he stood, A man of giant frame, Amid the gathering multitude That shrunk to hear his name— All stern of look and strong of limb, His dark eye on the ground:— And silently they gazed on him, As on a lion bound.
Vainly, but well that chief had fought, He was a captive now, Yet pride, that fortune humbles not, Was written on his brow. The scars his dark broad bosom wore Showed warrior true and brave; A prince among his tribe before, He could not be a slave.
Then to his conqueror he spake: "My brother is a king; Undo this necklace from my neck, And take this bracelet ring, And send me where my brother reigns, And I will fill thy hands With store of ivory from the plains, And gold-dust from the sands."
"Not for thy ivory nor thy gold Will I unbind thy chain; That bloody hand shall never hold The battle-spear again. A price that nation never gave Shall yet be paid for thee; For thou shalt be the Christian's slave, In lands beyond the sea."
Then wept the warrior chief, and bade To shred his locks away; And one by one, each heavy braid Before the victor lay. Thick were the platted locks, and long, And closely hidden there Shone many a wedge of gold among The dark and crisped hair.
"Look, feast thy greedy eye with gold Long kept for sorest need; Take it—thou askest sums untold— And say that I am freed. Take it—my wife, the long, long day, Weeps by the cocoa-tree, And my young children leave their play, And ask in vain for me."
"I take thy gold, but I have made Thy fetters fast and strong, And ween that by the cocoa-shade Thy wife will wait thee long." Strong was the agony that shook The captive's frame to hear, And the proud meaning of his look Was changed to mortal fear.
His heart was broken—crazed his brain: At once his eye grew wild; He struggled fiercely with his chain, Whispered, and wept, and smiled; Yet wore not long those fatal bands, And once, at shut of day, They drew him forth upon the sands, The foul hyena's prey.
SPRING IN TOWN.
The country ever has a lagging Spring, Waiting for May to call its violets forth, And June its roses; showers and sunshine bring, Slowly, the deepening verdure o'er the earth; To put their foliage out, the woods are slack, And one by one the singing-birds come back.
Within the city's bounds the time of flowers Comes earlier. Let a mild and sunny day, Such as full often, for a few bright hours, Breathes through the sky of March the airs of May, Shine on our roofs and chase the wintry gloom— And lo! our borders glow with sudden bloom.
For the wide sidewalks of Broadway are then Gorgeous as are a rivulet's banks in June, That overhung with blossoms, through its glen, Slides soft away beneath the sunny noon, And they who search the untrodden wood for flowers Meet in its depths no lovelier ones than ours.
For here are eyes that shame the violet, Or the dark drop that on the pansy lies, And foreheads, white, as when in clusters set, The anemones by forest-mountains rise; And the spring-beauty boasts no tenderer streak Than the soft red on many a youthful cheek.
And thick about those lovely temples lie Locks that the lucky Vignardonne has curled, Thrice happy man! whose trade it is to buy, And bake, and braid those love-knots of the world; Who curls of every glossy color keepest, And sellest, it is said, the blackest cheapest.
And well thou mayst—for Italy's brown maids Send the dark locks with which their brows are dressed, And Gascon lasses, from their jetty braids, Crop half, to buy a ribbon for the rest; But the fresh Norman girls their tresses spare, And the Dutch damsel keeps her flaxen hair.
Then, henceforth, let no maid nor matron grieve, To see her locks of an unlovely hue, Frouzy or thin, for liberal art shall give Such piles of curls as Nature never knew. Eve, with her veil of tresses, at the sight Had blushed, outdone, and owned herself a fright.
Soft voices and light laughter wake the street, Like notes of woodbirds, and where'er the eye Threads the long way, plumes wave, and twinkling feet Fall light, as hastes that crowd of beauty by. The ostrich, hurrying o'er the desert space, Scarce bore those tossing plumes with fleeter pace.
No swimming Juno gait, of languor born, Is theirs, but a light step of freest grace,— Light as Camilla's o'er the unbent corn,— A step that speaks the spirit of the place, Since Quiet, meek old dame, was driven away To Sing Sing and the shores of Tappan Bay.
Ye that dash by in chariots! who will care For steeds or footmen now? ye cannot show Fair face, and dazzling dress, and graceful air, And last edition of the shape! Ah, no, These sights are for the earth and open sky, And your loud wheels unheeded rattle by.
THE GLADNESS OF NATURE.
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad, When our mother Nature laughs around; When even the deep blue heavens look glad, And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren, And the gossip of swallows through all the sky; The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den, And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space And their shadows at play on the bright-green vale, And here they stretch to the frolic chase, And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower, There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower, And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, On the leaping waters and gay young isles; Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
THE DISINTERRED WARRIOR.
Gather him to his grave again, And solemnly and softly lay, Beneath the verdure of the plain, The warrior's scattered bones away. Pay the deep reverence, taught of old, The homage of man's heart to death; Nor dare to trifle with the mould Once hallowed by the Almighty's breath.
The soul hath quickened every part— That remnant of a martial brow, Those ribs that held the mighty heart, That strong arm—strong no longer now. Spare them, each mouldering relic spare, Of God's own image; let them rest, Till not a trace shall speak of where The awful likeness was impressed.
For he was fresher from the hand That formed of earth the human face, And to the elements did stand In nearer kindred than our race. In many a flood to madness tossed, In many a storm has been his path; He hid him not from heat or frost, But met them, and defied their wrath.
Then they were kind—the forests here, Rivers, and stiller waters, paid A tribute to the net and spear Of the red ruler of the shade. Fruits on the woodland branches lay, Roots in the shaded soil below; The stars looked forth to teach his way; The still earth warned him of the foe.
A noble race! but they are gone, With their old forests wide and deep, And we have built our homes upon Fields where their generations sleep. Their fountains slake our thirst at noon, Upon their fields our harvest waves, Our lovers woo beneath their moon— Then let us spare, at least, their graves.
A power is on the earth and in the air From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid, And shelters him, in nooks of deepest shade, From the hot steam and from the fiery glare. Look forth upon the earth—her thousand plants Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze; The herd beside the shaded fountain pants; For life is driven from all the landscape brown; The bird has sought his tree, the snake his den, The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and men Drop by the sun-stroke in the populous town; As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent Its deadly breath into the firmament.
THE GREEK PARTISAN.
Our free flag is dancing In the free mountain air, And burnished arms are glancing, And warriors gathering there; And fearless is the little train Whose gallant bosoms shield it; The blood that warms their hearts shall stain That banner, ere they yield it. —Each dark eye is fixed on earth, And brief each solemn greeting; There is no look nor sound of mirth, Where those stern men are meeting.
They go to the slaughter To strike the sudden blow, And pour on earth, like water, The best blood of the foe; To rush on them from rock and height, And clear the narrow valley, Or fire their camp at dead of night, And fly before they rally. —Chains are round our country pressed, And cowards have betrayed her, And we must make her bleeding breast The grave of the invader.
Not till from her fetters We raise up Greece again, And write, in bloody letters, That tyranny is slain,— Oh, not till then the smile shall steal Across those darkened faces, Nor one of all those warriors feel His children's dear embraces. —Reap we not the ripened wheat, Till yonder hosts are flying, And all their bravest, at our feet, Like autumn sheaves are lying.
THE TWO GRAVES.
'Tis a bleak wild hill, but green and bright In the summer warmth and the mid-day light; There's the hum of the bee and the chirp of the wren And the dash of the brook from the alder-glen. There's the sound of a bell from the scattered flock, And the shade of the beech lies cool on the rock, And fresh from the west is the free wind's breath;— There is nothing here that speaks of death.
Far yonder, where orchards and gardens lie, And dwellings cluster, 'tis there men die, They are born, they die, and are buried near, Where the populous graveyard lightens the bier. For strict and close are the ties that bind In death the children of human-kind; Yea, stricter and closer than those of life,— 'Tis a neighborhood that knows no strife. They are noiselessly gathered—friend and foe— To the still and dark assemblies below. Without a frown or a smile they meet, Each pale and calm in his winding-sheet; In that sullen home of peace and gloom, Crowded, like guests in a banquet-room.
Yet there are graves in this lonely spot, Two humble graves,—but I meet them not. I have seen them,—eighteen years are past Since I found their place in the brambles last,— The place where, fifty winters ago An aged man in his locks of snow, And an aged matron, withered with years, Were solemnly laid!—but not with tears. For none, who sat by the light of their hearth, Beheld their coffins covered with earth; Their kindred were far, and their children dead, When the funeral-prayer was coldly said.
Two low green hillocks, two small gray stones, Rose over the place that held their bones; But the grassy hillocks are levelled again, And the keenest eye might search in vain, 'Mong briers, and ferns, and paths of sheep, For the spot where the aged couple sleep.
Yet well might they lay, beneath the soil Of this lonely spot, that man of toil, And trench the strong hard mould with the spade, Where never before a grave was made; For he hewed the dark old woods away, And gave the virgin fields to the day; And the gourd and the bean, beside his door, Bloomed where their flowers ne'er opened before; And the maize stood up, and the bearded rye Bent low in the breath of an unknown sky.
'Tis said that when life is ended here, The spirit is borne to a distant sphere; That it visits its earthly home no more, Nor looks on the haunts it loved before. But why should the bodiless soul be sent Far off, to a long, long banishment? Talk not of the light and the living green! It will pine for the dear familiar scene; It will yearn, in that strange bright world, to behold The rock and the stream it knew of old.
'Tis a cruel creed, believe it not! Death to the good is a milder lot. They are here,—they are here,—that harmless pair, In the yellow sunshine and flowing air, In the light cloud-shadows that slowly pass, In the sounds that rise from the murmuring grass. They sit where their humble cottage stood, They walk by the waving edge of the wood, And list to the long-accustomed flow Of the brook that wets the rocks below, Patient, and peaceful, and passionless, As seasons on seasons swiftly press, They watch, and wait, and linger around, Till the day when their bodies shall leave the ground.
THE CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER AND VENUS.
I would not always reason. The straight path Wearies us with the never-varying lines, And we grow melancholy. I would make Reason my guide, but she should sometimes sit Patiently by the way-side, while I traced The mazes of the pleasant wilderness Around me. She should be my counsellor, But not my tyrant. For the spirit needs Impulses from a deeper source than hers, And there are motions, in the mind of man, That she must look upon with awe. I bow Reverently to her dictates, but not less Hold to the fair illusions of old time— Illusions that shed brightness over life, And glory over Nature. Look, even now, Where two bright planets in the twilight meet, Upon the saffron heaven,—the imperial star Of Jove, and she that from her radiant urn Pours forth the light of love. Let me believe, Awhile, that they are met for ends of good, Amid the evening glory, to confer Of men and their affairs, and to shed down Kind influence. Lo! they brighten as we gaze, And shake out softer fires! The great earth feels The gladness and the quiet of the time. Meekly the mighty river, that infolds This mighty city, smooths his front, and far Glitters and burns even the rocky base Of the dark heights that bound him to the west; And a deep murmur, from the many streets, Rises like a thanksgiving. Put we hence Dark and sad thoughts awhile—there's time for them Hereafter—on the morrow we will meet, With melancholy looks, to tell our griefs, And make each other wretched; this calm hour, This balmy, blessed evening, we will give To cheerful hopes and dreams of happy days, Born of the meeting of those glorious stars.