Yet, 'twas a pleasant toil to trace and beat, Among the glowing trees, this winding way, While the sweet autumn sunshine, doubly sweet, Flushed with the ruddy foliage, round us lay, As if some gorgeous cloud of morning stood, In glory, mid the arches of the wood.
A path! what beauty does a path bestow Even on the dreariest wild! its savage nooks Seem homelike where accustomed footsteps go, And the grim rock puts on familiar looks. The tangled swamp, through which a pathway strays, Becomes a garden with strange flowers and sprays.
See from the weedy earth a rivulet break And purl along the untrodden wilderness; There the shy cuckoo comes his thirst to slake, There the shrill jay alights his plumes to dress; And there the stealthy fox, when morn is gray, Laps the clear stream and lightly moves away.
But let a path approach that fountain's brink, And nobler forms of life, behold! are there: Boys kneeling with protruded lips to drink, And slender maids that homeward slowly bear The brimming pail, and busy dames that lay Their webs to whiten in the summer ray.
Then know we that for herd and flock are poured Those pleasant streams that o'er the pebbles slip; Those pure sweet waters sparkle on the board; Those fresh cool waters wet the sick man's lip; Those clear bright waters from the font are shed, In dews of baptism, on the infant's head.
What different steps the rural footway trace! The laborer afield at early day; The schoolboy sauntering with uneven pace; The Sunday worshipper in fresh array; And mourner in the weeds of sorrow drest; And, smiling to himself, the wedding guest.
There he who cons a speech and he who hums His yet unfinished verses, musing walk. There, with her little brood, the matron comes, To break the spring flower from its juicy stalk; And lovers, loitering, wonder that the moon Has risen upon their pleasant stroll so soon.
Bewildered in vast woods, the traveller feels His heavy heart grow lighter, if he meet The traces of a path, and straight he kneels, And kisses the dear print of human feet, And thanks his God, and journeys without fear, For now he knows the abodes of men are near. Pursue the slenderest path across a lawn: Lo! on the broad highway it issues forth, And, blended with the greater track, goes on, Over the surface of the mighty earth, Climbs hills and crosses vales, and stretches far, Through silent forests, toward the evening star—
And enters cities murmuring with the feet Of multitudes, and wanders forth again, And joins the climes of frost to climes of heat, Binds East to West, and marries main to main, Nor stays till at the long-resounding shore Of the great deep, where paths are known no more.
Oh, mighty instinct, that dost thus unite Earth's neighborhoods and tribes with friendly bands, What guilt is theirs who, in their greed or spite, Undo thy holy work with violent hands, And post their squadrons, nursed in war's grim trade, To bar the ways for mutual succor made!
THE RETURN OF THE BIRDS.
I hear, from many a little throat, A warble interrupted long; I hear the robin's flute-like note, The bluebird's slenderer song.
Brown meadows and the russet hill, Not yet the haunt of grazing herds, And thickets by the glimmering rill, Are all alive with birds.
Oh choir of spring, why come so soon? On leafless grove and herbless lawn Warm lie the yellow beams of moon; Yet winter is not gone.
For frost shall sheet the pools again; Again the blustering East shall blow— Whirl a white tempest through the glen, And load the pines with snow.
Yet, haply, from the region where, Waked by an earlier spring than here, The blossomed wild-plum scents the air, Ye come in haste and fear.
For there is heard the bugle-blast, The booming gun, the jarring drum, And on their chargers, spurring fast, Armed warriors go and come.
There mighty hosts have pitched the camp In valleys that were yours till then, And Earth has shuddered to the tramp Of half a million men!
In groves where once ye used to sing, In orchards where ye had your birth, A thousand glittering axes swing To smite the trees to earth.
Ye love the fields by ploughmen trod; But there, when sprouts the beechen spray, The soldier only breaks the sod To hide the slain away.
Stay, then, beneath our ruder sky; Heed not the storm-clouds rising black, Nor yelling winds that with them fly; Nor let them fright you back,—
Back to the stifling battle-cloud, To burning towns that blot the day, And trains of mounting dust that shroud The armies on their way.
Stay, for a tint of green shall creep Soon o'er the orchard's grassy floor, And from its bed the crocus peep Beside the housewife's door.
Here build, and dread no harsher sound, To scare you from the sheltering tree, Than winds that stir the branches round, And murmur of the bee.
And we will pray that, ere again The flowers of autumn bloom and die, Our generals and their strong-armed men May lay their weapons by.
Then may ye warble, unafraid, Where hands, that wear the fetter now, Free as your wings shall ply the spade, And guide the peaceful plough.
Then, as our conquering hosts return, What shouts of jubilee shall break From placid vale and mountain stern, And shore of mighty lake!
And midland plain and ocean-strand Shall thunder: "Glory to the brave, Peace to the torn and bleeding land, And freedom to the slave!"
"HE HATH PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET."
O North, with all thy vales of green! O South, with all thy palms! From peopled towns and fields between Uplift the voice of psalms; Raise, ancient East, the anthem high, And let the youthful West reply.
Lo! in the clouds of heaven appears God's well-beloved Son; He brings a train of brighter years: His kingdom is begun. He comes, a guilty world to bless With mercy, truth, and righteousness.
Oh, Father! haste the promised hour When, at His feet, shall lie All rule, authority, and power, Beneath the ample sky; When He shall reign from pole to pole, The lord of every human soul;
When all shall heed the words He said Amid their daily cares, And, by the loving life He led, Shall seek to pattern theirs; And He, who conquered Death, shall win The nobler conquest over Sin.
MY AUTUMN WALK.
On woodlands ruddy with autumn The amber sunshine lies; I look on the beauty round me, And tears come into my eyes.
For the wind that sweeps the meadows Blows out of the far Southwest, Where our gallant men are fighting, And the gallant dead are at rest.
The golden-rod is leaning, And the purple aster waves In a breeze from the land of battles, A breath from the land of graves.
Full fast the leaves are dropping Before that wandering breath; As fast, on the field of battle, Our brethren fall in death.
Beautiful over my pathway The forest spoils are shed; They are spotting the grassy hillocks With purple and gold and red.
Beautiful is the death-sleep Of those who bravely fight In their country's holy quarrel, And perish for the Right.
But who shall comfort the living, The light of whose homes is gone: The bride that, early widowed, Lives broken-hearted on;
The matron whose sons are lying In graves on a distant shore; The maiden, whose promised husband Comes back from the war no more?
I look on the peaceful dwellings Whose windows glimmer in sight, With croft and garden and orchard, That bask in the mellow light;
And I know that, when our couriers With news of victory come, They will bring a bitter message Of hopeless grief to some.
Again I turn to the woodlands, And shudder as I see The mock-grape's blood-red banner Hung out on the cedar-tree;
And I think of days of slaughter, And the night-sky red with flames, On the Chattahoochee's meadows, And the wasted banks of the James.
Oh, for the fresh spring-season, When the groves are in their prime; And far away in the future Is the frosty autumn-time!
Oh, for that better season, When the pride of the foe shall yield, And the hosts of God and Freedom March back from the well-won field;
And the matron shall clasp her first-born With tears of joy and pride; And the scarred and war-worn lover Shall claim his promised bride!
The leaves are swept from the branches; But the living buds are there, With folded flower and foliage, To sprout in a kinder air.
Who, mid the grasses of the field That spring beneath our careless feet, First found the shining stems that yield The grains of life-sustaining wheat:
Who first, upon the furrowed land, Strewed the bright grains to sprout, and grow, And ripen for the reaper's hand— We know not, and we cannot know.
But well we know the hand that brought And scattered, far as sight can reach, The seeds of free and living thought On the broad field of modern speech.
Mid the white hills that round us lie, We cherish that Great Sower's fame, And, as we pile the sheaves on high, With awe we utter Dante's name.
Six centuries, since the poet's birth, Have come and flitted o'er our sphere: The richest harvest reaped on earth Crowns the last century's closing year.
THE DEATH OF LINCOLN.
Oh, slow to smite and swift to spare, Gentle and merciful and just! Who, in the fear of God, didst bear The sword of power, a nation's trust!
In sorrow by thy bier we stand, Amid the awe that hushes all, And speak the anguish of a land That shook with horror at thy fall.
Thy task is done; the bond are free: We bear thee to an honored grave, Whose proudest monument shall be The broken fetters of the slave.
Pure was thy life; its bloody close Hath placed thee with the sons of light, Among the noble host of those Who perished in the cause of Right.
THE DEATH OF SLAVERY.
O thou great Wrong, that, through the slow-paced years, Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield The scourge that drove the laborer to the field, And turn a stony gaze on human tears, Thy cruel reign is o'er; Thy bondmen crouch no more In terror at the menace of thine eye; For He who marks the bounds of guilty power, Long-suffering, hath heard the captive's cry, And touched his shackles at the appointed hour, And lo! they fall, and he whose limbs they galled Stands in his native manhood, disenthralled.
A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent; Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks; Our rivers roll exulting, and their banks Send up hosannas to the firmament! Fields where the bondman's toil No more shall trench the soil, Seem now to bask in a serener day; The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs Of heaven with more caressing softness play, Welcoming man to liberty like theirs. A glory clothes the land from sea to sea, For the great land and all its coasts are free.
Within that land wert thou enthroned of late, And they by whom the nation's laws were made, And they who filled its judgment-seats obeyed Thy mandate, rigid as the will of Fate. Fierce men at thy right hand, With gesture of command, Gave forth the word that none might dare gainsay; And grave and reverend ones, who loved thee not, Shrank from thy presence, and in blank dismay Choked down, unuttered, the rebellious thought; While meaner cowards, mingling with thy train, Proved, from the book of God, thy right to reign.
Great as thou wert, and feared from shore to shore, The wrath of Heaven o'ertook thee in thy pride; Thou sitt'st a ghastly shadow; by thy side Thy once strong arms hang nerveless evermore. And they who quailed but now Before thy lowering brow, Devote thy memory to scorn and shame, And scoff at the pale, powerless thing thou art. And they who ruled in thine imperial name, Subdued, and standing sullenly apart, Scowl at the hands that overthrew thy reign, And shattered at a blow the prisoner's chain.
Well was thy doom deserved; thou didst not spare Life's tenderest ties, but cruelly didst part Husband and wife, and from the mother's heart Didst wrest her children, deaf to shriek and prayer; Thy inner lair became The haunt of guilty shame; Thy lash dropped blood; the murderer, at thy side, Showed his red hands, nor feared the vengeance due. Thou didst sow earth with crimes, and, far and wide, A harvest of uncounted miseries grew, Until the measure of thy sins at last Was full, and then the avenging bolt was cast!
Go now, accursed of God, and take thy place With hateful memories of the elder time, With many a wasting plague, and nameless crime, And bloody war that thinned the human race; With the Black Death, whose way Through wailing cities lay, Worship of Moloch, tyrannies that built The Pyramids, and cruel creeds that taught To avenge a fancied guilt by deeper guilt— Death at the stake to those that held them not. Lo! the foul phantoms, silent in the gloom Of the flown ages, part to yield thee room.
I see the better years that hasten by Carry thee back into that shadowy past, Where, in the dusty spaces, void and vast, The graves of those whom thou hast murdered lie. The slave-pen, through whose door Thy victims pass no more, Is there, and there shall the grim block remain At which the slave was sold; while at thy feet Scourges and engines of restraint and pain Moulder and rust by thine eternal seat. There, mid the symbols that proclaim thy crimes, Dwell thou, a warning to the coming times.
"RECEIVE THY SIGHT."
When the blind suppliant in the way, By friendly hands to Jesus led, Prayed to behold the light of day, "Receive thy sight," the Saviour said.
At once he saw the pleasant rays That lit the glorious firmament; And, with firm step and words of praise, He followed where the Master went.
Look down in pity, Lord, we pray, On eyes oppressed by moral night, And touch the darkened lids and say The gracious words, "Receive thy sight."
Then, in clear daylight, shall we see Where walked the sinless Son of God; And, aided by new strength from Thee, Press onward in the path He trod.
A BRIGHTER DAY.
FROM THE SPANISH.
Harness the impatient Years, O Time! and yoke them to the imperial car; For, through a mist of tears, The brighter day appears, Whose early blushes tinge the hills afar.
A brighter day for thee, O realm! whose glorious fields are spread between The dark-blue Midland Sea And that immensity Of Western waters which once hailed thee queen!
The fiery coursers fling Their necks aloft, and snuff the morning wind, Till the fleet moments bring The expected sign to spring Along their path, and leave these glooms behind.
Yoke them, and yield the reins To Spain, and lead her to the lofty seat; But, ere she mount, the chains Whose cruel strength constrains Her limbs must fall in fragments at her feet.
A tyrant brood have wound About her helpless limbs the steely braid, And toward a gulf profound They drag her, gagged and bound, Down among dead men's bones, and frost and shade.
O Spain! thou wert of yore The wonder of the realms; in prouder years Thy haughty forehead wore, What it shall wear no more, The diadem of both the hemispheres.
To thee the ancient Deep Revealed his pleasant, undiscovered lands; From mines where jewels sleep, Tilled plain and vine-clad steep, Earth's richest spoil was offered to thy hands.
Yet thou, when land and sea Sent thee their tribute with each rolling wave, And kingdoms crouched to thee, Wert false to Liberty, And therefore art thou now a shackled slave.
Wilt thou not, yet again, Put forth the sleeping strength that in thee lies, And snap the shameful chain, And force that tyrant train To flee before the anger in thine eyes?
Then shall the harnessed Years Sweep onward with thee to that glorious height Which even now appears Bright through the mist of tears, The dwelling-place of Liberty and Light.
AMONG THE TREES.
Oh ye who love to overhang the springs, And stand by running waters, ye whose boughs Make beautiful the rocks o'er which they play, Who pile with foliage the great hills, and rear A paradise upon the lonely plain, Trees of the forest, and the open field! Have ye no sense of being? Does the air, The pure air, which I breathe with gladness, pass In gushes o'er your delicate lungs, your leaves, All unenjoyed? When on your winter's sleep The sun shines warm, have ye no dreams of spring? And when the glorious spring-time comes at last, Have ye no joy of all your bursting buds, And fragrant blooms, and melody of birds To which your young leaves shiver? Do ye strive And wrestle with the wind, yet know it not? Feel ye no glory in your strength when he, The exhausted Blusterer, flies beyond the hills, And leaves you stronger yet? Or have ye not A sense of loss when he has stripped your leaves, Yet tender, and has splintered your fair boughs? Does the loud bolt that smites you from the cloud And rends you, fall unfelt? Do there not run Strange shudderings through your fibres when the axe Is raised against you, and the shining blade Deals blow on blow, until, with all their boughs, Your summits waver and ye fall to earth? Know ye no sadness when the hurricane Has swept the wood and snapped its sturdy stems Asunder, or has wrenched, from out the soil, The mightiest with their circles of strong roots, And piled the ruin all along his path?
Nay, doubt we not that under the rough rind, In the green veins of these fair growths of earth, There dwells a nature that receives delight From all the gentle processes of life, And shrinks from loss of being. Dim and faint May be the sense of pleasure and of pain, As in our dreams; but, haply, real still.
Our sorrows touch you not. We watch beside The beds of those who languish or who die, And minister in sadness, while our hearts Offer perpetual prayer for life and ease And health to the beloved sufferers. But ye, while anxious fear and fainting hope Are in our chambers, ye rejoice without. The funeral goes forth; a silent train Moves slowly from the desolate home; our hearts Are breaking as we lay away the loved, Whom we shall see no more, in their last rest, Their little cells within the burial-place. Ye have no part in this distress; for still The February sunshine steeps your boughs And tints the buds and swells the leaves within; While the song-sparrow, warbling from her perch, Tells you that spring is near. The wind of May Is sweet with breath of orchards, in whose boughs The bees and every insect of the air Make a perpetual murmur of delight, And by whose flowers the humming-bird hangs poised In air, and draws their sweets and darts away. The linden, in the fervors of July, Hums with a louder concert. When the wind Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime, As when some master-hand exulting sweeps The keys of some great organ, ye give forth The music of the woodland depths, a hymn Of gladness and of thanks. The hermit-thrush Pipes his sweet note to make your arches ring; The faithful robin, from the wayside elm, Carols all day to cheer his sitting mate; And when the autumn comes, the kings of earth, In all their majesty, are not arrayed As ye are, clothing the broad mountain-side And spotting the smooth vales with red and gold; While, swaying to the sudden breeze, ye fling Your nuts to earth, and the brisk squirrel comes To gather them, and barks with childish glee, And scampers with them to his hollow oak.
Thus, as the seasons pass, ye keep alive The cheerfulness of Nature, till in time The constant misery which wrings the heart Relents, and we rejoice with you again, And glory in your beauty; till once more We look with pleasure on your varnished leaves, That gayly glance in sunshine, and can hear, Delighted, the soft answer which your boughs Utter in whispers to the babbling brook.
Ye have no history. I cannot know Who, when the hillside trees were hewn away, Haply two centuries since, bade spare this oak, Leaning to shade, with his irregular arms, Low-bent and long, the fount that from his roots Slips through a bed of cresses toward the bay— I know not who, but thank him that he left The tree to flourish where the acorn fell, And join these later days to that far time While yet the Indian hunter drew the bow In the dim woods, and the white woodman first Opened these fields to sunshine, turned the soil And strewed the wheat. An unremembered Past Broods, like a presence, mid the long gray boughs Of this old tree, which has outlived so long The flitting generations of mankind.
Ye have no history. I ask in vain Who planted on the slope this lofty group Of ancient pear-trees that with spring-time burst Into such breadth of bloom. One bears a scar Where the quick lightning scored its trunk, yet still It feels the breath of Spring, and every May Is white with blossoms. Who it was that laid Their infant roots in earth, and tenderly Cherished the delicate sprays, I ask in vain, Yet bless the unknown hand to which I owe This annual festival of bees, these songs Of birds within their leafy screen, these shouts Of joy from children gathering up the fruit Shaken in August from the willing boughs. Ye that my hands have planted, or have spared, Beside the way, or in the orchard-ground, Or in the open meadow, ye whose boughs With every summer spread a wider shade, Whose herd in coming years shall lie at rest Beneath your noontide shelter? who shall pluck Your ripened fruit? who grave, as was the wont Of simple pastoral ages, on the rind Of my smooth beeches some beloved name? Idly I ask; yet may the eyes that look Upon you, in your later, nobler growth, Look also on a nobler age than ours; An age when, in the eternal strife between Evil and Good, the Power of Good shall win A grander mastery; when kings no more Shall summon millions from the plough to learn The trade of slaughter, and of populous realms Make camps of war; when in our younger land The hand of ruffian Violence, that now Is insolently raised to smite, shall fall Unnerved before the calm rebuke of Law, And Fraud, his sly confederate, shrink, in shame, Back to his covert, and forego his prey.
The breath of Spring-time at this twilight hour Comes through the gathering glooms, And bears the stolen sweets of many a flower Into my silent rooms.
Where hast thou wandered, gentle gale, to find The perfumes thou dost bring? By brooks, that through the wakening meadows wind, Or brink of rushy spring?
Or woodside, where, in little companies, The early wild-flowers rise, Or sheltered lawn, where, mid encircling trees, May's warmest sunshine lies?
Now sleeps the humming-bird, that, in the sun, Wandered from bloom to bloom; Now, too, the weary bee, his day's work done, Rests in his waxen room.
Now every hovering insect to his place Beneath the leaves hath flown; And, through the long night hours, the flowery race Are left to thee alone.
O'er the pale blossoms of the sassafras And o'er the spice-bush spray, Among the opening buds, thy breathings pass, And come embalmed away.
Yet there is sadness in thy soft caress, Wind of the blooming year! The gentle presence, that was wont to bless Thy coming, is not here.
Go, then; and yet I bid thee not repair, Thy gathered sweets to shed, Where pine and willow, in the evening air, Sigh o'er the buried dead.
Pass on to homes where cheerful voices sound, And cheerful looks are cast, And where thou wakest, in thine airy round, No sorrow of the past.
Refresh the languid student pausing o'er The learned page apart, And he shall turn to con his task once more With an encouraged heart.
Bear thou a promise, from the fragrant sward, To him who tills the land, Of springing harvests that shall yet reward The labors of his hand.
And whisper, everywhere, that Earth renews Her beautiful array, Amid the darkness and the gathering dews, For the return of day.
'Twas when the earth in summer glory lay, We bore thee to thy grave; a sudden cloud Had shed its shower and passed, and every spray And tender herb with pearly moisture bowed.
How laughed the fields, and how, before our door, Danced the bright waters!—from his perch on high The hang-bird sang his ditty o'er and o'er, And the song-sparrow from the shrubberies nigh.
Yet was the home where thou wert lying dead Mournfully still, save when, at times, was heard, From room to room, some softly-moving tread, Or murmur of some softly-uttered word.
Feared they to break thy slumber? As we threw A look on that bright bay and glorious shore, Our hearts were wrung with anguish, for we knew Those sleeping eyes would look on them no more.
Autumn is here; we cull his lingering flowers And bring them to the spot where thou art laid; The late-born offspring of his balmier hours, Spared by the frost, upon thy grave to fade.
The sweet calm sunshine of October, now Warms the low spot; upon its grassy mould The purple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough Drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold.
And gorgeous as the morn, a tall array Of woodland shelters the smooth fields around; And guarded by its headlands, far away Sail-spotted, blue and lake-like, sleeps the sound.
I gaze in sadness; it delights me not To look on beauty which thou canst not see; And, wert thou by my side, the dreariest spot Were, oh, how far more beautiful to me!
In what fair region dost thou now abide? Hath God, in the transparent deeps of space, Through which the planets in their journey glide, Prepared, for souls like thine, a dwelling-place?
Fields of unwithering bloom, to mortal eye Invisible, though mortal eye were near, Musical groves, and bright streams murmuring by, Heard only by the spiritual ear?
Nay, let us deem that thou dost not withdraw From the dear places where thy lot was cast, And where thy heart, in love's most holy law, Was schooled by all the memories of the past.
Here on this earth, where once, among mankind, Walked God's beloved Son, thine eyes may see Beauty to which our dimmer sense is blind And glory that may make it heaven to thee.
May we not think that near us thou dost stand With loving ministrations, for we know Thy heart was never happy when thy hand Was forced its tasks of mercy to forego!
Mayst thou not prompt, with every coming day, The generous aim and act, and gently win Our restless, wandering thoughts to turn away From every treacherous path that ends in sin!
THE ORDER OF NATURE.
FROM BOETHIUS DE CONSOLATIONE.
Thou who wouldst read, with an undarkened eye, The laws by which the Thunderer bears sway, Look at the stars that keep, in yonder sky, Unbroken peace from Nature's earliest day.
The great sun, as he guides his fiery car, Strikes not the cold moon in his rapid sweep; The Bear, that sees star setting after star In the blue brine, descends not to the deep.
The star of eve still leads the hour of dews; Duly the day-star ushers in the light; With kindly alternations Love renews The eternal courses bringing day and night.
Love drives away the brawler War, and keeps The realm and host of stars beyond his reach; In one long calm the general concord steeps The elements, and tempers each to each.
The moist gives place benignly to the dry; Heat ratifies a faithful league with cold; The nimble flame springs upward to the sky; Down sinks by its own weight the sluggish mould.
Still sweet with blossoms is the year's fresh prime; Her harvests still the ripening Summer yields; Fruit-laden Autumn follows in his time, And rainy Winter waters still the fields.
The elemental harmony brings forth And rears all life, and, when life's term is o'er, It sweeps the breathing myriads from the earth, And whelms and hides them to be seen no more:
While the Great Founder, he who gave these laws, Holds the firm reins and sits amid his skies Monarch and Master, Origin and Cause, And Arbiter supremely just and wise.
He guides the force he gave; his hand restrains And curbs it to the circle it must trace: Else the fair fabric which his power sustains Would fall to fragments in the void of space.
Love binds the parts together, gladly still They court the kind restraint nor would be free; Unless Love held them subject to the Will That gave them being, they would cease to be.
Near our southwestern border, when a child Dies in the cabin of an Indian wife, She makes its funeral-couch of delicate furs, Blankets and bark, and binds it to the bough Of some broad branching tree with leathern thongs And sinews of the deer. A mother once Wrought at this tender task, and murmured thus: "Child of my love, I do not lay thee down Among the chilly clods where never comes The pleasant sunshine. There the greedy wolf Might break into thy grave and tear thee thence, And I should sorrow all my life. I make Thy burial-place here, where the light of day Shines round thee, and the airs that play among The boughs shall rock thee. Here the morning sun, Which woke thee once from sleep to smile on me, Shall beam upon thy bed, and sweetly here Shall lie the red light of the evening clouds Which called thee once to slumber. Here the stars Shall look upon thee—the bright stars of heaven Which thou didst wonder at. Here too the birds, Whose music thou didst love, shall sing to thee, And near thee build their nests and rear their young With none to scare them. Here the woodland flowers, Whose opening in the spring-time thou didst greet With shouts of joy, and which so well became Thy pretty hands when thou didst gather them, Shall spot the ground below thy little bed. "Yet haply thou hast fairer flowers than these, Which, in the land of souls, thy spirit plucks In fields that wither not, amid the throng Of joyous children, like thyself, who went Before thee to that brighter world and sport Eternally beneath its cloudless skies. Sport with them, dear, dear child, until I come To dwell with thee, and thou, beholding me, From far, shalt run and leap into my arms, And I shall clasp thee as I clasped thee here While living, oh most beautiful and sweet Of children, now more passing beautiful, If that can be, with eyes like summer stars— A light that death can never quench again. "And now, oh wind, that here among the leaves Dost softly rustle, breathe thou ever thus Gently, and put not forth thy strength to tear The branches and let fall their precious load, A prey to foxes. Thou, too, ancient sun, Beneath whose eye the seasons come and go, And generations rise and pass away, While thou dost never change—oh, call not up, With thy strong heats, the dark, grim thunder-cloud, To smite this tree with bolts of fire, and rend Its trunk and strew the earth with splintered boughs. Ye rains, fall softly on the couch that holds My darling. There the panther's spotted hide Shall turn aside the shower; and be it long, Long after thou and I have met again, Ere summer wind or winter rain shall waste This couch and all that now remains of thee, To me thy mother. Meantime, while I live, With each returning sunrise I shall seem To see thy waking smile, and I shall weep; And when the sun is setting I shall think How, as I watched thee, o'er thy sleepy eyes Drooped the smooth lids, and laid on the round cheek Their lashes, and my tears will flow again; And often, at those moments, I shall seem To hear again the sweetly prattled name Which thou didst call me by, and it will haunt My home till I depart to be with thee."
A LEGEND OF THE DELAWARES.
The air is dark with cloud on cloud, And, through the leaden-colored mass, With thunder-crashes quick and loud, A thousand shafts of lightning pass.
And to and fro they glance and go, Or, darting downward, smite the ground. What phantom arms are those that throw The shower of fiery arrows round?
A louder crash! a mighty oak Is smitten from that stormy sky. Its stem is shattered by the stroke; Around its root the branches lie.
Fresh breathes the wind; the storm is o'er; The piles of mist are swept away; And from the open sky, once more, Streams gloriously the golden day.
A dusky hunter of the wild Is passing near, and stops to see The wreck of splintered branches piled About the roots of that huge tree.
Lo, quaintly shaped and fairly strung, Wrought by what hand he cannot know, On that drenched pile of boughs, among The splinters, lies a polished bow.
He lifts it up; the drops that hang On the smooth surface glide away: He tries the string, no sharper twang Was ever heard on battle-day.
Homeward Onetho bears the prize: Who meets him as he turns to go? An aged chief, with quick, keen eyes, And bending frame, and locks of snow.
"See, what I bring, my father, see This goodly bow which I have found Beneath a thunder-riven tree, Dropped with the lightning to the ground."
"Beware, my son; it is not well"— The white-haired chieftain makes reply— "That we who in the forest dwell Should wield the weapons of the sky.
"Lay back that weapon in its place; Let those who bore it bear it still, Lest thou displease the ghostly race That float in mist from hill to hill."
"My father, I will only try How well it sends a shaft, and then, Be sure, this goodly bow shall lie Among the splintered boughs again."
So to the hunting-ground he hies, To chase till eve the forest-game, And not a single arrow flies, From that good bow, with erring aim.
And then he deems that they, who swim In trains of cloud the middle air, Perchance had kindly thoughts of him And dropped the bow for him to bear.
He bears it from that day, and soon Becomes the mark of every eye, And wins renown with every moon That fills its circle in the sky.
None strike so surely in the chase; None bring such trophies from the fight; And, at the council-fire, his place Is with the wise and men of might.
And far across the land is spread, Among the hunter tribes, his fame; Men name the bowyer-chief with dread Whose arrows never miss their aim.
See next his broad-roofed cabin rise On a smooth river's pleasant side, And she who has the brightest eyes Of all the tribe becomes his bride.
A year has passed; the forest sleeps In early autumn's sultry glow; Onetho, on the mountain-steeps, Is hunting with that trusty bow.
But they, who by the river dwell, See the dim vapors thickening o'er Long mountain-range and severing dell, And hear the thunder's sullen roar.
Still darker grows the spreading cloud From which the booming thunders sound, And stoops and hangs a shadowy shroud Above Onetho's hunting-ground.
Then they who, from the river-vale, Are gazing on the distant storm, See in the mists that ride the gale Dim shadows of the human form—
Tall warriors, plumed, with streaming hair And lifted arms that bear the bow, And send athwart the murky air The arrowy lightnings to and fro.
Loud is the tumult of an hour— Crash of torn boughs and howl of blast, And thunder-peal and pelting shower, And then the storm is overpast.
Where is Onetho? what delays His coming? why should he remain Among the plashy woodland ways, Swoln brooks and boughs that drip with rain?
He comes not, and the younger men Go forth to search the forest round. They track him to a mountain-glen, And find him lifeless on the ground.
The goodly bow that was his pride Is gone, but there the arrows lie; And now they know the death he died, Slain by the lightnings of the sky.
They bear him thence in awe and fear Back to the vale with stealthy tread; There silently, from far and near, The warriors gather round the dead.
But in their homes the women bide; Unseen they sit and weep apart, And, in her bower, Onetho's bride Is sobbing with a broken heart.
They lay in earth their bowyer-chief, And at his side their hands bestow His dreaded battle-axe and sheaf Of arrows, but without a bow.
"Too soon he died; it is not well"— The old men murmured, standing nigh— "That we, who in the forest dwell, Should wield the weapons of the sky."
I sit in the early twilight, And, through the gathering shade, I look on the fields around me Where yet a child I played.
And I peer into the shadows, Till they seem to pass away, And the fields and their tiny brooklet Lie clear in the light of day.
A delicate child and slender, With lock of light-brown hair, From knoll to knoll is leaping In the breezy summer air.
He stoops to gather blossoms Where the running waters shine; And I look on him with wonder, His eyes are so like mine.
I look till the fields and brooklet Swim like a vision by, And a room in a lowly dwelling Lies clear before my eye.
There stand, in the clean-swept fireplace, Fresh boughs from the wood in bloom, And the birch-tree's fragrant branches Perfume the humble room.
And there the child is standing By a stately lady's knee, And reading of ancient peoples And realms beyond the sea:
Of the cruel King of Egypt Who made God's people slaves, And perished, with all his army, Drowned in the Red Sea waves;
Of Deborah who mustered Her brethren long oppressed, And routed the heathen army, And gave her people rest;
And the sadder, gentler story How Christ, the crucified, With a prayer for those who slew him, Forgave them as he died.
I look again, and there rises A forest wide and wild, And in it the boy is wandering, No longer a little child.
He murmurs his own rude verses As he roams the woods alone; And again I gaze with wonder, His eyes are so like my own.
I see him next in his chamber, Where he sits him down to write The rhymes he framed in his ramble, And he cons them with delight.
A kindly figure enters, A man of middle age, And points to a line just written, And 'tis blotted from the page.
And next, in a hall of justice, Scarce grown to manly years, Mid the hoary-headed wranglers The slender youth appears.
With a beating heart he rises, And with a burning cheek, And the judges kindly listen To hear the young man speak.
Another change, and I see him Approach his dwelling-place, Where a fair-haired woman meets him, With a smile on her young face—
A smile that spreads a sunshine On lip and cheek and brow; So sweet a smile there is not In all the wide earth now.
She leads by the hand their first-born, A fair-haired little one, And their eyes as they meet him sparkle Like brooks in the morning sun.
Another change, and I see him Where the city's ceaseless coil Sends up a mighty murmur From a thousand modes of toil.
And there, mid the clash of presses, He plies the rapid pen In the battles of opinion, That divide the sons of men.
I look, and the clashing presses And the town are seen no more, But there is the poet wandering A strange and foreign shore.
He has crossed the mighty ocean To realms that lie afar, In the region of ancient story, Beneath the morning star.
And now he stands in wonder On an icy Alpine height; Now pitches his tent in the desert Where the jackal yells at night;
Now, far on the North Sea islands, Sees day on the midnight sky, Now gathers the fair strange fruitage Where the isles of the Southland lie.
I see him again at his dwelling, Where, over the little lake, The rose-trees droop in their beauty To meet the image they make.
Though years have whitened his temples, His eyes have the first look still, Save a shade of settled sadness, A forecast of coming ill.
For in that pleasant dwelling, On the rack of ceaseless pain, Lies she who smiled so sweetly, And prays for ease in vain.
And I know that his heart is breaking, When, over those dear eyes, The darkness slowly gathers, And the loved and loving dies.
A grave is scooped on the hillside Where often, at eve or morn, He lays the blooms of the garden— He, and his youngest born.
And well I know that a brightness From his life has passed away, And a smile from the green earth's beauty, And a glory from the day.
But I behold, above him, In the far blue deeps of air, Dim battlements shining faintly, And a throng of faces there;
See over crystal barrier The airy figures bend, Like those who are watching and waiting The coming of a friend.
And one there is among them, With a star upon her brow, In her life a lovely woman, A sinless seraph now.
I know the sweet calm features; The peerless smile I know, And I stretch my arms with transport From where I stand below.
And the quick tears drown my eyelids, But the airy figures fade, And the shining battlements darken And blend with the evening shade.
I am gazing into the twilight Where the dim-seen meadows lie, And the wind of night is swaying The trees with a heavy sigh.
THE TWO TRAVELLERS.
'Twas evening, and before my eyes There lay a landscape gray and dim— Fields faintly seen and twilight skies, And clouds that hid the horizon's brim.
I saw—or was it that I dreamed? A waking dream?—I cannot say, For every shape as real seemed As those which meet my eyes to-day.
Through leafless shrubs the cold wind hissed; The air was thick with falling snow, And onward, through the frozen mist, I saw a weary traveller go.
Driven o'er the landscape, bare and bleak, Before the whirling gusts of air, The snow-flakes smote his withered cheek, And gathered on his silver hair.
Yet on he fared through blinding snows, And murmuring to himself he said: "The night is near; the darkness grows, And higher rise the drifts I tread.
"Deep, deep, each autumn flower they hide; Each tuft of green they whelm from sight; And they who journeyed by my side, Are lost in the surrounding night.
"I loved them; oh, no words can tell The love that to my friends I bore; They left me with the sad farewell Of those who part to meet no more.
"And I, who face this bitter wind And o'er these snowy hillocks creep, Must end my journey soon, and find A frosty couch, a frozen sleep."
As thus he spoke, a thrill of pain Shot to my heart—I closed my eyes; But when I opened them again, I started with a glad surprise.
'Twas evening still, and in the west A flush of glowing crimson lay; I saw the morrow there, and blest That promise of a glorious day.
The waters, in their glassy sleep, Shone with the hues that tinged the sky, And rugged cliff and barren steep Gleamed with the brightness from on high.
And one was there whose journey lay Into the slowly-gathering night; With steady step he held his way, O'er shadowy vale and gleaming height.
I marked his firm though weary tread, The lifted eye and brow serene; And saw no shade of doubt or dread Pass o'er that traveller's placid mien.
And others came, their journey o'er, And bade good-night, with words of cheer: "To-morrow we shall meet once more; 'Tis but the night that parts us here."
"And I," he said, "shall sleep ere long; These fading gleams will soon be gone; Shall sleep to rise refreshed and strong In the bright day that yet will dawn."
I heard; I watched him as he went, A lessening form, until the light Of evening from the firmament Had passed, and he was lost to sight.
CHRISTMAS IN 1875.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY A SPANIARD.
No trumpet-blast profaned The hour in which the Prince of Peace was born; No bloody streamlet stained Earth's silver rivers on that sacred morn; But, o'er the peaceful plain, The war-horse drew the peasant's loaded wain.
The soldier had laid by The sword and stripped the corselet from his breast, And hung his helm on high— The sparrow's winter home and summer nest; And, with the same strong hand That flung the barbed spear, he tilled the land.
Oh, time for which we yearn; Oh, sabbath of the nations long foretold! Season of peace, return, Like a late summer when the year grows old, When the sweet sunny days Steeped mead and mountain-side in golden haze.
For now two rival kings Flaunt, o'er our bleeding land, their hostile flags, And every sunrise brings The hovering vulture from his mountain-crags To where the battle-plain Is strewn with dead, the youth and flower of Spain.
Christ is not come, while yet O'er half the earth the threat of battle lowers, And our own fields are wet, Beneath the battle-cloud, with crimson showers— The life-blood of the slain, Poured out where thousands die that one may reign.
Soon, over half the earth, In every temple crowds shall kneel again To celebrate His birth Who brought the message of good-will to men, And bursts of joyous song Shall shake the roof above the prostrate throng.
Christ is not come, while there The men of blood whose crimes affront the skies Kneel down in act of prayer, Amid the joyous strains, and when they rise Go forth, with sword and flame, To waste the land in His most holy name.
Oh, when the day shall break O'er realms unlearned in warfare's cruel arts, And all their millions wake To peaceful tasks performed with loving hearts, On such a blessed morn, Well may the nations say that Christ is born.
THE FLOOD OF YEARS.
A mighty Hand, from an exhaustless Urn, Pours forth the never-ending Flood of Years, Among the nations. How the rushing waves Bear all before them! On their foremost edge, And there alone, is Life. The Present there Tosses and foams, and fills the air with roar Of mingled noises. There are they who toil, And they who strive, and they who feast, and they Who hurry to and fro. The sturdy swain— Woodman and delver with the spade—is there, And busy artisan beside his bench, And pallid student with his written roll. A moment on the mounting billow seen, The flood sweeps over them and they are gone. There groups of revellers whose brows are twined With roses, ride the topmost swell awhile, And as they raise their flowing cups and touch The clinking brim to brim, are whirled beneath The waves and disappear. I hear the jar Of beaten drums, and thunders that break forth From cannon, where the advancing billow sends Up to the sight long files of armed men, That hurry to the charge through flame and smoke. The torrent bears them under, whelmed and hid Slayer and slain, in heaps of bloody foam. Down go the steed and rider, the plumed chief Sinks with his followers; the head that wears The imperial diadem goes down beside The felon's with cropped ear and branded cheek. A funeral-train—the torrent sweeps away Bearers and bier and mourners. By the bed Of one who dies men gather sorrowing, And women weep aloud; the flood rolls on; The wail is stifled and the sobbing group Borne under. Hark to that shrill, sudden shout, The cry of an applauding multitude, Swayed by some loud-voiced orator who wields The living mass as if he were its soul! The waters choke the shout and all is still. Lo! next a kneeling crowd, and one who spreads The hands in prayer—the engulfing wave o'ertakes And swallows them and him. A sculptor wields The chisel, and the stricken marble grows To beauty; at his easel, eager-eyed, A painter stands, and sunshine at his touch Gathers upon his canvas, and life glows; A poet, as he paces to and fro, Murmurs his sounding lines. Awhile they ride The advancing billow, till its tossing crest Strikes them and flings them under, while their tasks Are yet unfinished. See a mother smile On her young babe that smiles to her again; The torrent wrests it from her arms; she shrieks And weeps, and midst her tears is carried down. A beam like that of moonlight turns the spray To glistening pearls; two lovers, hand in hand, Rise on the billowy swell and fondly look Into each other's eyes. The rushing flood Flings them apart: the youth goes down; the maid With hands outstretched in vain, and streaming eyes, Waits for the next high wave to follow him. An aged man succeeds; his bending form Sinks slowly. Mingling with the sullen stream Gleam the white locks, and then are seen no more. Lo! wider grows the stream—a sea-like flood Saps earth's walled cities; massive palaces Crumble before it; fortresses and towers Dissolve in the swift waters; populous realms Swept by the torrent see their ancient tribes Engulfed and lost; their very languages Stifled, and never to be uttered more. I pause and turn my eyes, and looking back Where that tumultuous flood has been, I see The silent ocean of the Past, a waste Of waters weltering over graves, its shores Strewn with the wreck of fleets where mast and hull Drop away piecemeal; battlemented walls Frown idly, green with moss, and temples stand Unroofed, forsaken by the worshipper. There lie memorial stones, whence time has gnawed The graven legends, thrones of kings o'erturned, The broken altars of forgotten gods, Foundations of old cities and long streets Where never fall of human foot is heard, On all the desolate pavement. I behold Dim glimmerings of lost jewels, far within The sleeping waters, diamond, sardonyx, Ruby and topaz, pearl and chrysolite, Once glittering at the banquet on fair brows That long ago were dust, and all around Strewn on the surface of that silent sea Are withering bridal wreaths, and glossy locks Shorn from dear brows, by loving hands, and scrolls O'er written, haply with fond words of love And vows of friendship, and fair pages flung Fresh from the printer's engine. There they lie A moment, and then sink away from sight. I look, and the quick tears are in my eyes, For I behold in every one of these A blighted hope, a separate history Of human sorrows, telling of dear ties Suddenly broken, dreams of happiness Dissolved in air, and happy days too brief That sorrowfully ended, and I think How painfully must the poor heart have beat In bosoms without number, as the blow Was struck that slew their hope and broke their peace. Sadly I turn and look before, where yet The Flood must pass, and I behold a mist Where swarm dissolving forms, the brood of Hope, Divinely fair, that rest on banks of flowers, Or wander among rainbows, fading soon And reappearing, haply giving place To forms of grisly aspect such as Fear Shapes from the idle air—where serpents lift The head to strike, and skeletons stretch forth The bony arm in menace. Further on A belt of darkness seems to bar the way Long, low, and distant, where the Life to come Touches the Life that is. The Flood of Years Rolls toward it near and nearer. It must pass That dismal barrier. What is there beyond? Hear what the wise and good have said. Beyond That belt of darkness, still the Years roll on More gently, but with not less mighty sweep. They gather up again and softly bear All the sweet lives that late were overwhelmed And lost to sight, all that in them was good, Noble, and truly great, and worthy of love— The lives of infants and ingenuous youths, Sages and saintly women who have made Their households happy; all are raised and borne By that great current in its onward sweep, Wandering and rippling with caressing waves Around green islands with the breath Of flowers that never wither. So they pass From stage to stage along the shining course Of that bright river, broadening like a sea. As its smooth eddies curl along their way They bring old friends together; hands are clasped In joy unspeakable; the mother's arms Again are folded round the child she loved And lost. Old sorrows are forgotten now, Or but remembered to make sweet the hour That overpays them; wounded hearts that bled Or broke are healed forever. In the room Of this grief-shadowed present, there shall be A Present in whose reign no grief shall gnaw The heart, and never shall a tender tie Be broken; in whose reign the eternal Change That waits on growth and action shall proceed With everlasting Concord hand in hand.
Think not that thou and I Are here the only worshippers to day, Beneath this glorious sky, Mid the soft airs that o'er the meadows play; These airs, whose breathing stirs The fresh grass, are our fellow-worshippers.
See, as they pass, they swing The censers of a thousand flowers that bend O'er the young herbs of spring, And the sweet odors like a prayer ascend, While, passing thence, the breeze Wakes the grave anthem of the forest-trees.
It is as when, of yore, The Hebrew poet called the mountain-steeps, The forests, and the shore Of ocean, and the mighty mid-sea deeps, And stormy wind, to raise A universal symphony of praise.
For, lo! the hills around, Gay in their early green, give silent thanks; And, with a joyous sound, The streamlet's huddling waters kiss their banks, And, from its sunny nooks, To heaven, with grateful smiles, the valley looks.
The blossomed apple-tree, Among its flowery tufts, on every spray, Offers the wandering bee A fragrant chapel for his matin-lay; And a soft bass is heard From the quick pinions of the humming-bird.
Haply—for who can tell?— Aerial beings, from the world unseen, Haunting the sunny dell, Or slowly floating o'er the flowery green, May join our worship here, With harmonies too fine for mortal ear.
POEM OF THE AGES.
In this poem, written and first printed in the year 1821, the author has endeavored, from a survey of the past ages of the world, and of the successive advances of mankind in knowledge, virtue, and happiness, to justify and confirm the hopes of the philanthropist for the future destinies of the human race.
The first half of this fragment may seem to the reader borrowed from the essay on Rural Funerals in the fourth number of "The Sketch-book." The lines were, however, written more than a year before that number appeared. The poem, unfinished as it is, would hardly have been admitted into this collection, had not the author been unwilling to lose what had the honor of resembling so beautiful a composition.
THE MASSACRE AT SCIO.
This poem, written about the time of the horrible butchery of the Sciotes by the Turks, in 1824, has been more fortunate than most poetical predictions. The independence of the Greek nation which it foretold, has come to pass, and the massacre, by inspiring a deeper detestation of their oppressors, did much to promote that event.
Her maiden veil, her own black hair, etc.
"The unmarried females have a modest falling down of the hair over the eyes."—ELIOT.
The mountain called by this name is a remarkable precipice in Great Barrington, overlooking the rich and picturesque valley of the Housatonic, in the western part of Massachusetts. At the southern extremity is, or was a few years since, a conical pile of small stones, erected, according to the tradition of the surrounding country, by the Indians, in memory of a woman of the Stockbridge tribe who killed herself by leaping from the edge of the precipice. Until within a few years past, small parties of that tribe used to arrive from their settlement in the western part of the State of New York, on visits to Stockbridge, the place of their nativity and former residence. A young woman belonging to one of these parties related, to a friend of the author, the story on which the poem of Monument Mountain is founded. An Indian girl had formed an attachment for her cousin, which, according to the customs of the tribe, was unlawful. She was, in consequence, seized with a deep melancholy, and resolved to destroy herself. In company with a female friend, she repaired to the mountain, decked out for the occasion in all her ornaments, and, after passing the day on the summit in singing with her companion the traditional songs of her nation, she threw herself headlong from the rock, and was killed.
THE MURDERED TRAVELLER.
Some years since, in the month of May, the remains of a human body, partly devoured by wild animals, were found in a woody ravine, near a solitary road passing between the mountains west of the village of Stockbridge. It was supposed that the person came to his death by violence, but no traces could be discovered of his murderers. It was only recollected that one evening, in the course of the previous winter, a traveller had stopped at an inn in the village of West Stockbridge: that he had inquired the way to Stockbridge; and that, in paying the innkeeper for something he had ordered, it appeared that he had a considerable sum of money in his possession. Two ill-looking men were present, and went out about the same time that the traveller proceeded on his journey. During the winter, also, two men of shabby appearance, but plentifully supplied with money, had lingered for a while about the village of Stockbridge. Several years afterward, a criminal, about to be executed for a capital offence in Canada, confessed that he had been concerned in murdering a traveller in Stockbridge for the sake of his money. Nothing was ever discovered respecting the name or residence of the person murdered.
Chained in the market-place he stood, etc.
The story of the African chief, related in this ballad, may be found in the African Repository for April, 1825. The subject of it was a warrior of majestic stature, the brother of Yarradee, king of the Solima nation. He had been taken in battle, and was brought in chains for sale to the Rio Pongas, where he was exhibited in the market-place, his ankles still adorned with massy rings of gold which he wore when captured. The refusal of his captors to listen to his offers of ransom drove him mad, and he died a maniac.
THE CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER AND VENUS.
This conjunction was said in the common calendars to have taken place on the 2d of August, 1826. This, I believe, was an error, but the apparent approach of the planets was sufficiently near for poetical purposes.
This poem is nearly a translation from one by Jose Maria de Heredia, a native of the island of Cuba, who published at New York, about the year 1825, a volume of poems in the Spanish language.
Neither this, nor any of the other sonnets in the collection, with the exception of the one from the Portuguese, is framed according to the legitimate Italian model, which, in the author's opinion, possesses no peculiar beauty for an ear accustomed only to the metrical forms of our own language. The sonnets in this collection are rather poems in fourteen lines than sonnets.
The slim papaya ripens, etc.
Papaya—papaw, custard-apple. Flint, in his excellent work on the Geography and History of the Western States, thus describes this tree and its fruit:
"A papaw-shrub hanging full of fruits, of a size and weight so disproportioned to the stem, and from under long and rich-looking leaves, of the same yellow with the ripened fruit, and of an African luxuriance of growth, is to us one of the richest spectacles that we have ever contemplated in the array of the woods. The fruit contains from two to six seeds like those of the tamarind, except that they are double the size. The pulp of the fruit resembles egg-custard in consistence and appearance. It has the same creamy feeling in the mouth, and unites the taste of eggs, cream, sugar, and spice. It is a natural custard, too luscious for the relish of most people."
Chateaubriand, in his Travels, speaks disparagingly of the fruit of the papaw; but on the authority of Mr. Flint, who must know more of the matter, I have ventured to make my Western lover enumerate it among the delicacies of the wilderness.
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye.
The prairies of the West, with an undulating surface, rolling prairies, as they are called, present to the unaccustomed eye a singular spectacle when the shadows of the clouds are passing rapidly over them. The face of the ground seems to fluctuate and toss like billows of the sea.
The prairie-hawk that, poised on high, Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not.
I have seen the prairie-hawk balancing himself in the air for hours together, apparently over the same spot; probably watching his prey.
These ample fields Nourished their harvests.
The size and extent of the mounds in the valley of the Mississippi indicate the existence, at a remote period, of a nation at once populous and laborious, and therefore probably subsisting by agriculture.
The rude conquerors Seated the captive with their chiefs.
Instances ace not wanting of generosity like this among the North American Indians toward a captive or survivor of a hostile tribe on which the greatest cruelties had been exercised.
SONG OF MARION'S MEN.
The exploits of General Francis Marion, the famous partisan warrior of South Carolina, form an interesting chapter in the annals of the American Revolution. The British troops were so harassed by the irregular and successful warfare which he kept up at the head of a few daring followers, that they sent an officer to remonstrate with him for not coming into the open field and fighting "like a gentleman and a Christian."
Several learned divines, with much appearance of reason, in particular Dr. Lardner, have maintained that the common notion respecting the dissolute life of Mary Magdalen is erroneous, and that she was always a person of excellent character. Charles Taylor, the editor of "Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible" takes the same view of the subject.
The verses of the Spanish poet here translated refer to the "woman who had been a sinner," mentioned in the seventh chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, and who is commonly confounded with Mary Magdalen.
FATIMA AND RADUAN.
This and the following poems belong to that class of ancient Spanish ballads, by unknown authors, called Romances Moriscos—Moriscan Romances or ballads. They were composed in the fourteenth century, some of them, probably, by the Moors, who then lived intermingled with the Christians; and they relate the loves and achievements of the knights of Granada.
LOVE AND FOLLY.—(FROM LA FONTAINE.)
This is rather an imitation than a translation of the poem of the graceful French fabulist.
These eyes shall not recall thee, etc.
This is the very expression of the original—No te llamaran mis ojos, etc. The Spanish poets early adopted the practice of calling a lady by the name of the most expressive feature of her countenance, her eyes. The lover styled his mistress "ojos bellos," beautiful eyes; "ojos serenos," serene eyes. Green eyes seem to have been anciently thought a great beauty in Spain, and there is a very pretty ballad by an absent lover, in which he addressed his lady by the title of "green eyes;" supplicating that he may remain in her remembrance:
"iAy ojuelos verdes! Ay los mis ojuelos! Ay, hagan los cielos Que de mi te acuerdes!"
Say, Love—for didst thou see her tears, etc.
The stanza beginning with this line stands thus in the original:
"Dilo tu, amor, si lo viste; iMas ay! que de lastimado Diste otro nudo a la venda, Para no ver lo que la pasado."
I am sorry to find so poor a conceit deforming so spirited a composition as this old ballad, but I have preserved it in the version. It is one of those extravagances which afterward became so common in Spanish poetry, when Gongora introduced the estilo culto, as it was called.
LOVE IN THE AGE OF CHIVALRY.
This personification of the passion of Love, by Peyre Vidal, has been referred to as a proof of how little the Provencal poets were indebted to the authors of Greece and Rome for the imagery of their poems.
THE LOVE OF GOD.—(FROM THE PROVENCAL OF BERNARD RASCAS.)
The original of these lines is thus given by John of Nostradamus, in his Lives of the Troubadours, in a barbarous Frenchified orthography:
"Touta kausa mortala una fes perira, Fors que l'amour de Dieu, que touiours durara. Tous nostres cors vendran essuchs, come fa l'eska, Lous Aubres leyssaran lour verdour tendra e fresca, Lous Ausselets del bosc perdran lour kant subtyeu, E non s'auzira plus lou Rossignol gentyeu. Lous Buols al Pastourgage, e las blankas fedettas Sent'ran lous agulhons de las mortals Sagettas, Lous crestas d'Aries fiers, Renards, e Loups espars Kabrols, Cervys, Chamous, Senglars de toutes pars, Lous Ours hardys e forts, seran poudra, e Arena. Lou Daulphin en la Mar, lou Ton, e la Balena, Monstres impetuous, Ryaumes, e Comtas, Lous Princes, e lous Reys, seran per mort domtas. E nota ben eysso kascun: la Terra granda, (Ou l'Escritura ment) lou fermament que branda, Prendra autra figura. Enfin tout perira, Fors que l'Amour de Dieu, que touiours durara."
FROM THE SPANISH OF PEDRO DE CASTRO Y ANAYA.
Las Auroras de Diana, in which the original of these lines is contained, is, notwithstanding it was praised by Lope de Vega, one of the worst of the old Spanish Romances, being a tissue of riddles and affectations, with now and then a little poem of considerable beauty.
The author began this poem in rhyme. The following is the first draught of it as far as he proceeded, in a stanza which he found it convenient to abandon:
A midnight black with clouds is on the sky; A shadow like the first original night Folds in, and seems to press me as I lie; No image meets the vainly wandering sight, And shot through rolling mists no starlight gleam Glances on glassy pool or rippling stream.
No ruddy blaze, from dwellings bright within, Tinges the flowering summits of the grass; No sound of life is heard, no village din, Wings rustling overhead or steps that pass, While, on the breast of Earth at random thrown, I listen to her mighty voice alone.
A voice of many tones: deep murmurs sent From waters that in darkness glide away, From woods unseen by sweeping breezes bent, From rocky chasms where darkness dwells all day, And hollows of the invisible hills around, Blent in one ceaseless, melancholy sound.
O Earth! dost thou, too, sorrow for the past? Mourn'st thou thy childhood's unreturning hours, Thy springs, that briefly bloomed and faded fast, The gentle generations of thy flowers, Thy forests of the elder time, decayed And gone with all the tribes that loved their shade?
Mourn'st thou that first fair time so early lost, The golden age that lives in poets' strains, Ere hail or lightning, whirlwind, flood, or frost Scathed thy green breast, or earthquakes whelmed thy plains, Ere blood upon the shuddering ground was spilt, Or night was haunted by disease and guilt?
Or haply dost thou grieve for those who die? For living things that trod a while thy face, The love of thee and heaven, and now they lie Mixed with the shapeless dust the wild winds chase? I, too, must grieve, for never on thy sphere Shall those bright forms and faces reappear.
Ha! with a deeper and more thrilling tone, Rises that voice around me: 'tis the cry Of Earth for guilt and wrong, the eternal moan Sent to the listening and long-suffering sky, I hear and tremble, and my heart grows faint, As midst the night goes up that great complaint.
Where Isar's clay-white rivulets run Through the dark woods like frighted deer.
Close to the city of Munich, in Bavaria, lies the spacious and beautiful pleasure-ground, called the English Garden, in which these lines were written, originally projected and laid out by our countryman, Count Rumford, under the auspices of one of the sovereigns of the country. Winding walks, of great extent, pass through close thickets and groves interspersed with lawns; and streams, diverted from the river Isar, traverse the grounds swiftly in various directions, the water of which, stained with the clay of the soil it has corroded in its descent from the upper country, is frequently of a turbid-white color.
THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS.
This song refers to the expedition of the Vermonters, commanded by Ethan Allen, by whom the British fort of Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain, was surprised and taken, in May, 1775.
THE CHILD'S FUNERAL.
The incident on which this poem is founded was related to the author while in Europe, in a letter from an English lady. A child died in the south of Italy, and when they went to bury it they found it revived and playing with the flowers which, after the manner of that country, had been brought to grace his funeral.
'Tis said, when Schiller's death drew nigh, The wish possessed his mighty mind, To wander forth wherever lie The homes and haunts of humankind.
Shortly before the death of Schiller, he was seized with a strong desire to travel in foreign countries, as if his spirit had a presentiment of its approaching enlargement, and already longed to expatiate in a wider and more varied sphere of existence.
The flower Of sanguinaria, from whose brittle stem The red drops fell like blood.
The Sanguinaria Canadensis, or blood-root, as it is commonly called, bears a delicate white flower of a musky scent, the stem of which breaks easily, and distils a juice of a bright-red color.
The shad-bush, white with flowers, Brightened the glens.
The small tree, named by the botanists Aronia Botyrapium, is called, in some parts of our country, the shad-bush, from the circumstance that it flowers about the time that the shad ascend the rivers in early spring. Its delicate sprays, covered with white blossoms before the trees are yet in leaf, have a singularly beautiful appearance in the woods.
"There hast thou," said my friend, "a fitting type Of human life."
I remember hearing an aged man, in the country, compare the slow movement of time in early life, and its swift flight as it approaches old age, to the drumming of a partridge or ruffed grouse in the woods—the strokes falling slow and distinct at first, and following each other more and more rapidly, till they end at last in a whirring sound.
AN EVENING REVERY.—FROM AN UNFINISHED POEM.
This poem and that entitled "The Fountain," with one or two others in blank verse, were intended by the author as portions of a larger poem.
The fresh savannas of the Sangamon Here rise in gentle suells, and the long grass Is mixed with rustling hazels. Scarlet tufts Are glowing in the green, like flakes of fire.
The Painted Cup, Euchroma coccinea, or Bartsia coccinea, grows in great abundance in the hazel prairies of the Western States, where its scarlet tufts make a brilliant appearance in the midst of the verdure. The Sangamon is a beautiful river, tributary to the Illinois, bordered with rich prairies.
The long wave rolling from the southern pole To break upon Japan.
"Breaks the long wave that at the pole began."—TENNENT'S Anster Fair.
At noon the Hebrew bowed the knee And worshipped.
"Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice."—Psalm lv. 17.
THE WHITE-FOOTED DEER.
"During the stay of Long's Expedition at Engineer Cantonment, three specimens of a variety of the common deer were brought in, having all the feet white near the hoofs, and extending to those on the hind-feet from a little above the spurious hoofs. This white extremity was divided, upon the sides of the foot, by the general color of the leg, which extends down near to the hoofs, leaving a white triangle in front, of which the point was elevated rather higher than the spurious hoofs."—GODMAN'S Natural History, vol. ii., p. 314.
THE LOST BIRD.
Readers who are acquainted with the Spanish language, may not be displeased at seeing the original of this little poem:
EL PAJARO PERDIDO.
Huyo con vuelo incierto, Y de mis ojos ha desparecido. Mirad, si, a vuestro huerto, Mi pajaro querido, Ninas hermosas, por acaso ha huido.
Sus ojos relucientes Son como los del aguila orgullosa; Plumas resplandecientes, En la cabeza airosa, Lleva; y su voz es tierna y armoniosa.
Mirad, si cuidadoso Junto a las flores se escondio en la grama. Ese laurel frondoso Mirad, rama por rama, Que el los laureles y los flores ama.
Si le hallais, por ventura, No os enamore su amoroso acento; No os prende su hermosura; Volvedmele al momento; O dejadle, si no, libre en el viento.
Por que su pico de oro Solo en mi mano toma la semilla; Y no enjugare el lloro Que veis en mi mejilla, Hasta encontrar mi profugo avecilla.
Mi vista se oscurece, Si sus ojos no ve, que son mi dia Mi anima desfallece Con la melancolia De no escucharle ya su melodia.
The literature of Spain at the present day has this peculiarity, that female writers have, in considerable number, entered into competition with the other sex. One of the most remarkable of these, as a writer of both prose and poetry, is Carolina Coronado de Perry, the author of the little poem here given. The poetical literature of Spain has felt the influence of the female mind in the infusion of a certain delicacy and tenderness, and the more frequent choice of subjects which interest the domestic affections. Concerning the verses of the lady already mentioned, Don Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch, one of the most accomplished Spanish critics of the present day, and himself a successful dramatic writer, says:
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"If Carolina Coronado had, through modesty, sent her productions from Estremadura to Madrid under the name of a person of the other sex, it would still have been difficult for intelligent readers to persuade themselves that they were written by a man, or at least, considering their graceful sweetness, purity of tone, simplicity of conception, brevity of development, and delicate and particular choice of subject, we should be constrained to attribute them to one yet in his early youth, whom the imagination would represent as ingenuous, innocent, and gay, who had scarce ever wandered beyond the flowery grove or pleasant valley where his cradle was rocked, and where he has been lulled to sleep by the sweetest songs of Francisea de la Torre, Garcilaso, and Melendez."
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The author of the Pajaro Perdido, according to a memoir of her by Angel Fernandez de los Rios, was born at Almendralejo, in Estremadura, in 1823. At the age of nine years she began to steal from sleep, after a day passed in various lessons, and in domestic occupations, several hours every night to read the poets of her country, and other books belonging to the library of the household, among which are mentioned, as a proof of her vehement love of reading, the "Critical History of Spain," by the Abbe Masuden, "and other works equally dry and prolix." She was afterward sent to Badajoz, where she received the best education which the state of the country, then on fire with a civil war, would admit. Here the intensity of her application to her studies caused a severe malady, which has frequently recurred in after-life. At the age of thirteen years she wrote a poem entitled La Palma, which the author of her biography declares to be worthy of Herrera, and which led Espronceda, a poet of Estremadura, a man of genius, and the author of several translations from Byron, whom he resembled both in mental and personal characteristics, to address her an eulogistic sonnet. In 1843, when she was but twenty years old, a volume of her poems was published at Madrid, in which were included both that entitled La Palma and the one I have given in this note. To this volume Hartzenbusch, in his admiration for her genius, prefaced an introduction.
The task of writing verses in Spanish is not difficult. Rhymes are readily found, and the language is easily moulded into metrical forms. Those who have distinguished themselves in this literature have generally made their first essays in verse. What is remarkable enough, the men who afterward figured in political life mostly began their career as the authors of madrigals. A poem introduces the future statesman to the public, as a speech at a popular meeting introduces the candidate for political distinctions in this country. I have heard of but one of the eminent Spanish politicians of the present time, who made a boast that he was innocent of poetry; and if all that his enemies say of him be true, it would have been well both for his country and his own fame, if he had been equally innocent of corrupt practices. The compositions of Carolina Coronado, even her earliest, do not deserve to be classed with the productions of which I have spoken, and which are simply the effect of inclination and facility. They possess the mens divinior.
In 1852 a collection of poems of Carolina Coronado was brought out at Madrid, including those which were first published. The subjects are of larger variety than those which prompted her earlier productions; some of them are of a religious cast, others refer to political matters. One of them, which appears among the "Improvisations," is an energetic protest against erecting a new amphitheatre for bull-fights. The spirit in all her poetry is humane and friendly to the best interests of mankind.
Her writings in prose must not be overlooked. Among them is a novel entitled Sigea, founded on the adventures of Camoens; another entitled Jarilla, a beautiful story, full of pictures of rural life in Estremadura, which deserves, if it could find a competent translator, to be transferred to our language. Besides these there are two other novels from her pen, Paquita and La Luz del Tejo. A few years since appeared, in a Madrid periodical, the Semanario, a series of letters written by her, giving an account of the impressions received in a journey from the Tagus to the Rhine, including a visit to England. Among the subjects on which she has written, is the idea, still warmly cherished in Spain, of uniting the entire peninsula under one government. In an ably-conducted journal of Madrid, she has given accounts of the poetesses of Spain, her contemporaries, with extracts from their writings, and a kindly estimate of their respective merits.
Her biographer speaks of her activity and efficiency in charitable enterprises, her interest in the cause of education, her visits to the primary schools of Madrid, encouraging and rewarding the pupils, and her patronage of the escuela de parvules, or infant school at Badajoz, established by a society of that city, with the design of improving the education of the laboring class.
It must have been not long after the publication of her poems, in 1852, that Carolina Coronado became the wife of an American gentleman, Mr. Horatio J. Perry, at one time our Secretary of Legation at the Court of Madrid, afterward our Charge d'Affaires, and now, in 1863, again Secretary of Legation. Amid the duties of a wife and mother, which she fulfils with exemplary fidelity and grace, she has neither forgotten nor forsaken the literary pursuits which have given her so high a reputation.
THE RUINS OF ITALICA.
The poems of the Spanish author, Francisco de Rioja, who lived in the first half of the seventeenth century, are few in number, but much esteemed. His ode on the Ruins of Italica is one of the most admired of these, but in the only collection of his poems which I have seen, it is said that the concluding stanza, in the original copy, was deemed so little worthy of the rest that it was purposely omitted in the publication. Italica was a city founded by the Romans in the south of Spain, the remains of which are still an object of interest.
Sella is the name given by the Vulgate to one of the wives of Lamech, mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis, and called Zillah in the corn-won English version of the Bible.
HOMER'S ODYSSEY, BOOK V., TRANSLATED.
It may be esteemed presumptuous in the author of this volume to attempt a translation of any part of Homer in blank verse after that of Cowper. It has always seemed to him, however, that Cowper's version had very great defects. The style of Homer is simple, and he has been praised for fire and rapidity of narrative. Does anybody find these qualities in Cowper's Homer? If Cowper had rendered him into such English as he employed in his "Task," there would be no reason to complain; but in translating Homer he seems to have thought it necessary to use a different style from that of his original work. Almost every sentence is stiffened by some clumsy inversion; stately phrases are used when simpler ones were at hand, and would have rendered the meaning of the original better. The entire version has the appearance of being hammered out with great labor, and as a whole it is cold and constrained; scarce any thing seems spontaneous; it is only now and then that the translator has caught the fervor of his author. Homer, of course, wrote in idiomatic Greek, and, in order to produce either a true copy of the original, or an agreeable poem, should have been translated into idiomatic English.
I am almost ashamed, after this censure of an author whom, in the main, I admire as much as I do Cowper, to refer to my own translation of the Fifth Book of the Odyssey. I desire barely to say that I have endeavored to give the verses of the old Greek poet at least a simpler presentation in English, and one more conformable to the genius of our language.
The mock-grape's blood-red banner, etc.
Ampelopis, mock-grape. I have here literally translated the botanical name of the Virginia creeper—an appellation too cumbrous for verse.
A BRIGHTER DAY.
This poem was written shortly after the author's return from a visit to Spain, and more than a twelvemonth before the overthrow of the tyrannical government of Queen Isabella and the expulsion of the Bourbons. It is not "from the Spanish" in the ordinary sense of the phrase, but is an attempt to put into a poetic form sentiments and hopes which the author frequently heard, during his visit to Spain, from the lips of the natives. We are yet to see whether these expectations of an enlightened government and national liberty are to become a reality under the new order of things.