The voice of Saint John, The beloved disciple, Who wandered and waited The Master's appearance, Alone in the darkness, Unsheltered and friendless.
"It is accepted The angry defiance, The challenge of battle! It is accepted, But not with the weapons Of war that thou wieldest!
"Cross against corslet, Love against hatred, Peace-cry for war-cry! Patience is powerful; He that o'ercometh Hath power o'er the nations!
"As torrents in summer, Half dried in their channels, Suddenly rise, though the Sky is still cloudless, For rain has been falling Far off at their fountains;
"So hearts that are fainting Grow full to o'erflowing, And they that behold it Marvel, and know not That God at their fountains Far off has been raining!
"Stronger than steel Is the sword of the Spirit; Swifter than arrows The light of the truth is, Greater than anger Is love, and subdueth!
"Thou art a phantom, A shape of the sea-mist, A shape of the brumal Rain, and the darkness Fearful and formless; Day dawns and thou art not!
"The dawn is not distant, Nor is the night starless; Love is eternal! God is still God, and His faith shall not fail us; Christ is eternal!"
A strain of music closed the tale, A low, monotonous, funeral wail, That with its cadence, wild and sweet, Made the long Saga more complete.
"Thank God," the Theologian said, "The reign of violence is dead, Or dying surely from the world; While Love triumphant reigns instead, And in a brighter sky o'erhead His blessed banners are unfurled. And most of all thank God for this: The war and waste of clashing creeds Now end in words, and not in deeds, And no one suffers loss, or bleeds, For thoughts that men call heresies.
"I stand without here in the porch, I hear the bell's melodious din, I hear the organ peal within, I hear the prayer, with words that scorch Like sparks from an inverted torch, I hear the sermon upon sin, With threatenings of the last account. And all, translated in the air, Reach me but as our dear Lord's Prayer, And as the Sermon on the Mount.
"Must it be Calvin, and not Christ? Must it be Athanasian creeds, Or holy water, books, and beads? Must struggling souls remain content With councils and decrees of Trent? And can it be enough for these The Christian Church the year embalms With evergreens and boughs of palms, And fills the air with litanies?
"I know that yonder Pharisee Thanks God that he is not like me; In my humiliation dressed, I only stand and beat my breast, And pray for human charity.
"Not to one church alone, but seven, The voice prophetic spake from heaven; And unto each the promise came, Diversified, but still the same; For him that overcometh are The new name written on the stone, The raiment white, the crown, the throne, And I will give him the Morning Star!
"Ah! to how many Faith has been No evidence of things unseen, But a dim shadow, that recasts The creed of the Phantasiasts, For whom no Man of Sorrows died, For whom the Tragedy Divine Was but a symbol and a sign, And Christ a phantom crucified!
"For others a diviner creed Is living in the life they lead. The passing of their beautiful feet Blesses the pavement of the street, And all their looks and words repeat Old Fuller's saying, wise and sweet, Not as a vulture, but a dove, The Holy Ghost came from above.
"And this brings back to me a tale So sad the hearer well may quail, And question if such things can be; Yet in the chronicles of Spain Down the dark pages runs this stain, And naught can wash them white again, So fearful is the tragedy."
THE THEOLOGIAN'S TALE.
In the heroic days when Ferdinand And Isabella ruled the Spanish land, And Torquemada, with his subtle brain, Ruled them, as Grand Inquisitor of Spain, In a great castle near Valladolid, Moated and high and by fair woodlands hid, There dwelt, as from the chronicles we learn, An old Hidalgo proud and taciturn, Whose name has perished, with his towers of stone, And all his actions save this one alone; This one, so terrible, perhaps 'twere best If it, too, were forgotten with the rest; Unless, perchance, our eyes can see therein The martyrdom triumphant o'er the sin; A double picture, with its gloom and glow, The splendor overhead, the death below.
This sombre man counted each day as lost On which his feet no sacred threshold crossed; And when he chanced the passing Host to meet, He knelt and prayed devoutly in the street; Oft he confessed; and with each mutinous thought, As with wild beasts at Ephesus, he fought. In deep contrition scourged himself in Lent, Walked in processions, with his head down bent, At plays of Corpus Christi oft was seen, And on Palm Sunday bore his bough of green. His only pastime was to hunt the boar Through tangled thickets of the forest hoar, Or with his jingling mules to hurry down To some grand bull-fight in the neighboring town, Or in the crowd with lighted taper stand, When Jews were burned, or banished from the land. Then stirred within him a tumultuous joy; The demon whose delight is to destroy Shook him, and shouted with a trumpet tone, "Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"
And now, in that old castle in the wood, His daughters, in the dawn of womanhood, Returning from their convent school, had made Resplendent with their bloom the forest shade, Reminding him of their dead mother's face, When first she came into that gloomy place,— A memory in his heart as dim and sweet As moonlight in a solitary street, Where the same rays, that lift the sea, are thrown Lovely but powerless upon walls of stone.
These two fair daughters of a mother dead Were all the dream had left him as it fled. A joy at first, and then a growing care, As if a voice within him cried, "Beware!" A vague presentiment of impending doom, Like ghostly footsteps in a vacant room, Haunted him day and night; a formless fear That death to some one of his house was near, With dark surmises of a hidden crime, Made life itself a death before its time. Jealous, suspicious, with no sense of shame, A spy upon his daughters he became; With velvet slippers, noiseless on the floors, He glided softly through half-open doors; Now in the room, and now upon the stair, He stood beside them ere they were aware; He listened in the passage when they talked, He watched them from the casement when they walked, He saw the gypsy haunt the river's side, He saw the monk among the cork-trees glide; And, tortured by the mystery and the doubt Of some dark secret, past his finding out, Baffled he paused; then reassured again Pursued the flying phantom of his brain. He watched them even when they knelt in church; And then, descending lower in his search, Questioned the servants, and with eager eyes Listened incredulous to their replies; The gypsy? none had seen her in the wood! The monk? a mendicant in search of food!
At length the awful revelation came, Crushing at once his pride of birth and name, The hopes his yearning bosom forward cast, And the ancestral glories of the past; All fell together, crumbling in disgrace, A turret rent from battlement to base. His daughters talking in the dead of night In their own chamber, and without a light, Listening, as he was wont, he overheard, And learned the dreadful secret, word by word; And hurrying from his castle, with a cry He raised his hands to the unpitying sky, Repeating one dread word, till bush and tree Caught it, and shuddering answered, "Heresy!"
Wrapped in his cloak, his hat drawn o'er his face, Now hurrying forward, now with lingering pace, He walked all night the alleys of his park, With one unseen companion in the dark, The Demon who within him lay in wait, And by his presence turned his love to hate, Forever muttering in an undertone, "Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"
Upon the morrow, after early Mass, While yet the dew was glistening on the grass, And all the woods were musical with birds, The old Hidalgo, uttering fearful words, Walked homeward with the Priest, and in his room Summoned his trembling daughters to their doom. When questioned, with brief answers they replied, Nor when accused evaded or denied; Expostulations, passionate appeals, All that the human heart most fears or feels, In vain the Priest with earnest voice essayed, In vain the father threatened, wept, and prayed; Until at last he said, with haughty mien, "The Holy Office, then, must intervene!"
And now the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, With all the fifty horsemen of his train, His awful name resounding, like the blast Of funeral trumpets, as he onward passed, Came to Valladolid, and there began To harry the rich Jews with fire and ban. To him the Hidalgo went, and at the gate Demanded audience on affairs of state, And in a secret chamber stood before A venerable graybeard of fourscore, Dressed in the hood and habit of a friar; Out of his eyes flashed a consuming fire, And in his hand the mystic horn he held, Which poison and all noxious charms dispelled. He heard in silence the Hidalgo's tale, Then answered in a voice that made him quail: "Son of the Church! when Abraham of old To sacrifice his only son was told, He did not pause to parley nor protest, But hastened to obey the Lord's behest. In him it was accounted righteousness; The Holy Church expects of thee no less!"
A sacred frenzy seized the father's brain, And Mercy from that hour implored in vain. Ah! who will e'er believe the words I say? His daughters he accused, and the same day They both were cast into the dungeon's gloom, That dismal antechamber of the tomb, Arraigned, condemned, and sentenced to the flame, The secret torture and the public shame.
Then to the Grand Inquisitor once more The Hidalgo went, more eager than before, And said: "When Abraham offered up his son, He clave the wood wherewith it might be done. By his example taught, let me too bring Wood from the forest for my offering!" And the deep voice, without a pause, replied: "Son of the Church! by faith now justified, Complete thy sacrifice, even as thou wilt; The Church absolves thy conscience from all guilt!"
Then this most wretched father went his way Into the woods, that round his castle lay, Where once his daughters in their childhood played With their young mother in the sun and shade. Now all the leaves had fallen; the branches bare Made a perpetual moaning in the air, And screaming from their eyries overhead The ravens sailed athwart the sky of lead. With his own hands he lopped the boughs and bound Fagots, that crackled with foreboding sound, And on his mules, caparisoned and gay With bells and tassels, sent them on their way.
Then with his mind on one dark purpose bent, Again to the Inquisitor he went, And said: "Behold, the fagots I have brought, And now, lest my atonement be as naught, Grant me one more request, one last desire,— With my own hand to light the funeral fire!" And Torquemada answered from his seat, "Son of the Church! Thine offering is complete; Her servants through all ages shall not cease To magnify thy deed. Depart in peace!"
Upon the market-place, builded of stone The scaffold rose, whereon Death claimed his own. At the four corners, in stern attitude, Four statues of the Hebrew Prophets stood, Gazing with calm indifference in their eyes Upon this place of human sacrifice, Round which was gathering fast the eager crowd, With clamor of voices dissonant and loud, And every roof and window was alive With restless gazers, swarming like a hive.
The church-bells tolled, the chant of monks drew near, Loud trumpets stammered forth their notes of fear, A line of torches smoked along the street, There was a stir, a rush, a tramp of feet, And, with its banners floating in the air, Slowly the long procession crossed the square, And, to the statues of the Prophets bound, The victims stood, with fagots piled around. Then all the air a blast of trumpets shook, And louder sang the monks with bell and book, And the Hidalgo, lofty, stern, and proud, Lifted his torch, and, bursting through the crowd, Lighted in haste the fagots, and then fled, Lest those imploring eyes should strike him dead!
O pitiless skies! why did your clouds retain For peasants' fields their floods of hoarded rain? O pitiless earth! why opened no abyss To bury in its chasm a crime like this?
That night, a mingled column of fire and smoke From the dark thickets of the forest broke, And, glaring o'er the landscape leagues away, Made all the fields and hamlets bright as day. Wrapped in a sheet of flame the castle blazed, And as the villagers in terror gazed, They saw the figure of that cruel knight Lean from a window in the turret's height, His ghastly face illumined with the glare, His hands upraised above his head in prayer, Till the floor sank beneath him, and he fell Down the black hollow of that burning well.
Three centuries and more above his bones Have piled the oblivious years like funeral stones; His name has perished with him, and no trace Remains on earth of his afflicted race; But Torquemada's name, with clouds o'ercast, Looms in the distant landscape of the Past, Like a burnt tower upon a blackened heath, Lit by the fires of burning woods beneath!
Thus closed the tale of guilt and gloom, That cast upon each listener's face Its shadow, and for some brief space Unbroken silence filled the room. The Jew was thoughtful and distressed; Upon his memory thronged and pressed The persecution of his race, Their wrongs and sufferings and disgrace; His head was sunk upon his breast, And from his eyes alternate came Flashes of wrath and tears of shame.
The student first the silence broke, As one who long has lain in wait, With purpose to retaliate, And thus he dealt the avenging stroke. "In such a company as this, A tale so tragic seems amiss, That by its terrible control O'ermasters and drags down the soul Into a fathomless abyss. The Italian Tales that you disdain, Some merry Night of Straparole, Or Machiavelli's Belphagor, Would cheer us and delight us more, Give greater pleasure and less pain Than your grim tragedies of Spain!"
And here the Poet raised his hand, With such entreaty and command, It stopped discussion at its birth, And said: "The story I shall tell Has meaning in it, if not mirth; Listen, and hear what once befell The merry birds of Killingworth!"
THE POET'S TALE.
THE BIRDS OF KILLINGWORTH.
It was the season, when through all the land The merle and mavis build, and building sing Those lovely lyrics, written by His hand, Whom Saxon Caedmon calls the Blithe-heart King; When on the boughs the purple buds expand, The banners of the vanguard of the Spring, And rivulets, rejoicing, rush and leap, And wave their fluttering signals from the steep.
The robin and the blue-bird, piping loud, Filled all the blossoming orchards with their glee; The sparrows chirped as if they still were proud Their race in Holy Writ should mentioned be; And hungry crows assembled in a crowd, Clamored their piteous prayer incessantly, Knowing who hears the ravens cry, and said: "Give us, O Lord, this day our daily bread!"
Across the Sound the birds of passage sailed, Speaking some unknown language strange and sweet Of tropic isle remote, and passing hailed The village with the cheers of all their fleet; Or quarrelling together, laughed and railed Like foreign sailors, landed in the street Of seaport town, and with outlandish noise Of oaths and gibberish frightening girls and boys.
Thus came the jocund Spring in Killingworth, In fabulous days, some hundred years ago; And thrifty farmers, as they tilled the earth, Heard with alarm the cawing of the crow, That mingled with the universal mirth, Cassandra-like, prognosticating woe; They shook their heads, and doomed with dreadful words To swift destruction the whole race of birds.
And a town-meeting was convened straightway To set a price upon the guilty heads Of these marauders, who, in lieu of pay, Levied black-mail upon the garden beds And corn-fields, and beheld without dismay The awful scarecrow, with his fluttering shreds; The skeleton that waited at their feast, Whereby their sinful pleasure was increased.
Then from his house, a temple painted white, With fluted columns, and a roof of red, The Squire came forth, august and splendid sight! Slowly descending, with majestic tread, Three flights of steps, nor looking left nor right, Down the long street he walked, as one who said, "A town that boasts inhabitants like me Can have no lack of good society!"
The Parson, too, appeared, a man austere, The instinct of whose nature was to kill; The wrath of God he preached from year to year, And read, with fervor, Edwards on the Will; His favorite pastime was to slay the deer In Summer on some Adirondac hill; E'en now, while walking down the rural lane, He lopped the wayside lilies with his cane.
From the Academy, whose belfry crowned The hill of Science with its vane of brass, Came the Preceptor, gazing idly round, Now at the clouds, and now at the green grass, And all absorbed in reveries profound Of fair Almira in the upper class, Who was, as in a sonnet he had said, As pure as water, and as good as bread.
And next the Deacon issued from his door, In his voluminous neck-cloth, white as snow; A suit of sable bombazine he wore; His form was ponderous, and his step was slow; There never was so wise a man before; He seemed the incarnate "Well, I told you so!" And to perpetuate his great renown There was a street named after him in town.
These came together in the new town-hall, With sundry farmers from the region round. The Squire presided, dignified and tall, His air impressive and his reasoning sound; Ill fared it with the birds, both great and small; Hardly a friend in all that crowd they found, But enemies enough, who every one Charged them with all the crimes beneath the sun.
When they had ended, from his place apart, Rose the Preceptor, to redress the wrong, And, trembling like a steed before the start, Looked round bewildered on the expectant throng; Then thought of fair Almira, and took heart To speak out what was in him, clear and strong, Alike regardless of their smile or frown, And quite determined not to be laughed down.
"Plato, anticipating the Reviewers, From his Republic banished without pity The Poets; in this little town of yours, You put to death, by means of a Committee, The ballad-singers and the Troubadours, The street-musicians of the heavenly city, The birds, who make sweet music for us all In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.
"The thrush that carols at the dawn of day From the green steeples of the piny wood; The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay, Jargoning like a foreigner at his food; The blue-bird balanced on some topmost spray, Flooding with melody the neighborhood; Linnet and meadow-lark, and all the throng That dwell in nests, and have the gift of song.
"You slay them all! and wherefore? for the gain Of a scant handful more or less of wheat, Or rye, or barley, or some other grain, Scratched up at random by industrious feet, Searching for worm or weevil after rain! Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet As are the songs these uninvited guests Sing at their feast with comfortable breasts.
"Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these? Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught The dialect they speak, where melodies Alone are the interpreters of thought? Whose household words are songs in many keys, Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught! Whose habitations in the tree-tops even Are half-way houses on the road to heaven!
"Think, every morning when the sun peeps through The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove, How jubilant the happy birds renew Their old, melodious madrigals of love! And when you think of this, remember too 'Tis always morning somewhere, and above The awakening continents, from shore to shore, Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.
"Think of your woods and orchards without birds! Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams As in an idiot's brain remembered words Hang empty 'mid the cobwebs of his dreams! Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds Make up for the lost music, when your teams Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more The feathered gleaners follow to your door?
"What! would you rather see the incessant stir Of insects in the windrows of the hay, And hear the locust and the grasshopper Their melancholy hurdy-gurdies play? Is this more pleasant to you than the whirr Of meadow-lark, and its sweet roundelay, Or twitter of little field-fares, as you take Your nooning in the shade of bush and brake?
"You call them thieves and pillagers; but know They are the winged wardens of your farms, Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe, And from your harvests keep a hundred harms; Even the blackest of them all, the crow, Renders good service as your man-at-arms, Crushing the beetle in his coat of mail, And crying havoc on the slug and snail.
"How can I teach your children gentleness, And mercy to the weak, and reverence For Life, which, in its weakness or excess, Is still a gleam of God's omnipotence, Or Death, which, seeming darkness, is no less The selfsame light, although averted hence, When by your laws, your actions, and your speech, You contradict the very things I teach?"
With this he closed; and through the audience went A murmur, like the rustle of dead leaves; The farmers laughed and nodded, and some bent Their yellow heads together like their sheaves; Men have no faith in fine-spun sentiment Who put their trust in bullocks and in beeves. The birds were doomed; and, as the record shows, A bounty offered for the heads of crows.
There was another audience out of reach, Who had no voice nor vote in making laws, But in the papers read his little speech, And crowned his modest temples with applause; They made him conscious, each one more than each, He still was victor, vanquished in their cause. Sweetest of all the applause he won from thee, O fair Almira at the Academy!
And so the dreadful massacre began; O'er fields and orchards, and o'er woodland crests, The ceaseless fusillade of terror ran. Dead fell the birds, with blood-stains on their breasts, Or wounded crept away from sight of man, While the young died of famine in their nests; A slaughter to be told in groans, not words, The very St. Bartholomew of Birds!
The Summer came, and all the birds were dead; The days were like hot coals; the very ground Was burned to ashes; in the orchards fed Myriads of caterpillars, and around The cultivated fields and garden beds Hosts of devouring insects crawled, and found No foe to check their march, till they had made The land a desert without leaf or shade.
Devoured by worms, like Herod, was the town, Because, like Herod, it had ruthlessly Slaughtered the Innocents. From the trees spun down The canker-worms upon the passers-by, Upon each woman's bonnet, shawl, and gown, Who shook them off with just a little cry; They were the terror of each favorite walk, The endless theme of all the village talk.
The farmers grew impatient, but a few Confessed their error, and would not complain, For after all, the best thing one can do When it is raining, is to let it rain. Then they repealed the law, although they knew It would not call the dead to life again; As school-boys, finding their mistake too late, Draw a wet sponge across the accusing slate.
That year in Killingworth the Autumn came Without the light of his majestic look, The wonder of the falling tongues of flame, The illumined pages of his Doom's-Day book. A few lost leaves blushed crimson with their shame, And drowned themselves despairing in the brook, While the wild wind went moaning everywhere, Lamenting the dead children of the air!
But the next Spring a stranger sight was seen, A sight that never yet by bard was sung, As great a wonder as it would have been If some dumb animal had found a tongue! A wagon, overarched with evergreen, Upon whose boughs were wicker cages hung, All full of singing birds, came down the street, Filling the air with music wild and sweet.
From all the country round these birds were brought, By order of the town, with anxious quest, And, loosened from their wicker prisons, sought In woods and fields the places they loved best, Singing loud canticles, which many thought Were satires to the authorities addressed, While others, listening in green lanes, averred Such lovely music never had been heard!
But blither still and louder carolled they Upon the morrow, for they seemed to know It was the fair Almira's wedding-day, And everywhere, around, above, below, When the Preceptor bore his bride away, Their songs burst forth in joyous overflow, And a new heaven bent over a new earth Amid the sunny farms of Killingworth.
The hour was late; the fire burned low, The Landlord's eyes were closed in sleep, And near the story's end a deep Sonorous sound at times was heard, As when the distant bagpipes blow. At this all laughed; the Landlord stirred, As one awaking from a swound, And, gazing anxiously around, Protested that he had not slept, But only shut his eyes, and kept His ears attentive to each word.
Then all arose, and said "Good Night." Alone remained the drowsy Squire To rake the embers of the fire, And quench the waning parlor light; While from the windows, here and there, The scattered lamps a moment gleamed, And the illumined hostel seemed The constellation of the Bear, Downward, athwart the misty air, Sinking and setting toward the sun. Far off the village clock struck one.
BIRDS OF PASSAGE.
FLIGHT THE SECOND.
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.
Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight, Descending the broad hall stair, Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence: Yet I know by their merry eyes They are plotting and planning together To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses, Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, Such an old moustache as I am Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress, And will not let you depart, But put you down into the dungeon In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day, Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, And moulder in dust away!
Under Mount Etna he lies, It is slumber, it is not death; For he struggles at times to arise, And above him the lurid skies Are hot with his fiery breath.
The crags are piled on his breast, The earth is heaped on his head; But the groans of his wild unrest, Though smothered and half suppressed, Are heard, and he is not dead.
And the nations far away Are watching with eager eyes; They talk together and say, "To-morrow, perhaps to-day, Enceladus will arise!"
And the old gods, the austere Oppressors in their strength, Stand aghast and white with fear At the ominous sounds they hear, And tremble, and mutter, "At length!"
Ah me! for the land that is sown With the harvest of despair! Where the burning cinders, blown From the lips of the overthrown Enceladus, fill the air.
Where ashes are heaped in drifts Over vineyard and field and town, Whenever he starts and lifts His head through the blackened rifts Of the crags that keep him down.
See, see! the red light shines! 'Tis the glare of his awful eyes! And the storm-wind shouts through the pines Of Alps and of Apennines, "Enceladus, arise!"
At anchor in Hampton Roads we lay, On board of the Cumberland, sloop-of-war; And at times from the fortress across the bay The alarum of drums swept past, Or a bugle blast From the camp on the shore.
Then far away to the south uprose A little feather of snow-white smoke, And we knew that the iron ship of our foes Was steadily steering its course To try the force Of our ribs of oak.
Down upon us heavily runs, Silent and sullen, the floating fort; Then comes a puff of smoke from her guns, And leaps the terrible death, With fiery breath, From each open port.
We are not idle, but send her straight Defiance back in a full broadside! As hail rebounds from a roof of slate, Rebounds our heavier hail From each iron scale Of the monster's hide.
"Strike your flag!" the rebel cries, In his arrogant old plantation strain. "Never!" our gallant Morris replies; "It is better to sink than to yield!" And the whole air pealed With the cheers of our men.
Then, like a kraken huge and black, She crushed our ribs in her iron grasp! Down went the Cumberland all a wrack, With a sudden shudder of death, And the cannon's breath For her dying gasp.
Next morn, as the sun rose over the bay, Still floated our flag at the mainmast-head. Lord, how beautiful was thy day! Every waft of the air Was a whisper of prayer, Or a dirge for the dead.
Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas! Ye are at peace in the troubled stream, Ho! brave land! with hearts like these, Thy flag, that is rent in twain, Shall be one again, And without a seam!
Out of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take Suddenly shape in some divine expression, Even as the troubled heart doth make In the white countenance confession, The troubled sky reveals The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air, Slowly in silent syllables recorded; This is the secret of despair, Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded, Now whispered and revealed To wood and field.
A DAY OF SUNSHINE.
O gift of God! O perfect day: Whereon shall no man work, but play; Whereon it is enough for me, Not to be doing, but to be!
Through every fibre of my brain, Through every nerve, through every vein, I feel the electric thrill, the touch Of life, that seems almost too much.
I hear the wind among the trees Playing celestial symphonies; I see the branches downward bent, Like keys of some great instrument.
And over me unrolls on high The splendid scenery of the sky, Where through a sapphire sea the sun Sails like a golden galleon,
Towards yonder cloud-land in the West, Towards yonder Islands of the Blest, Whose steep sierra far uplifts Its craggy summits white with drifts.
Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms! Blow, winds! and bend within my reach The fiery blossoms of the peach!
O Life and Love! O happy throng Of thoughts, whose only speech is song! O heart of man! canst thou not be Blithe as the air is, and as free?
SOMETHING LEFT UNDONE.
Labor with what zeal we will, Something still remains undone, Something uncompleted still Waits the rising of the sun.
By the bedside, on the stair, At the threshold, near the gates, With its menace or its prayer, Like a mendicant it waits;
Waits, and will not go away; Waits, and will not be gainsaid; By the cares of yesterday Each to-day is heavier made;
Till at length the burden seems Greater than our strength can bear, Heavy as the weight of dreams, Pressing on us everywhere.
And we stand from day to day, Like the dwarfs of times gone by, Who, as Northern legends say, On their shoulders held the sky.
O little feet! that such long years Must wander on through hopes and fears, Must ache and bleed beneath your load; I, nearer to the wayside inn Where toil shall cease and rest begin, Am weary, thinking of your road!
O little hands! that, weak or strong, Have still to serve or rule so long, Have still so long to give or ask; I, who so much with book and pen Have toiled among my fellow-men, Am weary, thinking of your task.
O little hearts! that throb and beat With such impatient, feverish heat, Such limitless and strong desires; Mine that so long has glowed and burned, With passions into ashes turned Now covers and conceals its fires.
O little souls! as pure and white And crystalline as rays of light Direct from heaven, their source divine; Refracted through the mist of years, How red my setting sun appears, How lurid looks this soul of mine!
Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.
135, Washington St., Boston, NOVEMBER, 1863.
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—-> The following is the order of publication, and the Novels will be sold separately or in sets, at the option of purchasers.
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CABINET EDITIONS OF THE POETS.
MESSRS. TICKNOR AND FIELDS are publishing a new edition of the writings of popular Poets, called the Cabinet Edition. It is handsomely printed on laid tinted paper, and elegantly bound in vellum cloth with gilt top. The following are now published:—
Longfellow's Poems. 2 vols. $2.50. Tennyson's Poems. 2 vols. $2.50. Whittier's Poems. 2 vols. $2.50. Holmes's Poems. 1 vol. $1.25.
Transcriber's Notes: Variant spellings of cornfields and corn-fields are as in the original. The word "Phoebe" has an oe ligature in the original.