Alas, Pensylla, stay that pious tear! Now nearer come, I fain thy voice would hear, Like music when the soul is dreaming; Like music dropping from a far off sphere, Heard by the good, when life's end draweth near. It faintly comes, a spirit seeming, The sounds at once entrance me, ear and soul: The voice of winds and waves, the thunder's roll.
The steed's proud neigh, and lamb's meek plaint, The hum of bees, and vesper hymn of birds, The rural harmony of flocks and herds, The song of joy, or praise, and man's sweet words— Come to me fainter—yet more faint Was my poor soul to God's great works so dull. That they from her must hide forever? Earth too replete with joy, too beautiful, For me, ingrate, that we must sever? For by sweet scented airs that round me blow, By transient showers, the sun's impassioned glow, And smell of woods and fields, alone I know Of Spring's approach, and Summer's bloom; And by the pure air, void of odors sweet, By noontide beams, low slanting, without heat, By rude winds, cumbering snows, and hazardous sleet, Of Autumn's blight and Winter's gloom
As at the entrance of an untrod cave, I shrink—so hushed the shades and sombre. This death of sense makes life a breathing grave, A vital death, a waking slumber! 'Tis as the light itself of God were fled— So dark is all around, so still, so dead; Nor hope of change, one ray I find! Yet must submit. Though fled fore'er the light, Though utter silence bring me double night, Though to my insulated mind, Knowledge her richest pages ne'er unfold, And "human face divine" I ne'er behold— Yet must submit, must be resigned!
TO THE SHADES.
To thee, blind Milton, solemn son of night, Great exile once from day's dominion bright, Whose genius, steeped in truth and glory, Like some wide orb of new created light, Rose, in the world, bewildering mortals' sight— I'll sing till earth's young hills grow hoary! For what of joy I've found in life's dark way, And what of excellence have reached I may, Much, much is due thy wondrous rhyme, Which sang the triumphs of Eternal Truth, Revealed blest glimpses of immortal youth, Of Heaven, e'er angels sang of time: Of light, that o'er the embryon tumult broke, Of earth, when all the stars symphonious woke, Till man, as if from Heaven a seraph spoke, Entranced, hung on thy strains sublime.
Day closes on the earth his one bright eye, That Night, her starry lids unsealing, May ope her thousand in a loftier sky, God's higher mysteries revealing. So when thy day from thee its light withdrew, And o'er the night its rueful shadows threw, And "from the cheerful ways of men" Thy steps cut off, thy mind, thick set with eyes, As night with stars, piercing thy shrouded skies, And proving most illumined then, When darkest seeming, soared on cherub wings— Those star-eyed wings—higher than ever springs The beam of day, to see, and tell of things Invisible to mortal ken.
O'er earth thy numbers shall not cease to roll Till man to live, who to them hearkened; Thy fame, no less immortal than thy soul, Shall shine when yon proud sun is darkened. Thee, now, methinks, I see, O bard divine! Where ripen no fair joys that are not thine, And God's full love is pleased on thee to shine, Still by the heavenly Muses fired, And starred among the angelic minstrel band, The sacred lyre thou sway'st with sovereign hand, While seraphs, in awed rapture, round thee stand, As one by God himself inspired.
Sublime Beethoven, wizard king of sound, Once exiled from thy realm, yet not discrowned— Assist me; since my spirit, thrilling With thy surpassing strains, is mute, spell bound; For through the hush of years they still resound, With music weird my spent ear filling. When Silence clasped thee in her dismal spell, And Earth born Music sang her sad farewell; Thy mighty Genius, as in scorn, Arose in silent majesty to dwell, Where from symphonic spheres thou heard'st to swell, As on celestial breezes borne, Sounds, scarce by angels heard, e'en in their dreams; Which, at thy bidding, wrought a thousand themes, And pouring down in rich pellucid streams, Filled organ grand and resonant horn; With rarest sweetness touched each dulcet string, Made martial bugle and bold clarion ring, Soft flute provoked like the lone bird of spring, To warble lays of love forlorn; Woke shrilly reed to many a pastoral note Thrilled witching lyre and lips melodious smote, Till earth, in tuneful ether, seemed to float— As when first sang the stars of morn! Till wondering angels were entranced to chime, With harp and choral tongue, thy strains sublime And bear thy soul beyond the reach of time, Heaven's halls harmonious to adorn.
Ah, me! could I with ken angelic, scan Celestial glories hid from mortal man, I'd deem this night a day supernal! Could music, borne from some far singing sphere, Float sweetly down and thrill my stricken ear, I'd pray this hush might be eternal!
Pensylla, look! With tremulous points of fire, The sun, red-sinking lights yon distant spire O'er leafy hill and blossoming meadows, Spreads wide and level his departing beams, Then sinks to rest, as one sure of sweet dreams, 'Mid pillowing clouds and curtaining shadows. Night draws her lucid shade o'er sky and earth; Solemn and bright, Heaven's starry eyes look forth; The evening hymn of praise and song of mirth Rise gratefully from man's abode. O, Night! I love her sombre majesty! 'Tis sweet, her double solitude, to me! Pensylla, leave me now! Alone I'd be With Darkness, Silence and my God.
O Thou, whose shadow is but light's excess, The echo of whose voice but silentness, Whose light and music, half expended, Would flood, dissolve the sphery frame; 'twixt whom And man no endless night can throw its gloom Till long Eternity is ended— Which ne'er shall end—to thee, my trust, I turn! To one, for whom in vain thy lamps now burn, A hearing deign; nor from thy footstool spurn The prayer of an imprisoned mind.
Father, thy sun is set; night veils the world, That orbs more beauteous be to man unfurled, Then in my Night, let me but find New realms, where thought and fancy may rejoice; Let its long silence ne'er displace Thy voice From whispering hope and peace, 'twere my choice To be thus smitten deaf and blind! Fill me with light and music from above, And so inspire with truth, faith, courage, love, That Thou and man my work can well approve— Father, to all I'm then resigned!
Harp of the mournful voice, now fare thee well! My sad song ended, ended is thy spell. Perchance thine echoes, memory haunting, May oft awaken, shadowing forth the swell Of long sung monody and long tolled knell, And o'er the dead past, dirges chanting; But for me, ever hang in Sorrow's hall! Bid Night and Silence spread oblivion's pall O'er earthly blooming joys, that seared must fall And leave the stricken soul to weep:— Ever, till this devoted head be hoar, And the swart angel whispering at the door; When I thy slumbers may disturb once more. Ere double night bring double sleep, Till then, I sing in happier, bolder strain: What's lost to me is God's; what's left, for pain Or joy still His: and endless day, His reign: And reckoning of my Night He'll keep!
BY ELLENOR J. JONES,
Of the Indiana Institution.
Oh Autumn, sweet sad Autumn queen, With robe of golden brown, Our hearts are bowed with grief and pain, As each leaf flutters down.
In every drooping flow'ret, In every leafless tree, By warbling birds deserted, We find some trace of thee.
Thou'rt lovely, oh, so lovely, And yet how brief thy stay, Why is it all things beautiful Must droop and fade away?
All, all thy gorgeous painted leaves, With colors bright and gay, Were touched by nature's magic brush, Then rudely cast away.
And thus our dearest hopes are crushed, By fate's relentless will, Like withered leaves they pass away— But peace, sad heart, be still.
Thou too must breast the adverse wind, Be wildly tempest-tossed, Perhaps when thou art hushed in death, Thou'lt meet the loved and lost.
But for this sweetly, solemn thought That thrills us with delight, This life, so marred by grief and pain, Could never seem so bright.
Then welcome, sweet, sad Autumn days, Though brief the hallowed reign, For every smile must have its tear, And every joy its pain.
A TIME FOR ALL THINGS.
BY ELLEN COYN,
Of the Arkansas Institution.
I sat down at the window, where I oft had calmed my ruffled feeling, For summer evening's balmy air Has for the wounded spirit healing.
That morning I had been quite glad, For hope had prospects bright in keeping, But fortune changed, and I was sad, And there I sat in silence weeping.
'Tis vain I said to hope for good, Or cherish bliss for one short hour, If morn puts forth a fragrant bud, Ere night 'tis but a withered flower.
My Bible lay upon the stand, In which I'd ofttimes found a blessing, I quickly took the book in hand, In hope to learn a useful lesson.
I read upon its open page, "There is a time and purpose given, It has been so from age to age, For everything that's under Heaven."
'Tis vain and wrong to wish, I thought, That life with me be always sunny, My cup with bitter never fraught, But always overflown with honey
When fortune frowns I'll not despair, I'll only weep away my sorrow, 'Twill ease my heart and brow of care, I'll laugh when joy returns to-morrow.
BY ELLENOR J. JONES.
We are drifting on the sea of life, Like ships we're tempest-tossed, And 'mid this world of care and strife How many are wrecked and lost!
Our vessels are sometimes set afloat, 'Neath a bright and cloudless sky, But far in the distance hid from view, The breakers are sure to lie.
Others are launched on an angry sea, When the waves are dashing high, And the wild winds give a ghostly tone, To the curlew's troubled cry.
But the good ship Faith is gaily launched, For the pilot, Hope, is there, And Love, with his flaming lamp of light, Maketh all things wondrous fair.
Soon Faith is wrecked by a careless word, And beautiful Hope is dead, And Love, with the holy light of life, In an angry moment fled.
And thus on the wide wild sea of life, We are drifting day by day, Without one thought of the solemn truth, That we all shall pass away.