Sweet Spring, full of sweet dayes and roses, A box where sweets compacted lie, Thy musick shows ye have your closes, And all must die.
Onely a sweet and vertuous soul, Like seasoned timber, never gives; But, though the whole world, turn to coal, Then chiefly lives.
Like as the damask rose you see, Or like the blossom on the tree, Or like the dainty flower in May, Or like the morning of the day, Or like the sun, or like the shade, Or like the gourd which Jonas had,— E'en such is man; whose thread is spun, Drawn out, and cut, and so is done.— The rose withers, the blossom blasteth, The flower fades, the morning hasteth, The sun sets, the shadow flies, The gourd consumes,—and man he dies!
Like to the grass that's newly sprung, Or like a tale that's new begun, Or like the bird that's here to-day, Or like the pearled dew of May, Or like an hour, or like a span, Or like the singing of a swan,— E'en such is man; who lives by breath, Is here, now there, in life and death.— The grass withers, the tale is ended, The bird is flown, the dew's ascended. The hour is short, the span is long, The swan's near death,—man's life is done!
O why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a fast-flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, Be scattered around and together be laid; And the young and the old, and the low and the high, Shall moulder to dust and together shall lie.
The child that a mother attended and loved, The mother that infant's affection that proved, The husband that mother and infant that blessed, Each, all, are away to their dwelling of rest.
The maid on whose cheek on whose brow, in whose eye, Shone beauty and pleasure,—her triumphs are by; And the memory of those that beloved her and praised Are alike from the minds of the living erased.
The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne, The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn, The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave, Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman who climbed with his goats to the steep, The beggar that wandered in search of his bread, Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
The saint that enjoyed the communion of heaven, The sinner that dared to remain unforgiven, The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just, Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes, like the flower and the weed That wither away to let others succeed; So the multitude comes, even those we behold, To repeat every tale that hath often been told.
For we are the same that our fathers have been; We see the same sights that our fathers have seen,— We drink the same stream, and we feel the same sun, And we run the same course that our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think; From the death we are shrinking from, they too would shrink; To the life we are clinging to, they too would cling; But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.
They loved, but their story we cannot unfold; They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold; They grieved, but no wail from their slumbers may come; They joyed, but the voice of their gladness is dumb.
They died, ay! they died! and we things that are now, Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow, Who make in their dwellings a transient abode, Meet the changes they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea! hope and despondence, and pleasure and pain, Are mingled together like sunshine and rain; And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge, Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye, 't is the draught of a breath, From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud;— why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
THE HOUR OF DEATH.
Leaves have their time to fall, And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath, And stars to set—but all, Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.
Day is for mortal care, Eve for glad meetings round the joyous hearth, Night for the dreams of sleep, the voice of prayer— But all for thee, thou mightiest of the earth.
The banquet hath its hour, Its feverish hour of mirth, and song, and wine; There comes a day of griefs overwhelming power, A time for softer tears—but all are thine.
Youth and the opening rose May look like things too glorious for decay, And smile at thee—but thou art not of those That wait the ripened bloom to seize their prey.
Leaves have their time to fall, And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath, And stars to set—but all, Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.
We know when moons shall wane, When summer-birds from far shall cross the sea, When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain— But who shall teach us when to look for thee?
Is it when Spring's first gale Comes forth to whisper where the violets lie? Is it when roses in our paths grow pale? They have one season—all are ours to die!
Thou art where billows foam, Thou art where music melts upon the air; Thou art around us in our peaceful home, And the world calls us forth—and thou art there.
Thou art where friend meets friend, Beneath the shadow of the elm to rest— Thou art where foe meets foe, and trumpets rend The skies, and swords beat down the princely crest.
Leaves have their time to fall, And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath, And stars to set—but all. Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death.
FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS.
THE TERM OF DEATH.
Between the falling leaf and rose-bud's breath; The bird's forsaken nest and her new song (And this is all the time there is for Death); The worm and butterfly—it is not long!
SARAH MORGAN BRYAN PIATT.
A PICTURE OF DEATH.
FROM "THE GIAOUR."
He who hath bent him o'er the dead Ere the first day of death is fled, The first dark day of nothingness, The last of danger and distress, (Before Decay's effacing fingers Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,) And marked the mild angelic air, The rapture of repose, that's there, The fixed yet tender traits that streak The languor of the placid cheek, And—but for that sad shrouded eye, That fires not, wins not, weeps not now, And but for that chill, changeless brow, Where cold Obstruction's apathy Apalls the gazing mourner's heart, As if to him it could impart The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon; Yes, but for these and these alone, Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour, He still might doubt the tyrant's power; So fair, so calm, so softly sealed, The first, last look by death revealed! Such is the aspect of this shore; 'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more! So coldly sweet, so deadly fair, We start, for soul is wanting there. Hers is the loveliness in death, That parts not quite with parting breath; But beauty with that fearful bloom, That hue which haunts it to the tomb, Expression's last receding ray, A gilded halo hovering round decay, The farewell beam of Feeling past away; Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth, Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth!
THE TWO MYSTERIES.
["In the middle of the room, in its white coffin, lay the dead child, the nephew of the poet. Near it, in a great chair, sat Walt Whitman, surrounded by little ones, and holding a beautiful little girl on his lap. She looked wonderingly at the spectacle of death, and then inquiringly into the old man's face. 'You don't know what it is, do you, my dear?' said he, and added, 'We don't, either.'"]
We know not what it is, dear, this sleep so deep and still; The folded hands, the awful calm, the cheek so pale and chill; The lids that will not lift again, though we may call and call; The strange white solitude of peace that settles over all.
We know not what it means, dear, this desolate heart-pain; This dread to take our daily way, and walk in it again; We know not to what other sphere the loved who leave us go, Nor why we 're left to wonder still, nor why we do not know.
But this we know: Our loved and dead, if they should come this day— Should come and ask us, "What is life?" not one of us could say. Life is a mystery, as deep as ever death can be; Yet, O, how dear it is to us, this life we live and see!
Then might they say—these vanished ones—and blessed is the thought, "So death is sweet to us, beloved! though we may show you nought; We may not to the quick reveal the mystery of death— Ye cannot tell us, if ye would, the mystery of breath."
The child who enters life comes not with knowledge or intent, So those who enter death must go as little children sent. Nothing is known. But I believe that God is overhead; And as life is to the living, so death is to the dead.
MARY MAPLES DODGE.
To him who, in the love of Nature, holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language: for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty; and she glides Into his darker musings with a mild And healing sympathy, that steals away Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart, Go forth under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all around— Earth and her waters, and the depths of air— Comes a still voice:—Yet a few days, and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again; And, lost each human trace, surrendering up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix forever with the elements; To be a brother to the insensible rock, And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold. Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone,—nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world,—with kings, The powerful of the earth,—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills, Rock-ribbed, and ancient as the sun; the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods; rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks, That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old ocean's gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound Save his own dashings,—yet the dead are there! And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep,—the dead reign there alone! So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care Plod on, and each one, as before, will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments, and shall come And make their bed with thee. As the long train Of ages glide away, the sons of men— The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes In the full strength of years, matron and maid, And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man— Shall, one by one, be gathered to thy side By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan that moves To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drappery of his conch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
A MORNING THOUGHT.
What if some morning, when the stars were paling, And the dawn whitened, and the east was clear, Strange peace and rest fell on me from the presence Of a benignant spirit standing near;
And I should tell him, as he stood beside me:— "This is our earth—most friendly earth, and fair; Daily its sea and shore through sun and shadow Faithful it turns, robed in its azure air;
"There is blest living here, loving and serving, And quest of truth, and serene friendships dear: But stay not, Spirit! Earth has one destroyer— His name is Death: flee, lest he find thee here!"
And what if then, while the still morning brightened, And freshened in the elm the summer's breath, Should gravely smile on me the gentle angel, And take my hand and say, "My name is Death"?
EDWARD ROWLAND SILL.
NOW AND AFTERWARDS.
"Two hands upon the breast, and labor is past." —RUSSIAN PROVERB.
"Two hands upon the breast, And labor's done; Two pale feet crossed in rest,— The race is won; Two eyes with coin-weights shut, And all tears cease; Two lips where grief is mute, Anger at peace:" So pray we oftentimes, mourning our lot; God in his kindness answereth not.
"Two hands to work addrest Aye for his praise; Two feet that never rest Walking his ways; Two eyes that look above Through all their tears; Two lips still breathing love, Not wrath, nor fears:" So pray we afterwards, low on our knees; Pardon those erring prayers! Father, hear these!
DINAH MARIA MULOCK CRAIK
THE GRAVE OF SOPHOCLES.
Tenderly, ivy, on Sophocles' grave—right tenderly—twine Garlanding over the mound network of delicate green.
Everywhere flourish the flower of the rose, and the clustering vine Pour out its branches around, wet with their glistering sheen.
All for the sake of the wisdom and grace it was his to combine; Priest of the gay and profound, sweetest of singers terrene.
From the Greek of SIMMIAS. Translation of WILLIAM M. HAUDINGE.
INSCRIPTION ON MELROSE ABBEY.
The earth goes on the earth glittering in gold, The earth goes to the earth sooner than it wold; The earth builds on the earth castles and towers, The earth says to the earth—All this is ours.
ON THE TOMBS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
Mortality, behold and fear What a change of flesh is here! Think how many royal bones Sleep within these heaps of stones; Here they lie, had realms and lands, Who now want strength to stir their hands, Where from their pulpits sealed with dust They preach, "In greatness is no trust." Here's an acre sown indeed With the richest royallest seed That the earth did e'er suck in Since the first man died for sin: Here the bones of birth have cried "Though gods they were, as men they died!" Here are sands, ignoble things, Dropt from the ruined sides of kings: Here's a world of pomp and state Buried in dust, once dead by fate.
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight. And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower, The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
[Hark! how the holy calm that breathes around Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease; In still small accents whispering from the ground The grateful earnest of eternal peace.]
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade. Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault, The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust: Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust, Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid; Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre;
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page, Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll; Chill penury repressed their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene; The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast, The little tryant of his fields withstood, Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of listening senates to command, The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land, And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learned to stray; Along the cool sequestered vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered muse, The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey, This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies, Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries, E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonored dead, Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If chance, by lonely contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away, To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreathes its old, fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn. Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
"One morn I missed him on the customed hill, Along the heath, and near his favorite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
"The next, with dirges due in sad array, Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown; Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth, And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere, Heaven did a recompense as largely send; He gave to Misery all he had, a tear, He gained from Heaven ('t was all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose) The bosom of his Father and his God.
 Removed by the author from the original poem.
I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just; It consecrates each grave within its walls, And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.
God's Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts Comfort to those who in the grave have sown The seed that they had garnered in their hearts, Their bread of life, alas! no more their own.
Into its furrows shall we all be cast, In the sure faith that we shall rise again At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain.
Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom, In the fair gardens of that second birth; And each bright blossom mingle its perfume With that of flowers which never bloomed on earth.
With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod, And spread the furrow for the seed we sow; This is the field and Acre of our God, This is the place where human harvests grow!
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
No abbey's gloom, nor dark cathedral-stoops, No winding torches paint the midnight air; Here the green pines delight, the aspen droops Along the modest pathways, and those fair Pale asters of the season spread their plumes Around this field, fit garden for our tombs.
And shalt thou pause to hear some funeral bell Slow stealing o'er thy heart in this calm place, Not with a throb of pain, a feverish knell, But in its kind and supplicating grace, It says, Go, pilgrim, on thy march, be more Friend to the friendless than thou wast before;
Learn from the loved one's rest serenity: To-morrow that soft bell for thee shall sound, And thou repose beneath the whispering tree, One tribute more to this submissive ground;— Prison thy soul from malice, bar out pride, Nor these pale flowers nor this still field deride:
Rather to those ascents of being turn, Where a ne'er-setting sun illumes the year Eternal, and the incessant watch-fires burn Of unspent holiness and goodness clear,— Forget man's littleness, deserve the best, God's mercy in thy thought and life confest.
WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING.
THE QUAKER GRAVEYARD.
Four straight brick walls, severely plain, A quiet city square surround; A level space of nameless graves,— The Quakers' burial-ground.
In gown of gray, or coat of drab, They trod the common ways of life, With passions held in sternest leash, And hearts that knew not strife.
To yon grim meeting-house they fared, With thoughts as sober as their speech, To voiceless prayer, to songless praise, To hear the elders preach.
Through quiet lengths of days they came, With scarce a change to this repose; Of all life's loveliness they took The thorn without the rose.
But in the porch and o'er the graves, Glad rings the southward robin's glee, And sparrows fill the autumn air With merry mutiny;
While on the graves of drab and gray The red and gold of autumn lie, And wilful Nature decks the sod In gentlest mockery.
SILAS WEIR MITCHELL.
How calm they sleep beneath the shade Who once were weary of the strife, And bent, like us, beneath the load Of human life!
The willow hangs with sheltering grace And benediction o'er their sod, And Nature, hushed, assures the soul They rest in God.
O weary hearts, what rest is here, From all that curses yonder town! So deep the peace, I almost long To lay me down.
For, oh, it will be blest to sleep, Nor dream, nor move, that silent night, Till wakened in immortal strength And heavenly light!
The dead abide with us! Though stark and cold Earth seems to grip them, they are with us still: They have forged our chains of being for good or ill; And their invisible hands these hands yet hold. Our perishable bodies are the mould In which their strong imperishable will— Mortality's deep yearning to fulfil— Hath grown incorporate through dim time untold. Vibrations infinite of life in death, As a star's travelling light survives its star! So may we hold our lives, that when we are The fate of those who then will draw this breath, They shall not drag us to their judgment-bar, And curse the heritage which we bequeath.
ON A GRAVE AT GRINDELWALD.
Here let us leave him; for his shroud the snow, For funeral-lamps he has the planets seven, For a great sign the icy stair shall go Between the heights to heaven.
One moment stood he as the angels stand, High in the stainless eminence of air; The next, he was not, to his fatherland Translated unaware.
FREDERIC WILLIAM HENRY MYERS.
THE EMIGRANT LASSIE.
As I came wandering down Glen Spean, Where the braes are green and grassy, With my light step I overtook A weary-footed lassie.
She had one bundle on her back, Another in her hand, And she walked as one who was full loath To travel from the land.
Quoth I, "My bonnie lass!"—for she Had hair of flowing gold, And dark brown eyes, and dainty limbs, Right pleasant to behold—
"My bonnie lass, what aileth thee, On this bright summer day, To travel sad and shoeless thus Upon the stony way?
"I'm fresh and strong, and stoutly shod, And thou art burdened so; March lightly now, and let me bear The bundles as we go."
"No, no!" she said, "that may not be; What's mine is mine to bear; Of good or ill, as God may will, I take my portioned share."
"But you have two, and I have none; One burden give to me; I'll take that bundle from thy back That heavier seems to be.
"No, no!" she said; "this, if you will, That holds—no hand but mine May bear its weight from dear Glen Spean 'Cross the Atlantic brine!"
"Well, well! but tell me what may be Within that precious load, Which thou dost bear with such fine care Along the dusty road?
"Belike it is some present rare From friend in parting hour; Perhaps, as prudent maidens wont, Thou tak'st with thee thy dower"
She drooped her head, and with her hand She gave a mournful wave: "Oh, do not jest, dear sir!—it is Turf from my mother's grave!"
I spoke no word: we sat and wept By the road-side together; No purer dew on that bright day Was dropped upon the heather.
JOHN STUART BLACKIE.
THE OLD SEXTON.
Nigh to a grave that was newly made, Leaned a sexton old on his earth-worn spade; His work was done, and he paused to wait The funeral train at the open gate. A relic of bygone days was he, And his locks were white as the foamy sea; And these words came from his lips so thin: "I gather them in: I gather them in.
"I gather them in! for man and boy, Year after year of grief and joy, I 've builded the houses that lie around, In every nook of this burial ground; Mother and daughter, father and son, Come to my solitude, one by one: But come they strangers or come they kin— I gather them in, I gather them in.
"Many are with me, but still I'm alone, I'm king of the dead—and I make my throne On a monument slab of marble cold; And my sceptre of rule is the spade I hold: Come they from cottage or come they from hall, Mankind are my subjects, all, all, all! Let them loiter in pleasure or toilfully spin— I gather them in, I gather them in.
"I gather them in, and their-final rest Is here, down here, in earth's dark breast!" And the sexton ceased, for the funeral train Wound mutely o'er that solemn plain! And I said to my heart, when time is told, A mightier voice than that sexton's old Will sound o'er the last trump's dreadful din— "I gather them in, I gather them in."
THE FIRST SNOW-FALL.
The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
From sheds new-roofed with Carrara Came Chanticleer's muffled crow. The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down, And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky, And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn Where a little headstone stood; How the flakes were folding it gently, As did robins the babes in the wood.
Up spoke our own little Mabel, Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?" And I told of the good All-father Who cares for us here below.
Again I looked at the snow-fall, And thought of the leaden sky That arched o'er our first great sorrow, When that mound was heaped so high.
I remember the gradual patience That fell from that cloud like snow, Flake by flake, healing and hiding The scar of our deep-plunged woe.
And again to the child I whispered, "The snow that husheth all, Darling, the merciful Father Alone can make it fall!"
Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her; And she, kissing back, could not know That my kiss was given to her sister, Folded close under deepening snow.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
We wreathed about our darling's head The morning-glory bright; Her little face looked out beneath So full of life and light, So lit as with a sunrise, That we could only say, "She is the morning-glory true, And her poor types are they."
So always from that happy time We called her by their name, And very fitting did it seem,— For sure as morning came, Behind her cradle bars she smiled To catch the first faint ray, As from the trellis smiles the flower And opens to the day.
But not so beautiful they rear Their airy cups of blue, As turned her sweet eyes to the light, Brimmed with sleep's tender dew; And not so close their tendrils fine Round their supports are thrown, As those dear arms whose outstretched plea Clasped all hearts to her own.
We used to think how she had come, Even as comes the flower, The last and perfect added gift To crown Love's morning hour; And how in her was imaged forth The love we could not say, As on the little dewdrops round Shines back the heart of day.
We never could have thought, O God, That she must wither up, Almost before a day was flown, Like the morning-glory's cup; We never thought to see her droop Her fair and noble head, Till she lay stretched before our eyes, Wilted, and cold, and dead!
The morning-glory's blossoming Will soon be coming round,— We see their rows of heart-shaped leaves Upspringing from the ground; The tender things the winter killed Renew again their birth, But the glory of our morning Has passed away from earth.
Earth! in vain our aching eyes Stretch over thy green plain! Too harsh thy dews, too gross thine air, Her spirit to sustain; But up in groves of Paradise Full surely we shall see Our morning-glory beautiful Twine round our dear Lord's knee.
MARIA WHITE LOWELL.
THE WIDOW'S MITE.
A widow—she had only one! A puny and decrepit son; But, day and night, Though fretful oft, and weak and small, A loving child, he was her all— The Widow's Mite.
The Widow's Mite—ay, so sustained, She battled onward, nor complained, Though friends were fewer: And while she toiled for daily fare, A little crutch upon the stair Was music to her.
I saw her then,—and now I see That, though resigned and cheerful, she Has sorrowed much: She has, He gave it tenderly, Much faith; and carefully laid by, The little crutch.
ARE THE CHILDREN AT HOME?
Each day, when the glow of sunset Fades in the western sky, And the wee ones, tired of playing, Go tripping lightly by, I steal away from my husband, Asleep in his easy-chair, And watch from the open door-way Their faces fresh and fair.
Alone in the dear old homestead That once was full of life, Ringing with girlish laughter, Echoing boyish strife, We two are waiting together; And oft, as the shadows come, With tremulous voice he calls me, "It is night! are the children home?"
"Yes, love!" I answer him gently, "They're all home long ago;"— And I sing, in my quivering treble, A song so soft and low, Till the old man drops to slumber, With his head upon his hand, And I tell to myself the number At home in the better land.
At home, where never a sorrow Shall dim their eyes with tears! Where the smile of God is on them Through all the summer years! I know,—yet my arms are empty, That fondly folded seven, And the mother heart within me Is almost starved for heaven.
Sometimes, in the dusk of evening, I only shut my eyes, And the children are all about me, A vision from the skies: The babes whose dimpled fingers Lost the way to my breast, And the beautiful ones, the angels, Passed to the world of the blest.
With never a cloud upon them, I see their radiant brows; My boys that I gave to freedom,— The red sword sealed their vows! In a tangled Southern forest, Twin brothers bold and brave, They fell; and the flag they died for, Thank God! floats over their grave.
A breath, and the vision is lifted Away on wings of light, And again we two are together, All alone in the night. They tell me his mind is failing, But I smile at idle fears; He is only back with the children, In the dear and peaceful years.
And still, as the summer sunset Fades away in the west, And the wee ones, tired of playing, Go trooping home to rest, My husband calls from his corner, "Say, love, have the children come?" And I answer, with eyes uplifted, "Yes, dear! they are all at home."
MARGARET E.M. SANGSTER.
Jim was a fisherman, up on the hill, Over the beach lived he and his wife, In a little house—you can see it still— An' their two fair boys; upon my life You never seen two likelier kids, In spite of their antics an' tricks an' noise, Than them two boys!
Jim would go out in his boat on the sea, Just as the rest of us fishermen did, An' when he come back at night thar'd be, Up to his knees in the surf, each kid, A beck'nin' and cheer-in' to fisherman Jim; He'd hear 'em, you bet, above the roar Of the waves on the shore.
But one night Jim came a sailin' home And the little kids weren't on the sands; Jim kinder wondered they hadn't come, And a tremblin' took hold o' his knees and hands, And he learnt the worst up on the hill, In the little house, an' he bowed his head, "The fever," they said.
'T was an awful time for fisherman Jim, With them darlin's a dyin' afore his eyes, They kep' a callin' an' beck'nin' him, For they kinder wandered in mind. Their cries Were about the waves and fisherman Jim And the little boat a sailin' for shore Till they spoke no more.
Well, fisherman Jim lived on and on, And his hair grew white and the wrinkles came, But he never smiled and his heart seemed gone, And he never was heard to speak the name Of the little kids who were buried there, Upon the hill in sight o' the sea, Under a willow tree.
One night they came and told me to haste To the house on the hill, for Jim was sick, And they said I hadn't no time to waste, For his tide was ebbin' powerful quick An' he seemed to be wand'rin' and crazy like, An' a seein' sights he oughtn't to see, An' had called for me.
And fisherman Jim sez he to me, "It's my last, last cruise, you understand, I'm sailin' a dark and dreadful sea, But off on the further shore, on the sand, Are the kids, who's a beck'nin' and callin' my name Jess as they did, oh, mate, you know, In the long ago."
No, sir! he wasn't afeard to die, For all that night he seemed to see His little boys of the years gone by, And to hear sweet voices forgot by me; An' just as the mornin' sun came up, "They're a holdin' me by the hands," he cried, And so he died.
THE MAY QUEEN.
You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear; To-morrow'll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year,— Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day; For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
There's many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine; There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caroline; But none so fair as little Alice in all the land, they say: So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake, If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break; But I must gather knots of flowers and buds, and garlands gay; For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
As I came up the valley, whom think ye should I see But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree? He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,— But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white; And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light. They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say, For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
They say he's dying all for love,—but that can never be; They say his heart is breaking, mother,—what is that to me? There's many a bolder lad'll woo me any summer day; And I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green, And you'll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen; For the shepherd lads on every side'll come from far away; And I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers, And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers; And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray; And I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass, And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass; There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the livelong day; And I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
All the valley, mother, 'll be fresh and green and still, And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill, And the rivulet in the flowery dale'll merrily glance and play, For I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear; To-morrow'll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year; To-morrow'll be of all the year the maddest, merriest day, For I'm to be Queen o'the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o'the May.
NEW YEAR'S EVE.
If you're waking, call me early, call me early, mother dear, For I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year. It is the last new-year that I shall ever see,— Then you may lay me low i' the mold, and think no more of me.
To-night I saw the sun set,—he set and left behind The good old year, the dear old time, and all my peace of mind; And the new-year's coming up, mother; but I shall never see The blossom on the blackthorn, the leaf upon the tree.
Last May we made a crown of flowers; we had a merry day,— Beneath the hawthorn on the green they made me Queen of May; And we danced about the May-pole and in the hazel copse, Till Charles's Wain came out above the tall white chimney-tops.
There's not a flower on all the hills,—the frost is on the pane; I only wish to live till the snowdrops come again. I wish the snow would melt and the sun come out on high,— I long to see a flower so before the day I die.
The building-rook'll caw from the windy tall elm-tree, And the tufted plover pipe along the fallow lea, And the swallow'll come back again with summer o'er the wave, But I shall lie alone, mother, within the moldering grave.
Upon the chancel casement, and upon that grave of mine, In the early, early morning the summer sun'll shine, Before the red cock crows from the farm upon the hill,— When you are warm-asleep, mother, and all the world is still.
When the flowers come again, mother, beneath the waning light You'll never see me more in the long gray fields at night; When from the dry dark wold the summer airs blow cool On the oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the bulrush in the pool.
You'll bury me, my mother, just beneath the hawthorn shade, And you'll come sometimes and see me where I am lowly laid. I shall not forget you, mother; I shall hear you when you pass, With your feet above my head in the long and pleasant grass.
I have been wild and wayward, but you'll forgive me now; You'll kiss me, my own mother, upon my cheek and brow; Nay, nay, you must not weep, nor let your grief be wild; You should not fret for me, mother—you have another child.
If I can, I'll come again, mother, from out my resting-place; Though you'll not see me, mother, I shall look upon your face; Though I cannot speak a word, I shall harken what you say. And be often, often with you when you think I'm far away.
Good night! good night! when I have said good night forevermore, And you see me carried out from the threshold of the door, Don't let Effie come to see me till my grave be growing green,— She'll be a better child to you than ever I have been.
She'll find my garden tools upon the granary floor. Let her take 'em—they are hers; I shall never garden more. But tell her, when I'm gone, to train the rosebush that I set About the parlor window and the box of mignonette.
Good night, sweet-mother! Call me before the day is born. All night I lie awake, but I fall asleep at morn; But I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year,— So, if you're waking, call me, call me early, mother dear.
I thought to pass away before, and yet alive I am; And in the fields all around I hear the bleating of the lamb. How sadly, I remember, rose the morning of the year! To die before the snowdrop came, and now the violet's here.
O, sweet is the new violet, that comes beneath the skies; And sweeter is the young lamb's voice to me that cannot rise; And sweet is all the land about, and all the flowers that blow; And sweeter far is death than life, to me that long to go.
It seemed so hard at first, mother, to leave the blessed sun, And now it seems as hard to stay; and yet, His will be done! But still I think it can't be long before I find release; And that good man, the clergyman, has told me words of peace.
O, blessings on his kindly voice, and on his silver hair, And blessings on his whole life long, until he meet me there! O, blessings on his kindly heart and on his silver head! A thousand times I blest him, as he knelt beside my bed.
He taught me all the mercy, for he showed me all the sin; Now, though my lamp was lighted late, there's One will let me in. Nor would I now be well, mother, again, if that could be; For my desire is but to pass to Him that died for me.
I did not hear the dog howl, mother, or the death-watch beat,— There came a sweeter token when the night and morning meet; But sit beside my bed, mother, and put your hand in mine, And Effie on the other side, and I will tell the sign.
All in the wild March-morning I heard the angels call,— It was when the moon was setting, and the dark was over all; The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll, And in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.
For, lying broad awake, T thought of you and Effie dear; I saw you sitting in the house, and I no longer here; With all my strength I prayed for both,—and so I felt resigned, And up the valley came a swell of music on the wind.
I thought that it was fancy, and I listened in my bed; And then did something speak to me,—I know not what was said; For great delight and shuddering took hold of all my mind, And up the valley came again the music on the wind.
But you were sleeping; and I said, "It's not for them,—it's mine;" And if it comes three times, I thought, I take it for a sign. And once again it came, and close beside the window-bars; Then seemed to go right up to heaven and die among the stars.
So now I think my time is near; I trust it is. I know The blessed music went that way my soul will have to go. And for myself, indeed, I care not if I go to-day; But Effie, you must comfort her when I am past away. And say to Robin a kind word, and tell him not to fret; There's many a worthier than I, would make him happy yet. If I had lived—I cannot tell—I might have been his wife; But all these things have ceased to be, with my desire of life.
O, look! the sun begins to rise! the heavens are in a glow; He shines upon a hundred fields, and all of them I know. And there I move no longer now, and there his light may shine,— Wild flowers in the valley for other hands than mine.
O, sweet and strange it seems to me, that ere this day is done The voice that now is speaking may be beyond the sun,— Forever and forever with those just souls and true,— And what is life, that we should moan? why make we such ado?
Forever and forever, all in a blessed home,— And there to wait a little while till you and Effie come,— To lie within the light of God, as I lie upon your breast,— And the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
ON ANNE ALLEN.
The wind blew keenly from the Western sea, And drove the dead leaves slanting from the tree— Vanity of vanities, the Preacher saith— Heaping them up before her Father's door When I saw her whom I shall see no more— We cannot bribe thee, Death.
She went abroad the falling leaves among, She saw the merry season fade, and sung— Vanity of vanities the Preacher saith— Freely she wandered in the leafless wood, And said that all was fresh, and fair, and good— She knew thee not, O Death.
She bound her shining hair across her brow, She went into the garden fading now; Vanity of vanities the Preacher saith— And if one sighed to think that it was sere, She smiled to think that it would bloom next year! She feared thee not, O Death.
Blooming she came back to the cheerful room With all the fairer flowers yet in bloom— Vanity of vanities the Preacher saith— A fragrant knot for each of us she tied, And placed the fairest at her Father's side— She cannot charm thee, Death.
Her pleasant smile spread sunshine upon all; We heard her sweet clear laughter in the Hall— Vanity of vanities the Preacher saith— We heard her sometimes after evening prayer, As she went singing softly up the stair— No voice can charm thee, Death.
Where is the pleasant smile, the laughter kind, That made sweet music of the winter wind? Vanity of vanities the Preacher saith— Idly they gaze upon her empty place, Her kiss hath faded from her Father's face— She is with thee, O Death.
(SUGGESTED BY MR. WATTS'S PICTURE OF LOVE AND DEATH.)
Yea, Love is strong as life; he casts out fear, And wrath, and hate, and all our envious foes; He stands upon the threshold, quick to close The gate of happiness ere should appear Death's dreaded presence—ay, but Death draws near, And large and gray the towering outline grows, Whose face is veiled and hid; and yet Love knows Full well, too well, alas! that Death is here. Death tramples on the roses; Death comes in, Though Love, with outstretched arms and wings outspread, Would bar the way—poor Love, whose wings begin To droop, half-torn as are the roses dead Already at his feet—but Death must win, And Love grows faint beneath that ponderous tread!
JEUNE FILLE ET JEUNE FLEUR.
The bier descends, the spotless roses too, The father's tribute in his saddest hour: O Earth! that bore them both, thou hast thy due,— The fair young girl and flower.
Give them not back unto a world again, Where mourning, grief, and agony have power,— Where winds destroy, and suns malignant reign,— That fair young girl and flower.
Lightly thou sleepest, young Eliza, now, Nor fear'st the burning heat, nor chilling shower; They both have perished in their morning glow,— The fair young girl and flower.
But he, thy sire, whose furrowed brow is pale, Bends, lost in sorrow, o'er thy funeral bower, And Time the old oak's roots doth now assail, O fair young girl and flower!
From the French of FRANCOIS AUGUSTE, VICOMTE DE CHATEAUBRIAND.
We watched her breathing through the night, Her breathing soft and low, As in her breast the wave of life Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seemed to speak, So slowly moved about, As we had lent her half our powers To eke her living out.
Our very hopes belied our fears, Our fears our hopes belied— We thought her dying when she slept, And sleeping when she died.
For when the morn came, dim and sad, And chill with early showers, Her quiet eyelids closed—she had Another morn than ours.
Her suffering ended with the day; Yet lived she at its close, And breathed the long, long night away, In statue-like repose.
But when the sun, in all his state, Illumed the eastern skies, She passed through glory's morning-gate, And walked in Paradise!
Strew on her roses, roses, And never a spray of yew. In quiet she reposes: Ah! would that I did too.
Her mirth the world required: She bathed it in smiles of glee. But her heart was tired, tired, And now they let her be.
Her life was turning, turning, In mazes of heat and sound. But for peace her soul was yearning, And now peace laps her round.
Her cabined, ample Spirit, It fluttered and failed for breath. To-night it doth inherit The vasty Hall of Death.
"THE UNILLUMINED VERGE."
TO A FRIEND DYING.
They tell you that Death's at the turn of the road, That under the shade of a cypress you'll find him, And, struggling on wearily, lashed by the goad Of pain, you will enter the black mist behind him.
I can walk with you up to the ridge of the hill, And we'll talk of the way we have come through the valley; Down below there a bird breaks into a trill, And a groaning slave bends to the oar of his galley.
You are up on the heights now, you pity the slave— "Poor soul, how fate lashes him on at his rowing! Yet it's joyful to live, and it's hard to be brave When you watch the sun sink and the daylight is going."
We are almost there—our last walk on this height— I must bid you good-bye at that cross on the mountain. See the sun glowing red, and the pulsating light Fill the valley, and rise like the flood in a fountain!
And it shines in your face and illumines your soul; We are comrades as ever, right here at your going; You may rest if you will within sight of the goal, While I must return to my oar and the rowing.
We must part now? Well, here is the hand of a friend; I will keep you in sight till the road makes its turning Just over the ridge within reach of the end Of your arduous toil,—the beginning of learning.
You will call to me once from the mist, on the verge, "An revoir!" and "Good night!" while the twilight is creeping Up luminous peaks, and the pale stars emerge? Yes, I hear your faint voice: "This is rest, and like sleeping!"
ROBERT BRIDGES (Droch).
FROM "THE LADY OF THE LAKE," CANTO III.
He is gone on the mountain, He is lost to the forest, Like a summer-dried fountain When our need was the sorest. The font, reappearing, From the rain-drops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering, To Duncan no morrow:
The hand of the reaper Takes the ears that are hoary; But the voice of the weeper Wails manhood in glory. The autumn winds rushing Waft the leaves that are searest, But our flower was in flushing When blighting was nearest.
Fleet foot on the correi, Sage counsel in cumber, Red hand in the foray, How sound is thy slumber! Like the dew on the mountain, Like the foam on the river, Like the bubble on the fountain, Thou art gone, and forever!
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead! Sit and watch by her side an hour. That is her book-shelf, this her bed; She plucked that piece of geranium-flower, Beginning to die too, in the glass. Little has yet been changed, I think; The shutters are shut,—no light may pass Save two long rays through the hinge's chink.
Sixteen years old when she died! Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name,— It was not her time to love; beside, Her life had many a hope and aim, Duties enough and little cares; And now was quiet, now astir,— Till God's hand beckoned unawares, And the sweet white brow is all of her.
Is it too late, then, Evelyn Hope? What! your soul was pure and true; The good stars met in your horoscope, Made you of spirit, fire, and dew; And just because I was thrice as old, And our paths in the world diverged so wide, Each was naught to each, must I be told? We were fellow-mortals,—naught beside?
No, indeed! for God above Is great to grant as mighty to make, And creates the love to reward the love; I claim you still, for my own love's sake! Delayed, it may be, for more lives yet, Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few; Much is to learn and much to forget Ere the time be come for taking you.
But the time will come—at last it will— When, Evelyn Hope, what meant, I shall say, In the lower earth,—in the years long still,— That body and soul so pure and gay? Why your hair was amber I shall divine, And your mouth of your own geranium's red,— And what you would do with me, in fine, In the new life come in the old one's stead.
I have lived, I shall say, so much since then, Given up myself so many times, Gained me the gains of various men. Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes; Yet one thing—one—in my soul's full scope, Either I missed or itself missed me,— And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope! What is the issue? let us see!
I loved you, Evelyn, all the while; My heart seemed full as it could hold,— There was place and to spare for the frank young smile, And the red young mouth, and the hair's young gold. So, hush! I will give you this leaf to keep; See, I shut it inside the sweet, cold hand. There, that is our secret! go to sleep; You will wake, and remember, and understand.
It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden lived, whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love, and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea; But we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Annabel Lee,— With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her high-born kinsmen came, And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre, In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not so happy in heaven, Went envying her and me. Yes! that was the reason (as all men know) In this kingdom by the sea, That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we, Of many far wiser than we; And neither the angels in heayen above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee, And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee. And so, all the night-tide I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life, and my bride, In her sepulchre there by the sea, In her tomb by the sounding sea.
EDGAR ALLAN FOE.
THY BRAES WERE BONNY.
Thy braes were bonny, Yarrow stream! When first on them I met my lover; Thy braes how dreary, Yarrow stream! When now thy waves his body cover.
Forever now, O Yarrow stream! Thou art to me a stream of sorrow; For never on thy banks shall I Behold my love, the flower of Yarrow.
He promised me a milk-white steed, To bear me to his father's bowers; He promised me a little page, To 'squire me to his father's towers; He promised me a wedding-ring,— The wedding-day was fixed to-morrow; Now he is wedded to his grave, Alas, his watery grave, in Yarrow!
Sweet were his words when last we met; My passion I as freely told him! Clasped in his arms, I little thought That I should nevermore behold him! Scarce was he gone, I saw his ghost; It vanished with a shriek of sorrow; Thrice did the water-wraith ascend, And gave a doleful groan through Yarrow.
His mother from the window looked With all the longing of a mother; His little sister weeping walked The greenwood path to meet her brother. They sought him east, they sought him west, They sought him all the forest thorough, They only saw the cloud of night, They only heard the roar of Yarrow!
No longer from thy window look, Thou hast no son, thou tender mother! No longer walk, thou lovely maid; Alas, thou hast no more a brother! No longer seek him east or west, And search no more the forest thorough; For, wandering in the night so dark, He fell a lifeless corse in Yarrow.
The tear shall never leave my cheek, No other youth shall be my marrow; I'll seek thy body in the stream, And then with thee I'll sleep in Yarrow.
FAREWELL TO THEE, ARABY'S DAUGHTER.
FROM "THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS."
Farewell,—farewell to thee, Araby's daughter! (Thus warbled a Peri beneath the dark sea;) No pearl ever lay under Oman's green water More pure in its shell than thy spirit in thee.
O, fair as the sea-flower close to thee growing, How light was thy heart till love's witchery came, Like the wind of the south o'er a summer lute blowing, And hushed all its music and withered its frame!
But long, upon Araby's green sunny highlands, Shall maids and their lovers remember the doom Of her who lies sleeping among the Pearl Islands, With naught but the sea-star to light up her tomb.
And still, when the merry date-season is burning, And calls to the palm-grove the young and the old, The happiest there, from their pastime returning At sunset, will weep when thy story is told.
The young village maid, when with flowers she dresses Her dark flowing-hair for some festival day, Will think of thy fate till, neglecting her tresses, She mournfully turns from the mirror away.
Nor shall Iran, beloved of her hero, forget thee— Though tyrants watch over her tears as they start, Close, close by the side of that hero she'll set thee, Embalmed in the innermost shrine of her heart.
Farewell!—be it ours to embellish thy pillow With everything beauteous that grows in the deep; Each flower of the rock and each gem of the billow Shall sweeten thy bed and illumine thy sleep.
Around thee shall glisten the loveliest amber That ever the sorrowing sea-bird has wept; With many a shell, in whose hollow-wreathed chamber, We, Peris of ocean, by moonlight have slept.
We'll dive where the gardens of coral lie darkling, And plant all the rosiest stems at thy head; We'll seek where the sands of the Caspian are sparkling, And gather their gold to strew over thy bed.
Farewell!—farewell!—until pity's sweet fountain Is lost in the hearts of the fair and the brave, They'll weep for the Chieftain who died on that mountain. They'll weep for the Maiden who sleeps in the wave.
SOFTLY WOO AWAY HER BREATH.
Softly woo away her breath, Gentle death! Let her leave thee with no strife, Tender, mournful, murmuring life! She hath seen her happy day,— She hath had her bud and blossom; Now she pales and shrinks away, Earth, into thy gentle bosom!
She hath done her bidding here, Angels dear! Bear her perfect soul above. Seraph of the skies,—sweet love! Good she was, and fair in youth; And her mind was seen to soar. And her heart was wed to truth: Take her, then, forevermore,— Forever—evermore—
BRYAN WALLER PROCTER (Barry Cornwall.)
SHE DIED IN BEAUTY.
She died in beauty,—like a rose Blown from its parent stem; She died in beauty,—like a pearl Dropped from some diadem.
She died in beauty,—like a lay Along a moonlit lake; She died in beauty,—like the song Of birds amid the brake.
She died in beauty,—like the snow On flowers dissolved away; She died in beauty,—like a star Lost on the brow of day.
She lives in glory,—like night's gems Set round the silver moon; She lives in glory,—like the sun Amid the blue of June.
CHARLES DOYNE SILLERY.
THE DEATH OF MINNEHAHA.
FROM "THE SONG OF HIAWATHA."
All day long roved Hiawatha In that melancholy forest, Through the shadows of whose thickets, In the pleasant days of Summer, Of that ne'er forgotten Summer. He had brought his young wife homeward From the land of the Dacotahs; When the birds sang in the thickets, And the streamlets laughed and glistened, And the air was full of fragrance, And the lovely Laughing Water Said with voice that did not tremble, "I will follow you, my husband!" In the wigwam with Nokomis, With those gloomy guests that watched her, With the Famine and the Fever, She was lying, the Beloved, She, the dying Minnehaha. "Hark!" she said; "I hear a rushing, Hear a roaring and a rushing, Hear the Falls of Minnehaha Calling to me from a distance!" "No, my child!" said old Nokomis, "'T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!" "Look!" she said; "I see my father Standing lonely at his doorway. Beckoning to me from his wigwam In the land of the Dacotahs!" "No, my child!" said old Nokomis, "'T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!" "Ah!" said she, "the eyes of Panguk Glare upon me in the darkness, I can feel his icy fingers Clasping mine amid the darkness! Hiawatha! Hiawatha!" And the desolate Hiawatha, Far away amid the forest, Miles away among the mountains, Heard that sudden cry of anguish, Heard the voice of Minnehaha Calling to him in the darkness, "Hiawatha! Hiawatha!" Over snow-fields waste and pathless, Under snow-encumbered branches, Homeward hurried Hiawatha, Empty-handed, heavy-hearted, Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing: "Wahonowin! Wahonowin! Would that I had perished for you, Would that I were dead as you are! Wahonowin! Wahonowin!" And he rushed into the wigwam, Saw the old Nokomis slowly Rocking to and fro and moaning, Saw his lovely Minnehaha Lying dead and cold before him, And his bursting heart within him Uttered such a cry of anguish, That the forest moaned and shuddered, That the very stars in heaven Shook and trembled with his anguish. Then he sat down, still and speechless, On the bed of Minnehaha, At the feet of Laughing Water, At those willing feet, that never More would lightly run to meet him, Never more would lightly follow. With both hands his face he covered, Seven long days and nights he sat there, As if in a swoon he sat there, Speechless, motionless, unconscious Of the daylight or the darkness. Then they buried Minnehaha; In the snow a grave they made her, In the forest deep and darksome, Underneath the moaning hemlocks; Clothed her in her richest garments, Wrapped her in her robes of ermine, Covered her with snow, like ermine; Thus they buried Minnehaha. And at night a fire was lighted, On her grave four times was kindled, For her soul upon its journey To the Islands of the Blessed. From his doorway Hiawatha Saw it burning in the forest, Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks; From his sleepless bed uprising, From the bed of Minnehaha, Stood and watched it at the doorway, That it might not be extinguished, Might not leave her in the darkness. "Farewell!" said he, "Minnehaha! Farewell, O my Laughing Water! All my heart is buried with you, All my thoughts go onward with you, Come not back again to labor, Come not back again to suffer, Where the Famine and the Fever Wear the heart and waste the body. Soon my task will be completed, Soon your footsteps I shall follow To the Islands of the Blessed, To the Kingdom of Ponemah, To the Land of the Hereafter!"
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
MOTHER AND POET.
TURIN,—AFTER NEWS FROM GAETA, 1861.
Laura Savio of Turin, a poetess and patriot, whose sons were killed at Ancona and Gaeta.
Dead! one of them shot by the sea in the east, And one of them shot in the west by the sea. Dead! both my boys! When you sit at the feast, And are wanting a great song for Italy free, Let none look at me!
Yet I was a poetess only last year, And good at my art, for a woman, men said. But this woman, this, who is agonized here, The east sea and west sea rhyme on in her head Forever instead.
What art can a woman be good at? O, vain! What art is she good at, but hurting her breast With the milk teeth of babes, and a smile at the pain? Ah, boys, how you hurt! you were strong as you pressed, And I proud by that test.
What art's for a woman! To hold on her knees Both darlings! to feel all their arms round her throat Cling, struggle a little! to sew by degrees And 'broider the long-clothes and neat little coat! To dream and to dote.
To teach them ... It stings there. I made them indeed Speak plain the word "country," I taught them, no doubt, That a country's a thing men should die for at need. I prated of liberty, rights, and about The tyrant turned out.
And when their eyes flashed ... O my beautiful eyes! ... I exulted! nay, let them go forth at the wheels Of the guns, and denied not.—But then the surprise, When one sits quite alone!—Then one weeps, then one kneels! —God! how the house feels!
At first happy news came, in gay letters moiled With my kisses, of camp-life and glory, and how They both loved me, and soon, coming home to be spoiled, In return would fan off every fly from my brow With their green laurel-bough.
Then was triumph at Turin. "Ancona was free!" And some one came out of the cheers in the street With a face pale as stone, to say something to me. —My Guido was dead!—I fell down at his feet, While they cheered in the street.
I bore it;—friends soothed me: my grief looked sublime As the ransom of Italy. One boy remained To be leant on and walked with, recalling the time When the first grew immortal, while both of us strained To the height he had gained.
And letters still came,—shorter, sadder, more strong, Writ now but in one hand. "I was not to faint. One loved me for two ... would be with me ere-long: And 'Viva Italia' he died for, our saint, Who forbids our complaint."
My Nanni would add "he was safe, and aware Of a presence that turned off the balls ... was imprest It was Guido himself, who knew what I could bear, And how 't was impossible, quite dispossessed, To live on for the rest."
On which without pause up the telegraph line Swept smoothly the next news from Gaeta:—"Shot. Tell his mother." Ah, ah, "his," "their" mother; not "mine." No voice says "my mother" again to me. What! You think Guido forgot?
Are souls straight so happy that, dizzy with heaven, They drop earth's affections, conceive not of woe? I think not. Themselves were too lately forgiven Through that love and sorrow which reconciled so The above and below.
O Christ of the seven wounds, who look'dst through the dark To the face of thy mother! consider, I pray. How we common mothers stand desolate, mark, Whose sons, not being Christs, die with eyes turned away, And no last word to say!
Both boys dead! but that's out of nature. We all Have been patriots, yet each house must always keep one. 'T were imbecile hewing out roads to a wall. And when Italy's made, for what end is it done If we have not a son?
Ah, ah, ah! when Gaeta's taken, what then? When the fair wicked queen sits no more at her sport Of the fire-balls of death crashing souls out of men? When your guns at Cavalli with final retort Have cut the game short,—
When Venice and Rome keep their new jubilee, When your flag takes all heaven for its white, green, and red, When you have your country from mountain to sea, When King Victor has Italy's crown on his head, (And I have my dead,)
What then? Do not mock me. Ah, ring your bells low, And burn your lights faintly!—My country is there, Above the star pricked by the last peak of snow, My Italy's there,—with my brave civic pair, To disfranchise despair.
Forgive me. Some women bear children in strength, And bite back the cry of their pain in self-scorn. But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us at length Into such wail as this!—and we sit on forlorn When the man-child is born.
Dead! one of them shot by the sea in the west, And one of them shot in the east by the sea! Both! both my boys!—If in keeping the feast You want a great song for your Italy free, Let none look at me!
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
FEAR NO MORE THE HEAT O' THE SUN.
FROM "CYMBELINE," ACT IV, SC. 2.
Fear no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o' the great, Thou art past the tyrant's stroke; Care no more to clothe, and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan: All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
Ye banks, and braes, and streams around The castle o' Montgomery, Green be your woods, and fair your flowers, Your waters never drumlie! There Simmer first unfald her robes And there she langest tarry! For there I took the last fareweel O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk! How rich the hawthorn's blossom! As underneath their fragrant shade I clasped her to my bosom! The golden hours, on angel wings, Flew o'er me and my dearie; For dear to me as light and life Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Wi' monie a vow and locked embrace Our parting was fu' tender; And pledging aft to meet again, We tore ourselves asunder; But, oh! fell death's untimely frost, That nipt my flower sae early! Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay, That wraps my Highland Mary!
Oh pale, pale now, those rosy lips I aft hae kissed sae fondly! And closed for aye the sparkling glance That dwelt on me sae kindly! And mould'ring now in silent dust That heart that lo'ed me dearly! But still within my bosom's core Shall live my Highland Mary.
I wish I were where Helen lies; Night and day on me she cries; O that I were where Helen lies On fair Kirconnell lea!
Curst be the heart that thought the thought, And curst the hand that fired the shot, When in my arms burd Helen dropt, And died to succor me!
O think na but my heart was sair When my Love dropt down and spak nae mair! I laid her down wi' meikle care On fair Kirconnell lea.
As I went down the water-side, None but my foe to be my guide, None but my foe to be my guide, On fair Kirconnell lea;
I lighted down my sword to draw, I hacked him in pieces sma', I hacked him in pieces sma', For her sake that died for me.
O Helen fair, beyond compare! I'll make a garland of thy hair Shall bind my heart for evermair Until the day I die.
O that I were where Helen lies! Night and day on me she cries; Out of my bed she bids me rise, Says, "Haste and come to me!"
O Helen fair! O Helen chaste! If I were with thee, I were blest, Where thou lies low and takes thy rest On fair Kirconnell lea.
I wish my grave were growing green, A winding-sheet drawn ower my een, And I in Helen's arms lying, On fair Kirconnell lea.
I wish I were where Helen lies; Night and day on me she cries; And I am weary of the skies, Since my Love died for me.
OH THAT 'T WERE POSSIBLE.
Oh that 't were possible, After long grief and pain, To find the arms of my true love Round me once again!
When I was wont to meet her In the silent woody places Of the laud that gave me birth, We stood tranced in long embraces Mixt with kisses sweeter, sweeter Than anything on earth.
A shadow flits before me, Not thou, but like to thee; Ah Christ, that it were possible For one short hour to see The souls we loved, that they might tell us What and where they be!
It leads me forth at evening, It lightly winds and steals In a cold white robe before me, When all my spirit reels At the shouts, the leagues of lights, And the roaring of the wheels.
Half the night I waste in sighs, Half in dreams I sorrow after The delight of early skies; In a wakeful doze I sorrow For the hand, the lips, the eyes— For the meeting of the morrow, The delight of happy laughter, The delight of low replies.
'Tis a morning pure and sweet, And a dewy splendor falls On the little flower that clings To the turrets and the walls; 'T is a morning pure and sweet, And the light and shadow fleet: She is walking in the meadow, And the woodland echo rings. In a moment we shall meet; She is singing in the meadow, And the rivulet at her feet Ripples on in light and shadow To the ballad that she sings.
Do I hear her sing as of old, My bird with the shining head, My own dove with the tender eye? But there rings on a sudden a passionate cry— There is some one dying or dead; And a sullen thunder is rolled; For a tumult shakes the city, And I wake—my dream is fled; In the shuddering dawn, behold, Without knowledge, without pity, By the curtains of my bed That abiding phantom cold!
Get thee hence, nor come again! Mix not memory with doubt, Pass, thou deathlike type of pain, Pass and cease to move about! 'T is the blot upon the brain That will show itself without.
Then I rise; the eave-drops fall, And the yellow vapors choke The great city sounding wide; The day comes—a dull red ball Wrapt in drifts of lurid smoke On the misty river-tide.
Through the hubbub of the market I steal, a wasted frame; It crosses here, it crosses there, Through all that crowd confused and loud The shadow still the same; And on my heavy eyelids My anguish hangs like shame.
Alas for her that met me, That heard me softly call, Came glimmering through the laurels At the quiet evenfall, In the garden by the turrets Of the old manorial hall!
Would the happy spirit descend From the realms of light and song, In the chamber or the street. As she looks among the blest, Should I fear to greet my friend Or to say "Forgive the wrong," Or to ask her, "Take me, sweet, To the regions of thy rest?"
But the broad light glares and beats, And the shadow flits and Meets And will not let me be; And I loathe the squares and streets, And the faces that one meets, Hearts with no love for me; Always I long to creep Into some still cavern deep, There to weep, and weep, and weep My whole soul out to thee.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
"Dowglas, Dowglas, tendir and treu."
Could ye come back to me, Douglas, Douglas, In the old likeness that I knew, I would be so faithful, so loving, Douglas, Douglas, Douglas, tender and true.
Never a scornful word should grieve ye, I 'd smile on ye sweet as the angels do; Sweet as your smile on me shone ever, Douglas, Douglas, tender and true.
Oh, to call back the days that are not! My eyes were blinded, your words were few: Do you know the truth now, up in heaven, Douglas, Douglas, tender and true?
I never was worthy of you, Douglas; Not half worthy the like of you: Now all men beside seem to me like shadows— I love you, Douglas, tender and true.
Stretch out your hand to me, Douglas, Douglas, Drop forgiveness from heaven like dew; As I lay my heart on your dead heart, Douglas, Douglas, Douglas, tender and true!
DINAH MARIA MCLOCK CRAIK.
We'll not weep for summer over,— No, not we: Strew above his head the clover,— Let him be!
Other eyes may weep his dying, Shed their tears There upon him, where he's lying With his peers.
Unto some of them he proffered Gifts most sweet; For our hearts a grave he offered,— Was this meet?
All our fond hopes, praying, perished In his wrath,— All the lovely dreams we cherished Strewed his path.
Shall we in our tombs, I wonder, Far apart, Sundered wide as seas can sunder Heart from heart,
Dream at all of all the sorrows That were ours,— Bitter nights, more bitter morrows; Poison-flowers
Summer gathered, as in madness, Saying, "See, These are yours, in place of gladness,— Gifts from me"?
Nay, the rest that will be ours Is supreme, And below the poppy flowers Steals no dream.
PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON.
LAMENT FOR HELIODORE.
Tears for my lady dead— Heliodore! Salt tears, and strange to shed, Over and o'er; Tears to my lady dead, Love do we send, Longed for, remembered, Lover and friend! Sad are the songs we sing, Tears that we shed, Empty the gifts we bring Gifts to the dead! Go, tears, and go, lament, Fare from her tomb, Wend where my lady went Down through the gloom! Ah, for my flower, my love, Hades hath taken I Ah, for the dust above Scattered and shaken! Mother of blade and grass, Earth, in thy breast Lull her that gentlest was Gently to rest!
From the Greek of MELEAGER. Translation of ANDREW LANG.
ON THE DEATH OF HER BROTHER, FRANCIS I.
'T is done! a father, mother, gone, A sister, brother, torn away, My hope is now in God alone, Whom heaven and earth alike obey. Above, beneath, to him is known,— The world's wide compass is his own.
I love,—but in the world no more, Nor in gay hall, or festal bower; Not the fair forms I prized before,— But him, all beauty, wisdom, power, My Saviour, who has cast a chain On sin and ill, and woe and pain!
I from my memory have effaced All former joys, all kindred, friends; All honors that my station graced I hold but snares that fortune sends: Hence! joys by Christ at distance cast, That we may be his own at last!
From the French of MARGUERITE DE VALOIS, QUEEN OF NAVARRE. Translation of LOUISA STUART COSTELLO.
TO MARY IN HEAVEN.
[Written in September, 1789, on the anniversary of the day on which he heard of the death of his early love, Mary Campbell.]
Thou lingering star, with lessening ray, That lov'st to greet the early morn, Again thou usher'st in the day My Mary from my soul was torn. O Mary! dear departed shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest? See'st thou thy lover lowly laid? Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
That sacred hour can I forget,— Can I forget the hallowed grove, Where by the winding Ayr we met To live one day of parting love? Eternity will not efface Those records dear of transports past; Thy image at our last embrace; Ah! little thought we 't was our last!
Ayr, gurgling, kissed his pebbled shore, O'erhung with wild woods, thickening green; The fragrant birch, and hawthorn hoar, Twined amorous round the raptured scene; The flowers sprang wanton to be prest, The birds sang love on every spray,— Till soon, too soon, the glowing west Proclaimed the speed of winged day.
Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes, And fondly broods with miser care! Time but the impression stronger makes, As streams their channels deeper wear. My Mary! dear departed shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest? See'st thou thy lover lowly laid? Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
O sing unto my roundelay! O, drop the briny tear with me! Dance no more at holiday; Like a running river be. My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed, All under the willow-tree.
Black his hair as the winter night, White his neck as the summer snow, Ruddy his face as the morning light; Cold he lies in the grave below. My love is dead, etc.
Sweet his tongue as the throstle's note; Quick in dance as thought can be; Deft his tabor, cudgel stout; O, lie lies by the willow-tree! My love is dead, etc.
Hark! the raven flaps his wing In the briered dell below; Hark! the death-owl loud doth sing To the nightmares as they go. My love is dead, etc.
See! the white moon shines on high; Whiter is my-true-love's shroud, Whiter than the morning sky, Whiter than the evening cloud. My love is dead, etc.
Here, upon my true-love's grave Shall the barren flowers be laid, Nor one holy saint to save All the coldness of a maid. My love is dead, etc.
With my hands I'll bind the briers Round his holy corse to gre; Ouphant fairy, light your fires; Here my body still shall be. My love is dead, etc.
Come, with acorn-cup and thorn, Drain my heart's blood away; Life and all its good I scorn, Dance by night, or feast by day. My love is dead, etc.
Water-witches, crowned with reytes, Bear me to your lethal tide. I die! I come! my true-love waits.... Thus the damsel spake, and died.
Many a year is in its grave Since I crossed this restless wave: And the evening, fair as ever. Shines on ruin, rock, and river.
Then in this same boat beside. Sat two comrades old and tried,— One with all a father's truth, One with all the fire of youth.
One on earth in silence wrought, And his grave in silence sought; But the younger, brighter form Passed in battle and in storm.
So, whene'er I turn mine eye Back upon the days gone by, Saddening thoughts of friends come o'er me, Friends that closed their course before me.
But what binds us, friend to friend, But that soul with soul can blend? Soul-like were those hours of yore; Let us walk in soul once more.
Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee, Take, I give it willingly; For, invisible to thee, Spirits twain have crossed with me.
From the German of LUDWIG UHLAND. Translation of SARAH TAYLOR AUSTIN.
LAMENT OF THE IRISH EMIGRANT.
I'm sittin' on the stile, Mary, Where we sat side by side On a bright May mornin' long ago, When first you were my bride; The corn was springin' fresh and green. And the lark sang loud and high— And the red was on your lip, Mary, And the love-light in your eye.
The place is little changed, Mary; The day is bright as then; The lark's loud song is in my ear, And the corn is green again; But I miss the soft clasp of your hand, And your breath, warm on my cheek; And I still keep list'nin' for the words You nevermore will speak.
'Tis but a step down yonder lane, And the little church stands near— The church where we were wed, Mary; I see the spire from here. But the graveyard lies between, Mary, And my step might break your rest— For I've laid you, darling! down to sleep, With your baby on your breast.
I'm very lonely now, Mary. For the poor make no new friends: But, oh, they love the better still The few our Father sends! And you were all I had, Mary— My blessin' and my pride! There's nothing left to care for now, Since my poor Mary died.
Yours was the good, brave heart, Mary, That still kept hoping on. When the trust in God had left my soul, And my arm's young strength was gone; There was comfort ever on your lip, And the kind look on your brow,— I bless you, Mary, for that same, Though you cannot hear me now.
I thank you for the patient smile When your heart was fit to break,— When the hunger-pain was gnawin' there, And you hid it for my sake; I bless you for the pleasant word, When your heart was sad and sore,— O, I'm thankful you are gone, Mary, Where grief can't reach you more!
I'm biddin' you a long farewell, My Mary—kind and true! But I'll not forget you, darling, In the land I'm goin' to; They say there's bread and work for all, And the sun shines always there— But I'll not forget old Ireland, Were it fifty times as fair!
And often in those grand old woods I'll sit, and shut my eyes, And my heart will travel back again To the place where Mary lies; And I'll think I see the little stile Where we sat side by side, And the springin' corn, and the bright May morn, When first you were my bride.
HOME THEY BROUGHT HER WARRIOR DEAD.
FROM "THE PRINCESS."
Home they brought her warrior dead: She nor swooned, nor uttered cry; All her maidens, watching, said, "She must weep or she will die."