Then they praised him, soft and low, Called him worthy to be loved, Truest friend and noblest foe; Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
Stole a maiden from her place, Lightly to the warrior stept, Took the face-cloth from the face; Yet she neither moved nor wept.
Rose a nurse of ninety years, Set his child upon her knee,— Like summer tempest came her tears, "Sweet my child, I live for thee."
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
THE KING OF DENMARK'S RIDE.
Word was brought to the Danish king (Hurry!) That the love of his heart lay suffering, And pined for the comfort his voice would bring; (O, ride as though you were flying!) Better he loves each golden curl On the brow of that Scandinavian girl Than his rich crown jewels of ruby and pearl: And his rose of the isles is dying!
Thirty nobles saddled with speed; (Hurry!) Each one mounting a gallant steed Which he kept for battle and days of need; (O, ride as though you were flying!) Spurs were struck in the foaming flank; Worn out chargers staggered and sank; Bridles were slackened, and girths were burst; But ride as they would, the king rode first, For his rose of the isles lay dying!
His nobles are beaten, one by one; (Hurry!) They have fainted, and faltered, and homeward gone; His little fair page now follows alone, For strength and for courage trying! The king looked back at that faithful child; Wan was the face that answering smiled; They passed the drawbridge with clattering din, Then he dropped; and only the king rode in Where his rose of the isles lay dying!
The king blew a blast on his bugle horn; (Silence!) No answer came; but faint and forlorn An echo returned on the cold gray morn, Like the breath of a spirit sighing. The castle portal stood grimly wide; None welcomed the king from that weary ride; For dead, in the light of the dawning day, The pale sweet form of the welcomer lay, Who had yearned for his voice while dying!
The panting steed, with a drooping crest, Stood weary. The king returned from her chamber of rest, The thick sobs choking in his breast; And, that dumb companion eyeing, The tears gushed forth which he strove to check; He bowed his head on his charger's neck: "O steed, that every nerve didst strain, Dear steed, our ride hath been in vain To the halls where my love lay dying!"
CAROLINE E.S. NORTON.
FROM "HAMLET," ACT I. SC. 2.
QUEEN.—Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not, forever, with thy veiled lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know'st 'tis common,—all that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
HAMLET.—Ay, madam, it is common.
QUEEN.—If it be, Why seems it so particular with thee?
HAMLET.—Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems. 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected havior of the visage, Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief, That can denote me truly: these, indeed, seem, For they are actions that a man might play: But I have that within, which passeth show; These, but the trappings and the suits of woe.
SELECTIONS FROM "IN MEMORIAM."
[ARTHUR HENRY HALLAM, OB. 1833.]
I sometimes hold it half a sin To put in words the grief I feel: For words, like Nature, half reveal And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain, A use in measured language lies; The sad mechanic exercise, Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er, Like coarsest clothes against the cold; But that large grief which these enfold Is given in outline and no more.
DEAD, IN A FOREIGN LAND.
Fair ship, that from the Italian shore Sailest the placid ocean-plains With my lost Arthur's loved remains, Spread thy full wings, and waft him o'er.
So draw him home to those that mourn In vain; a favorable speed Ruffle thy mirrored mast, and lead Through prosperous floods his holy urn. All night no ruder air perplex Thy sliding keel, till Phosphor, bright As our pure love, through early light Shall glimmer on the dewy decks.
Sphere all your lights around, above; Sleep, gentle heavens, before the prow; Sleep, gentle winds, as he sleeps now, My friend, the brother of my love;
My Arthur, whom I shall not see Till all my widowed race be run; Dear as the mother to the son, More than my brothers are to me.
THE PEACE OF SORROW
Calm is the morn without a sound, Calm as to suit a calmer grief, And only through the faded leaf The chestnut pattering to the ground:
Calm and deep peace on this high wold And on these dews that drench the furze, And all the silvery gossamers That twinkle into green and gold:
Calm and still light on yon great plain That sweeps with all its autumn bowers, And crowded farms, and lessening towers, To mingle with the bounding main:
Calm and deep peace in this wide air, These leaves that redden to the fall; And in my heart, if calm at all, If any calm, a calm despair:
Calm on the seas, and silver sleep, And waves that sway themselves in rest, And dead calm in that noble breast Which heaves but with the heaving deep.
TIME AND ETERNITY.
If Sleep and Death be truly one, And every spirit's folded bloom Through all its intervital gloom In some long trance should slumber on;
Unconscious of the sliding hour, Bare of the body, might it last, And silent traces of the past Be all the color of the flower:
So then were nothing lost to man; So that still garden of the souls In many a figured leaf enrolls The total world since life began;
And love will last as pure and whole As when he loved me here in Time, And at the spiritual prime Rewaken with the dawning soul.
That each, who seems a separate whole, Should move his rounds, and fusing all The skirts of self again, should fall Remerging in the general Soul,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet: Eternal form shall still divide The eternal soul from all beside; And I shall know him when we meet:
And we shall sit at endless feast, Enjoying each the other's good: What vaster dream can hit the mood Of Love on earth? He seeks at least
Upon the last and sharpest height, Before the spirits fade away, Some landing-place to clasp and say, "Farewell! We lose ourselves in light."
How pure at heart and sound in head, With what divine affections bold, Should be the man whose thought would hold An hour's communion with the dead.
In vain shalt thou, or any, call The spirits from their golden day, Except, like them, thou too canst say, My spirit is at peace with all.
They haunt the silence of the breast, Imaginations calm and fair, The memory like a cloudless air, The conscience as a sea at rest:
But when the heart is full of din, And doubt beside the portal waits, They can but listen at the gates, And hear the household jar within.
Do we indeed desire the dead Should still be near us at our side? Is there no baseness we would hide? No inner vileness that we dread?
Shall he for whose applause I strove, I had such reverence for his blame, See with clear eye some hidden shame, And I be lessened in his love?
I wrong the grave with fears untrue: Shall love be blamed for want of faith? There must be wisdom with great Death: The dead shall look me through and through.
Be near us when we climb or fall: Ye watch, like God, the rolling hours With larger other eyes than ours, To make allowance for us all.
DEATH IN LIFE'S PRIME.
So many worlds, so much to do, So little done, such things to be, How know I what had need of thee? For thou wert strong as thou wert true.
The fame is quenched that I foresaw, The head hath missed an earthly wreath: I curse not nature, no, nor death; For nothing is that errs from law.
We pass; the path that each man trod Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds: What fame is left for human deeds In endless age? It rests with God.
O hollow wraith of dying fame, Fade wholly, while the soul exults, And self-enfolds the large results Of force that would have forged a name.
THE POET'S TRIBUTE.
What hope is here for modern rhyme To him who turns a musing eye On songs, and deeds, and lives, that lie Foreshortened in the tract of time?
These mortal lullabies of pain May bind a book, may line a box, May serve to curl a maiden's locks: Or when a thousand moons shall wane A man upon a stall may find, And, passing, turn the page that tells. A grief, then changed to something else, Sung by a long-forgotten mind.
But what of that? My darkened ways Shall ring with music all the same; To breathe my loss is more than fame, To utter love more sweet than praise.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
Down, down, Ellen, my little one, Climbing so tenderly up to my knee; Why should you add to the thoughts that are taunting me, Dreams of your mother's arms clinging to me?
Cease, cease, Ellen, my little one, Warbling so fairily close to my ear; Why should you choose, of all songs that are haunting me, This that I made for your mother to hear?
Hush, hush, Ellen, my little one, Wailing so wearily under the stars; Why should I think of her tears, that might light to me Love that had made life, and sorrow that mars?
Sleep, sleep, Ellen, my little one! Is she not like her whenever she stirs? Has she not eyes that will soon be as bright to me, Lips that will some day be honeyed like hers?
Yes, yes, Ellen, my little one. Though her white bosom is stilled in the grave, Something more white than her bosom is spared to me,— Something to cling to and something to crave.
Love, love, Ellen, my little one! Love indestructible, love undefiled, Love through all deeps of her spirit lies bared to me, Oft as I look on the face of her child.
ARTHUR JOSEPH MUNBY.
THE FAIREST THING IN MORTAL EYES.
Addressed to his deceased wife, who died in childbed at the age of twenty-two.
To make my lady's obsequies My love a minster wrought, And, in the chantry, service there Was sung by doleful thought; The tapers were of burning sighs, That light and odor gave: And sorrows, painted o'er with tears, Enlumined her grave; And round about, in quaintest guise, Was carved: "Within this tomb there lies The fairest thing in mortal eyes." Above her lieth spread a tomb Of gold and sapphires blue: The gold doth show her blessedness, The sapphires mark her true; For blessedness and truth in her Were livelily portrayed, When gracious God with both his hands Her goodly substance made. He framed her in such wondrous wise, She was, to speak without disguise, The fairest thing in mortal eyes.
No more, no more! my heart doth faint When I the life recall Of her who lived so free from taint, So virtuous deemed by all,— That in herself was so complete I think that she was ta'en By God to deck his paradise, And with his saints to reign, Whom while on earth each one did prize The fairest thing in mortal eyes.
But naught our tears avail, or cries; All soon or late in death shall sleep; Nor living wight long time may keep The fairest thing in mortal eyes.
From the French of CHARLES, DUKE OF ORLEANS. Translation of HENRY FRANCIS CARY.
BREAK, BREAK, BREAK.
Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O sea! And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fisherman's boy That he shouts with his sister at play! O well for the sailor lad That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on, To the haven under the hill; But O for the touch of a vanished hand, And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break, At the foot of thy crags, O sea! But the tender grace of a day that is dead Will never come back to me.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
How prone we are to hide and hoard Each little treasure time has stored, To tell of happy hours! We lay aside with tender care A tattered book, a lock of hair, A bunch of faded flowers.
When death has led with silent hand Our darlings to the "Silent Land," Awhile we sit bereft; But time goes on; anon we rise, Our dead are buried from our eyes, We gather what is left.
The books they loved, the songs they sang, The little flute whose music rang So cheerily of old; The pictures we had watched them paint, The last plucked flower, with odor faint, That fell from fingers cold.
We smooth and fold with reverent care The robes they living used to wear; And painful pulses stir As o'er the relics of our dead, With bitter rain of tears, we spread Pale purple lavender.
And when we come in after years, With only tender April tears On cheeks once white with care, To look on treasures put away Despairing on that far-off day, A subtile scent is there.
Dew-wet and fresh we gather them, These fragrant flowers; now every stem Is bare of all its bloom: Tear-wet and sweet we strewed them here To lend our relics, sacred, dear, Their beautiful perfume.
The scent abides on book and lute, On curl and flower, and with its mute But eloquent appeal It wins from us a deeper sob For our lost dead, a sharper throb Than we are wont to feel.
It whispers of the "long ago;" Its love, its loss, its aching woe, And buried sorrows stir; And tears like those we shed of old Roll down our cheeks as we behold Our faded lavender.
WHAT OF THE DARKNESS?
TO THE HAPPY DEAD PEOPLE.
What of the darkness? Is it very fair? Are there great calms? and find we silence there? Like soft-shut lilies, all your faces glow With some strange peace our faces never know, With some strange faith our faces never dare,— Dwells it in Darkness? Do you find it there?
Is it a Bosom where tired heads may lie? Is it a Mouth to kiss our weeping dry? Is it a Hand to still the pulse's leap? Is it a Voice that holds the runes of sleep? Day shows us not such comfort anywhere— Dwells it in Darkness? Do ye find it there?
Out of the Day's deceiving light we call— Day that shows man so great, and God so small, That hides the stars, and magnifies the grass— O is the Darkness too a lying glass! Or undistracted, do you find truth there? What of the Darkness? Is it very fair?
RICHARD LE GALLIENNE.
God spake three times and saved Van Elsen's soul; He spake by sickness first and made him whole; Van Elsen heard him not, Or soon forgot.
God spake to him by wealth, the world outpoured Its treasures at his feet, and called him Lord; Van Elsen's heart grew fat And proud thereat.
God spake the third time when the great world smiled, And in the sunshine slew his little child; Van Elsen like a tree Fell hopelessly.
Then in the darkness came a voice which said, "As thy heart bleedeth, so my heart hath bled, As I have need of thee, Thou needest me."
That night Van Elsen kissed the baby feet, And, kneeling by the narrow winding sheet, Praised Him with fervent breath Who conquered death.
FREDERICK GEORGE SCOTT.
WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOOR-YARD BLOOMED.
[THE DEATH OF LINCOLN.]
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloomed, And the great star early drooped in the western sky in the night, I mourned and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, Lilacs blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, And thought of him I love.
O powerful western fallen star! O shades of night—O moody, tearful night! O great star disappeared—O the black murk that hides the star! O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me! O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul!
In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the whitewashed palings, Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love, With every leaf a miracle;—and from this bush in the door-yard, With delicate-colored blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, A sprig with its flower I break.
In the swamp in secluded recesses, A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
Solitary the thrush, The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, Sings by himself a song.—
Song of the bleeding throat, Death's outlet song of life (for well, dear brother, I know, If thou wast not granted to sing thou wouldst surely die).
Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities, Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peeped from the ground, spotting the gray debris, Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass, Passing the yellow-speared wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields up-risen, Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards, Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave, Night and day journeys a coffin.
Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land, With the pomp of the inlooped flags, with the cities draped in black, With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veiled women standing, With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night, With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads, With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces, With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn, With all the mournful voices of the dirges poured around the coffin, The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these you journey, With the tolling, tolling bells' perpetual clang, Here, coffin that slowly passes, I give you my sprig of lilac.
(Nor for you, for one alone,— Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring; For, fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you, O sane and sacred death. All over bouquets of roses, O death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies, But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes, With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, For you and the coffins all of you, O death.)
O western orb sailing the heaven, Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walked, As I walked in silence the transparent shadowy night, As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night, As you drooped from the sky low down as if to my side (while the other stars all looked on), As we wandered together the solemn night (for something, I know not what, kept me from sleep), As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe, As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night, As I watched where you passed and was lost in the netherward black of the night, As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you, sad orb. Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.
Sing on there in the swamp, O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes, I hear your call, I hear, I come presently, I understand you; But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detained me, The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.
O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved? And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone? And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?
Sea-winds blown from east and west, Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting, These and with these and the breath of my chant, I'll perfume the grave of him I love.
O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, To adorn the burial-house of him I love? Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes, With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright, With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air, With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific, In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there, With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows, And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys, And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.
Lo, body and soul—this land, My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships, The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio's shores and flashing Missouri, And ever the far-spreading prairies covered with grass and corn. Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty, The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes, The gentle soft-born measureless light, The miracle spreading, bathing all, the fulfilled noon, The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars, Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.
Sing on, sing on, you gray-brown bird! Sing from the swamps, the recesses; pour your chant from the bushes, Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
Sing on, dearest brother, warble your reedy song, Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
O liquid and free and tender! O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer! You only I hear—yet the star holds me (but will soon depart), Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.
Now while I sat in the day and looked forth, In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops, In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests. In the heavenly aerial beauty (after the perturbed winds and the storms), Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women, The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sailed, And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor, And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages, And the streets how their throbbings throbbed, and the cities pent—lo, then and there, Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest, Appeared the cloud, appeared the long black trail, And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.
Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me, And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me, And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions, I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not, Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness, To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.
And the singer so shy to the rest received me, The gray-brown bird I know received us comrades three, And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.
From deep secluded recesses, From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still, Came the carol of the bird.
And the charm of the carol rapt me, As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night, And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.
Come, lovely and soothing death. Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, In the, day, in the night, to all, to each, Sooner or later, delicate death.
Praised be the fathomless universe, For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious, And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise! For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.
Dark mother, always gliding near with soft feet, Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all, I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
Approach, strong deliveress! When it is so, when thou, hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead, Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee, Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O death.
From me to thee glad serenades, Dances for thee, I propose, saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee; And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting, And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night—
The night in silence under many a star, The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know, And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veiled death, And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song, Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide, Over the dense-packed cities all and the teeming wharves and ways, I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O death.
To the tally of my soul, Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, With pure deliberate notes spreading, filling the night,
Loud in the pines and cedars dim. Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume, And I with my comrades there in the night.
While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, As to long panoramas of visions.
And I saw askant the armies, I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags, Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierced with missiles I saw them, And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody. And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs (and all in silence), And the staffs all splintered and broken.
I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them; I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, But I saw they were not as was thought, They themselves were fully at rest, they suffered not: The living remained and suffered, the mother suffered, And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffered, And the armies that remained suffered.
Passing the visions, passing the night, Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands, Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul, Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song, As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven, As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses, Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves, I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.
I cease from my song for thee, From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night. Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night, The song, the wondrous chant of the gray brown bird, And the tallying chant, the echo aroused in my soul, With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe. With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird, Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well. For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake, Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul, There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.
IF I SHOULD DIE TO-NIGHT.
If I should die to-night, My friends would look upon my quiet face Before they laid it in its resting-place, And deem that death had left it almost fair; And, laying snow-white flowers against my hair. Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness, And fold my hands with lingering caress— Poor hands, so empty and so cold to-night!
If I should die to-night, My friends would call to mind, with loving thought, Some kindly deed the icy hands had wrought; Some gentle word the frozen lips had said; Errands on which the willing feet had sped; The memory of my selfishness and pride, My hasty words, would all be put aside, And so I should be loved and mourned to-night.
If I should die to-night, Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me, Recalling other days remorsefully; The eyes that chill me with averted glance Would look upon me as of yore, perchance, And soften, in the old familiar way; For who could war with dumb, unconscious clay? So I might rest, forgiven of all, to-night.
Oh, friends, I pray to-night, Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow— The way is lonely; let me feel them now. Think gently of me; I am travel-worn; My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn. Forgive, oh, hearts estranged, forgive, I plead! When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need The tenderness for which I long to-night.
BELLE E. SMITH.
Down to the borders of the silent land He goes with halting feet; He dares not trust; he cannot understand The blessedness complete That waits for God's beloved at his right hand.
He dreads to see God's face, for though the pure Beholding him are blest, Yet in his sight no evil can endure; And still with fear oppressed He looks within and cries, "Who can be sure?"
The world beyond is strange; the golden streets, The palaces so fair, The seraphs singing in the shining seats, The glory everywhere,— And to his soul he solemnly repeats
The visions of the Book. "Alas!" he cries, "That world is all too grand; Among those splendors and those majesties I would not dare to stand; For me a lowlier heaven would well suffice!"
Yet, faithful in his lot this saint has stood Through service and through pain; The Lord Christ he has followed, doing good; Sure, dying must be gain To one who living hath done what he could.
The light is fading in the tired eyes, The weary race is run; Not as the victor that doth seize the prize. But as the fainting one, He nears the verge of the eternities.
And now the end has come, and now he sees The happy, happy shore; O fearful, and faint, distrustful soul, are these The things thou fearedst before— The awful majesties that spoiled thy peace?
This land is home; no stranger art thou here; Sweet and familiar words From voices silent long salute thine ear; And winds and songs of birds, And bees and blooms and sweet perfumes are near.
The seraphs—they are men of kindly mien; The gems and robes—but signs Of minds all radiant and of hearts washed clean; The glory—such as shines Wherever faith or hope or love is seen.
And he, O doubting child! the Lord of grace Whom thou didst fear to see— He knows thy sin—but look upon his face! Doth it not shine on thee With a great light of love that fills the place?
O happy soul, be thankful now and rest! Heaven is a goodly land; And God is love; and those he loves are blest;— Now thou dost understand; The least thou hast is better than the best
That thou didst hope for; now upon thine eyes The new life opens fair; Before thy feet the Blessed journey lies Through homelands everywhere; And heaven to thee is all a sweet surprise.
BEYOND THE SMILING AND THE WEEPING.
Beyond the smiling and the weeping I shall be soon; Beyond the waking and the sleeping, Beyond the sowing and the reaping, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! Sweet hope! Lord, tarry not, but come.
Beyond the blooming and the fading I shall be soon; Beyond the shining and the shading, Beyond the hoping and the dreading, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! etc.
Beyond the rising and the setting I shall be soon; Beyond the calming and the fretting, Beyond remembering and forgetting, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! etc.
Beyond the gathering and the strowing I shall be soon; Beyond the ebbing and the flowing. Beyond the coming and the going, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! etc.
Beyond the parting and the meeting I shall be soon; Beyond the farewell and the greeting, Beyond this pulse's fever beating, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! etc.
Beyond the frost chain and the fever I shall be soon; Beyond the rock waste and the river, Beyond the ever and the never, I shall be soon. Love, rest, and home! Sweet hope! Lord, tarry not, but come.
THE LAND O' THE LEAL.
I'm wearing awa', Jean, Like snaw when it's thaw, Jean; I'm wearing awa', To the land o' the leal. There's nae sorrow there, Jean, There's neither cauld nor care, Jean, The day is aye fair In the land o' the leal.
Ye were aye leal and true, Jean; Your task's ended noo, Jean, And I'll welcome you To the land o' the leal. Our bonnie bairn 's there, Jean, She was baith guid and fair, Jean: O, we grudged her right sair To the land o' the leal!
Then dry that tearfu' ee, Jean, My soul langs to be free, Jean, And angels wait on me To the land o' the leal! Now fare ye weel, my ain Jean, This warld's care is vain, Jean; We'll meet and aye be fain In the land o' the leal.
CAROLINA, BARONESS NAIRNE.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
"I am dying, Egypt, dying."—SHAKESPEARE'S Antony and Cleopatra, Act iv. Sc. 13.
I am dying, Egypt, dying. Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast, And the dark Plutonian shadows Gather on the evening blast; Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me, Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear; Listen to the great heart-secrets, Thou, and thou alone, must hear.
Though my scarred and veteran legions Bear their eagles high no more. And my wrecked and scattered galleys Strew dark Actium's fatal shore, Though no glittering guards surround me, Prompt to do their master's will, I must perish like a Roman, Die the great Triumvir still.
Let not Caesar's servile minions Mock the lion thus laid low; 'T was no foeman's arm that felled him, 'T was his own that struck the blow: His who, pillowed on thy bosom, Turned aside from glory's ray, His who, drunk with thy caresses, Madly threw a world away.
Should the base plebeian rabble Dare assail my name at Rome, Where my noble spouse, Octavia, Weeps within her widowed home, Seek her; say the gods bear witness— Altars, augurs, circling wings— That her blood, with mine commingled, Yet shall mount the throne of kings.
As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian! Glorious sorceress of the Nile! Light the path to Stygian horrors With the splendors of thy smile. Give the Caesar crowns and arches, Let his brow the laurel twine; I can scorn the Senate's triumphs, Triumphing in love like thine.
I am dying, Egypt, dying; Hark! the insulting foeman's cry. They are coming—quick, my falchion! Let me front them ere I die. Ah! no more amid the battle Shall my heart exulting swell; Isis and Osiris guard thee! Cleopatra—Rome—farewell!
WILLIAM HAINES LYTLE.
My body, eh? Friend Death, how now? Why all this tedious pomp of writ? Thou hast reclaimed it sure and slow For half a century, bit by bit.
In faith thou knowest more to-day Than I do, where it can be found! This shrivelled lump of suffering clay, To which I now am chained and bound,
Has not of kith or kin a trace To the good body once I bore; Look at this shrunken, ghastly face: Didst ever see that face before?
Ah, well, friend Death, good friend thou art; Thy only fault thy lagging gait, Mistaken pity in thy heart For timorous ones that bid thee wait.
Do quickly all thou hast to do, Nor I nor mine will hindrance make; I shall be free when thou art through; I grudge thee naught that thou must take!
Stay! I have lied: I grudge thee one, Yes, two I grudge thee at this last,— Two members which have faithful done My will and bidding in the past.
I grudge thee this right hand of mine; I grudge thee this quick-beating heart; They never gave me coward sign, Nor played me once a traitor's part.
I see now why in olden days Men in barbaric love or hate Nailed enemies' hands at wild crossways, Shrined leaders' hearts in costly state:
The symbol, sign, and instrument Of each soul's purpose, passion, strife, Of fires in which are poured and spent Their all of love, their all of life.
O feeble, mighty human hand! O fragile, dauntless human heart! The universe holds nothing planned With such sublime, transcendent art!
Yes, Death, I own I grudge thee mine Poor little hand, so feeble now; Its wrinkled palm, its altered line, Its veins so pallid and so slow—
Ah, well, friend Death, good friend thou art: I shall be free when thou art through. Take all there is—take hand and heart: There must be somewhere work to do.
HELEN HUNT JACKSON.
 Her last poem: 7 August, 1885.
WRITTEN DURING SICKNESS, APRIL, 1845.
Farewell, life! my senses swim. And the world is growing dim; Thronging shadows cloud the light, Like the advent of the night,— Colder, colder, colder still, Upward steals a vapor chill; Strong the earthly odor grows,— I smell the mold above the rose!
Welcome, life! the spirit strives! Strength returns and hope revives; Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn Fly like shadows at the morn,— O'er the earth there comes a bloom; Sunny light for sullen gloom, Warm perfume for vapor cold,— smell the rose above the mold!
Thank Heaven! the crisis,— The danger is past, And the lingering illness Is over at last,— And the fever called "Living" Is conquered at last.
Sadly, I know, I am shorn of my strength, And no muscle I move As I lie at full length,— But no matter!—I feel I am better at length.
And I rest so composedly Now, in my bed, That any beholder Might fancy me dead,— Might start at beholding me, Thinking me dead.
The moaning and groaning, The sighing and sobbing, Are quieted now, With that horrible throbbing At heart,—ah, that horrible, Horrible throbbing!
The sickness, the nausea, The pitiless pain, Have ceased, with the fever That maddened my brain,— With the fever called "Living" That burned in my brain.
And O, of all tortures That torture the worst Has abated,—the terrible Torture of thirst For the naphthaline river Of Passion accurst! I have drunk of a water That quenches all thirst,
Of a water that flows, With a lullaby sound. From a spring but a very few Feet under ground, From a cavern not very far Down under ground.
And ah! let it never Be foolishly said That my room it is gloomy And narrow my bed; For man never slept In a different bed,— And, to sleep you must slumber In just such a bed.
My tantalized spirit Here blandly reposes, Forgetting, or never Regretting, its roses,— Its old agitations Of myrtles and roses:
For now, while so quietly Lying, it fancies A holier odor About it, of pansies,— A rosemary odor, Commingled with pansies, With rue and the beautiful Puritan pansies.
And so it lies happily, Bathing in many A dream of the truth And the beauty of Annie,— Drowned in a bath Of the tresses of Annie.
She tenderly kissed me, She fondly caressed, And then I fell gently To sleep on her breast,— Deeply to sleep From the heaven of her breast.
When the light was extinguished, She covered me warm, And she prayed to the angels To keep me from harm,— To the queen of the angels To shield me from harm.
And I lie so composedly Now in my bed, (Knowing her love,) That you fancy me dead;— And I rest so contentedly Now in my bed, (With her love at my breast,) That you fancy me dead,— That you shudder to look at me, Thinking me dead:
But my heart it is brighter Than all of the many Stars in the sky; For it sparkles with Annie,— It glows with the light Of the love of my Annie, With the thought of the light Of the eyes of my Annie.
EDGAR ALLAN POE
CRY OF THE TEN THOUSAND.
I stand upon the summit of my life, Behind, the camp, the court, the field, the grove, The battle, and the burden: vast, afar Beyond these weary ways. Behold! the Sea! The sea o'erswept by clouds and winds and wings; By thoughts and wishes manifold, whose breath Is freshness and whose mighty pulse is peace. Palter no question of the horizon dim— Cut loose the bark! Such voyage itself is rest, Majestic motion, unimpeded scope, A widening heaven, a current without care, Eternity!—deliverance, promise, course! Time-tired souls salute thee from the shore.
JOSEPH BROWNLEE BROWN.
"He giveth his beloved sleep."—PSALM cxxvii. 2.
Of all the thoughts of God that are Borne inward unto souls afar, Among the Psalmist's music deep, Now tell me if that any is, For gift or grace, surpassing this,— "He giveth his beloved sleep "?
What would we give to our beloved? The hero's heart, to be unmoved,— The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep,— The patriot's voice, to teach and rouse,— The monarch's crown, to light the brows? "He giveth his beloved sleep."
What do we give to our beloved? A little faith, all undisproved,— A little dust to overweep, And bitter memories, to make The whole earth blasted for our sake, "He giveth his beloved sleep."
"Sleep soft, beloved!" we sometimes say, But have no tune to charm away Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep; But never doleful dream again Shall break the happy slumber when "He giveth his beloved sleep."
O earth, so full of dreary noise! O men, with wailing in your voice! O delved gold the wailers heap! O strife, O curse, that o'er it fall! God strikes a silence through you all, "He giveth his beloved sleep."
His dews drop mutely on the hill, His cloud above it saileth still. Though on its slope men sow and reap; More softly than the dew is shed, Or cloud is floated overhead, "He giveth his beloved sleep."
For me, my heart, that erst did go Most like a tired child at a show. That sees through tears the mummers leap, Would now its wearied vision close, Would childlike on his love repose Who "giveth his beloved sleep."
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
Fear death?—to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall, Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so—one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears Of pain, darkness and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain.
Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest!
I WOULD NOT LIVE ALWAY.
I would not live alway—live alway below! Oh no, I'll not linger when bidden to go: The days of our pilgrimage granted us here Are enough for life's woes, full enough for its cheer: Would I shrink from the path which the prophets of God, Apostles, and martyrs, so joyfully trod? Like a spirit unblest, o'er the earth would I roam, While brethren and friends are all hastening home?
I would not live alway: I ask not to stay Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way; Where seeking for rest we but hover around, Like the patriarch's bird, and no resting is found; Where Hope, when she paints her gay bow in the air. Leaves its brilliance to fade in the night of despair, And joy's fleeting angel ne'er sheds a glad ray, Save the gleam of the plumage that bears him away.
I would not live alway—thus fettered by sin, Temptation without and corruption within; In a moment of strength if I sever the chain, Scarce the victory's mine, ere I'm captive again; E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears, And the cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears: The festival trump calls for jubilant songs, But my spirit her own miserere prolongs.
I would not live alway—no, welcome the tomb, Since Jesus hath lain there I dread not its gloom; Where he deigned to sleep, I'll too bow my head, All peaceful to slumber on that hallowed bed. Then the glorious daybreak, to follow that night, The orient gleam of the angels of light, With their clarion call for the sleepers to rise. And chant forth their matins, away to the skies.
Who, who would live alway? away from his God, Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode, Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains, And the noontide of glory eternally reigns; Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet, Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet, While the songs of salvation exultingly roll And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul.
That heavenly music! what is it I hear? The notes of the harpers ring sweet in mine ear! And see, soft unfolding those portals of gold, The King all arrayed in his beauty behold! Oh give me, oh give me, the wings of a dove, To adore him—be near him—enwrapt with his love; I but wait for the summons, I list for the word— Alleluia—Amen—evermore with the Lord!
WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUeHLENBERG.
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife; Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art; I warmed both hands before the fire of life,— It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.
LOVE AND DEATH.
Alas! that men must see Love, before Death! Else they content might be With their short breath; Aye, glad, when the pale sun Showed restless day was done, And endless Rest begun.
Glad, when with strong, cool hand Death clasped their own, And with a strange command Hushed every moan; Glad to have finished pain, And labor wrought in vain, Blurred by Sin's deepening stain.
But Love's insistent voice Bids self to flee— "Live that I may rejoice, Live on, for me!" So, for Love's cruel mind, Men fear this Rest to find, Nor know great Death is kind!
MARGARETTA WADE DELAND.
Methinks it were no pain to die On such an eve, when such a sky O'er-canopies the west; To gaze my fill on yon calm deep, And, like an infant, fall asleep On Earth, my mother's breast.
There's peace and welcome in yon sea Of endless blue tranquillity: These clouds are living things; I trace their veins of liquid gold, I see them solemnly unfold Their soft and fleecy wings.
These be the angels that convey Us weary children of a day— Life's tedious nothing o'er— Where neither passions come, nor woes, To vex the genius of repose On Death's majestic shore.
No darkness there divides the sway With startling dawn and dazzling day; But gloriously serene Are the interminable plains: One fixed, eternal sunset reigns O'er the wide silent scene.
I cannot doff all human fear; I know thy greeting is severe To this poor shell of clay: Yet come, O Death! thy freezing kiss Emancipates! thy rest is bliss! I would I were away!
From the German of GLUCK.
"And so saying, he fell asleep."
MARTYRDOM OF SAINT STEPHEN.
Asleep! asleep! men talk of "sleep," When all adown the silent deep The shades of night are stealing; When like a curtain, soft and vast, The darkness over all is cast, And sombre stillness comes at last, To the mute heart appealing.
Asleep! asleep! when soft and low The patient watchers come and go, Their loving vigil keeping; When from the dear eyes fades the light, When pales the flush so strangely bright, And the glad spirit takes its flight, We speak of death as "sleeping."
Or when, as dies the orb of day, The aged Christian sinks away, And the lone mourner weepeth; When thus the pilgrim goes to rest, With meek hands folded on his breast, And his last sigh a prayer confessed— We say of such, "He sleepeth."
But when amidst a shower of stones, And mingled curses, shrieks, and groans, The death-chill slowly creepeth; When falls at length the dying head, And streams the life-blood dark and red, A thousand voices cry, "He's dead"; But who shall say, "He sleepeth"?
"He fell asleep." A pen divine Hath writ that epitaph of thine; And though the days are hoary, Yet beautiful thy rest appears— Unsullied by the lapse of years— And still we read, with thankful tears, The tale of grace and glory.
Asleep! asleep! though not for thee The touch of loving lips might be, In sadly sweet leave-taking: Though not for thee the last caress, The look of untold tenderness, The love that dying hours can press From hearts with silence breaking.
LUCY A. BENNETT.
I lay me down to sleep, With little care Whether my waking find Me here, or there.
A bowing, burdened head That only asks to rest, Unquestioning, upon A loving breast.
My good right-hand forgets Its cunning now; To march the weary march I know not how.
I am not eager, bold, Nor strong,—all that is past; I am ready not to do, At last, at last.
My half-day's work is done, And this is all my part,— I give a patient God My patient heart;
And grasp his banner still, Though all the blue be dim; These stripes as well as stars Lead after him.
MARY WOOLSEY HOWLAND.
I think it is over, over, I think it is over at last: Voices of foemen and lover, The sweet and the bitter, have passed: Life, like a tempest of ocean Hath outblown its ultimate blast: There's but a faint sobbing seaward While the calm of the tide deepens leeward, And behold! like the welcoming quiver Of heart-pulses throbbed through the river, Those lights in the harbor at last, The heavenly harbor at last!
I feel it is over! over! For the winds and the waters surcease; Ah, few were the days of the rover That smiled in the beauty of peace, And distant and dim was the omen That hinted redress or release! From the ravage of life, and its riot, What marvel I yearn for the quiet Which bides in the harbor at last,— For the lights, with their welcoming quiver That throb through the sanctified river, Which girdle the harbor at last, This heavenly harbor at last?
I know it is over, over, I know it is over at last! Down sail! the sheathed anchor uncover, For the stress of the voyage has passed: Life, like a tempest of ocean, Hath outbreathed its ultimate blast: There's but a faint sobbing seaward, While the calm of the tide deepens leeward; And behold! like the welcoming quiver Of heart-pulses throbbed through the river, Those lights in the harbor at last, The heavenly harbor at last!
PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE.
Oh, hush thee, Earth! Fold thou thy weary palms! The sunset glory fadeth in the west; The purple splendor leaves the mountain's crest; Gray twilight comes as one who beareth alms, Darkness and silence and delicious calms. Take thou the gift, O Earth! On Night's soft breast Lay thy tired head and sink to dreamless rest, Lulled by the music of her evening psalms. Cool darkness, silence, and the holy stars, Long shadows when the pale moon soars on high, One far lone night-bird singing from the hill, And utter rest from Day's discordant jars; O soul of mine! when the long night draws nigh Will such deep peace thine inmost being fill?
JULIA C.R. DORR.
"Animula, vagula, blandula."
Life! I know not what thou art, But know that thou and I must part; And when, or how, or where we met I own to me's a secret yet. But this I know, when thou art fled, Where'er they lay these limbs, this head, No clod so valueless shall be, As all that then remains of me. O, whither, whither dost thou fly, Where bend unseen thy trackless course, And in this strange divorce, Ah, tell where I must seek this compound I?
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame, From whence thy essence came, Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed From matter's base uncumbering weed? Or dost thou, hid from sight, Wait, like some spell-bound knight, Through blank, oblivious years the appointed hour To break thy trance and reassume thy power? Yet canst thou, without thought or feeling be? O, say what art thou, when no more thou'rt thee?
Life! we've been long together, Through pleasant and through cloudy weather; 'Tis hard to part when friends are dear,— Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear: Then steal away, give little warning, Choose thine own time; Say not Good Night,—but in some brighter clime Bid me Good Morning.
ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD.
* * * * *
THE ANGEL OF PATIENCE.
A FREE PARAPHRASE OF THE GERMAN.
To weary hearts, to mourning homes, God's meekest Angel gently comes: No power has he to banish pain, Or give us back our lost again; And yet in tenderest love our dear And heavenly Father sends him here.
There's quiet in that Angel's glance, There's rest in his still countenance! He mocks no grief with idle cheer, Nor wounds with words the mourner's ear; But ills and woes he may not cure He kindly trains us to endure.
Angel of Patience! sent to calm Our feverish brows with cooling palm; To lay the storms of hope and fear, And reconcile life's smile and tear; The throbs of wounded pride to still, And make our own our Father's will!
O thou who mournest on thy way, With longings for the close of day; He walks with thee, that Angel kind, And gently whispers, "Be resigned: Bear up, bear on, the end shall tell The dear Lord ordereth all things well!"
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
THEY ARE ALL GONE.
They are all gone into the world of light, And I alone sit lingering here! Their very memory is fair and bright, And my sad thoughts doth clear;
It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast, Like stars upon some gloomy grove,— Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest After the sun's remove.
I see them walking in an air of glory, Whose light doth trample on my days,— My days which are at best but dull and hoary, Mere glimmering and decays.
O holy hope! and high humility,— High as the heavens above! These are your walks, and you have showed them me To kindle my cold love.
Dear, beauteous death,—the jewel of the just,— Shining nowhere but in the dark! What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust, Could man outlook that mark!
He that hath found some fledged bird's nest may know, At first sight, if the bird be flown; But what fair dell or grove he sings in now, That is to him unknown.
And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams Call to the soul when man doth sleep, So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes, And into glory peep.
If a star were confined into a tomb, Her captive flames must needs burn there, But when the hand that locked her up gives room, She'll shine through all the sphere.
O Father of eternal life, and all Created glories under thee! Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall Into true liberty.
Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill My perspective still as they pass; Or else remove me hence unto that hill Where I shall need no glass.
THE BOTTOM DRAWER.
In the best chamber of the house, Shut up in dim, uncertain light, There stood an antique chest of drawers, Of foreign wood, with brasses bright. One day a woman, frail and gray, Stepped totteringly across the floor— "Let in," said she, "the light of day, Then, Jean, unlock the bottom drawer."
The girl, in all her youth's loveliness, Knelt down with eager, curious face; Perchance she dreamt of Indian silks, Of jewels, and of rare old lace. But when the summer sunshine fell Upon the treasures hoarded there, The tears rushed to her tender eyes, Her heart was solemn as a prayer.
"Dear Grandmamma," she softly sighed, Lifting a withered rose and palm; But on the elder face was naught But sweet content and peaceful calm. Leaning upon her staff, she gazed Upon a baby's half-worn shoe; A little frock of finest lawn; A hat with tiny bows of blue;
A ball made fifty years ago; A little glove; a tasselled cap; A half-done "long division" sum; Some school-books fastened with a strap. She touched them all with trembling lips— "How much," she said, "the heart can bear! Ah, Jean! I thought that I should die The day that first I laid them there.
"But now it seems so good to know That through these weary, troubled years Their hearts have been untouched by grief, Their eyes have been unstained by tears. Dear Jean, we see with clearer sight When earthly love is almost o'er; Those children wait me in the skies, For whom I locked that sacred drawer."
AMELIA EDITH BARR.
OVER THE RIVER.
Over the river they beckon to me, Loved ones who've crossed to the farther side, The gleam of their snowy robes I see, But their voices are lost in the dashing tide. There's one with ringlets of sunny gold, And eyes the reflection of heaven's own blue; He crossed in the twilight gray and cold, And the pale mist hid him from mortal view. We saw not the angels who met him there, The gates of the city we could not see: Over the river, over the river, My brother stands waiting to welcome me.
Over the river the boatman pale Carried another, the household pet; Her brown curls waved in the gentle gale, Darling Minnie! I see her yet. She crossed on her bosom her dimpled hands, And fearlessly entered the phantom bark; We felt it glide from the silver sands, And all our sunshine grew strangely dark; We know she is safe on the farther side, Where all the ransomed and angels be: Over the river, the mystic river, My childhood's idol is waiting for me.
For none returns from those quiet shores, Who cross with the boatman cold and pale; We hear the dip of the golden oars, And catch a gleam of the snowy sail; And lo! they have passed from our yearning hearts, They cross the stream and are gone for aye. We may not sunder the veil apart That hides from our vision the gates of day; We only know that their barks no more May sail with us o'er life's stormy sea; Yet somewhere, I know, on the unseen shore, They watch, and beckon, and wait for me.
And I sit and think, when the sunset's gold Is flushing river and hill and shore, I shall one day stand by the water cold, And list for the sound of the boatman's oar; I shall watch for a gleam of the flapping sail, I shall hear the boat as it gains the strand, I shall pass from sight with the boatman pale, To the better shore of the spirit land. I shall know the loved who have gone before, And joyfully sweet will the meeting be, When over the river, the peaceful river, The angel of death shall carry me.
NANCY WOODBURY PRIEST.
GRIEF FOR THE DEAD.
O hearts that never cease to yearn! O brimming tears that ne'er are dried! The dead, though they depart, return As though they had not died!
The living are the only dead; The dead live,—nevermore to die; And often, when we mourn them fled, They never were so nigh!
And though they lie beneath the waves, Or sleep within the churchyard dim, (Ah! through how many different graves God's children go to him!)—
Yet every grave gives up its dead Ere it is overgrown with grass; Then why should hopeless tears be shed, Or need we cry, "Alas"?
Or why should Memory, veiled with gloom, And like a sorrowing mourner craped, Sit weeping o'er an empty tomb, Whose captives have escaped?
'Tis but a mound,—and will be mossed Whene'er the summer grass appears; The loved, though wept, are never lost; We only lose—our tears!
Nay, Hope may whisper with the dead By bending forward where they are; But Memory, with a backward tread, Communes with them afar.
The joys we lose are but forecast, And we shall find them all once more; We look behind us for the Past, But lo! 'tis all before!
THE TWO WAITINGS.
Dear hearts, you were waiting a year ago For the glory to be revealed; You were wondering deeply, with bated breath, What treasure the days concealed.
O, would it be this, or would it be that? Would it be girl or boy? Would it look like father or mother most? And what should you do for joy?
And then, one day, when the time was full, And the spring was coming fast, The tender grace of a life outbloomed, And you saw your baby at last.
Was it or not what you had dreamed? It was, and yet it was not; But O, it was better a thousand times Than ever you wished or thought.
And now, dear hearts, you are waiting again, While the spring is coming fast; For the baby that was a future dream Is now a dream of the past:
A dream of sunshine, and all that's sweet; Of all that is pure and bright; Of eyes that were blue as the sky by day, And as clear as the stars by night.
You are waiting again for the fulness of time, And the glory to be revealed; You are wondering deeply with aching hearts What treasure is now concealed.
O, will she be this, or will she be that? And what will there be in her face That will tell you sure that she is your own, When you meet in the heavenly place?
As it was before, it will be again, Fashion your dream as you will; When the veil is rent, and the glory is seen, It will more than your hope fulfil.
JOHN WHITE CHADWICK.
FOR CHARLIE'S SAKE.
The night is late, the house is still; The angels of the hour fulfil Their tender ministries, and move From couch to couch in cares of love. They drop into thy dreams, sweet wife, The happiest smile of Charlie's life, And lay on baby's lips a kiss, Fresh from his angel-brother's bliss; And, as they pass, they seem to make A strange, dim hymn, "For Charlie's sake."
My listening heart takes up the strain, And gives it to the night again, Fitted with words of lowly praise, And patience learned of mournful days, And memories of the dead child's ways. His will be done, His will be done! Who gave and took away my son, In "the far land" to shine and sing Before the Beautiful, the King, Who every day does Christmas make, All starred and belled for Charlie's sake.
For Charlie's sake I will arise; I will anoint me where he lies, And change my raiment, and go in To the Lord's house, and leave my sin Without, and seat me at his board, Eat, and be glad, and praise the Lord. For wherefore should I fast and weep, And sullen moods of mourning keep? I cannot bring him back, nor he, For any calling, come to me. The bond the angel Death did sign, God sealed—for Charlie's sake, and mine.
I'm very poor—this slender stone Marks all the narrow field I own; Yet, patient husbandman, I till With faith and prayers, that precious hill, Sow it with penitential pains, And, hopeful, wait the latter rains; Content if, after all, the spot Yield barely one forget-me-not— Whether or figs or thistle make My crop content for Charlie's sake.
I have no houses, builded well— Only that little lonesome cell, Where never romping playmates come, Nor bashful sweethearts, cunning-dumb— An April burst of girls and boys, Their rainbowed cloud of glooms and joys Born with their songs, gone with their toys; Nor ever is its stillness stirred By purr of cat, or chirp of bird, Or mother's twilight legend, told Of Horner's pie, or Tiddler's gold, Or fairy hobbling to the door, Red-cloaked and weird, banned and poor, To bless the good child's gracious eyes, The good child's wistful charities, And crippled changeling's hunch to make Dance on his crutch, for good child's sake.
How is it with the child? 'Tis well; Nor would I any miracle Might stir my sleeper's tranquil trance, Or plague his painless countenance: I would not any seer might place His staff on my immortal's face. Or lip to lip, and eye to eye, Charm back his pale mortality. No, Shunamite! I would not break God's stillness. Let them weep who wake.
For Charlie's sake my lot is blest: No comfort like his mother's breast, No praise like hers; no charm expressed In fairest forms hath half her zest. For Charlie's sake this bird's caressed That death left lonely in the nest; For Charlie's sake my heart is dressed, As for its birthday, in its best; For Charlie's sake we leave the rest. To Him who gave, and who did take, And saved us twice, for Charlie's sake.
JOHN WILLIAMSON PALMER.
WATCHING FOR PAPA.
She always stood upon the steps Just by the cottage door, Waiting to kiss me when I came Each night home from the store. Her eyes were like two glorious stars, Dancing in heaven's own blue— "Papa," she'd call like a wee bird, "I's looten out for oo!"
Alas! how sadly do our lives Change as we onward roam! For now no birdie voice calls out To bid me welcome home. No little hands stretched out for me, No blue eyes dancing bright, No baby face peeps from the door When I come home at night.
And yet there's comfort in the thought That when life's toil is o'er, And passing through the sable flood I gain the brighter shore, My little angel at the gate, With eyes divinely blue, Will call with birdie voice, "Papa, I's looten out for oo!"
I cannot make him dead! His fair sunshiny head Is ever bounding round my study chair; Yet when my eyes, now dim With tears, I turn to him, The vision vanishes,—he is not there!
I walk my parlor floor, And, through the open door, I hear a footfall on the chamber stair; I'm stepping toward the hall To give the boy a call; And then bethink me that—he is not there!
I thread the crowded street; A satchelled lad I meet, With the same beaming eyes and colored hair; And, as he's running by, Follow him with my eye, Scarcely believing that—he is not there!
I know his face is hid Under the coffin lid; Closed are his eyes; cold is his forehead fair; My hand that marble felt; O'er it in prayer I knelt; Yet my heart whispers that—he is not there!
I cannot make him dead! When passing by the bed, So long watched over with parental care, My spirit and my eye Seek him inquiringly, Before the thought comes, that—he is not there!
When, at the cool gray break Of day, from sleep I wake. With my first breathing of the morning air My soul goes up, with joy, To Him who gave my boy; Then comes the sad thought that—he is not there!
When at the day's calm close, Before we seek repose, I'm with his mother, offering up our prayer; Whate'er I may be saying, I am in spirit praying For our boy's spirit, though—he is not there!
Not there!—Where, then, is he? The form I used to see Was but the raiment that he used to wear. The grave, that now doth press Upon that cast-off dress, Is but his wardrobe locked—he is not there!
He lives!—In all the past He lives; nor, to the last, Of seeing him again will I despair; In dreams I see him now; And, on his angel brow, I see it written, "Thou shalt see me there!" Yes, we all live to God! Father, thy chastening rod So help us, thine afflicted ones, to bear, That, in the spirit land, Meeting at thy right hand, 'Twill be our heaven to find that—he is there!
She's somewhere in the sunlight strong, Her tears are in the falling rain, She calls me in the wind's soft song, And with the flowers she comes again.
Yon bird is but her messenger, The moon is but her silver car; Yea! sun and moon are sent by her, And every wistful waiting star.
RICHARD LE GALLIENNE.
THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS.
There is a Reaper whose name is Death, And, with his sickle keen, He reaps the bearded grain at a breath, And the flowers that grow between.
"Shall I have naught that is fair?" saith he; "Have naught but the bearded grain?— Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me, I will give them all back again."
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes, He kissed their drooping leaves; It was for the Lord of Paradise He bound them in his sheaves.
"My Lord has need of these flowerets gay," The Reaper said, and smiled; "Dear tokens of the earth are they, Where he was once a child.
"They shall all bloom in fields of light, Transplanted by my care, And saints, upon their garments white, These sacred blossoms wear."
And the mother gave, in tears and pain, The flowers she most did love; She knew she should find them all again In the fields of light above.
O, not in cruelty, not in wrath, The Reaper came that day; 'Twas an angel visited the green earth, And took the flowers away.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
"ONLY A YEAR."
One year ago,—a ringing voice, A clear blue eye, And clustering curls of sunny hair, Too fair to die.
Only a year,—no voice, no smile, No glance of eye, No clustering curls of golden hair, Fair but to die!
One year ago,—what loves, what schemes Far into life! What joyous hopes, what high resolves, What generous strife!
The silent picture on the wall, The burial-stone, Of all that beauty, life, and joy, Remain alone!
One year,—one year,—one little year, And so much gone! And yet the even flow of life Moves calmly on.
The grave grows green, the flowers bloom fair, Above that head; No sorrowing tint of leaf or spray Says he is dead.
No pause or hush of merry birds That sing above Tells us how coldly sleeps below The form we love.
Where hast thou been this year, beloved? What hast thou seen,— What visions fair, what glorious life, Where hast thou been?
The veil! the veil! so thin, so strong! 'Twixt us and thee; The mystic veil! when shall it fall, That we may see?
Not dead, not sleeping, not even gone, But present still, And waiting for the coming hour Of God's sweet will.
Lord of the living and the dead, Our Saviour dear! We lay in silence at thy feet This sad, sad year.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN.
Oh, deem not they are blest alone Whose lives a peaceful tenor keep; The Power who pities man, has shown A blessing for the eyes that weep.
The light of smiles shall fill again The lids that overflow with tears; And weary hours of woe and pain Are promises of happier years.
There is a day of sunny rest For every dark and troubled night; And grief may bide an evening guest, But joy shall come with early light.
And thou, who o'er thy friend's low bier Dost shed the bitter drops like rain, Hope that a brighter, happier sphere Will give him to thy arms again.
Nor let the good man's trust depart, Though life its common gifts deny,— Though with a pierced and bleeding heart, And spurned of men, he goes to die.
For God hath marked each sorrowing day And numbered every secret tear, And heaven's long age of bliss shall pay For all his children suffer here.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
The face which, duly as the sun, Rose up for me with life begun, To mark all bright hours of the day With daily love, is dimmed away— And yet my days go on, go on.
The tongue which, like a stream, could run Smooth music from the roughest stone, And every morning with "Good day" Make each day good, is hushed away— And yet my days go on, go on.
The heart which, like a staff, was one For mine to lean and rest upon, The strongest on the longest day, With steadfast love is caught away— And yet my days go on, go on.
The world goes whispering to its own, "This anguish pierces to the bone." And tender friends go sighing round, "What love can ever cure this wound?" My days go on, my days go on.
The past rolls forward on the sun And makes all night. O dreams begun, Not to be ended! Ended bliss! And life, that will not end in this! My days go on, my days go on.
Breath freezes on my lips to moan: As one alone, once not alone, I sit and knock at Nature's door, Heart-bare, heart-hungry, very poor, Whose desolated days go on.
I knock and cry—Undone, undone! Is there no help, no comfort—none? No gleaning in the wide wheat-plains Where others drive their loaded wains? My vacant days go on, go on.
This Nature, though the snows be down, Thinks kindly of the bird of June. The little red hip on the tree Is ripe for such. What is for me, Whose days so winterly go on?
No bird am I to sing in June, And dare not ask an equal boon. Good nests and berries red are Nature's To give away to better creatures— And yet my days go on, go on.
I ask less kindness to be done— Only to loose these pilgrim-shoon (Too early worn and grimed) with sweet Cool deathly touch to these tired feet, Till days go out which now go on.
Only to lift the turf unmown From off the earth where it has grown, Some cubit-space, and say, "Behold, Creep in, poor Heart, beneath that fold, Forgetting how the days go on."
A Voice reproves me thereupon, More sweet than Nature's, when the drone Of bees is sweetest, and more deep Than when the rivers overleap The shuddering pines, and thunder on.
God's Voice, not Nature's—night and noon He sits upon the great white throne, And listens for the creature's praise. What babble we of days and days? The Dayspring he, whose days go on!
He reigns above, he reigns alone: Systems burn out and leave his throne: Fair mists of seraphs melt and fall Around him, changeless amid all— Ancient of days, whose days go on!
He reigns below, he reigns alone— And having life in love forgone Beneath the crown of sovran thorns, He reigns the jealous God. Who mourns Or rules with HIM, while days go on?
By anguish which made pale the sun, I hear him charge his saints that none Among the creatures anywhere Blaspheme against him with despair, However darkly days go on.
Take from my head the thorn-wreath brown: No mortal grief deserves that crown. O supreme Love, chief misery, The sharp regalia are for Thee, Whose days eternally go on!
For us, ... whatever's undergone, Thou knowest, willest what is done. Grief may be joy misunderstood: Only the Good discerns the good. I trust Thee while my days go on.
Whatever's lost, it first was won! We will not struggle nor impugn. Perhaps the cup was broken here That Heaven's new wine might show more clear. I praise Thee while my days go on.
I praise Thee while my days go on; I love Thee while my days go on! Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost, With emptied arms and treasure lost, I thank thee while my days go on!
And, having in thy life-depth thrown Being and suffering (which are one), As a child drops some pebble small Down some deep well, and hears it fall Smiling—so I! THY DAYS GO ON!
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
BLESSED ARE THEY.
To us across the ages borne, Comes the deep word the Master said: "Blessed are they that mourn; They shall be comforted!"
Strange mystery! It is better then To weep and yearn and vainly call, Till peace is won from pain, Than not to grieve at all!
Yea, truly, though joy's note be sweet, Life does not thrill to joy alone. The harp is incomplete That has no deeper tone.
Unclouded sunshine overmuch Falls vainly on the barren plain; But fruitful is the touch Of sunshine after rain!
Who only scans the heavens by day Their story but half reads, and mars; Let him learn how to say, "The night is full of stars!"
We seek to know Thee more and more, Dear Lord, and count our sorrows blest, Since sorrow is the door Whereby Thou enterest.
Nor can our hearts so closely come To Thine in any other place, As where, with anguish dumb, We faint in Thine embrace.
ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND.
TO THE MEMORY OF "ANNIE," WHO DIED AT MILAN, JUNE 6, 1860.
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him."—JOHN xx. 15.
In the fair gardens of celestial peace Walketh a gardener in meekness clad; Fair are the flowers that wreathe his dewy locks, And his mysterious eyes are sweet and sad.
Fair are the silent foldings of his robes, Falling with saintly calmness to his feet; And when he walks, each floweret to his will With living pulse of sweet accord doth beat.
Every green leaf thrills to its tender heart, In the mild summer radiance of his eye; No fear of storm, or cold, or bitter frost, Shadows the flowerets when their sun is nigh.
And all our pleasant haunts of earthly love Are nurseries to those gardens of the air; And his far-darting eye, with starry beam, Watching the growing of his treasures there.
We call them ours, o'erwept with selfish tears, O'erwatched with restless longings night and day; Forgetful of the high, mysterious right He holds to bear our cherished plants away.
But when some sunny spot in those bright fields Needs the fair presence of an added flower, Down sweeps a starry angel in the night: At morn the rose has vanished from our bower.
Where stood our tree, our flower, there is a grave! Blank, silent, vacant; but in worlds above, Like a new star outblossomed in the skies, The angels hail an added flower of love.
Dear friend, no more upon that lonely mound, Strewed with the red and yellow autumn leaf, Drop thou the tear, but raise the fainting eye Beyond the autumn mists of earthly grief.
Thy garden rosebud bore within its breast Those mysteries of color, warm and bright, That the bleak climate of this lower sphere Could never waken into form and light.
Yes, the sweet Gardener hath borne her hence, Nor must thou ask to take her thence away; Thou shalt behold her, in some coming hour, Full blossomed in his fields of cloudless day.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
DEATH IN YOUTH.
For to die young is youth's divinest gift; To pass from one world fresh into another, Ere change hath lost the charm of soft regret, And feel the immortal impulse from within Which makes the coming life cry always, On! And follow it while strong, is heaven's last mercy. There is a fire-fly in the south, but shines When on the wing. So is't with mind. When once We rest, we darken. On! saith God to the soul, As unto the earth for ever. On it goes, A rejoicing native of the infinite, As is a bird, of air; an orb, of heaven.
PHILIP JAMES BAILEY.
IN MEMORIAM F.A.S.
Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember How of human days he lived the better part. April came to bloom and never dim December Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart. Doomed to know not winter, only spring, a being Trod the flowery April blithely for a while, Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing, Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.
Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished, You alone have crossed the melancholy stream, Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.
All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason, Shame, dishonor, death, to him were but a name. Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not More grief than ye can weep for. That is well— That is light grieving! lighter, none befell, Since Adam forfeited the primal lot. Tears! what are tears? The babe weeps in its cot, The mother singing; at her marriage bell The bride weeps; and before the oracle Of high-faned hills, the poet has forgot Such moisture on his cheeks. Thank God for grace, Ye who weep only! If, as some have done, Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place, And touch but tombs,—look up! Those tears will run Soon in long rivers down the lifted face, And leave the vision clear for stars and sun.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
There is no flock, however watched and tended, But one dead lamb is there! There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended, But has one vacant chair!
The air is full of farewells to the dying, And mournings for the dead; The heart of Rachel, for her children crying, Will not be comforted!
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions Not from the ground arise, But oftentimes celestial benedictions Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors; Amid these earthly damps What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no death! What seems so is transition: This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life elysian, Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead,—the child of our affection,— But gone unto that school Where she no longer needs our poor protection, And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion, By guardian angels led, Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution, She lives whom we call dead.
Day after day we think what she is doing In those bright realms of air; Year after year, her tender steps pursuing, Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken The bond which nature gives, Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken, May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her; For when with raptures wild In our embraces we again enfold her, She will not be a child:
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion, Clothed with celestial grace; And beautiful with all the soul's expansion Shall we behold her face.
And though, at times, impetuous with emotion And anguish long suppressed, The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean, That cannot be at rest,—
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling We may not wholly stay; By silence sanctifying, not concealing, The grief that must have way.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
Beside the dead I knelt for prayer, And felt a presence as I prayed. Lo! it was Jesus standing there. He smiled: "Be not afraid!"
"Lord, Thou hast conquered death we know; Restore again to life," I said, "This one who died an hour ago." He smiled: "She is not dead!"
"Asleep then, as thyself did say; Yet thou canst lift the lids that keep Her prisoned eyes from ours away!" He smiled: "She doth not sleep!"
"Nay then, tho' haply she do wake, And look upon some fairer dawn, Restore her to our hearts that ache!" He smiled: "She is not gone!"
"Alas! too well we know our loss, Nor hope again our joy to touch, Until the stream of death we cross." He smiled: "There is no such!"
"Yet our beloved seem so far, The while we yearn to feel them near, Albeit with Thee we trust they are." He smiled: "And I am here!"
"Dear Lord, how shall we know that they Still walk unseen with us and Thee, Nor sleep, nor wander far away?" He smiled: "Abide in Me."
ROSSITER WORTHINGTON RAYMOND.
Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low, Lest I should fear and fall, and miss thee so Who art not missed by any that entreat. Speak to me as Mary at thy feet— And if no precious gums my hands bestow, Let my tears drop like amber, while I go In reach of thy divinest voice complete In humanest affection—thus in sooth, To lose the sense of losing! As a child Whose song-bird seeks the woods forevermore, Is sung to instead by mother's mouth; Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled, He sleeps the faster that he wept before.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
THE SECRET OF DEATH.
"She is dead!" they said to him; "come away; Kiss her and leave her,—thy love is clay!"
They smoothed her tresses of dark brown hair; On her forehead of stone they laid it fair;
Over her eyes that gazed too much They drew the lids with a gentle touch;
With a tender touch they closed up well The sweet thin lips that had secrets to tell;
About her brows and beautiful face They tied her veil and her marriage-lace,
And drew on her white feet her white silk shoes— Which were the whitest no eye could choose!
And over her bosom they crossed her hands. "Come away!" they said; "God understands!" And there was silence, and nothing there But silence, and scents of eglantere,
And jasmine, and roses, and rosemary; And they said, "As a lady should lie, lies she."
And they held their breath till they left the room, With a shudder, to glance at its stillness and gloom.
But he who loved her too well to dread The sweet, the stately, the beautiful dead,
He lit his lamp and took the key And turned it. Alone again—he and she!
He and she; but she would not speak, Though he kissed, in the old place, the quiet cheek.
He and she; yet she would not smile, Though he called her the name she loved ere-while.
He and she; still she did not move To any one passionate whisper of love.
Then he said: "Cold lips, and breasts without breath, Is there no voice, no language of death,
"Dumb to the ear and still to the sense, But to heart and to soul distinct, intense?
"See now; I will listen with soul, not ear; What was the secret of dying, dear?
"Was it the infinite wonder of all That you ever could let life's flower fall?
"Or was it a greater marvel to feel The perfect calm o'er the agony steal?
"Was the miracle greater to find how deep Beyond all dreams sank downward that sleep?
"Did life roll back its records, dear, And show, as they say it does, past things clear?
"And was it the innermost heart of the bliss To find out, so, what a wisdom love is?
"O perfect dead! O dead most dear, I hold the breath of my soul to hear!
"I listen as deep as to horrible hell, As high as to heaven, and you do not tell.
"There must be pleasure in dying, sweet, To make you so placid from head to feet!
"I would tell you, darling, if I were dead, And 'twere your hot tears upon my brow shed,—
"I would say, though the angel of death had laid His sword on my lips to keep it unsaid.
"You should not ask vainly, with streaming eyes, Which of all death's was the chiefest surprise,
"The very strangest and suddenest thing Of all the surprises that dying must bring."
Ah, foolish world! O, most kind dead! Though he told me, who will believe it was said?
Who will believe that he heard her say, With a sweet, soft voice, in the dear old way:
"The utmost wonder is this,—I hear, And see you, and love you, and kiss you, dear;
"And am your angel, who was your bride, And know that, though dead, I have never died."
SIR EDWIN ARNOLD.
There is the peace that cometh after sorrow, Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled; A peace that looketh not upon to-morrow, But calmly on a tempest that is stilled.
A peace which lives not now in joy's excesses, Nor in the happy life of love secure, But in the unerring strength the heart possesses, Of conflicts won, while learning to endure.
A peace-there is, in sacrifice secluded, A life subdued, from will and passion free; 'Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded, But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.
FOOTSTEPS OF ANGELS.
When the hours of day are numbered, And the voices of the night Wake the better soul that slumbered To a holy, calm delight,—
Ere the evening lamps are lighted, And, like phantoms grim and tall, Shadows from the fitful firelight Dance upon the parlor wall;
Then the forms of the departed Enter at the open door,— The beloved ones, the true-hearted, Come to visit me once more:
He, the young and strong, who cherished Noble longings for the strife, By the roadside fell and perished, Weary with the march of life!
They, the holy ones and weakly, Who the cross of suffering bore, Folded their pale hands so meekly, Spake with us on earth no more!
And with them the being beauteous Who unto my youth was given, More than all things else to love me, And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep, Comes that messenger divine, Takes the vacant chair beside me, Lays her gentle hand in mine;
And she sits and gazes at me With those deep and tender eyes, Like the stars, so still and saint-like, Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not, yet comprehended, Is the spirit's voiceless prayer, Soft rebukes, in blessings ended, Breathing from her lips of air.
O, though oft depressed and lonely, All my fears are laid aside If I but remember only Such as these have lived and died!
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
HAPPY ARE THE DEAD.
I walked the other day, to spend my hour, Into a field, Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield A gallant flower: But winter now had ruffled all the bower And curious store I knew there heretofore.
Yet I, whose search loved not to peep and peer In the face of things, Thought with myself, there might be other springs Beside this here, Which, like cold friends, sees us but once a year; And so the flower Might have some other bower.
Then taking up what I could nearest spy, I digged about That place where I had seen him to grow out; And by and by I saw the warm recluse alone to lie, Where fresh and green He lived of us unseen.
Many a question intricate and rare Did I there strow; But all I could extort was, that he now Did there repair Such losses as befell him in this air, And would erelong Come forth most fair and young.
This past, I threw the clothes quite o'er his head; And, stung with fear Of my own frailty, dropped down many a tear Upon his bed; Then, sighing, whispered, Happy are the dead! What peace doth now Rock him asleep below!
And yet, how few believe such doctrine springs From a poor root Which all the winter sleeps here under foot, And hath no wings To raise it to the truth and light of things, But is still trod By every wandering clod!
O thou whose spirit did at first inflame And warm the dead! And by a sacred incubation fed With life this frame, Which once had neither being, form, nor name! Grant I may so Thy steps track here below,
That in these masks and shadows I may see Thy sacred way; And by those hid ascents climb to that day Which breaks from thee, Who art in all things, though invisibly: Show me thy peace, Thy mercy, love, and ease.
And from this care, where dreams and sorrows reign, Lead me above, Where light, joy, leisure, and true comforts move Without all pain: There, hid in thee, show me his life again At whose dumb urn Thus all the year I mourn.
THE GREEN GRASS UNDER THE SNOW.
The work of the sun is slow, But as sure as heaven, we know; So we'll not forget, When the skies are wet, There's green grass under the snow.
When the winds of winter blow, Wailing like voices of woe, There are April showers, And buds and flowers, And green grass under the snow.
We find that it's ever so In this life's uneven flow; We've only to wait, In the face of fate, For the green grass under the snow.
ANNIE A. PRESTON.
THE CONQUEROR'S GRAVE.
Within this lowly grave a Conqueror lies, And yet the monument proclaims it not, Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought The emblems of a fame that never dies, Ivy and amaranth in a graceful sheaf, Twined with the laurel's fair, imperial leaf. A simple name alone, To the great world unknown, Is graven here, and wild flowers, rising round, Meek meadow-sweet and violets of the ground, Lean lovingly against the humble stone.
Here, in the quiet earth, they laid apart No man of iron mould and bloody hands, Who sought to wreck upon the cowering lands The passions that consumed his restless heart: But one of tender spirit and delicate frame, Gentlest in mien and mind, Of gentle womankind, Timidly shrinking from the breath of blame; One in whose eyes the smile of kindness made Its haunt, like flowers by sunny brooks in May, Yet, at the thought of others' pain, a shade Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away.
Nor deem that when the hand that molders here Was raised in menace, realms were chilled with fear, And armies mustered at the sign, as when Clouds rise on clouds before the rainy East, Gray captains leading bands of veteran men And fiery youths to be the vulture's feast. Not thus were raged the mighty wars that gave The victory to her who fills this grave; Alone her task was wrought, Alone the battle fought; Through that long strife her constant hope was staid On God alone, nor looked for other aid.
She met the hosts of sorrow with a look That altered not beneath the frown they wore, And soon the lowering brood were tamed, and took, Meekly, her gentle rule, and frowned no more. Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath, And calmly broke in twain The fiery shafts of pain, And rent the nets of passion from her path. By that victorious hand despair was slain. With love she vanquished hate and overcame Evil with good, in her Great Master's name.
Her glory is not of this shadowy state, Glory that with the fleeting season dies; But when she entered at the sapphire gate What joy was radiant in celestial eyes! How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcomes rung, And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung! And He who, long before, Pain, scorn, and sorrow bore, The Mighty Sufferer, with aspect sweet, Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat; He who returning, glorious, from the grave, Dragged Death, disarmed, in chains, a crouching slave.
See, as I linger here, the sun grows low; Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near. Oh gentle sleeper, from thy grave I go Consoled though sad, in hope and yet in fear. Brief is the time, I know, The warfare scarce begun; Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won. Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee; The victors' names are yet too few to fill Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory, That ministered to thee, is open still.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
THOU ART GONE TO THE GRAVE.
Thou art gone to the grave—but we will not deplore thee, Though sorrows and darkness encompass the tomb; The Saviour has passed through its portals before thee, And the lamp of His love is thy guide through the gloom.
Thou art gone to the grave—we no longer behold thee, Nor tread the rough path of the world by thy side; But the wide arms of mercy are spread to enfold thee, And sinners may hope, since the Sinless has died.
Thou art gone to the grave—and, its mansion forsaking, Perhaps thy tried spirit in doubt lingered long, But the sunshine of heaven beamed bright on thy waking, And the song which thou heard'st was the seraphim's song.
Thou art gone to the grave—but 't were wrong to deplore thee, When God was thy ransom, thy guardian, thy guide; He gave thee, and took thee, and soon will restore thee, Where death hath no sting, since the Saviour hath died.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere, I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude And with forced fingers rude Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year, Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear, Compels me to disturb your season due; For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer. Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. He must not float upon his watery bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. Begin then, sisters of the sacred well, That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring, Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse; So may some gentle muse With lucky words favor my destined urn, And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud; For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill. Together both, ere the high lawns appeared Under the opening eyelids of the morn, We drove a-field, and both together heard What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft till the star that rose at evening bright Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering wheel. Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute, Tempered to the oaten flute; Rough satyrs danced, and fauns with cloven heel From the glad song would not be absent long, And old Damaetas loved to hear our song. But, oh, the heavy change, now thou art gone— Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee, shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves, With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, And all their echoes, mourn; The willows, and the hazel copses green, Shall now no more be seen, Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays. As killing as the canker to the rose, Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze, Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When first the white-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear. Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless deep Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas? For neither were ye playing on the steep, Where your old bards, the famous druids, lie, Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high, Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream— Ay me! I fondly dream, Had ye been there; for what could that have done? What could the muse herself that Orpheus bore, The muse herself for her enchanting son, Whom universal nature did lament, When, by the rout that made the hideous roar, His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore? Alas! what boots it with incessant care To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless muse? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble minds) To scorn delights, and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind fury with the abhorred shears, And slits the thin-spun life. But not the praise, Phoebus replied, and touched my