H. Cordelia Ray, "Poems" (Full text) (1910)
H. CORDELIA RAY
The Grafton Press
A Rosary of Fancies
The Sculptor's Vision ... 6
Fancy and Imagination ... 7
Repose ... 9
The Mist Maiden ... 10
May's Invocation ... 11
The Poet's Ideal ... 12
The Perfect Orchestra ... 13
Wood Carols ... 16
A Dream of Elfland ... 17
Dawn's Carol ... 18
On the Picture of A Child ... 18
A Dream Within A Song ... 20
Song ... 21
A Picture ... 21
Sunset Picture ... 22
An Idyl of Spring ... 23
A Group of Musings ... 24
In a Nook Called Fairyland ... 25
On the Concord River ... 25
Cloud Fantasy ... 26
Invocation to the Muse ... 27
The Vision of Eve ... 28
Ode on the Twentieth Century ... 30
The Hour's Glory ... 36
Reverie ... 36
God's Ways, Not Our Ways ... 38
Nature's Minor Chords ... 40
At Nature's Shrine ... 40
Cloud Song ... 40
My Easter Dove ... 41
Questioning ... 42
Hidden Essence ... 43
A Fragment ... 43
Star Song ... 44
Easter Carol ... 45
An Ideal ... 46
The Hermit and the Soul ... 47
Compensation ... 47
A Vision of Moonlight ... 48
Sea Cadences ... 50
A Thought on Lake Ontario ... 51
Sky Picture ... 52
Hymn to the Thousand Islands ... 53
On the Rapids of the St. Lawrence ... 53
Voices of the Rain ... 54
Our Task ... 55
Echo Reverie ... 56
Lines Written on a Farewell View of the Franconia Mountain at Twilight ... 57
The Coming of Spring ... 57
Failure ... 58
The Triple Benison ... 60
Verses to My Heart's Sister ... 61
Among the Berkshire Hills ... 63
Evening Prayer ... 65
Retrospection ... 65
At Christmas-Tide ... 66
Broken Heart ... 67
Prayer ... 69
Shadow and Sunshine ... 70
Soul Incense ... 71
To My Mother ... 74
Life ... 74
Aspiration ... 75
Incompleteness ... 75
Self-Mastery ... 76
Niobe ... 76
The Two Musicians ... 77
The Poet's Ministrants ... 77
Milton ... 78
Shakespeare ... 78
Raphael ... 79
Beethoven ... 79
The Tireless Sculptor ... 80
The Soul's Courts ... 80
Limitations ... 81
The Venus of Milo ... 81
The Quest of the Ideal ... 82
An Ocean Musing ... 82
Emerson ... 83
To Laura ... 83
Champions of Freedom
To My Father ... 86
William Lloyd Garrison ... 86
Wendell Phillips ... 87
Charles Sumner ... 87
Robert G. Shaw ... 88
Toussaint L'Ouverture ... 88
Ballads and Other Poems
Rhyme of the Antique Forest ... 90
Musidora's Vision ... 102
Echo's Complaint ... 108
Antigone and [OElig ]dipus ... 110
Anita and Giovanni ... 112
Listening Nydia ... 115
Mignon ... 117
The Fisherman's Story ... 118
Snow Song ... 120
Pastoral ... 122
Idyl ... 123
The Enchanted Shell ... 125
Chateaux En Espagne ... 126
The Fading Skiff ... 127
The Maid of Ehrenthal ... 128
Mildred's Doves ... 129
Little Fay's Thanksgiving ... 130
The Dawn of Love ... 134
The Siren Bird ... 134
Reunited ... 135
Love's Vista ... 136
My Spirit's Complement ... 137
Recompensed? ... 137
The Messengers ... 138
O Restless Heart, Be Still! ... 139
Boat Song ... 140
Cuckoo Song ... 140
At Sunset ... 144
Life's Boundary ... 144
Charity ... 144
Awakening ... 144
Lost Opportunities ... 144
Ambition ... 145
Full Vision ... 145
After the Storm ... 145
At the Cascade ... 145
Nature's Uplifting ... 145
Instability ... 146
The Afterglow ... 146
The Procession Of The Seasons
January ... 148
February ... 148
March ... 148
April ... 149
May ... 149
June ... 149
July ... 149
August ... 150
September ... 150
October ... 150
November ... 150
December ... 151
The Seer, The Singer, and The Sage
Dante ... 154
Longfellow ... 155
A Thought At Walden ... 157
Quebec ... 160
In Memoriam, Frederick Douglass ... 161
Greeting to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe on Her Eighty-Fifth Birthday ... 164
In Memorian, Paul Laurence Dunbar ... 166
Lincoln ... 167
ROSARY OF FANCIES
The Sculptor's Vision
A sculptor musing sat one eve,
When crimson clouds began to weave
Their sunset drapery in the sky;
Cold was his studio and bare,
But golden sunbeams lingered there,
And robins caroling flew by.
A vision on his dreaming broke;
With parted lips and eyes that spoke,
A statue stood of beauty rare,
And chiseled with such exquisite care,
It seemed no mortal hand had share
In what was like embodied prayer.
The sculptor woke to find his dream
Of loveliness was but a gleam
Of what the future might unfold;
And then resolved to labor late,
Until his work his dream could mate,
And daily carved with joy untold.
But sometimes sorrow mingled there,
For naught he fashioned could compare
With that chaste form which ev'ry night,
Would come to give him impulse new,
To bid him seek the pure, the true,
And lead him to a clearer light.
Nor wrought the sculptor all in vain;
The statue grew despite his pain,
In curves of beauty, strength and grace;
And so he loved his magic art,
His very soul seemed to impart
A something human to the face.
Yet was the vision fairer still;
Its subtle presence seemed to fill
The space before his troubled gaze.
It beckoned him to heights unknown,
And charmed him like the undertone
That floats through many olden lays.
And on he toiled from hour to hour,
Exerting all his skill and pow'r,
With fondest love and trust and prayer;
But as the work in beauty grew,
Strange longing haunted him anew:
For lo! his ideal was more fair.
As in his strife, is it not thus
That we are baffled, all of us,
In seeking clearer, truer light?
Then let us, like the sculptor, still
Pursue our toil with deathless will,
Advancing toward a glorious height.
And when our ideal grows more fair,
More earnest should be all our care
To carve with added grace and skill;
And then the task that we pursue,
Will serve to give us impulse new,
Our souls with calm content to fill.
Fancy and Imagination
Golden mists o'er Cloudland wreathing
Arabesques of shining sheen,
Sunny airs of violets breathing,
Lure weird Fancy, Cloudland's queen.
Lo! she hastens, flower-encircled,
Dainty, pensive, winsome fay,
Her fair brow all rose-empurpled,
While around flutes pour soft lay.
There is she--Imagination!
Gazing upward in her dreams;
Rapt, intent on meditation,
Sculpturesque, yet thrilled, she seems.
Planets lure her in their spaces,
Stars strew gold dust on her path;
She has looked them in their faces,
And a hint divine she hath.
Rare pellucid hues of dawning,
Iris tints of summer skies,
Streak fair Fancy's couch; glad Morning
Bids her ope her lovely eyes.
Wind-songs quaint Eolus showers
Round her home of golden mist;
Sweet she sings them in her bowers,
And the Silence harks, I wist.
All the pomp of constellations
Wakes Imagination's gaze;
World apart in meditations,
Sits she living wondrous days.
She can hear the chiming measures
Of the stars with stately tread,
The celestial strains she treasures,
Rev'rently she bows her head.
Tired heart! when life is dreary,
And the years drag slowly on,
Summon airy Fancy, weary
Is she never, hear her song!
Soul unresting, tossed with sorrow!
Just one strain of harmony
From Imagination borrow,
Calmest joy she'll yield to thee.
On every height there lies repose--Goethe.
An angel with a voice like summer show'rs,
Or woodbird melodies in tranquil hours,
Brought me one day a wondrous, radiant rose
Called in those happy isles but this: Repose.
Its fragrance was the balm of early flow'rs,
Fresh with the magic of the Spring's new pow'rs;
Its petals quivered with a soothing trill,
Like the soft murmur of a mountain rill.
Its hues were exquisite as dawning skies
When the first splendor greets the watcher's eyes,
Or as the sea-shell seen through silver spray,
Or as the last bright tint of fading day.
The angel said: "Not now may this thine be,
I only came to offer it to thee;
Not as a gift but as a hard-earned meed,
I give it to all those who feel its need."
One moment fast I held it, and a light
Like to an aureole, gleamed golden-white
O'er all around; while blended echoes clear,
Stealing in unison, fell on my ear.
"How may I gain this priceless flow'r?" I cried.
The angel in a flute-like voice replied,
"Neither by works nor penance, prayer nor pain,
Canst thou this rare celestial flower gain.
"But when love of mankind and duty flow
In one all-perfect song, one golden glow,
When purest echoes soar from purest aims,
Then will I come once more to head thy claims."
The angel vanished on a sunlit cloud,
But still his words were speaking to me loud.
I bowed my head, resolved to claim the rose
Called in those happy isles but this: Repose
The Mist Maiden
Is it an idle fantasy,
That in the twilight's violet gloom,
When waves are singing out at sea,
And shadows fill the room,--
The mist assumes before my gaze,
A human form of exquisite grace,
And by the melancholy haze,
Is veiled a peerless face?--
A maiden loved when life was new,
Her soul was trust, her eyes a prayer;
She faded quite. Can it be true
I see her in the air?
Her eyes are crystals, dropping tears,
Her hair reflects the silver moon;
Will ecstasy or sudden fears
Conquer my heart more soon?
She stands in statuesque repose,
A chiseled vision, calm and fair;
She smiles: my full heart overflows,
The maid dissolves in air.
After a Tardy Spring
With her buskins tipped with dew,
Came a fair, enchanting fay,
Tiptoeing the forest through;
Who was it but smiling May?
Wide she waved her sylph-like arms,
As with Dian's grace she ran,
Laden with a thousand charms.
Then to urge her plea began:
Lilies, lilies! come, wake up!
Ring your dainty, perfumed bells.
Hasten! yellow buttercup!
Rouse! throw off Dame Winter's spells.
Sweet-faced pansies, wake from dreams!
Raise your melancholy eyes.
They are veiled too long, it seems;
'Tis no time for reveries.
Come shy violets, and ye,
Bonnie daisies! why so late?
Look! the sunbeams kiss the lea,
Do not longer drowse and wait!
Ay! the Sunshine is my knight
Who has lavished all his gold
For you laggards. What a plight
That ye grasp not wealth untold!
Now she stayed her speech to shed
Fom her curved horn nectar rare,
On each willing, waiting head;
Then resumed her wistful prayer.
Swallows, robins, orioles!
Tender thrush of liquid lay,
Why not here? the breeze-harp rolls
Far, inspiring tones to-day.
Bobolink, O tarry not!
See! the twigs are edged with green;
In the meadow there's a spot
Dear unto thy heart, I ween.
Doves from out your downy nest,
Coo, O coo a matin soft;
Just a hint of life's unrest
Echoes through your music oft.
Lark! I languish for thy note;
Where in hiding may'st thou be?
With thy silver-cadenced throat
Lead the Springtime's minstrelsy.
Flow'rets, flow'rets, warblers, haste!
April came with languid call;
Not a moment can ye waste!
Wake ye! wake ye! wake ye all!
The Poet's Ideal
"Spirit! what art thou erecting
On the heights of contemplation,
Where the vistas blue and shadowy,
Fade in airy clouds away?
At the fane of meditation
Art thou bowed to-day?"
"Lo! I climbed in floating ether
When the first tints of the dawning,
O'er the pale stars chaste in grandeur,
Shed a stream of liquid light;
In the azure calm of morning
Gleamed a vision bright.
"Twas air-fashioned: faint, dissolving,
Seemed its statuesque proportions,
Yet imperious and majestic
Were its gestures and its mien;
And all beauty seemed distortions
To this,--fairest ever seen.
"Round its head a circlet shaping,
Wove a cloud its golden tissues,
Where these words were writ in splendor:
'Ideal Beauty is my name;
I from life draw finest issues,
Wouldst thou do the same?'
"Poised aloft on heights serenest,
There she stands,--that radiant vision.
At the fane of meditation,
Wouldst thou know, O questioner?
Lo! I bow in calm decision,
Yield my thoughts to her.
"'Mid the vistas blue and shadowy,
'Mid the ether iris-tinted,
I erect Ideal Perfection,
And then worship at her shrine;
To the poet she has hinted
Sense of things divine."
The Perfect Orchestra
Up to those heights where angels rest,
Where dreams and yearnings unexpressed
Mount like the mist of day,
Ascends a solemn symphony
Soft gliding through the ethereal sea,
From mortal realms away.
Men moved by ecstasy or pain,
Conscious of all life ne'er can gain
Or rapt in visions fleet,
Musicians are: but through the hush
Of harmonies transcendent, rush
Hints of the incomplete.
On instruments unlike they play;
Some wake the lute with gentle lay,
Some touch the viol's string,
While others with unconscious art,
From the sad organ's deep-toned heart
Accents all soothing bring.
The noble thoughts, the earnest prayers
Of ev'ry one that meekly bears
The tangled skein of life,
Each holy prompting unto good,
Great aspirations oft withstood,
Yet cherished 'mid the strife,--
And truth that, like the lily's bowl,
Glistens with dew within the soul
And balmy fragrance show'rs,
Hopes that have made earth seem so glad,
Loves irresistible though sad,
Like brilliant thorn-clad flow'rs,--
These are the chords that beat and throb
Through the dream-quiet, like a sob
Tremulous with complaint.
As slow they flutter toward the goal,
Rare coils of mystery unroll
Melodies pure and quaint.
"Unheard this strange, imploring psalm,
Save by some pensive seer, who calm
Leans on his dripping oar;
Safe-anchored on an island far,
Where life's unrest, its fev'rish jar
Can trouble nevermore.
To him in peaceful waves it comes,
Soft as the silver river hums
The silence to beguile.
From contemplation of the stars
Just peeping through the sunset bars,
He turns to list a while.
But angels on those heights sublime
Where naught save unison can climb,
Bend eager, loving ears;
Glad in mankind such good to see,
For there the music soareth free,
Piercing the spangled spheres.
Responding to this asking song,
This mystic music heard so long,
They lend their sympathy,
Which through the concord softly floats,
Like to a flute's clear, trilling notes
Heard on the moonlit sea.
The orchestra more perfect made,
The strains mount up where streets inlaid
With rare mosaic wind;
One cadence still is missing there,
The sweet Eolian's trembling prayer
No soul on earth could find.
Ascending near the radiant throne,
Sorrow pervades the music's tone,
Sorrow ne'er heard before;
Its quiver stirs the asphodels
And roses, where the streamlet wells,
Encircling all the shore.
God, who alone translates our pain,
Listens and gives unto the strain
His benediction calm;
And quickly that mysterious boon,
Like an Eolian's wind-played tune,
Makes perfect all the psalm.
When woods are odorous at eve
With violet perfume, and are fair
With leafy vistas stretching far,
Tinged by the golden air,
The mirrored clouds come down to catch
The warbling of a thousand streams;
And music weird like chords confused,
Heard in unquiet dreams,--
Floats through the arches from the clear
Wind-harps astir among the trees,
While in lone depths the nightingale
Trills soothing melodies.
Doves tenderly the prelude coo
To plaintive anthems yet unsung,
And leaves respond with dreamy sway,
That late all passive hung.
Waves of tremolo sweetness make
The warm air palpitate with sound,
Until the woods are quivering
With music all around.
Each note enfolding one more soft--
Of some enchanting whole a part--
Wakes the unuttered harmonies
Of ev'ry restless heart.
When undertones of strange unrest
Within us moan like babes in pain,
Come nightingale of silver song,
And trill thy sweetest strain.
When thought lies gently on the soul
Like dew impearled upon a rose,
Come tender doves of cadence rare,
And lull us to repose.
A Dream of Elfland
Sweet elfin music comes to me,
Across a glen embowered deep,
In rugged green. What fantasy
Did give it voice--like dreams in sleep--
Through fluted winds? An airy flood
Of cadences, dainty and soft
As rose leaves flutt'ring to the sod,
Enfolds the sense and feelings oft.
Through what air-woven lyres blow
The winsome elves? Chords interlaced
In sweetest rhythm lull me so,
Surely Titania must have graced
That weird rehearsal. Did they sup
On drowsy poppy flowers, ere
They sent vibrations o'er the strings,--
A breath of music, passing rare?
The elves, they strike such witching strains
They lull sad Sorrow fast asleep;
What heart is torn, what soul complains,
While they each sense in music steep!
Unwind your sylvan symphonies,
Ye weird musicians, breeze-like play,
Until your dulcet harmonies
Waft us to magic isles away.
Fair Morn unbars her gates of gold;
Night's shadows lie, a thousand fold,
Upon the hills, the purple mist
By pure Aurora's radiance kissed,
Becomes a dream of color: now
Uplift the heart and bare the brow.
Such moments for us seem to weave
Hope's loveliest tissues; we perceive
The soul's illumination, caught
From some fair mood of Nature fraught
With harmony of sight and sound,
In majesty diffused around.
On the Picture of a Child
Sweet child amid the apple boughs,
How tenderly life looks on thee!
And Mother Nature brings her gifts,
Yes, e'en the loveliest that may be,
To tempt thy innocent regard.
How blue the heavens smile above!
How crimson is the rose's depth!
How beaming is the glance of love,
Resting on thee, thou sportive fay;
Thou learnst new lessons 'mid the leaves;
All golden-lettered is the page
The flitting sunbeam deftly weaves.
Do fairies hang their glow-worm lamps
To light thy path adown the dell?
And does the lily in the vale,
To thee ring soft her magic bell?
The violet, and what brings she
To scatter o'er thy charmèd way?
Delicious perfume; and the lark
Prolongs his note to cheer thy day.
There is a radiance in thine eyes
That well disarms all vague unrest;
Thou hast few yearnings undefined,
Thy childish griefs are soon confessed.
Prayer in thy soul is simple trust,
And love is all thy life, sweet child!
The woodbird's song is not more free,
His artless lays more undefiled
Than thine. Thy sunny countenance
Is naught save gladness, yet we know
The thoughtful years come on apace;
After Spring's green, the Winter's snow.
And for thee, tender one, we ask
That when the hours of trial near,
As come they must, undaunted thou
Wilt dare to meet them without fear.
And that the dew within thy soul,
Of innocence and rev'rent love,
May be as fresh as now, until
Thou wear'st a crown of light above.
A Dream Within a Song
The schooners with their pale green lights
Glance up and down the river;
I clasp my hand in Memory's own
And hush my heart's sad quiver.
Glad twilight birds chirp overhead,
And soft their gray wings flutter;
We pluck rare purple grapes, sweet friend,
And loving words we utter.
Wan statues stare in gardens fair,
Proud in their cold beseeching;
I stretch my hands to grasp a prize,
Too far off for the reaching.
The thrush sits lonely on a spray
Hard by a pure white flower;
I hear a strain, oh deadly sweet,
Float, swan-like, through the bower.
The breeze has sped on noiseless wing,
The river's restless growing,
The singer greets us on this bank,
With music round him flowing.
The trees with red leaves garlanded,
The river's banks are shading;
I call the singer, but alas!
He, phantom-like, is fading.
One silver star has crowned the eve,
Closed are the drowsy flowers;
I clasp my hand in Memory's own,
And leave these fatal bowers.
O sweet, sad, singing river,
Why dost thou chime forever
In answer to my weary heart's unrest?
Wilt thou not be confiding,
Or is thy music hiding
Some sorrow that can never be confessed?
O melancholy river,
Why do thy young leaves quiver
So plaintively along thy silent shore?
Are they some bird lamenting,
That for a while consenting
To warble to them, now far off would soar?
O sweet, sad, singing river,
My heart cannot dissever
Itself from tender hopes that round it cling.
O lily-crownèd river,
Love, though discrowned forever,
Wears lilies the enchanted Past will bring.
Her ringlets glistened like the gold of morn,
And framed an oval outline statue fair,
Save where a shell-blush lingered for awhile,
Sending its ripples to the wavy hair.
Upon her features grace had shed its charm,
And in her smile sweetness to naught gave way;
'Twas like a streak of sunshine thrown across
The motionless repose of early day.
No sorrow rested on the calm, pure brow,
But thought held undisputed empire there.
Eyes like the dusky blue of evening skies,
Gazed in a dream or in a quiet prayer;
And through her aspect something noble shone,
That proved the soul to charity had grown.
The Sun-god was reclining on a couch of rosy shells,
And in the foamy waters Nereid's tinkled silver bells,
That lent the soft air sweetness, like an echoed seraph
Floating with snowflake hush the aisles of Paradise
The Sun-god wove bright flowers, gold and purple in
And to the smiling Nereids tenderly the blossoms threw;
The sapphire seas were shadowy, like an eye with dreamy,
Where all the soul's mute rapture, a prisoned star, is
The billows' rainbow splendor, like a strange, enchanting
In fading, softened slowly to a trembling pearly gleam;
And soon the wondrous Sun-God, and the Nereids and
Had vanished; one gray-tinted cloud alone remained to
An Idyl of Spring
The air, the dream-inspiring air
Is floating, flutt'ring all around;
Delicious waves of pent-up sound
Gush forth like some long cherished prayer.
The woodlands gleam
With many a stream,
The skies are blue,
A promise new.
Wake heart! Hope hastens with the Spring!
Aerial pinions waft her near;
A fairy palace crystal clear,
Round which the rosy sunbeams cling,
With castles fair,
She builds at morn
By clouds upborne.
In greenest vales the lily wakes,
The violets in the breezes share,
And oh! the strange, enchanting air
Through pipes fantastic music makes.
And we so free,
Are caught in chains
Of exquisite pains.
O treach'rous, dream-inspiring air!
Yet wherefore mar the joy it brings?
Do we complain when the bird sings,
Because his song dies on the air?
Like mist our dreams
Vanish, it seems,
But they were sweet,
Although so fleet.
A Group of Musings
Aurora gazed from out her shell-pink bower,
And down the aisles of light sent a fair Hour
With roses in her dainty hands, and hark!
A lark's sweet trill disarms the twilight dark.
The tranquil waters slept 'neath Nature's smile,
Watched by the sunlit skies, as, free from guile,
The tender infant sleeps, while o'er its bed
The mother, yearning dreamer, bends her head.
The crescent moon with silver sheen aglow,
Was set in the far skies, a chiseled bow;
And in the western courts, what riot rare
Of magic hues and tints beyond compare!
Vistas between the shadowy pines were bright
With scintillating stars, and all the night
Was claimed by Reverie; rapt 'neath her spell,
Thoughts come to us whose charm no tongue can
On a Nook Called Fairyland
Is't here the fairies haunt the place,
And o'er the green with witching grace
Trip to the merry roundelay?
Is't here the shepherd pipes his note
Where fair the water lilies float,
And plaintively the pine trees sway?
This is a value of dreams: anigh,
In dreamy cadence flutt'ring by,
Soft woodland murmurs grow apace.
The clouds so pure, drift there on high,
Repose seems gazing from the sky
With wistful beauty in her face.
Yes, this is fairyland! but where
May be the sportive elves who share
This sylvan solitude? To-day
No footstep lingers on the green,
The quiet song of waves, I ween,
Echoes no more the roundelay.
Life is not spent in Fairyland;
The Spirit that this beauty planned,
Gave each a duty to fulfill.
We may, light-hearted, like the fay,
Sing gladsome songs from day to day,
If we fail not to do His will.
On the Concord River
Under the hemlocks Fancy came
And took me in her tender arms;
She sang her sweetest, calmest lays,
And wrapped my spirit soft in balms.
Her chaste aerial form was clad
In shining vestments, and her tread
Was still as snowflake music; e'en
The lily did not bow her head.
Her eyes with misty splendor gleamed,
Shining like fountains in the sun;
She comes,--breath of music sweet,
To tune my life to unison.
Beneath the hemlocks folded close
In Fancy's tender arms, I lie,
And drifting, dream enchanted dreams,
While soft the river murmurs by.
I floated on a cloud one day,
An amber cloud, whose rhythmic sway
Held all my senses in a dream.
I saw the trembling vesper stars
Clinging and peeping through the bars
Of purple-gold and pearly gleam.
'Mid silver spaces caught in air,
Floating upon the cloudlets fair,
While swinging were the rhythmic cars,
Soft rapture did my senses greet,
A music tremulously sweet,--
The harmony beyond the stars.
Suspended in the ether there,
My spirit uttered voiceless prayer
To the great Being of the Light.
As darkness came star-vistas oped,
My soul that erst in shadows groped,
Rose tranquilly from height to height.
Invocation to the Muse
Take it not back! the priceless gift!
The joy that all my heart would thrill,--
Creation's ecstasy in forms
Which a mysterious soul did fill.
Has Fancy drained her silver rills,
And hushed her tuneful birds the while?
Imagination stayed her flight,
Poised on near hills to wait the smile,
That bids her, with the arrow's speed,
Dart past the clouds in ether far,
Nor pause, till faint with ecstasy,
She chants, lured by some chanting star?
Where is the strange, celestial lyre
O'er which my willing soul would play?
Give back once more, the golden lyre,
I would be thine alone to-day!
Comes not the incense from the fire
Upon thine altar lit, O Muse?
There lies the votive offering,
Wilt thou the sacrifice refuse?
I bring this morn the liquid dew,
Caught from Aurora, as she flung
Her benison of dainty light
O'er skies where shad'wy curtains hung.
I bring the music caught from hearts--
Strange minor chords, sad yet so sweet,
Which pain has seared with ceaseless clasp,
And gladness with a clasp so fleet.
I bring the music caught from souls
A flame with hope and deepest love,
And kissed by Life with throbbing lips
Into the peace of calmest dove.
Is not the offering complete,
With complement of joy and pain?
Transformed into a stream of light,
It floats,--harmony again.
I raise my eyes imploringly,
Come, holy Rapture, as before!
I kneel in supplication mute,
Oh! be the gift but mine, once more!
'Tis mine! 'tis mine! the altar glows!
The lyre quivers, touched by thee,
O Muse benignant! Low I bow,
Wrapped in a veil of mystery.
Before thy fane on sacred hills,
My daily orison I'll pour;
I have thy promise, gracious Muse,
Mine is the gift forevermore!
The Vision of Eve
When from the gates of Paradise fair Eve
Turned her reluctant steps with saddest mien,
A sense prophetic stayed her blinding tears,
And thus she yearning cried, her sobs between:
"Could I but see adown the coming days!
Yet, though I may not win that boon, alas!
One question haunts me with resistless charm,
What will my daughters be when æons pass?"
She bowed her head, then as with rev'rence spoke:
"A hope has seized my spirit, e'en though late
It cometh. Ay! and will my fault be less
By what they may achieve of good or great?
Are all my cherished longings to be vain?
I cannot know what grander purpose lies
Beyond the misty verge that bounds my view."
She ceased, with supplication in her eyes.
Again we see the Mother of mankind,
Yet not discrowned and mournful as of yore;
From amethystine battlements she leans,
Wide-eyed with wonder and admiring awe.
Far past the planets, past the swinging stars,
Past worlds on worlds that spin in ether there,
Her glances wander to the circling earth,
Lying below swathed by the purpling air.
Lo! what is it she sees? Forms like to hers,
When erst she paced fair Eden's flow'ry courts;
But on each brow there sits a something new,
A something mystical. Is it the thoughts'
Deep impress which the centuries have left?
The seal of alternating joy and woe,
Of care and grief, anon of hope and love,
Marked by the ages as they come and go?
And ever on and on the glances rove
Of our first mother. Now the marble yields
In Eve-like contours 'neath the skillful touch
Of one; another well the sceptre wields;
And one self-poised, regnant in dignity,
In philosophic councils holds the sway.
Upon the battlefield, one kneels to stanch
The crimson life-blood as it ebbs away.
And thus the dreamer spoke: "Are these my kin,
And has the world so grown since those sweet days
In glorious Paradise when Time was young?
Are these my daughters who with sweeping gaze,
Can scan the sheeny Heavens for a sign
Of God's deep wisdom writ upon the skies?
Are these indeed my children, all my own?
What strange, enchanting visions meet my eyes?"
She hears the rhythmic strains of one who caught
The Muse's most majestic melodies;
The lofty heights, the shining altitudes
Her latest children climb, with pride she sees.
"Ah! my prophetic hopes were not in vain,"
Cried Mother Eve with eager eyes aglow;
"Yet could I dream of this when Time began?
The deeds my daughters dare I could not know."
She paused, and soon her rapt soliloquy
Died like a zephyr o'er a leafy lawn;
She gazed once more from jeweled battlements
Far down the firmament, e'en as the Dawn
Blushed in the east; and when the magic hues
Began in music warfare to engage,
Throughout the spheres a chiming measure thrilled,--
The vibrant music of the newer age!
Ode on the Twentieth Century
What seer is this,
Who gazing calm athwart the deep
Where pent-up storms and thunders sleep,
Nothing can miss?
O'er sweeping with his falcon glance vast tracks,
Chaotic, dim, mysterious.
His prescience brooding o'er a cycle new?
What vaster view
Saw ever seer of eld wrapped in a trance?
What pageant more majestic to enhance
His spirit's yearning mood?
To distant caves
The mighty ocean laves,
To airy grottoes, where the lightning wakes,
His searching glance is sent.
Serene, absorbed, attent,
Forecasting what may be in days unborn--
Days that with sunrise freshness all impearled,
With wings unfurled,
Pause to alight upon a waiting world.
"What may they bring us, Seer?
Unto thy vision clear
Is all revealed?
What of those mystic spheres
Th' unfathomable years
So close have sealed?
What cult is taught in Venus?
Shall we know
Whether there come and go
Fair mortals on that soil unknown,
To manly stature grown?
Are hearth-fires kindled on that planet-isle,
And o'er the sacred pile
Does incense rise to some Divinity?
Look closer, Seer, and see!"
O the wonder of the vision!
O the marvel of the sight!
What shores and streams Elysian!
What scenes with splendor dight!
The seer is rapt: enkinled
His brooding glance has grown;
Then solemn made he answer,
With myst'ry in his tone.
"I grope: the scales are yet
Upon my asking eyes;
Forebodings of surprise
My spirit seize; then let
Naught rude disturb my consecrated mood.
"'Tis come! 'tis come! the vision grows apace!
The scales have fall'n, and behold! I trace
The scroll of Time
With deeper mysteries will be o'er-writ.
"The world is spanned by bridges
Builded of rainbow rays;
O'er foam and wat'ry ridges,
They glitter, glitter to the moon.
They'll lead the foot full soon
To dwellings past the Pleads,
To Cassiope's bright seat.
A thought! and lo, we gaze
Amid a planet's haze.
Could motion be more fleet?
"And harken! Down the chiming spheres
To list'ning ears,
An anthem comes from Jupiter's vast plain--
A matchless strain.
"A message from a star!
Harness the winged car
With other steeds than any seen before.
Why heed our lagging pow'rs?
Star-wisdom will be ours;
E'en in a flash of thought
Intelligence be brought,
Undreamed of lore.
I see a hall of weird magnificence,
All studded o'er with scintillating gems
Of rarest lustre; 'tis a temple whence
Flows wisdom like a river; nothing stems
The rushing of its richly freighted waves.
Lo! 'tis on Saturn's isles where stately stands
That gleaming hall, and countless student bands
Are flocking thither in air-chariots brought
To learn the subtlest thought
Of star and planet lore,
All unrevealed before.
"Wisdom from worlds erstwhile beyond our ken.
Stupendous! marvelous! what deeds of men
Evoke this guerdon? Lo! the Deity
Makes man-to praise
His boundless majesty.
These works beyond compare
His signet bear.
And all the alchemy of Earth's vast depths,
Magic in coruscating jewels hid,
Secrets but vaguely hinted by the winds,
Marvels beneath the Ocean's wavy lid,
Have yielded to man's craving; myst'ries sealed!
Since sun and moon and stars from Chaos wheeled,
Are now revealed.
"I cease to gaze. I cannot struggle more
With mighty sights and sounds that wingèd come
From space illimitable, and my eyes
Grow misty 'neath th' effulgence. I am dumb.
I cannot fathom what so near me lies--
Wonders unseen, unheard, unknown before."
The curtains falls again, the quest is o'er.
The Hour's Glory
(Suggested by Emerson's Essay, "Works and Days.")
Each hour has some glory all its own,
Some silver lull of streams unheard before,
Some glimpses rare of Nature's loveliness,
Some song with sweetness newer than of yore.
Each hour waiting spirits, Peace and Hope,
Stand near us if we wave them not away;
Each hour questions haunt us, bearing balm
Imprisoned in the potent yea or nay
Each hour is a Sibyl, weird and strange,
Of eye prophetic and of backward glance;
Each is a restless bird checked in its flight,
A whisper that will nevermore entrance.
Each hour souls may catch celestial pæans
Of subtle meaning, stealing from afar;
As when through shad'wy deeps of purple skies,
In voiceless harmony star follows star.
Each hour may gain beauty from the Past,
And with the Future's coming glory gleam;
But in the light of this, all radiance fades:
Each hour is a Truth and not a Dream.
The brook glides on to the river,
The river glides to the sea;
Each seeks for a broader channel,
For broader channels, we.
If we throw the tiniest pebble
From the fringed, sylvan shore,
The river in widening circles
Flows onward,--so calm before.
The zephyr softly trembles
The glist'ning waves along;
The gentle drip of the rain drops
Makes sweeter their quiet song.
Word-pebbles flung by the heedless,
Will ripple the calmest life;
But the kindly hints of friendship,
Like zephyrs, soothe the strife.
And the priceless tears that only
From sympathy can flow,
Like raindrops, cool the fever
Of the troubled waves below.
The brook glides on to the river,
The river glides to the sea;
Each seeks for a broader channel,
For something more yearn we.
For a fuller, deeper knowledge
Of the mystery life enfolds,
That puzzles as does the process
By which the sculptor moulds.
The child to the skies' rose-tracery
Lifts often his earnest eyes,
Now, lit with a sense of its beauty,
And now, with a vague surprise.
So erst gazed we on these marvels,
Nor thought of the Master-hand
That colors the delicate moonbeams,
And seashells among the sand.
So we, still like little children,
Have read not one-half the scroll,
Have learned not one-half the lesson
Life gives to the thoughtful soul.
Oh! when will all joy be perfect?
Oh! when will all thought be free?
Why question? We glide like the river,
Toward a vast, vast sea.
The brook glides on to the river,
The river glides to the sea;
Our yearnings will blend with the chorus
Of God's ocean, Eternity!
God's Ways, Not Our Ways
Men choose a crystal goblet filled with wine,
That thirst and sense of beauty in all haste
May be indulged; but soon the wine is spilled
Or proves unpleasant to the sated taste;
The crystal chasteness of the goblet slow
Grows dimmer, and thus beauty is a loss;
And man full weary, to the wayside flings
That wealth of pleasure which has turned to dross,
Close hugs a wooden bowl--no substitute
For grace and radiance--and with pleading eyes,
Begs his Creator humbly to send down
One drop of water from the plenteous skies;
God grants the boon, man drinks and is content.
Most men refuse to tread on this or that,
In their attempts to climb where angels are;
Some fain would walk on roses, some on down,
Some reach on waves of light the nearest star;
But from the devious modes that they devise,
One has adjusted been to ev'ry need;
The fiat born of Wisdom goeth forth,
And man must reck not that his feet will bleed;
Nor dare to say in lofty arrogance,
"Walk thou in that path, I will walk in this!"
For he who would attain where angels bathe
Their willing souls in affluence of bliss,
Must climb on Patience ' ladder up to God.
Nature's Minor Chords
The stirring of a feathery cloud
May wake a thought of richest worth,
The dew upon the lily's rim
To deepest reverie give birth.
Half glimpses caught in idle hours
Of shifting lights upon a stream,
Some sudden glory in the skies
May give the soul a magic dream.
The scent of wood-glades when glad Spring
Is penciling the dainty leaves,
Like subtlest music, round the heart
A web of strange enchantment weaves.
The robin's carol to the dawn
Soothes like the answer to a prayer;
The cushat's melancholy plaint
May change our mood quite to despair.
In Nature's wondrous orchestra,
The quiver of a single strain
Will poise a thought, and give the soul
Most exquisite repose or pain.
At Nature's Shrine
Sweet Nature, give me holy dreams,
Caress thy child once more!
Thy holiest cadence softly chant
As thou didst oft of yore.
Amid these mountains silence-sealed,
Beneath this tender sky,
Soothed by thy harmony divine,
Forever would I lie.
Now creeps the mist,--a violet veil,
Above the sacred hills;
The rainbow shimmers in the east,
Low coo the sparkling rills.
My soul so soothed beneath thy touch,
O Nature, chaste and calm,
Would bow before these solemn fanes,
And pour its grateful psalm.
These mountains veiled in mystery,
These skies with meaning fraught,
Rest in the hollow of His hand,
Whose tones Creation caught.
As the strange music of the shell
Tells of the mighty sea,
So these all to our rev'rent souls,
Great Father, speak of Thee!
O snowflake clouds, O feath'ry clouds,
Sailing through deeps of sky,
Look through the boughs, the apple boughs,
Come to the earth more nigh.
Bring me a rift of sunshine gold,
To circle round my brow;
In breezy robes I fain would drift
To some blest island now.
Catch me the dew from those fair hills
Where ye are wont to rest;
Bring me the rose from Summer skies,
When Day dreams in the west.
Gather the rainbow's mingled hues,--
A blush of purity;
Give me the sparkle of the waves
Of the mysterious sea.
O snowflake clouds, O feath'ry clouds,
Sailing through deeps of sky,
Can ye not bring a hint of song
And drop it from on high?
Some tender song the seraphs sing,
So soothing, I could dream
That the sweet light of Paradise
On my life-path did gleam.
My Easter Dove
There came a dove, an Easter dove,
When morning stars grew dim;
It fluttered round my lattice bars,
To chant a matin hymn.
It brought a lily in its beak,
Aglow with dewy sheen;
I caught the strain, the incense breathed,
And uttered praise between.
It brought a shrine of holy thoughts
To calm my soul that day;
I caught the meaning of the note
Why did it fly away?
Come peaceful dove, sweet Easter dove!
Above earth's storm and strife
Sing of the joy of Easter-tide,
Of light and hope and life.
Can life's best consciousness of joy
Quite charm the soul without alloy?
Or will its hidden depths be stirred
All unawares, by some chance word,
To deep regret or nameless pain,
With fev'rish yearning in its train?
Ay! as the shadows fleck the grass
When through his courts the Sun doth pass,
So in the measure Life must dole
To th' insatiate, asking soul,
Shade gives to bloom its best relief,
Joy comes the sweeter after grief.
Each struggle toward a clearer light,
Each noble impulse unto right
Makes struggle easy, effort grand;
Lo! when we seize with eager hand
The regal rose and meet the thorn,
We heed not though our flesh be torn.
For life's best joy may not all be
Intense delight though e'er so free
From hint of sorrow, but the calm
That soothes the spirit, like a psalm
Of benediction floating by
In strains serenest caught on high.
Some gold lies veiled behind each evening cloud,
Some beauty hides in every quiet stream,
Some love entwines its tendrils round each soul,
With all the rare devotion of a dream.
Some rose looks forth from ev'ry curled bud,
Some note drifts warbling to the last one's need,
Some song thrills deeply ev'ry woodbird's heart,
Some dew-soft incense haloes each true deed.
Some azure-winged Hope with starry gaze,
Floats viewless near, when joy begins to wane;
Some lustrous tint through each tear-prism gleams,
Some peace reposes 'neath each torturing pain.
Our fancies are but joys all unexprest,
The rhythm of a carol strange and sweet.
Who would resign his yearning for the best
The arts severe can yield? all incomplete
As is the airy fabric of our dream,
Yet bask we in its rose-encolored gleam.
Take from our life its palpitating hope,
Rob it of those mysterious undertones,
That like the changing angels, fondly grope
Toward harmonies celestial, stifle moans
That, uttered in our longing, half reveal
The soul's deep struggles and far more conceal,--
And what is left us? What avails the lute
When the sweet player's fingers all are cold?
So would it be with us if Hope were mute,
No longer with her magic to unfold
Our dreams' aerial splendor and transform
Their misty shadows to a radiance warm.
Then let us, ever watching rev'rently,
Quaff the pure incense of the morning star,
Heed the impassioned skylark's reverie,
Soaring and singing in the ether far;
And bathe out life each hour in beauty new,
By guarding fresh the soul's impearlèd dew.
O sailing stars!
Through pearly bars
Of fleecy cloudlets fair,
With liquid gleam,
Ye drift,--a dream
Of beauty in the air.
Ye sailing stars!
Bright silver cars,
Moving with rhythmic pace,
Can spirits rare
Float through the air,
With more majestic grace?
O stars so calm!
Were life a psalm
Attuned to harmony,
On wings of light,
To some blest height
As calm, our souls would flee.
Lilies swinging censers fair,
In the dreamy Spring-tide air,
Purer seem your bells this morn:
Roses on the dewy lawn,
Tinted with the hues of dawn,
Ye are sweeter: flow'rets say,
Why are ye so rare to-day?
Oh why, oh why!
Robin, tender robin, say,
Why art thou so glad to-day?
Never has thy note to me
Borne beneath its melody,
Such inspiring mystery.
Warbling robin, softly say,
Why are thou so glad to-day?
Oh why, oh why!
Silver-throated lark, reply!
Far off in the azure sky,
Wherefore does that song of thine,
Soaring in a strain divine,
Strangely thrill this soul of mine?
Fluting lark, reply, reply!
Is't to bear my soul on high?
On high, on high!
Questioner! the birds reply,
Christ ascends to-day on high,
From the sadness and the gloom,
From the shadows of the tomb.
For His glory sweeter bloom
Rose and lily; this is why
Strains divine thrill through the sky,
'Tis why, 'tis why!
Pure as is the lily's bowl,
List'ner! ever be thy soul!
Fragrant as the rose thy life,
Kindliness o'ercoming strife;
Jesus' vict'ry gives new life.
Then uplift thy drooping brow,
Join in Nature's gladness now!
Sing now, sing now!
Yes! the Easter-tide is fair,
Strains triumphant flood the air;
So bright garlands we entwine
For the Son of God Divine.
Then rejoice, O soul of mine!
With the chanting birds and flow'rs,
Consecrate these blessed hours,
An evanescent hue whose pearly gleam
Transfigures all it glows upon, a dream
Of forms aerial, chiseled so fair
That angel fingers must have lingered there.
A scent as of celestial roses blown
From consecrated meadows, many a tone
Sublime in ecstasy and rev'rent hush,
An exaltation that no wrong can crush.
A hint of harmonies in life's strange psalm,
A sense of Heaven's completeness, all its calm;
A shining goal suffused with radiant light,--
Such the Ideal that lures from height to height.
The Hermit and the Soul
The hermit in his cave beside the sea,
In mood contemplative, the mystery,--
Ay, all the wondrous meaning fain would trace
Of swinging stars sphered in unfathomed space.
The soul in life's dim cave beside the sea,
Is pond'ring likewise all the mystery,
The solemn something that the years unfold,
A riddle never new, yet never old.
Ah! musing hermit, wake from out thy dreams!
See 'mid the stars refulgent, one that streams
With sheen sublime; the shepherds, ages gone,
Saw it illume the plain one frosty morn.
Ah! restless soul, immortal dow'r is thine!
Christ came to earth, the Son of God Divine,
To solve the myst'ry: therefore cease thy strife,
Light from the cross leads on to endless life.
How the majestic stellar lights of Heav'n
Gliding in rhythm through the aisles of space,
Shed cheering radiance on the waiting earth,
When all day long the Sun has hid his face.
How glowed the painter's soul with rapture mute,
When after weary toil and vague unrest,
The Head Divine upon his vision broke,
And rare contentment closed a loving quest.
Men who dare mighty deeds with dauntless will,
Oft meet defeat, not glorious victory;
But the uplifting souls to undreamed heights,
May not of poorest laurels worthy be.
There is a heroism born of pain,
Whose recompense in noble impulse lies;
And sometimes tears that e'en from grief did flow,
Are changed to joy-drops in pathetic eyes.
From out the din of mighty orchestras,
The sweetest, purest tones are oft evolved;
So from the discord of our restless lives,
May come sweet harmony when all is solved.
A Vision of Moonlight
O silver splendor, marvelous!
Transfigured is the rare blue sky,
Where cloudlets crowned with amber mist,
Glide to a whispered music by.
What seem they, circling round the spheres,
Swans that majestically sway?
Or weird white ships far out at sea,
With lamps hung up to light the way?
Or are they rather, like the bright,
Fantastic wreaths of feathery spray,
Revealing gleams of ringlets gold,
Tossed by the mermaids in their play?
A pearly shimmer lies within
The rose's petals folded up;
Shy lilies peep through river-reeds,
With liquid sweetness in their cup.
A fleecy, opal-tinted veil
Hangs on the waters sleeping calm;
Fountains of rainbow sheen fling high
Their cadence mellowed to a psalm.
As hope upspringing in the breast
Irradicates the human face,
E'en so the moonlight's mystic glow
Sheds o'er all things unwonted grace.
The soul is nobler for great thoughts,
The heart is richer for love's boon,
The flowers are brighter for the dew,
The sky is rarer for the moon.
O solemn silence! do the leaves
Stop rustling to enjoy the scene?
Do waves, all tremulous with sound,
Pause to adore, their hymns between?
O tranquil moonlight! as some strains
Suggest a master-spirit's song,
Thy beauty pure, impalpable,
Must to celestial spheres belong.
O glory royal, marvelous!
Thou may'st perhaps the shadow be
Of glory all-surpassing, that
Streams from God's throne eternally.
Many are thy tones, O Ocean,
Filling us with strange emotion
As we hear the murmurs wild;
In their weird and solemn power,
Thou dost send them ev'ry hour
To thy yearning, list'ning child.
Like a voice subdued and tragic,
Many of thy songs bring magic,
Others to us hoarsely call;
Some are sweet and fraught with gladness,
Some have strains akin to sadness,
Yet we prize and love them all.
In the heart nigh crushed with sorrow,
Dreading the unknown to-morrow,
Wishing past the drear to-day,
In the soul its burden bearing
While the lip a smile is wearing,
They have waked an answering lay.
Thou hast psalms of glad thanksgiving,
Choral anthems for the living,
Dirges for the silent throng;
For the beautiful who, lying
Where the mermaids low are sighing,
Nevermore shall join thy song.
There is freedom in thy dashing
As thy waves the rocks are lashing,
Singing loud their mad refrain;
Of unrest the chords are telling,
And from many a soul's depth welling,
Comes an echo to the strain.
Like some lone heart's plaintive throbbing,
Leap the billows, wildly sobbing,
Flinging to the pulseless air,--
Now, a cadence hushed and calming,
Now, a peal fierce and alarming,
Now a wail of deep despair.
As the sad mysterious surges
Chant their melancholy dirges,
In a whisper ne'er repressed,
So within the realm of feeling,
Hopes and longings softly stealing,
Moan forever unexpressed.
When thy sweetly chiming chorus
Throws its fascination o'er us,
We would fain translate it all;
But in vain is e'en our trying,
For thy notes are never-dying,
And they baffle as they fall.
Soft thy hymns of awed devotion
Float on waves of ceaseless motion,
To the throne of God above.
Many are thy tones, O Ocean,
Filling us with strange emotion,
Tuning souls to praise and love.
A Thought on Lake Ontario
The lucent lake was lit with sheen,
Shining the crested waves between,
And through the purpling air
The young birds trilled their lightsome lays,
To join the hymn of Nature's praise,
And earth was passing fair.
The summer sky was liquid blue,
The lake's deep gleam, a sapphire hue
Of gem-like radiance rare;
It seemed a quiet dream of rest,
The billows on its mighty breast
Swayed in accordant prayer.
I deem Apollo ne'er had! seen
More wondrous depths of glist'ning sheen,
Than thine, O dreamy lake!
Nor has his lyre swept the deep,
Wherein more magic shadows sleep,
Than those thy ripples wake.
No Triton in the rosy dawn,
Blew sweeter music on his horn,
Than thy soft melody;
No Nereid seeking ocean caves,
Blew lighter foam across the waves
Of the impassioned sea.
When glist'ning in the sunset-rose
Thy tinted waves suggest repose,
All troubled yearnings cease;
When life is discord and unrest,
We come to seek upon thy breast,
A hint of perfect peace.
Through pearly deeps of sky, cloud-mountains rose
Amid the haze, a land of tinted snows;
A dream of beauty where the palest gold
And rarest azure did their bloom unfold.
It was a vision fair, set in the air,
Where form and color kissed through violet mist.
Hymn to the Thousand Islands
O islets green, Nature's immortal gems,
Ye smile--a thought of God--rare diadems
Framed in majestic waters! Here and there
Ye sparkle, tiny emeralds, from the air
Dropped by chaste angel fingers in the deep.
Were ye, when first Creation woke from sleep,
An anthem sung at sunrise to the Light,
Like Memnon's statue at the dazzling sight?
Dotting the placid waters, marvels ye,
A masterpiece of sculptured scenery!
Ye are a fragment of the mighty plan,
Linking in rhythm divine Nature and man.
Ye are a cadence of perpetual praise
To Him who guards the soul through endless days.
On the Rapids of the St. Lawrence
The gurgling waters foam and play,
And whirl and dash the live-long day
In jets of spray.
They roll and dance, and laugh and sing,
They are forever on the wing,
A restless thing!
What tale of pathos do they tell,
As onward they tumultuous swell,--
Is it a knell,
A lay of love, or joy or woe,
Enacted in the long ago?
We cannot know!
The emerald waters rage and boil,
And madly Whirl in wild turmoil,
Is theirs: they hint of strange unrest,
They foamy waves upon their breast
Seem sore distrest.
They leap and toss their mad caps high,
They rave and plunge and sadly sigh;
Yet to the sky
Their weird antiphonies ascend,
And with celestial anthems blend,
As up they wend.
Voices of the Rain
Hear the dreary, dreary rain,
Beating 'gainst the window pane!
Causing little ones to shiver,
Causing aged forms to wither,
Murm'ring through the dying ember,
Making fireless homes more somber.
O the dreary, dreary rain!
Hear the cheerful, cheerful rain,
Laughing through the golden grain!
Waking cowslips in the meadow
Which the stately oaks o'ershadow;
Fanning soft the fainting flowers
That have dropped their heads for hours.
O the cheerful, cheerful rain!
Hear the tearful, tearful rain
Sobbing o'er the battle-plain!
Where the warrior fought in glory,
Where death closed life's tangled story
Teardrops kiss his matted tresses,
Tears, instead of love's caresses.
O the tearful, tearful rain!
Hear the music of the rain,
In the brook and stormy main!
On the roof it softly patters,
Tones concordant far it scatters.
Children tucked away to slumber,
Hear its notes and count their number.
Pretty music of the rain!
Hear the solemn, solemn rain,
Moaning o'er the burial plain!
Chanting low a dirge, and sighing
For the loved so missed in dying.
When above them flowers are paling,
Hear its sad, monot'nous wailing.
O the solemn, solemn rain!
If we could know the mystery
Hid in the skylark's wondrous song,
If we could hear the dulcet psalms
The sheeny stars have sung so long,--
We yet must turn to other sounds,
To human voices oft in pain;
To dissonance which should be tuned
To truest harmony again.
We cannot know, O fluting lark,
What lent thy song its ecstasy;
We yearn, in meditative mood,
To fathom all the mystery
Of Nature's tireless orchestra.
Ay! but that joy we can forego,
For there is need of list'ning ears
Where other voices charm us. So,
With vision clear and purpose pure,
Humanity's broad scheme we'll trace;
A wrong to right, a sob to hush,
To see a brother in each face
That lifts itself toward God's blue dome
In suppliant hope,--thus life expands
To sweet fruition, till the waves
Of Time are lulled on golden sands.
(At Echo Lake, White Mountains.)
Along the lake the bugle rings,
And hark! what harmony of sound
Breaks through the mountains: silv'ry clear
The chorus is diffused around.
It multiplies from cliff to cliff,
A weird antiphony, so sweet
The magic tones, the heart throbs high,
Entranced with unison complete.
Ay, listen! now it steals again:
From peak to peak the music rings,
Wave upon wave; until the soul
Thrilled and subdued, in rapture sings.
One echo wakes, it dies away;
Soft, softer, hushed, till in a dream
Of ecstasy divine we muse,
Floating adown the peaceful stream.
O holy echo! sweet and clear,
Thou tell'st of the Creator's hand
That swung the singing planets there
In distant orbits, when were planned
These mountains: thou dost but repeat
Some fragment of the harmony
The morning stars together sang;
O wondrous, echoing mystery!
Lines Written on a Farewell View of the Franconia
Mountains At Twilight
Blue mists surround the mountains now,
In shadowy splendor slowly fades
Their perfect outline; each pure brow
Is battled in mystery; the shades
Of pensive twilight gather round,
The timid stars forbear awhile
To lift their misty curtain; sound
Thy lyre, O souls! 'neath Nature's smile.
The Coming of Spring
The buds from winter's frost-work lift
Their dainty heads; a golden rift
Of sunshine from the misty space
Of Cloudland comes apace.
And we are sealed in dreams to-day.
Look! fair Spring beckons! wherefore stay?
Deep in the forest's mystery,
Strange visions we would see.
The young bird twitters on his nest;
His tender notes so long represet,
Soar to the ether, clear and calm,
A pure, exultant psalm.
The youth charmed by the whisp'ring leaves,
Tells life's sweet secret 'neath the eaves,
And finds more fair than sunset skies
The Springtime in her eyes.
What colors deck the woodland shade!
What airy pencilings! the glade
Is rich with lily-bells whose glow
Seems borrowed from the snow.
She comes fair Spring, with rhythmic pace!
Say, have you looked her in the face?
Her glance is ecstasy, her smile
All sorrow can beguile.
In reveries almost divine,
What visions bright before us shine!
Lo! erst we yearned: we see fulfilled
The fantasies we willed.
She comes our chant of praise to hear,
Sweet, airy Spring, and lingers near;
Without her dreams, her nameless hope,
How sadly would we grope!
We raise our heads, our hearts elate
Meanwhile, and fit to toy with fate.
How can life's changes e'er distress
While clasped in Spring's caress.
What is failure? When the maiden
Pensive, reading from the page,
Breathes the crushèd roseleaf's fragrance
And far more than counsel sage
Does its subtle odor woo her
On to happy fields of light,
Where love's tremulous requirements
All are reconciled quite,--
Has the sweet rose missed its mission,
With its petals rudely torn?
Nay! its perfume brought a vision,
Fairer than the fairest morn,
To the dreaming maiden: therefore
Grieve not rose, thy doom was best;
Murmur not to carry to her,
After tumult, hints of rest.
What is failure? When the poet
Hears his verses harshly scorned,
Can he yet forget the rapture,
That upon his spirit dawned,--
As the cadences so holy
Lulled his senses in a trance,
And aerial fingers dainty
Swept his lyre? Ay, perchance
He but loves the strains the better--
Tender nurslings from the skies--
And although no ruth awaits him,
Newer glory fills his eyes.
What is failure? Ah! we know not!
'Tis but an indiff'rent thing;
Sometimes to unrest an impulse,
Sometimes angels on the wing.
Calling us to finer raptures,
Chanting for us nobles strains,
From the world's dissatisfaction
Gleaning for us priceless gains.
The Triple Bension
Come to guard us, come to bless us,
Holy, mystic sisters three!
On our bowed heads pour a chrism,
Daughters of the Deity.
Crown us with your triple chaplet,
Roses red and lilies fair,
Dark green leaves entwined around them,
Fragrant with May's tender air.
We are waiting--suppliants needy--
For your beauteous three-fold gift,
That to heights of calm completeness
Our beseeching souls can lift.
How can we without your favor
Make of life what it should be?
Come then, guard us, aid and bless us,
Daughters of the Deity.
Be our souls as pure and stainless,
Blending all the perfect hues,
Sacred Faith, as is the color
We shall ever for thee choose.
Be our paths as green with verdure,
Yearning Hope, as thine must be;
And our lives as flushed with radiance,
As thine, O blessed Charity!
Verses to My heart's Sister
We've traveled long together,
O sister of my heart,
Since first as little children
All buoyant, we did start
Upon Life's checkered pathway,
Nor dreamed of aught save joy;
But ah! To-day can tell us
Naught is without alloy.
Rememb'rest thou the gambols
Of those sweet, early days,
When siren Fancy showed us
Our dreams through golden haze?
Ah, well thou dost remember
The mirth we then did share,
The sports, the tasks, the music,
The all-embracing prayer.
Somehow my own sweet sister,
Our heart-strings early twined;
Some rare bond of affection
Of tastes and aims combined,
Made us, e'en in our Springtime,
Soul-sisters fond and leal;
And how that love has strengthened
The years can well reveal.
We've seen our loved ones vanish
Far from our yearning gaze,
Into the peace of Heaven.
O those sad, saddest days,
When we two clung together,
So lonely and forlorn,
With our crushed hearts all quiv'ring,
All bruised, and scarred and torn.
So nearer clung we, sister,
And loved each other more;
The tendrils of our natures
Twined closer than before.
We could speak to no other
Of those sweet, holy things,
So tender yet so nameless,
Which sorrow often brings.
The troubles that have thickened
Around our daily path,
We've borne together, sister,
And oft when courage hath
Grown feeble, and the future
Was dark with naught of cheer,
Could one have faced the conflict
Without the other near?
And sister, dear Heart's-Sister,
When all the mystery
Of this strange life is ended
We'll love each other dearly
As now we do, and more;
For sacred things in Heaven
Grow richer than before.
And shall not those sweet loved ones
Missed here so long! so long!
Join with us in the music
Of an all-perfect song?
We feel a gladder cadence
Will thrill their rapt'rous strain,
When we are with them, sister,
All , ne'er to part again!
So now as here we linger,
May ours be happy days!
O generous-hearted sister,
In all Life's winding ways
May we have joy together!
And this I fondly pray,--
God bless thee, dear Heart's-Sister!
Forever and for aye!
Among the Berkshire Hills
The hills in emerald robes of richest dye,
Decked e'en most regally, slope to the sky
In daintiest curves and many a lakelet calm
Sleeps in the vale below, while like a psalm
The silv'ry waters murmur; all around
Majestic silence reigns, save when the sound
Of some fair warbler stirs the air with song,
Sweet as if they to Heav'n's isles did belong.
Yea, in eternal grandeur stand the hills
Wrapped oft in misty veils of blue; the rills
Trickle in motion musical, meanwhile
The landscape shimmers golden 'neath the smile
Of Nature in her kindest mood; she seems
Benignant to these peaceful slopes; rich gleams
Of sunshine flicker o'er them, shadows chase
In shapes fantastic and with rarest grace,
The light across these mountains; far and near,
Like to a silver ribbon winding clear,
The Housatonic mirrors back the skies,
And through the quiet meadows gently hies
To join the music of the solemn band,
Played by the sea. Touched by th' enchanted wand
Of magic beauty lies fair Stockbridge Bowl,--
A lake whose calm brings rest within the soul.
There Nature comes to us with ev'ry phase
Of loveliness, and charms away our days,
Until refreshed the wearied spirit grows,
Lulled to unwonted harmony nor knows
It aught of restlessness amid such peace;
Unrest and care have there a swift release:
Nature has vesture of a thousand hues,--
Skies sapphire blue, bright waters, pearly dews;
Her panorama changes with the hours.
'Twas morn: above the hills shell-tinted flow'rs
Were strewn along the pathway of the sun,
Just peeping o'er the slopes, his race begun.
'Twas noon: the leaves were dancing in the breeze;
Clouds clad in sheeny tissues, kissed the trees,
Crowning the summits, while to the glad gaze
Stretched out a rare perspective dim with haze.
And o'er the hills one fair cloud calmly slept,
Fair as an angel dreaming; blue mists crept
In sinuous curves above the stately heights,
Which gleamed resplendent in the shifting lights.
'Twas sunset when a charm the earth enshrouds;
A setting exquisite of tinted clouds
Illumined changing scenes of mount and glade;
And all the majesty of light and shade
Bewildered with its beauty, while afar
Looked o'er the heights one silver vesper star.
And soon the moonlight touched the hills with sheen,
Bathed them in mystery which Night's chaste queen
Dispels around her. Thus the vision grows,
And the enchanted gleams that Nature throws
O'er mountain, valley, grove and laughing rills,
We see in regal beauty 'mid these hills.
Through colonnades of pines the vistas green
Invite the gaze to linger, while between
The shadows slant, and through the golden air
Each scene dissolves into one still more fair.
All this calm loveliness can but enthrall.
We dream amid these solitudes, and all
Th' unuttered p raise of many a soul ascends
In thanks to Him who here such glory sends.
Father of Love!
We leave our souls with Thee!
Oh! may Thy Holy Spirit to us be
A peaceful Dove!
Now when day's strife
And bitterness are o'er,
Oh! in our hearts all bruisèd gently pour
The dew of life.
So as the rose--
Though fading on the stem--
Awakes to blush when morning's lustrous gem
Upon it glows;--
May we awake,
Soothed by Thy priceless balm,
To chant with grateful hearts our morning psalm,
And blessings take.
Or let it be,
That where the palm trees rise,
And crystal streams flow, we uplift our eyes
To Thee!--to Thee!
What do the long years bring us,
The weary, restless years?
Hopes, dreams unrealized, yet balm
To stay the bitt'rest tears.
Some gold tint in the prism,
Some kind words softly said,
Some hint of love most tender
E'en when glad joy has fled.
Not grief perchance, nor sorrow,
And yet a vague unrest
Will mingle with our musings,
A pang all unexpressed.
The minstrel's song though gladsome,
Enfolds a minor strain;
Each throbbing joy brings with it
For through the cleansing fires
Our shrinking souls must go,
Ere we the wholesome lesson
Of life can really know.
Then let us be undaunted,
Leaving to God the end,
Rememb'ring, more than sparrows,
We find in Christ, a friend.
Gleamed a resplendent star
Over the hillsides far,
While shepherds watched by night
On the peaceful height.
Softly the gold-light fell
Over the vale and dell,
While angels warbled clear
"Lo! the Christ-child's here!"
Wise men brought there with them,
Sweet Child of Bethlehem,
Rare gifts to offer Thee,
For Thou mad'st them free.
"Peace!" list the magic word
Now through the ages heard;
"Good-will!" it echoes still
With the olden thrill.
Sweet Child in mercy sent,
Jesus, grant us content.
Evermore may we be
Near to truth and Thee!
Ah blow! thou art the last, the last!
Grief cannot harm me any more.
I'm weary now that hope is past,
My heart is broken at the core,
Ay, at the core.
Then call me henceforth, Broken Heart!
It is the name most meet for woe.
Since I can ne'er with Sorrow part,
I care no other name to know.
Ah! call me so.
I never thought my life would be
All poisoned by a fatal dart,
But now no joy can rescue me.
Yes! call me ever Broken Heart,
Sad Broken Heart.
Jesus says, "Broken Heart be mine;
I'll take thee, shattered as thou art.
Come rest upon my Love Divine,
Come weary, weary Broken Heart,
Never to part.
"The world has wounded, Heaven will not;
Life sore has pricked thee, Broken Heart,
Her page is dark with many a blot.
Alas! thy bitt'rest tears will start,
Poor Broken Heart!
"Then come, O wherefore wouldst thou wait?
Carry thy cross and follow on.
I am thy portion, early, late;
Haste Broken Heart, this very morn,
This happy morn.
"Sweet peace I give thee, Broken Heart,
'Twill be a cure for ev'ry woe.
None e'er has loved thee, Broken Heart,
As I have loved thee long ago,
Ah no! ah no!
"Does earth still weave her subtle charm?
Oh! will thou not with Sorrow part
For soothing, everlasting balm?
Do I suffice thee, Broken Heart?
Speak, Broken Heart!"
"Yes, Jesus, Thou art all I need,
I'll gladly rise and follow Thee.
Life sore has pricked me, made me bleed,
But now Thy Child I am to be,
Yes! Thine to be".
"Ay, dearest child, my blood for thee
Will heal thy heart's poor broken core;
My blood that floweth full and free,
Will in thy soul rich blessings pour,
"Then hold my hand, dear Healèd Heart!
I'll lead thee to thy home and then
We never, nevermore shall part."
"O Jesus, hear my soul's Amen,
O Christ, who in Gethsemane
Didst all alone in anguish pray,
"Father, if it be possible,
Let this cup, Father, pass away,"--
O holy Christ, who rose serene,
Sublime in victory to cry,
"Not as I will, but as Thou wilt!"
Let us in faith on Thee rely.
Did not the stars in far off space,
Upon their silver axes pause
To hear those words? Was not the air
Calmed by the myst'ry and its cause?
O Christ, veiled in Humanity!
O Victor over deepest woe!
When we, like Thee, endure the pain,
Let us, like Thee, submission know.
Grant us a vict'ry like the Thine,
O'er all the storms that rage within.
Teach us, O Christ, we humbly pray,
The trust that fain would conquer sin.
And when life's discords all are hushed,
Blended in perfect harmony,
Call us, O pitying Son of God,
Take us, O blessed Christ, to Thee!
Shadow and Sunshine
Poor heart, unsatisfied!
Poor soul, trying and tried!
Trying to reach the goal,
And tried art thou, O soul,
In all thy ways.
Seeking where'er it be,
Something to solace thee;
Choosing whatever part,
Unfilled art thou, O heart,
Through length of days.
Wherefore these shadows sent?
Wherefore these hours of Lent?
Wherefore the rugged rock,
The fire, the stumbling block,
The vale of tears?
Earth's gilded pleasures lure;
Canst share them and endure
True to thy nobler self,
Soul, with thy mine of wealth,
For many years?
Listen! discouraged heart,
Loath with thy pain to part;
Hear, O sad, tearful soul,
Seeking the radiant goal,
Christ's holy plea.
"Thy strength e'en weakness is;
Perfect in Me thou liv'st.
I am the Way, the Truth,
Come without further proof,
Come unto Me!"
Rest thou shalt find and peace,
And joys that never cease;
Light o'er the mountain comes,
Voices from distant homes
Echo the song.
When most despondent ye,
Louder the voice shall be;
Bliss-crowned the radiant goal
Sought by thee, sorrowing soul,
So long, so long!
As round the rose's heart the golden threads
Of summer sunshine gently wind themselves,
And deeper, richer grows the native tinge,
More beauteous in its kindling loveliness,
So round the human heart unconsciously
The tendrils gold of love entwine themselves,
And make it sweeter, richer, holier far
Than 'twas before; and as on deep'ning blooms
The gaze of man delights to rest awhile,
So on the heart lit by love's radiant glow,
The angels look with glance serene and pure.
As unseen dews descend and softly rest,
Like to a jewel, upon each green spray,
And leave it sparkling with unwonted sheen,
E'en so the unseen dews of sweet content
And holy consecretion, crystal beads,
Of many a lowly soul the shadows dim
Illume, and like the balmy breath of morn,
Make it resplendent with the changing gleam,
Of priceless jewels,--stars within the soul.
As lightly dripping rain the fragrance woos,
Alike of blossoms waking to the sun
And blooms mature, that through the silent grove,
Their fresh bath o'er--rock in the cooling breeze
And make it redolent with fragrance rare,
So deeds in silence done and kind words said,
The influence of a pure and holy life
Shed on each pathway their aroma rare.
As birds uplift their gorgeous-tinted wings,
Rich as the purple flush of autumn days,
And seek the mellow climes of orange bow'rs
Ere uncongenial gales their plumage beat,
So from the harsh, forbidding sons of men,
Whose ears are not attuned; to catch her song,
The child with spirit sensitive and rapt,
Turns lovingly to those whose sympathy,
Like chords responsive, catch the sweet refrain,
And send it throbbing back, a silver link,
Uniting kindred souls in union blest.
To my Mother
(January 1, 1891)
Sweet Mother! rare in gifts of tenderness!
Thou who didst nurse my child-life into bloom,
And for each native grace made ample room
To blossom in love's light,--how can we bless
The Power that gave thee to us! In the stress
Of life's great conflict, what could e'er illume
Its mystic shadows and its deepest gloom,
Like smiles and loving words from thee! No less
Than widest sunshine is thy sympathy.
O precious Heart! so rich in sacrifice,
And--boon beyond compare--supremest love,
May Heaven's choicest blessings rest on thee,
Rarer than jewels of the costliest price!
And Peace brood o'er thy path like calmest dove!
Life! Ay, what is it? E'en a moment spun
From cycles of eternity. And yet,
What wrestling 'mid the fever and the fret
Of tangled purposes and hopes undone!
What affluence of love! What victories won
In agonies of silence, ere trust met
A manifold fulfillment, and the wet,
Beseeching eyes saw splendors past the sun
What struggle in the web of circumstance,
And yearning in the winged music! All,
One restless strife from fetters to be free;
Till, gathered to eternity's expanse,
Is that brief moment at the Father's call;
Life! Ay, at best, 'tis but a mystery!
We climb the slopes of life with throbbing heart,
And eager pulse, like children toward a star.
Sweet siren music cometh from afar,
To lure us on meanwhile. Responsive start
The nightingales to richer song than Art
Can ever teach. No passing shadows mar
Awhile the dewy skies; no inner jar
Of conflict bids us with our quest to part.
We see adown the distance, rainbow-arched,
What melting aisles of liquid light and bloom!
We hasten, tremulous, with lips all parched,
And eyes wide-stretched, nor dream of coming gloom.
Enough that something held almost divine
Within us ever stirs. Can we repine?
What soul hath struck its need of melody,
From life's strange instrument whereon it plays?
Are the aspiring strains of weary days
E'er gathered in their full intensity,
Swelling a psalm incomparable, free
To utter all their yearning? Nay! the lays
Moan on inadequately, for the ways
Of God in shaping souls we may not see.
Mid baffled hopes we cry out in our need,
And wrestle in the shadows, wond'ring when
Such dissonance can e'er be sweet, and how.
But soon the watching Father will have freed
Our earthly ears to catch the music: then
The chrism of perfect peace shall bathe each brow.
To catch the spirit in its wayward flight
Through mazes manifold, what task supreme!
For when to floods has grown the quiet stream,
Much human skill must aid its rage to fight;
And when wild winds invade the solemn night,
Seems not man's vaunted power but a dream?
And still more futile, ay, we e'en must deem
This quest to tame the soul, and guide aright
Its restless wanderings,-- to lure it back
To shoals of calm. Full many a moan and sigh
Attend the strife; till, effort merged in prayer,
Oft uttered, clung to-- when of strength the lack
Seems direst-- brings the answer to our cry:
A gift from Him who lifts our ev'ry care.
O Mother-heart! when fast the arrows flew,
Like blinding lightning, smiting as they fell,
One after one, one after one, what knell
Could fitly voice thy anguish! Sorrow grew
To throes intensest, when thy sad soul knew
Thy youngest, too, must go. Was it not well,
Avengers wroth, just one to spare? Ay, tell
The ages of soul-struggle sterner? Through
The flinty stone, O image of despair,
Sad Niobe, thy maddened grief did flow
In bitt'rest tears, when all thy wailing prayer
Was so denied. Alas! what weight of woe
Is prisoned in thy melancholy eyes!
What mother-love beneath the Stoic lies!
The Two Musicians
Love plays a lute, and Thought an organ grand.
These tones are stately, those a restless strain,
Seeming by cadenced joy to measure pain,
And capture Fancy by the soft airs fanned.
Thought sends his plans thrilling through the land;
The worshipers that bow before his fane
Find rest in contemplation, spirit-gain
In sweetest harmonies. Yon rapturous band,
Kneeling to catch the music of the lute,
Have yearning in their eyes, yet something there
That baffles all our reas'ning; is it peace,
Or only glances with beseeching mute?
Sometimes it deepens into holy prayer.
Enchanted Love! thy music never cease!
The Poet's Ministrants
The smiling Dawn, with diadem of dew,
Brings sunrise odors to perfume his shrine;
Blithe Zephyr fans him; and soft moonbeams twine
An aureole to crown him, of a hue,
Surpassing fair. The stately stars renew
Majestic measures, that he may incline
His soul unto their sweetness; whispers fine
From spirit-nymphs allure him; not a few
The gifts chaste Fancy and her sisters bring,
Rare is the lyre the Muses for him wrought,
A different meaning thrills in ev'ry string,
With ev'ry changing mood of life so fraught.
Invoked by him, when such the strains that flow,
How can the poet e'er his song forego!
O poet gifted with the sight divine!
To thee 'twas given Eden's groves to pace
With that first pair, in whom the human race
Their kinship claim: and angels did incline--
Great Michael, holy Gabriel-- to twine
Their heavenly logic, through which thou couldst trace
The rich outpourings of celestial grace
Mingled with argument, around the shrine
Where thou didst linger, vision-rapt, intent
To catch the sacred mystery of Heaven.
Nor was thy longing vain: a soul resolved
To ponder truth supreme to thee was lent;
For thy not sightless eyes the veil was riv'n,
Redemption's problem unto thee well solved.
We wonder what the horoscope did show
When Shakespeare came to earth. Were planets there,
Grouped in unique arrangement? Unaware
His age of aught so marvelous, when lo!
He speaks! men listen! what of joy or woe
Is not revealed! love, hatred, marking care,
All quivering 'neath his magic touch. The air
Is thick with beauteous elves, a dainty row,
Anon, with droning witches, and e'en now
Stalks gloomy Hamlet, bent on vengeance dread.
One after one they come, smiling or scarred,
Wrought by that mind prismatic to which bow
All lesser minds. They by thee would be fed,
Poet incomparable! Avon's Bard!
Great Painter! to thy soul aglow with thought,
Celestial forms their glory did reveal.
Not unrewarded wast thou left to kneel
At Beauty's sacred altar; not for naught
Thy gift of consecration hadst thou brought,
We see thee pensive, radiant, and there steal
Soft shadows, mystic lights; th' angelic seal
Is on thy dreamy brow; thy soul hath caught
The essence of the harmony it craved.
Behold the Mother and the Child Divine!
What rapt repose! what majesty serene!
Thy spirit tuned to contemplation, laved
In founts of light. For thee we would entwine
The asphodel bright with celestial sheen,
O great tone-master! low thy massive head
Droops, heavy with the thoughts that fain would weave
Themselves in interlacing chords, that leave
Sublimest music. Inspiration sped
On dainty pinions to thy natal bed,
And warbling notes did all the silence cleave
As for a benediction; well believe
The votaries that hie where thou hast led,
In thy supreme endowment. Who as well
Can make the Orphic echoes? Thou dost muse,
And harmony, the sweetest, is evolved.
In grave sonatas rich with surging swell,
In matchless symphonies-- but thou couldst choose--
The mystery of music thou hast solved.
The Tireless Sculptor
E'en as the sculptor chisels patiently
The marble's jagged edges, day by day,
Striving to smooth all blemishes away,
Till-- when from ev'ry flaw the stone is free,
And naught save perfect contours does he see--
Embodied harmony and beauty may
Atone for all the weary hours' delay,--
So Life, the sculptor, moulds unceasingly
The soul of man. How often in recoil
The spirit shrinks, nor can through prescience know
Of coming grace and majesty. 'Tis willed
The scars should deeper be, until the toil
And chiseling are adequate; when lo!
God's all-unfathomed plan is quite fulfilled.
The Soul's Courts
Within the soul's courts is a temple fair,
And garnished with immortal bloom of light
Than em'rald star-sheen fairer. To the sight
It rises, dazzling as some vision rare,
That haunts the artist, ere it fades in air.
There sits Reserve, a maid of sober mien,
Guarding the sacred portals. All unseen
Th' angelic ministrants that linger where
She holds control. Within, a little space,
There kneels sweet Reverie with calmest eyes;
And Love all crowned with dewy asphodels,
Through green isles wanders in unconscious grace,
His face all luminous with glad surprise,
While from his lips transcendent music wells.
The subtlest strain a great musician weaves,
Cannot attain in rhythmic harmony
To music in his soul. May it not be
Celestial lyres send hints to him? He grieves
That half the sweetness of the song, he leaves
Unheard in the transition. Thus do we
Yearn to translate the wondrous majesty
Of some rare mood, when the rapt soul receives
A vision exquisite. Yet who can match
The sunset's iridescent hues? Who sing
The skylark's ecstasy so seraph-fine?
We struggle vainly, still we fain would catch
Such rifts amid life's shadows, for they bring
Glimpses ineffable of things divine.
The Venus of Milo
O peerless marble marvel! what of grace,
Or matchless symmetry is not enshrined
In thy rare contours! Could we hope to find
The regal dignity of that fair face
In aught less beautiful? We would retrace,
At sight of thee, our willing steps where wind
The paths great Homer trod. Within whose mind
Wast thou a dream, O Goddess? Nearer pace
Brave Hector, reckless Paris, as we gaze;
Then stately temples, fluted colonnades
Rise in their sculptured beauty. Yes! 'tis Greece,
With all the splendor of her lordliest days,
That comes to haunt us: ere the glory fades
Let Fancy bid the rapture never cease.
The Quest of the Ideal
Fair Hope with lucent light in her glad eyes,
Fleet as Diana, through the meadow speeds;
Nor dewy rose nor asphodel she heeds,
For lo! unwonted radiance in the skies
Bids her not pause. The silv'ry shimmer lies
'Mid blooming vistas, whence the pathway leads
To heights aerial. The glow recedes
As panting Hope toils on, while awed surprise
Fills her sweet glances; will the vision fade
Ere she can reach it? Nay, 'tis lovelier far,
Rarer perspectives open to her gaze;
Then hasten on, expectantly, glad maid!
The splendor still will tremble there afar;
Yet count this quest the holiest of thy days
An Ocean Musing
Far, far out lie the white sails all at rest;
Like spectral arms they seem to touch and cling
Unto the wide horizon. Not a wing
Of truant bird glides down the purpling west;
No breeze dares to intrude, e'en on a quest
To fan a lover's brow; the waves to sing
Have quite forgotten till the deep shall fling
A bow across its vibrant chords. Then, lest
One moment of the sea's repose we lose,
Nor furnish Fancy with a thousand themes
Of unimagined sweetness, let us gaze
On this serenity, for as we muse.
Lo! all is restless motion: life's best dreams
Give changing moods to even halcyon days.
On shinging heights where Thought with stately tread,
Leads on her willing votaries to fanes
Of holy inspiration, and Truth deigns
The radiance of her presence rare to shed,
In Solemn consecration thou wast led,
Spirit serene; and on the dewy plains,
Where Solitude in chastest grandeur reigns,
Thy musings e'en most daintily were fed.
Round thee winds played the choicest symphony,
And vistas of celestial beauty gleamed
Along thy pathway: so we weeping, say--
Though here with us thou may'st no longer be--
"He now has climbed the mount of which he dreamed,
Into the splendors of Immortal Day."
In Mem'ry's fairest court a shrine is set,
Round which the fragrance of a sweet life clings,--
The essence of such rare and holy things
As Love alone can sanctify. The fret
And turmoil of the world avail not yet
To quench the sweetness; for an angel's wings
Are ever hov'ring near, and longing brings
A vision loved that makes the eyelids wet.
Dear sister, in those realms of radiant light
Where thou hast grown to know a richer lore
Than that of earth, sometimes remembrest thou
The hours of our companionship so bright
With joyance? Ay, but we shall meet once more,
And at God's throne in praise together bow.
CHAMPIONS OF FREEDOM
To My Father
A leaf from Freedom's golden chaplet fair,
We bring to thee, dear father! Near her shrine
None came with holier purpose, nor was thine
Alone the soul's mute sanction; every prayer
Thy captive brother uttered found a share
In thy wide sympathy; to ever'y sign
That told the bondman's need thou didst incline.
No thought of guerdon hadst thou but to bear
A loving part in Freedom's strife. To see
Sad lives illumined, fetters rent in twain,
Tears dried in eyes that wept for length of days--
Ah! was not that a recompense for thee?
And now where all life's mystery is plain,
Divine approval is thy sweetest praise.
William Lloyd Garrison
Written for the Occasion of the Garrison Centenary,
December 10, 1905
Some names there are that win the best applause
Of noble souls; then whose shall more than thine
All honored be? Thou heardst the Voice Divine
Tell thee to gird thyself in Freedom's cause,
And cam'st in life's first bloom. No laggard laws
Could quench thy zeal until no slave should pine
In galling chains, caged in the free sunshine.
Till all the shackles fell, thou wouldst not pause.
So to thee who hast climbed heroic heights,
And led the way to where chaste Justice reigns,
An anthem,-- tears and gratitude and praise,
Its swelling chords,-- uprises and invites
A nation e'en to join the jubilant strains,
Which celebrate thy consecrated days.
A knight of "silver tongue" and stately grace,
Dowered with th' immortal gift of fearlessness,
Whose falcon glance bent to detect distress,
Perceived a brother in each human face,
And deemed the lowliest worthy of a place
In the world's honors,-- such was he. T' impress
Men's minds with lofty purpose seemed success
To this great soul; and to uplift a race
From depths of sorrow compensation vast,
For much life leaves unrecompensed. The seal
Of heroism on his brow more fair
Than leafiest laurel was. Deeds that outlast
The warrior's victories his days reveal,
And unto him we render rev'rence rare.
Thine was a brain of Nature's finest mould,
Great Sumner! and thy spirit-poise as rare.
Born-- not to idly dream but nobly dare--
With all the mind's vast forces well controlled,
Thou, like Olympian Jove, didst wisely hold
Stern empire over justice. Thine the care,
That right should rule, and wrong, however fair
In outward seeming, should be shunned. Untold
The influence of thy magnanimity.
Alert in action, sage in counsel thou,
A statesman truly, not alone in name,
Thy regnant soul spurned ev'ry false decree.
Honor was graven on thy shield, and now
We fain would honor thee with loud acclaim.
Robert F. Shaw
When War's red banners trailed along the sky,
And many a manly heart grew all a flame
With patriotic love and purest aim,
There rose a noble soul who dared to die,
If only Right could win. He heard the cry
Of struggling bondmen and he quickly came,
Leaving the haunts where Learning tenders fame
Unto her honored sons; for it was ay
A loftier cause that lured him on to death.
Brave men who saw their brothers held in chains,
Beneath his standard battled ardently.
O friend! O hero! thou who yielded breath
That others might share Freedom's priceless gains,
In rev'rent love we guard thy memory.
To those fair isles where crimson sunsets burn,
We send a backward glance to gaze on thee,
Brave Toussaint! thou wast surely born to be
A hero; thy proud spirit could but spurn
Each outrage on thy race. Couldst thou unlearn
The lessons taught by instinct? Nay! and we
Who share the zeal that would make all men free,
Must e'en with pride unto thy life-work turn.
Soul-dignity was thine and purest aim;
And ah! how sad that thou wast left to mourn
In chains 'neath alien skies. On him, shame! shame!
That mighty conqueror who dared to claim
The right to bind thee. Him we heap with scorn,
And noble patriot! guard with love thy name.
hyme of the Antique Forest
In the antique forest dreary,
Where the thrushes never weary,
Sang when Dawn with touch uncertain
Streaked with gold night's sable curtain,
Sang until the owlet muttered
At the faintest notes they uttered,
In the antique forest lonely,
Dwelt a pensive maiden only.
Was she maid, or sprite, or fairy,
Nature fashioned her so airy?
Wide her tresses, amber-tined
As if sunbeams through them glinted.
Reveries were calmly brooding
In her eyes and not intruding,
And her smile for every sweetness
Seemed to supplement completeness.
Had enchantment's wand waved o'er her
That the world lay strange before her?
Larks that cleave the ether singing,
Bore with song her musings winging
Toward the far unknown: would never
Stately knight or a warrior sever
Chains that bound one pure as sunrise,
Exquisite as perfect moonrise?
Rills within the forest glimmered,
Golden-green the leafage shimmered;
Grottoes dim with mossy ceiling,
Seemed some Dryad-haunt revealing.
Mid the tangled fretwork drifted
Hints of azure, zephyrs lifted
Fragrance from the strange wood flowers,
Dreaming in their sylvan bowers.
Lilies fair as snowflakes falling,
Roses Eastern climes recalling,
Buds whose liquid fire seemed vying
With the sun when day's a-dying
Blossoms diamond-tipped and creamy
In their heart's depth, all swung dreamy,
'Mid the forest trees emplanted
Where the light throught mazes slanted.
Stood the castle; fountains showered
High in air their glist'ning brightness,
Where the deer for every lightness
Leaped with noiseless footstep, staying
Oft to list to echoes straying
Through the court, as void of dwelling
Stray weird spirits sorrow telling.
Years agone these courts resounded
With the voice of eagle, hearts bounded
To the tones of love, eyes brightened
Under music's spell, mirth lightened
Ev'ry wasting care; yet sorrow
Lurks behind each joy, to-morrow
Oft belies to-day, and gladness
Seems projected into sadness.
One fair eve the Countess Una
Gazing on the sky where Luna
Dipped her silver horns, saw stealing
Through the woods a form revealing
Myst'ry in its pace; ay, nearer
Came a page and beckoned; clearer
Grew the light, and something told her
He had brought grief to enfold her.
At his words she tottered shrieking;
And full soon home bore they reeking
In his heart's blood, one who never
Quailed in battle now forever
Hushed in death. Sir Hubert, bravest
Of his kinsmen, yet the gravest,
Save with his bride-wife, when tender
Were the acts his love did render.
Soon there came despair to banish
A sweet babe, and grief did vanish
'Neath the mother-love enkindled
E'en to rapture; sorrow dwindled
To a holy mem'ry. Fairer
Grew the child and ever rarer
Her angelic smile, beseeching
Cherub mates beyond her reaching.
Yet while still her footsteps tender
Tottered round the hearth, to render
Joy unto the mother, slowly
Neared Death's angel and a holy
Peace came with the parting blessing
Una gave her babe; refreshing
Were the promises from Heaven
That to those who seek are given.
Sweeter grew the child, yet sadness
Seemed her comrade more than gladness
Called Bianca, all the fairness
Of the name betokened rareness
Of her spirit's chasteness, dovelike
Was her aspect and most lovelike
All her speech to those around her,
While a something weird enwound her.
In the shad'wy halls the maiden
Wandered lonely, ever laden
With her fresh soul's mystic dreaming.
Lore the still stars in their gleaming,
Taught her, and the rushing river,
Violets young and dew, the quiver
Of the wind-harps 'mid the branches,
And the sunset's golden lances.
And a gentle monk came teaching
Wisdom found in books, yet reaching
More the line of contemplation
Than aught active; meditation
On the sweep of moon-rays caught him
Fancy-bound, and! life had brought him
Inward visions; so his guiding
Made her dream-life more abiding.
As the years sped on, revealing
All her spirit's worth, came stealing
Something of that nameless longing
To a maiden's life belonging,
When the air seems palpitating
With Love's tender message; mating
Birds sing matins soft and tender;
All to Love the heart would render.
'Twas the magic sunset hour;
In the West a golden dower
Of rare filmy light was burning;
Radiant was the earth. Returning
From a ramble came the maiden
To her dream-nook. With sleep laden
Fell her drowsy lids, while thrushes
Sang amid the river rushes.
In the woods a knight was straying,
Lost in musing. Sunlight playing
O'er a mossy path invited
Him to linger. Birds alighted
Near him with their choicest chanting;
Sunbeams, like lit pearls, were slanting
O'er the water's wavy billows,
While the breeze sang in the willows.
Then the knight approached the bower
Where the maiden, like a flower,
Lay a-dreaming; there he started
At the vision; ne'er faint-hearted
Was he, but the thought came leaping
As he gazed upon her sleeping,
Was she maid, or sprite, or fairy,
Nature fashioned her so airy?
Was her profile; eyelids folded
O'er her eyes hid deepest meaning
From the knight above her leaning.
Then she raised them very slowly,
In their sapphire depths some holy
Thought slept; was she supplicating
Spirits for her mandate waiting?
Thus they met, the maid descending
From her dream-nook; and the blending
Of their thoughts became a prelude
To Love's symphony. Each fair mood
Of the one e'en was reflected
In the other, till perfected
Was their intercourse, revealing
Depths of rare and tender feeling.
And their days passed by in gladness
With no note of aught of sadness
In their life-song. So one morning
When the dainty hues of dawning
Streaked the skies, they went a-straying
Through the meadows, where were playing
Wind-lyres through the trees, and dancing
Sunbeams o'er the lake were glancing.
Came a stately lady riding
On a palfrey, near the gliding
Waters of the stream. She started
When the two she saw, departed
Swiftly with a brow of ire,
And to brave the raging fire
In her breast, the reins firm tight'ning,
Sent the maid a glance like lightning.
Then Bianca, pale and trembling,
Yet spoke joyous words, dissembling
Thus her fear; for on the morrow
Must the knight speed forth, and sorrow
At the parting made those hours
Sacred ones. Of choicest flowers
He a garland wove, the fairest
One to crown with buds the rarest.
Months had sped. Sir Guy was eager
To return, but battle's rigor
Held him, and the maid grown weary
At his absence, to the dreary
Forest went one breezy morning;
There, without a sign of warning,
Came the stately lady, sweeping
Wide her flowing skirts and leaping
To a height of wrath and madness,
When she saw the maid; the sadness
Of her aspect no compassion
Waking in one so by passion
Swayed. In harshest tones she uttered
Cruel words: "O be not fluttered,
Maiden. Is Sir Guy departed?
Go he must, the craven-hearted.
"I his wife am, lady fairest.
Though thy face be of the rarest,
Me he wedded, to me plighted
Perfect troth. Now wronged and slighted,
Come I all his sin revealing,
Sin that will not near concealing.
All the tender love he gave thee,
From his treach'ry cannot save thee."
'Neath the maiden's dreamy Iashes
Something gleamed like lightning flashes
In her sapphire eyes; then slowly
Lifting them, so pure and holy,
To the lady's gaze, all keenly
Piercing hers, she with a queenly
Mien arose, plaintively saying,
"Naught is left us twain but praying."
In her soul where sorrow mingling
With despair sent the blood tingling
Through her veins, arose a vision
Of the love that made Elysian
All the future; and the yearning
Of her heart, the sudden turning
Of life's roseate page, made sadness
Something e'en akin to madness.
Then the false one swifty glided
Through the woods. He she derided,
Dreamed not that the maid he cherished,
Felt 'twere best her love had perished
Ere it burst to sweetest blooming.
Now as day grew near to nooning,
In a boat to seek the friar
Went she, while the weird wind-lyre
Sent its plaint across the billow.
Bowed with sorrow as the willow
Bends in tempests, long she uttered
Wails of grief. Her gold hair fluttered
O'er the boat's edge. In the gloaming
Rose the convent, sea birds roaming
Flung their wild lament to greet her.
But the monk ne'er came to meet her.
For the boat was fiercely driven
On the rocks, its sides all river.
By the lashing. And the maiden
With a heart so sorrow-laden,
What of her? Weak, wan and bleeding,
On a crag she lay, sore needing
Much that loving hands can render,--
Ministrations sweet and tender.
Soon a fisherman espied her,
And he gently knelt beside her.
Lifting carefully his burden
With no thought of aught of guerdon,
To his hut he sped; the morrow
Saw her eased somewhat of sorrow.
Ay, her humble friends found gladness
In their task to soothe her sadness.
One rare day when all the thrushes
Sang, and 'mid the river rushes
Lilies raised their lovely faces,
While anon in shady places
Silence held her resign, the maiden
With her soul so sorrow-laden,
Sought a fav'rite leafy bower,
Jess'mine-twined, with many a flower
Decked, and when the sunbeams sprinkled
Sprays of dainty light, while wrinkled
Were the waves the winds were kissing,
Mute she sat there, love's tones missing;
While her heart was sorely yearning
For a lost joy and returning
To a past with rapture gleaming,
Sweet and fairer than all dreaming.
Wrapped in melancholy's mazes,
Who is it that long time gazes
At her winsome beauty, heeding
Naught save that rare face, and needing
But a glance to send him kneeling
At her feet, his love revealing?
Just a breath, and something told her
He was waiting to enfold her.
In his arms where all of sadness
Quickly died, a little gladness
Soothed her, and the list'ning lover
Heard the tale that sought to cover
All his life with shame. Then nearer
Drew he to him one the dearer
For her pain. Now all her longing
Found its balm in love's new dawning.
For he told her Blanche the scornful,
Was his cousin, and the mournful
Tale rehearsed of parents planning
Their betrothal, only fanning
Him to discontent and leaving
In her heart a scar; e'en weaving
Round her life a spell of madness,
While his pulses leaped to gladness
When he freedom found. The father
Seeing his distress, would rather
Break the bond, and so they parted,
He and Blanche the haughty-hearted.
Then Bianca at the story
Felt her soul grow calm. The glory
Of the magic sunset hour
Threw a halo o'er her bower.
Ring-doves cooed with matchless quiver,
In their love-notes; swift the river
Sped, its silv'ry cadence chanting,
While the liquid sunbeams slanting
Down the mountain's chiseled ridges,
Made the dells a flame, the edges
Of the lucent lake enkindled.
In this peace all sorrow dwindled
Into nothingness. Together
With the thought that naught could sever,
Now their lives united, gladly
Spoke the happy lovers; sadly
Had the past been spent, now sweetest
Music in their souls rang; fleetest
Were Time's footsteps and the hours
Idyls fair as fairest flowers.
Soon a boat the lovers entered;
Toward the castle where were centered
All their early joys, fast speeding
Went they, all the wrath unheeding
Of the low'ring sky, till pealing
Burst the thunder, and the reeling
Of their boat awoke a shiver
In their breasts as raged the river.
And the wind howled loud and scattered
Far the rigging, and the tattered
Masts hung round them. Then the maiden,
Erst so worn and sorrow-laden,
And rent with emotions, slowly
Drooped and in her soul a holy
Calmness followed Love's fruition.
So, in accents of submission.
Told she to Sir Guy that never
Could their lives be joined, yet ever
Would he know that earth's affection
Rarest grew in Heaven's perfection.
Then the lover, tossed with sorrow
At her words, seemed but to borrow
Strength to brave the tempest's power.
So e'en at the sunset hour
Touched they land and la! the mutt'ring
Of the tempest ceased and flutt'ring
Cloudlets edged with rosy fringes,
As the Sun oped golden hinges,
To step in to rest, sailed lightly
O'er the sky, and glowing brightly
In the East the colors seven
Gloriously linked, seemed Heaven
There to bring; the rainbow's fairness
Glowed with such celestial rareness.
In this splendor did the maiden
To her lover so grief-laden,
Bid a fond farewell; yet never
Would their spirits seem to server.
Then in anguish and despairing
At his blasted hopes, but wearing
On his brow a calm reflected
From her dying peace, selected
He a spot strewn with rare flowers
Where she soon must lie, and hours
Long as at a shrine he'd tarry,
And his burdened heart could carry
There its grief for that sweet maiden
Whom he wept for, sorrow-laden.
In the antique forest dreary,
Where the thrushes never weary,
Sang when Dawn with touch uncertain
Streaked with gold night's sable curtain,
Sang until the owlets muttered
At the faintest notes they uttered,
In the antique forest lonely,
Slept the pensive maiden only.
After years of battle gladly,
Though sore wounded, where so sadly
He had sorrowed, came he dying,
And e'en on the loved grave lying,
Yielded he his life. Thus never
Were they parted and as ever,
In the antique forest dreary,
Sang the thrushes never weary.
Now within the forest lonely,
Rest the knight and maiden only.
Fair Musidora starry-eyed,
With blue-black tresses floating wide,
And cheeks like tinted shells beside,--
Was seated in her tower one night,
Above the hills whose purple light
Merged in the moonlight's golden-white.
Her garments girdle-clasped, flowed round
By zephyrs stirred with leafy sound,
An amethyst her forehead crowned.
Afar surged the eternal sea,
Nigh, droves cooed in the bloss'ming tree,
And shadows crossed the gloomy lea.
But neither billows crested white,
Nor blossoms fairest to the sight,
Could woo her soul from thought that night.
She lingered at her telescope,
While through far worlds her mind did grope,
With something of unuttered hope.
The searching glass the stars had brought,
In answer to her earnest thought,
And fast the tiny thread she caught,--
Whose labyrinthine mazes lead
Through paths of splendor, rare indeed
To those who all their myst'ries heed.
She gazed and mused and gazed again;
Calm science yielded richest gain,
But could not soothe her nameless pain.
Then with a gesture of despair,
She clasped her slender hands so fair,
And raised her eyes as if in prayer.
How came the lady in the tower,
On gloomy leas, at such an hour,
When rarest beauty was her dower?
Her father was a knight so bold
His deeds of prowess ne'er were told;
And all uncounted was his gold.
A picture in her father's hall,
Gazing with pensive smile, was all
Her sainted mother to recall.
She loved Sir Roderic the brave,
And tender was the love he gave,
Knight great of heart, of aspect grave.
But one sad morn, in conflict dire,
When war was venting all its ire,
Slain were the lover and the sire.
She wrung her hands, fair Musidore,
She fastened up her bower door,
And vowed she'd see the world no more.
She bound her blue-black tresses back,
And nursed her soul, hungry for lack
Of love and bruised on sorrow's rack.
But sorrow nursed becomes despair;
So yielding all her heart in prayer,
She craved of life some little care.
And one calm dawn when larks began
With song, celestial heights to fan,
She left the busy haunts of man.
Up in a tower to scan the skies,
And woo weird Nature's sage replies,
She went to hush despairing sighs.
And on the night when science wise
Failed to appease her restless cries,
Sweet dreams slid through her hazel eyes.
A vision met her eager gaze:
A palace gem-set, through the haze
Of clustered star and planet rays,
Gleamed rose-resplendent, in the air;
Fairer than could with greatest care
Rise to the architect's fond prayer.
There, shone illumined pillars veined
With crystal tracery, and stained
With blood-red hues round which were trained
Rare purple buds and amaranths pure,
So fragrant, gods they would allure
A life with mortals to endure.
The dome upon these pillars lay,--
The constellated Milky Way,
Where bright-eyed stars 'mid snowstorms play.
The palace carpet was of flowers,
Fairer than e'er in Naiad's bowers
Were spread to woo the dancing Hours.
A fountain silver waters flung;
Through greenest foliage rose-bells hung
A-trembling where the zephyrs sung.
From arch to arch air-curtains slid,
The pure blue iris shyly hid
Pale regal aster blooms amid.
Through the calm silence of the place
Soft music stole with soothing grace;
Transfigured seemed the list'ner's face.
On high with all the myst'ry blent,
Eolian harps their sweetness lent,
And through the palace such strains sent
Celestial symphonies they seemed;
And Musidora fondly dreamed
Her angel mother on her beamed.
Three marble columns interlaced
With porphyry, the entrance faced,
On which these words were finely traced:
On the first column simply, "Sad,"
"Because," the second only had,
"Alone," was all the third did add.
Mused Musidora: "What is this?
Methinks it were the deepest bliss,
Apart from love's sweet smile and kiss,--
"To dwell within these fairy halls,
Where fountains echo to our calls,
And rarest landscapes deck the walls.
"But who comes here? I seem to see
A mortal: do my senses flee,
Or is she really like to me?"
A lady clad in spotless white,
With eyes like stars some frosty night,
And hair disheveled, rose to sight.
Where did she come from? Like a sprite
From fair fount rising, jeweled bright
With sunbeams, there she did alight.
She hoped her chiseled lips to speak,
Her countenance all shining meek,
Yet sad as one whom Grief might seek.
She said: "O stranger sweet of face,
And moving with majestic grace,
How cam'st thou in this saddest place?"
Then Musidora: "Know I not
How in this strange, enchanting spot
I came, but would it were my lot
"Within these halls to spend my days,
Soothed by the fountain's silv'ry lays,
And utt'ring naught save hymns of praise."
Then said the sad one: "Dwell with me,
Though mine the palace that you see,
Alone I cannot happy be.
"Saw'st thou the columns at the gate?
Those words I utter early, late;
Alas! They speak my tragic fate.
"Come, come and love me, Lady fair,
I will requite thee with fond care,
And for thee shall be all my prayer."
They clasped each other hand in hand;
Each would the other understand,
Her name would know, her native land.
Heart throbbed to heart as soft they kissed.
Silence was in that place, I wist;
The fountain even seemed to list.
The vision fled as morning broke,
And at the matin bell's faint stroke,
Glad Musidora slowly woke.
Up to the radiant, calm air,
She raised her eyes in holy prayer,
In thanks that life was still so fair.
And then the dreamer earnest-eyed,
Therw back her tresses, wand'ring wide,
Clasped close her hands and nobly cried:
"Selfish I long have been and blind,
My duty I can only find
In love and suffering with mankind."
O rare Narcissus! sunny-haired!
O mild-eyed youth of godlike mien!
O thou that sittest by fair streams,
And in their trembling, silv'ry sheen
Thy lovely countenance dost view,
Turn but once more thy magic gaze
On one who utters sad complaint,
One who will love thee many days.
'Mid sylvan haunts I dwelt of yore,
Where morning mists shone wondrously,
And fountains flung their diadems
Of liquid rainbows. Unto me
Each day was gladness; grottoes cool
With trickling rills and murm'rous leaves,
Lured me to seek their spacious shades;
But not for these my spirit grieves.
When Dawn in rose-decked chariot strewed
Pale gold down Twilight's violet aisles,
I first beheld thee: ah! how fair!
I trembled 'neath thy radiant smiles.
Thou pensive, glidedst through the groves,
While I, unthought of, with the breeze
In lightness vying--followed near,
Did not some spell thy spirit seize?
I sighed: naught save the wanton wind
Returned my plaint. Thou, peerless youth,
Back tossed thy amber tresses; glad
Thou sangst, for me thou hadst no ruth
Day threw gold arrows o'er the plain,
And glist'ning grew each vine-clad height;
Stars robed in silver tissues, paced
To solemn music, welcoming Night,--
Ere my sad soul could utter low
To thee its grief. Rememb'rest thou
That evening? All the lawns were bright
With lum'nous splendor; o'er the brow
Of you fair mount, the stately moon
Looked call-eyed on the sleeping world;
In the dim glades rare asters lay
On grassy banks, all dew-impearled.
On high Olympus mighty gods
Held carnival with matchless song.
Yea, earth was jubilant, yet I,
Apart from all the festive throng,
Told to thine ear my soul's complaint.
Thou didst not heed my spirit's moan;
Then pity now, O peerless one!
Oh! leave me not unloved and lone.
Gaze not within the sunlit stream
So ling'ringly, there but to see
What in my soul is mirrored: may
Not eyes of love thy mirror be?
Come, rare Narcissus! deign to smile
On Echo, nymph in sore distress,
Who ever, shadow-like, will go
With thee, till thou shalt love confess.
'Tis said I'm fair and love for thee
Will make me fairer, ay, as fair
As glorious Aphrodite, come
And let me kiss thy sunny hair,
Thy marble brow; ay, let me kiss
Thy dewy lips, thy peerless eyes.
One clasp from thee, one long love-clasp
Will change to joy-notes all my sighs.
Thus wailed sad Echo: but to all
Her lamentation naught replied
Unmoved Narcissus; and the nymph,
Sweet Echo, thus in love sore tried,
Was seen no more; but on the breeze
Her voice was heard, her voice alone
Was left, -- an answ'ring cadence there
Love thrilling still its ling'ring tone.
Antigone and [OElig ]dipus
Slow wand'ring came the sightless sire and she,
Great-souled Antigone, the Grecian maid,
Leading with pace majestic his sad steps,
On whose bowed head girm Destiny had laid
A hand relentless; oft the summer breeze
Raised the gold tresses from her veinèed cheek,
As with a dainty touch, so much she seemed
A being marvelous, regal yet meek.
Thus spake sad [OElig ]dipus: "Ah! whither now,
O daughter of an aged sire blind,
Afar from Thebes' pure, crested colonnades,
Shall we, sad exile, rest and welcome find?
Who will look on us with a pitying eye?
But unto me sweet resignation's balm
Suff"ring and courage bring; yet moments come
When naught restores my spirit's wonted calm.
"O rare dim vales and glitt'ring sunlit crags!
O vine-clad hills soft with the flush of dawn!
O silver cataract dancing to the sea,
And shad'wy pines and silent dewy lawn!
I ne'er can see you more. Alas! alas!
But whither go we? Speak! O daughter fair;
Thou must indeed be sight unto thy sire.
Does here a temple consecrate the air?"
"My father! grieve not for our distant land."
Thus made Antigone reply: "I see
Amid the forest's music-echoing aisles,
A spot of peace and blest repose for thee.
In solemn loftiness the towers rear
Their stately pinnacles; my eyes behold
The holy laurel decked in festive robes,
The olive pale, waving in sunset-gold.
"In the green leafage, tender nightingales
Are chanting dulcet harmonies meanwhile,
In the clear river's liquid radiance
The early stars, of when resplendent, smile.
It is a sacred spot; here we may shun
Dangers that threaten, and in sweet content
Ere we need wander more, a few short days
May in these hallowed shades be calmly spent.
My father! sorrow not because of Fate!
Perchance the gods may kindly deign to look
With glance benignant on our mournful doom.
Together thou and I, can we not brook
Th' assaults of stern-browed Destiny? May not
The fatal mesh contain some golden thread,
Ere it be spun complete with all of woe?
Father! my father! raise thy drooping head!"
"Immortal asphodels ne'er crowned a brow
More queenlike than is thine, my peerless child,
Calm-browed Antigone! an woe! sad fate!"
Then spake Antigone with aspect mild:
"My father! cease thy sadness! wherefore grieve?
Oh! let us dream that from the azure sky,
The gods gaze on us with a pitying glance.
Oh! let us hope a little ere we die!"
Anita and Giovanni
Through the dusky purple glimmer
Of a twilight sky,
Clear uprise the fountain's shimmer,
Jets of spray flashed high.
In the gardens zephyrs only
Fanned the myrtle leaves,
Through the hush of meadows lonely,
Sighed the golden sheaves.
In the vineyards grapes were purpling
'Mid the foliage green,
Mountains dim stood up encircling
Dreamy vales between.
On a bank with flowers laden,
By the Arno's tide,
Sat a cavalier and maiden
Musing, side by side.
He was strong-limbed, but false-hearted,
Lithe and willowy she;
Naught save truth could have imparted
Her expression free
From a shadow of dissembling,
Yet Love ruled her gaze,
And her veiled eyes mused, resembling
Star-gleams through the haze.
Unsuspicious was the lover
That the maid knew well
Of the wrong his smiles would cover;
So he begged her tell
Why she sat mute in the gleaming,
Heeding not his words;
Why her very glance seemed roaming
With the restless birds.
Ay, the lover's looks were tender,
Well he could disguise;
Yet there gleamed a tragic splendor
In the maiden's eyes.
"Giovanni, thou decevest",
Calmly said she then;
"If in women thou believest,
I believe not men!"
Slow she raised her long dark lashes,
Showing weird brown eyes,
Where a glance like lightning flashes,
Vied with calm surprise.
And her gaze, than words far keener,
Pierced her lover through.
"Canst thou love the fair Hermina,
And Anita too?
"Shall I tell thee of thy wooing,
O false lover mine?
How thou cam'st in capture suing,
And my heart was thine?
Shall I tell thee how I shivered
When I heard the same
Tender words to which I'd quivered,
Breathed to her I name?
"'Twas the sunset hour and slowly
Strolled we through the meadows fair,
While the vesper bell so holy,
Poured its pleading on the air.
O'er the waves the cadence trembled,
And the sky was golden-red,
And our loving words resembled
Lispings of the birds o'erhead.
"Ling'ring in the citron bower,
Thou didst clasp my hand in thine,
Placing in my hair a flower,
And `Carissima, be mine,
For I love thee only, only!--
Soft thou murmur'dst in my ear,
And my heart, before so lonely,
Gave its all without a fear.
"Last eve, 'mid the grape leaves sitting,
Plunged in tender reveries,
Gazed I on the moonbeams flitting--
Tinted crystals-- o'er the seas.
Sad the nightingale was singing,
And I caught his pensive mood,
Melancholy music bringing
Charms that cannot be withstood.
"Sudden heard I voices quiver,
Were they in the air or nigh?
Something made me pale and shiver,
Something told me thou wert by.
Did no pitying spirit warn thee?
Hope offtimes our fear belies;
Yet the nightingale gazed on me
With compassion in his eyes.
"Thou didst clasp her hand, false lover,
Place a flower in her hair;
O'er her thou didst fondly hover,
And I gasped in wild despair.
'Fair Hermina, thy sweet glances,
All my soul with rapture fill;
None like thee,'-- thou saidst-- `entrances
Love me, bid my fears be still!'
"That was all I heard no longer,
And I hungered for love's sake;
Yea! my love grew fiercer, stronger,
And I knew my heart would break
Unless peace came with the dawning;
So, resolved to break the chain,
I cast love away, grasped scorning;
Scorn can conquer deepest pain"
Then the lady paused: the lover
Blanching, called her name.
"Sweet Anita, do not cover
My best love with shame;
For I knew not what I uttered
In the grove, yestreen.
Love me, love me," low he muttered,
"Try me, noble queen!"
"Cease! false cavalier, thy weeping!
Love has changed to scorn;
That heart is not worth the keeping,
Would to two belong.
If the lady's eyes are sweeter,
Go! thy suit renew!
Who would win the proud Anita
Can no other woo!"
Meanwhile Nydia, when separated by the throng from Glaucus and Ione, had in vain endeavored to regain them.... Again and again she returned to the spot where they had been divided-- to find her companions gone-- "Last Days of Pompeii."
Breathless she stood, her graceful head bent low,
And dinty fingers round her chiseled ear;
The cherished staff held tenderly as erst,
When knew the tender heart nor grief nor fear.
A startled dove she seemed amid the gloom
And wrath of Nature wakened from soft dreams;
Yet her imploring soul's reflection shone
Like the rare moonlight over summer streams.
The ashes seemed to leave her fragile form
Unharmed, despite the fierce volcanic show'rs;
She listened in an agony of doubt,
Fair Nydia, lately twining fairest flow'rs.
Her sightless eyes seemed praying, lightly veil
By quivering silken lashes wet with tears;
The mystic soul that leaps o'er bound's had made
The child a woman, bowed 'neath weight of years.
Aglow with hope, with love-light luminous,
Her features shone pure in the fitful gleams
That broke o'er column, arch and fleeing slave,
O'er speechless gladiator and blue streams.
Expectancy's embodied model she,
The potent force of gesture all suppressed;
But in her motionless, intent repose,
The soul's arrested pleading was confessed.
The mountain lava-washed, raised menacing
Its peaks majestic toward the brooding sky;
And unappeared, the earth groaned piteously,
While multitudes aghast, fled cowering by,
But still pale Nydia stood amid the wreck,
In sculptured attitude: the broken lights
Shed magic radiance o'er her, and she gleamed
Like a chaste vision caught on starlit nights.
Blind Nydia! proud Pompeii's flower-nymph!
Child of rare intuitions, hidden sight!
Was it the moaning of the far off sea,
Or yearning love that chose thy path aright?
But though for thee, alas! none listeneth,
Type of devotion! thou immortal art!
Clad in renunciation's purest robes,
Enshrined with love in each devoted heart!
What art thou, Mignon, child of mystery?
A woodbird e'en in galling fetters caught?
Dwelling apart in charmed reverie,
Crushed by the weight of undeveloped thought,
Thou seem'st some weird, sad spirit of the Past,
Guarding a secret life cannot unfold;
Yet was thy soul's calm rapture lily-pure,
Thy heart's fond treasures bright as rarest gold.
Dim pictures of soft skies and orange groves,
Of marble statues with their pitying gaze,
Lured thee to musing; while the cloudlets built
An airy path for thee amid the haze.
Sweet are thy songs of longing; thou didst dream
Of sunny isles where no rude questioner
Shall need to ask of man or woman more, *
(*) Sie fragen nitch nach Mann und Weib-- Goethe's Wilhelm Meister
And no unrest thy weary soul shall stir.
What depths of sorrow in thy dreamy life,
Around which Mem'ry wove a subtle chain;
Thy ev'ry gesture, ev'ry glance expressed
Intensity of yearning deep with pain,
Yet lit by Hope's illuminating smile;
Faith hov'ring over thee, thou phantom bright.
Shed gleams along thy tragic path, until
Thy spirit's wings unfolded in the Light.
The Fisherman's Story
Draw a little closer, comrades!
For I promised you should know
How I found my little Alice,
In the storm so long ago.
Hear the wind? 'tis but an echo
Of the fury of that hour;
Nature seemed in mood defiant,
Proving well her utmost power.
Loud the tempest roared and muttered,
High the breakers dashed that night;
Stiff' and stark against the heavens
Stood the cliffs so marble white.
Many a storm I've weathered, comrades,
But a something strangely sad
Seemed to seize upon my spirit,--
Feelings I had never had.
In my window burned a rush-light,
And the curtains were half drawn,
While I gazed upon the billows,
Thinking of my lot forlorn,
Of my Jennie in the churchyard,
And our only boy, our pride,
Sleeping far beneath the surges,
Ever since that Christmas-tide.
Oh! the wind that moaned that midnight!
Never fiercer tempest raged
As I strode into the darkness,
Feeling like a bird long caged;
And the thought of human beings
Tossed perchance, upon the sands,
Helped me climb the rocky ledges,
Made me, clench my wrinkled hands.
Sudden as I turned the headland
There I saw what I had dreamed;
For the black hull of a vessel,
By the breakers sorely seamed,
Lay still heaving: all was over.
Bodies whence the life had fled,
Strewed the wet rocks. I, the living,
Stood alone amid the dead.
While I scanned the ruin closely,
With my torch-light lifted high,
Something glistened through the shadows
Like a star dropped from the sky.
'Twas a babe's eyes, large and lustrous,
And as if in holy prayer,
She with look of strange beseeching,
Gazed through her dead mother's hair.
Tenderly I raised the wee one
Breathing there amidst the dead;
How the wind shrieked through the cordage!
How the tempest ragedo'er-head!
Tenderly I bore her homeward
To the fisher's dreary cot;
Like a star her presence' radiance
Much has cheered my lonely lot.
Now draw closer, faithful comrades!
When I viewed the mother's face,
Who was it but little Mary,
Flaxen-haired and full of grace;
Mary, favorite of the village--
And I loved her somewhat too--
But she loved a foreign soldier,
And her life-work now was through.
So I brought the little Alice
To my hearth so poor and lone;
Now she's left me for another,
For a fireside of her own.
Happiness attend her, comrades!
For my strength is getting low,
And I would not grudge the pleasure
She may with another know.
Now draw closer still, my comrades!
Hear the tempest raging high!
Though the stars are veiled in darkness,
They are steadfast in the sky.
So, although our days are dreary,
Let us take what joy we may!
With the courage of a hero,
Let us live our little day!
From the sombre clouds fell snow
On the meadows far below,
On the river late so calm,
When the waves had hushed their psalm.
Through the softly falling snow
Something fluttered to and fro,
Gold light shimmered through the snow;
And a murmur filled the air.
Was it melody or prayer?
Like resplendent shooting stars
Radiance gleamed through snow-flake bars;
Through the silence of the night,
Said the trav'ler on the height,
"What can be that vision rare?"
'Twas a maid with golden hair,
Singing in the frosty air,
Ay-- a carol faint and low,
Through the softly falling snow.
Glad the shepherd piped at home,
And the hunter feared to roam,
For the waves had hushed their psalms
Folded in the ice king's arms.
But the echoes brought a strain
To the ear against the pane,
As the maid sang this refrain:
"Life hath joy and life hath woe!"
Through the softly falling snow.
Plaintively the weird notes fell
With a sorrow in their swell;
Tenderly the soft voice rose,
Speaking pain and yet repose.
Said the knight with hasty feet,
"What can be that music sweet,
Quickening the warm heart's beat?"
"Life hath joy and life hath woe!
Through the softly falling snow.
Thicker fell the snowflakes white,
Wilder grew the stormy night;
Louder, stronger came the strain,
Deeper with its sense of pain.
And the golden radiance still
Shimmered 'neath the ice-bound hill,
As she sang with deathless will;
"Life hath love: ah! be it so!
Through the softy falling snow.
As the swan's most perfect lay
Tells it may not longer stay,
So those flute-like notes seemed lent
By some seraph earthward sent.
Yet once more the calm voice rose,
Faint, but sweet with rare repose,
And the strain did not quite close.
"Life hath love," was all to flow
Throught the softly falling snow.
Annette came through the meadows
Where daffodils did blow;
A bonnie maid, a winsome maid,
With hat all drooping low
O'er eyes of wistful candor;
Did ever timid swain
Look in their depths, their liquid depths,
And hope for peace again?
'Twas sunset on the meadows,
And down the leafy lane,
With tinkling, tinkling, mellow bells
That made a soft refrain,
The drowsy cows passed homeward;
While in the orchard green,
The robins trilled their gayest songs,
All earth was glad, I ween.
A youth came through the meadows,
The squire's son was he;
He saw the maiden's rosy blush,
And thought none fair as she.
"Which way, O sweetest damsel,
Go I to yonder town?"
Quoth he: She archly showed the path,
With hat all drooping down.
Beneath the broad brim gazed he
Into her shining eyes,
Then with true grace said: "Thanks, dear maid."
And when the sunset skies
Grew dimmer, rode he forward,
Saying with gentle pain,
"Ah! what a bonnie, comely maid,
I'll ride, that way again."
Annette came through the meadows,
No unaccustomed thing;
And yet, and yet, what new, new song
Was it her heart did sing?
Was she the selfsame maiden?
Nay! not the one of yore,
For in that heart a siren note
Will ring forevermore.
Down in the dell,
A rose-gleam fell
From azure aisles of space;
There with light tread
A maiden sped,
Sweet yearning in her face.
Amid the sheen,
The lark, I ween,
Trilled love-lays to his mate;
The maiden sang,
Her joy-notes rang;
"He cometh, so I wait"
Upon the grass,
Soft! let her pass!
Bend back, ye purple flow'rs!
With fawn-like grace,
Hope in her face,
She nears those sylvan bow'rs,--
Where sunbeams glide
This fair noontide,
And tint each bending bough,
And many a fold
Of purest gold,
Enwreathes her marble brow.
Yes! he is there!
The amber air
Grows soft with love-notes, while
Such perfect peace
It ne'er should cease,
Illumes her eyes and smile.
In western skies
Rare radiance lies
Aslant from jeweled seas.
Tells not a tale
More tender to the breeze
Than he to her;
No thought could stir
The calm within her soul.
When life's a dream,
Does it not seem
That love can all control?
The gem-like stars
Through fleecy bars
Send down their ambient light;
'Tis Splendor's reign,
Before her fane,
Each suppliant kneels to-night.
The Tryst is o'er,
Yet what a store
Of love the maid doth hold.
The gift is fair
As moon-kissed air,
And bright as burnished gold.
The Enchanted Shell
Fair, fragile Una, golden-haired,
With melancholy, dark gray eyes,
Sits on a rock by laughing waves,
Gazing into the radiant skies;
And holding to her ear a shell,
A rosy shell of wondrous form;
Quite plaintively to her it coos
Marvelous lays of sea and storm.
It whispers of a fairy home
With coral halls and pearly floors,
Where mermaids clad in glist'ning gold
Guard smilingly the jeweled doors.
She listens and her weird gray eyes
Grow weird'er in their pensive gaze.
The sea birds toss her tangled curls,
The skiff lights glimmer through the haze.
O strange sea-singer! what has lent
Such fascination to thy spell?
Is some celestial guardian
Prisoner within thee, tiny shell?
The maid sits rapt until the stars
In myriad shining clusters gleam;
"Enchanted Una," she is called
By boatmen gliding down the stream.
The tempest beats the restless seas,
The wind blows loud, fierce frown the skies,
Sweet, sylph-like Una clasp the shell,
Peace brooding in her quiet eyes.
The wind blows wilder, darkness comes,
The rock is bare, night birds soar far;
Thick clouds scud o'er the gloomy heav'ns
Unvisited by any star.
Where is quaint Una? On some isle,
Dreaming 'mid music, may she be?
Or does she listen to the shell
In coral halls within the sea?
The boatmen say, on stormy nights
They see rare Una with the shell,
Sitting in pensive attitude.
Is it a vision? Who can tell?
Chateaux En Espagne
Ethel in her crimson row boat,
Floats amid the river reeds;
Dreaming dreams of nameless longing,
Little she the gleaming heeds.
Castles grand and rare in beauty
Rise on pinnacles of air;
Knights on royal steeds salute her,
And she listens to their prayer.
One with winning speech draws near her,
May not took a long delay;
So she bows her head in answer,
For she cannot say him nay.
Bows her head,--ah, yes! fair Ethel!
Now thy golden locks are caught
In the pliant river rushes,
And the, knight whose pleading sought
Thee to capture, is a phantom.
Where the castles in the air?
Faded in the misty gloaming,
With the love that thine would share.
Hasten home! sweet fairy Ethel,
To the cottage in the lane;
Surely when the years have vanished,
Knight and love will come again.
The Fading Skiff
The moon hung low 'mid clouds enshrined,
The waves caught in its sheen,
Dashed up the rugged cliffs; the sky
Wore a mysterious mien.
I watched a skiff, a fragile skiff,
From out my window's height,
Whose shad'wy gliding seemed attuned
To that enchanted night.
He did not know that I was there
To soothe my soul's unrest;
I watched the flutter of the sails,
Far down the starry west,
And felt my heart in unison
Keep flutt'ring with its pain;
Yet why uplift my dreary plaint,
Does the sweet moon complain?
He went to meet her in the town,
Grand Sybil, proud and fair.
He did not know that he had left--
Beside his raven hair--
Strange yearnings in a maiden's heart,--
A fisher maiden she.
But ah! alas! he could not know,
To sail away from me.
He said my eyes were sapphires rare,
He called my hair bright gold;
Then left me with this aching pain,
And the great world so cold.
Yet why complain? Is it not best
To have Love's gracious boon
E'en for awhile? I cannot tell:
What think'st thou, silver moon?
The Maid of Ehrenthal
Fair nights beneath the mellow moon,
Foul nights when Nature's wildest tunes'
The tempest howled, on high,
A maiden sat in wan despair,
Veiled in her shining golden hair,
And this her piteous cry:
"ye nettles gray, spring up, ah! quick!
My head's aflame, my soul is sick;
My love awaits the bridal morn,
It cannot come till ye be grown;
Of your sharp strands the robe to spin,
Ere I my only love can win.
"A bridal robe fine spun for me,
And then a shroud; whose can it be?
'Neath these green mounds my parents sleep,
From their hearts' dust your roots must creep.
So said the cruel master: woe!
That I must p'en be wedded so!"
From out the gloomy mine at night,
Weird spirits came, and ere the light
Played verdant on the hill,
Behold the nettles, robe and shroud,
By dwarf hands spun, with craft endowed
Such missions to fulfill.
She wears the robe, the master proud,
Pale in death's sleep, lies in the shroud
By hands uncanny plied.
No longer now in wan despair,
But roses in her shining hair,
She smiles, a joyous bride.
The moan of doves in immemorial elms.-- Tennyson's "princess."
Fair Mildred wide her lattice threw,
And beckoned tenderly:
"Come, glad wood doves, come, pretty doves,
And coo a while to me!
Come nestle fondly in my arms,
As hopes do in my breast,
That list'ning to your cadence sweet
May lull my fears to rest."
The doves from out the branches flew,
And nestled round the maid;
She whisp'ring low her lover's name,
Gazed wistful down the glade.
The postman halted at the gate,
Pale Mildred's heart beat high;
"Why comes he here instead of Ralph?
O Sorrow, pass me by!"
He quick unto the lattice sped,
She read, then cried aloud:
"Alas! my Ralph beneath the waves,
With seaweed for a shroud!
It cannot be! it may not be!
Depart! ye cruel dreams!
Depart ye doves, sad, moaning doves!
Your song a mock'ry seems!"
The orange moon rose in the east,
The flow'rs swayed in the breeze;
Unconsciously yet mournfully,
The doves cooded in the trees.
She wrung her hands imploringly,
"Ah! woe is me! I seem
To be unwaking; cease, sad doves!
He lives! 'tis but a dream!"
Little Fay's Thanksgiving
The squire sat alone beside the board,
So lavish with its sumptuous fare that day,
With costly glass, and shining silver decked;
But naught could banish gloomy thought away
From his deep musing. 'Twas Thanksgiving, yes!
Yet could he offer thanks with no one near
To join in grateful praises? Why to-day
Was he so utterly devoid of cheer?
What were the words the preacher said that morn,
Words that so smote upon his weary heart?
"Lo! as ye've done it to the least of these,
Ye've done it unto me." Had he a part
In that sweet homily? Then why alone
Sat he to-day beside his sumptuous board?
Were there no poor to feed, no famished ones,
To catch some crumbs from his abundant hoard?
And as he sadly mused a vision seemed
To lure him backward, for his Mattie came,--
His only daughter who had wed with one,
In whom his poverty was counted shame
Unto the squire, and he cast her off,
His child, his only child, and then she died;
And now, yea! all his gold he'd freely give
To have her back--so humble was his pride.
The squire woke and raised his weary head;
There stood the table with its dainties piled.
But hark! he hears the patter of a foot;
A low, soft tread as of a little child.
Yes! gazing at him with wide, wistful eyes,
He saw a tiny girl of winsome face--
Clasping her rosy fingers round a shawl--
Whose ev'ry attitude spoke childish grace.
"My wee one, who art thou?" the squire said:
"I'm little Fay and live with grandpa there
Down by the big elm tree," the child replied,
Smiling and throwing back her tangled hair.
"Grandpa is blind and pretty baskests weaves
While I sing to him," prattled little Fay;
"But grandpa's sick and all the bread is gone,
And so I've come, for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
"And Sallie Wayne, the girl who lives next door,
Says ev'ry one must have a feast to-day;
A great big turkey and some pies and cakes;
And so I've come-- you're very rich, they say--
And you must send my grandpa, o, a lot
Of goodies, and he'll eat and cry and say,
'Oh! what a happy grand,pa I must be,'
And then he'll end: 'God bless thee, little Fay!"
She ceased a moment and the squire rubbed
His moistened eyes, and kissed the trustful child;
And though the snow a fleecy curtain hung
About the windows and the wind shrieked wild,
He sent a bounteous store to that drear home;
For was it not that unto such as she--
The little ones-- we should do loving dent?
And a changed man from that glad day was he.
"Grandpa, I've brought your dinner, o come quick!
Cried little Fay who from a carriage stepped;
And then the blind man rose with happy heart
From the low pallet where he long had slept.
Oh! what a feast they had, grandpa and she;
It was indeed a glad Thanksgiving Day!
And as he raised his sightless eyes to Heav'n
In thanks, he cried: "God bless thee, little Fay!"
The Dawn of Love
Within my, casement came one night
The fairy Moon, so pure and white.
Around my brow a coronet
Of shining silver quaintly act
With rainbow gems, she there did place;
But when I turned my wistful face,
Lo! she had vanished, and my gaze
Saw naught save shadows 'mid the haze.
I felt a throb within my heart,
In which sad sorrow had no part;
Within my soul a yearning grew,
So sweet it thrilled me through and through.
A flute's soft warble echoed nigh,
As if an angel fluttered by;
And on my lips there fell a kiss;--
Speak! fairy moon, interpret this!
The Siren Bird
A little bird, a tender bird,
Flew singing 'neath my eaves;
Its note was one that in the soul!
Unrest and yearning leaves.
'Twas not the bluebird on the branch,
'Twas not the lark on high,
Sending delicious melody
From deeps of pearly sky.
'Twas not the robin to his mate,
Piercing the matin air,
'Twas not the dove in shady wood,
Pouring mysterious prayer.
What are thou, art thou, wee, wee bird
Bathed in ecstatic song?
Those burnished plumes, that siren strain
Must to strange realms belong.
'Twas Love came singing 'neath my eaves,
My heart's eaves, tenderly;
And this the burthen of his song;
"Sweet, may I dwell with thee?"
O mystic bird, come home to me!
Here dwell and muse and sing;
Lull me forever with that strain,
Fold me beneath thy wing!
Sang a maiden in a meadow;
O so lonely though so fair;
And her plaintive carol fluttered
Like, a psalm along the air.
Soon a youth came gaily tripping,
Full of fawn-like, airy grace;
And he heard the maiden singing,
And he looked in her sweet face.
In her lovely face so mournful,
Where her star-eyes gleamed with tears,
And he said: "Fair maid, take comfort!
For I've loved thee many years,
"Oft thou camest like a vision,
Flinging wide thy golden hair,
While thine eyes, so sweet, so holy,
Seemed to make for me a prayer.
"Long I've sought thee in the meadow,
List'ning ever, for thy song;
Thou art she, that radiant vision,
To each other we belong."
Light he tripped along the mountains,
With the maiden by the hand;
And I heard her joyous carol
Echoing through the summer land.
Love oped a vista rare with stars
That overshone a dewy height;
Glad-Heart enwrapt in dreams, saw naught
Save radiance and bloom and light.
The fairest dove sang in the boughs
The sweetest songs that e'er were heard;
Glad-Heart strayed reckless down the glade,
Lured strangely by the cooing bird.
Yes! strangely lured, till suddenly
The dove did moan and wail, and lo!
The stars went out in darkness: all
Was bitterness and gloom and woe.
Ah! haste, Glad-Heart, go back, go back!
The vistas are not bloomy now;
Veiled is the dewy height: henceforth
Unto the tempest bare thy brow.
Yet sweet, sweet dove, when life is drear,
Come chant again that dreamy lay;
O tender Love, send shining stars.
To light her soul, once more, some day.
My Spirit's Complement
Thy life that touched the edges of my life,
All glistening and moist with sunlit dew.
They touched, they paused--then drifted wide apart,
Each gleaming with a rare prismatic hue.
'Twas but a touch! the edges of a life
Alone encolored with the rose, yet la!
Each fibre started into strange unrest,
And then was stilled, lulled to a rhythmic flow
Perchance our spirits clasp on some fair isle,
Bright with the sheen of reveries divine;
Or list'ning to such strains as chant the stars,
In purest harmony their tendrils twine.
God grant our souls may meet in paradise,
After the mystery of life's sweet pain;
And find the strange prismatic hues of earth
Transmuted to the spotless light again.
She roamed the meadows long in hope
That in some sunny dingle fair,
She'd meet her youth with golden hair,
Giving to her some little care;
Alas! unloved she seemed to grope.
He was not there, in vain her prayer.
One morn she saw him; 'gainst her will
Her waiting heart did faster beat;
And yet he came not her to greet,
Nor did his eyes her sad eyes meet.
"O wayward heart!" she said, "be still!
It is not he! it cannot be!
"Ah! welladay! my dream is o'er.
I must the bitter truth believe;
Why still my soul with hopes deceive?
'Twas he! and yet the more I grieve
I love him better than before
Ah! if he knew, he'd love me too."
Sat a damsel on the hillside
In the fading afternoon,
When the Summer flung her roses
In the grassy lap of June;
Came three elves and danced around her,
Blithesome, sprightly creatures they,
Like the birds that soar above us,
Or glad children at their play.
Said the first one: "Damsel, follow!
With us to the forest hie;
Lisping streams will bid thee welcome,
As they mirror back the sky.
Sad-eyed doves will coo a greeting
As they flutter "mid the leaves."
Said the damsel: "Nay, I cannot,
For my tender mother grieves."
Said the second: "Damsel, hear me!
We have there a home for thee,
Where we've built fair jess'mine bowers
Through the sunny greenery.
We will dance at early morning,
And sing quiet lays at eve."
Said the damsel: "Nay, entreat not,
For my mother much would grieve."
Said the third one: "Damsel, Damsel!
Love is waiting for thee there,
With a wreath of shining moonbeams
Twined about his flowing hair.
He has taught soft flutes to quiver
With the music of his heart.
Little Damsel, charming Damsel,
Wilt not come and do thy part?
Then the damsel rose and followed
To the dreamy forest glade,
And a tranquil, rippling cadence
Was the only sound she made.
Had the lisping streams enticed her?
Were the jess'mine bowers so fair?
Or was it a mystic heart-call
That is potent everywhere?
O Restless Heart, Be Still!
O restless heart, be still!
'Tis thine by peaceful founts to rove;
Why comes the cruel archer Love
To shoot with reckless will?
Peace! restless heart, be still!
Calm, restless heart, so calm,
Thou ling'redst dreamily to wait
Where sang the ringdove to his mate,
A quiet, holy psalm.
Calm, restless heart, so calm!
Now, restless heart, 'tie done!
No longer under starry skies
Thou'lt stray with yearning in thine eyes;
And yet, poor fluttered one,
Is comfort 'neath the sun?
Nay! nay! but sure 'twere best
That Love should fold thee 'neath his wing
And to thy soul sweet snatches sing;
Yet it must be confessed
It is not surely rest!
O rocking boat, rocking boat poised on the wave,
Sway gently, sway gently; the bird to his nest
Is speeding, while Day with the airiest tread,
Approaches the wond'rous rose-courts of the West.
O rocking boat, rocking boat cradled 'mid foam,
Glide swiftly, glide swiftly, for there on the shore,
In dreams 'neath the trysting tree, murm'ring my name,
Is she whom my heart will enshrine evermore.
O rocking boat, rocking boat, low swings the moon,
The stars kiss the billows, I may not delay;
Draw nearer, draw nearer, I see the trees stir;
We're moored and my darling is mine, mine for aye!
Cuckoo, glad cuckoo, Oh! where wilt thou rest to-night.
Cuckoo, fly southward and find a new nest to-night.
Birds that are roaming
Far 'mid the gloaming,
Hie to their leafy home
When they have ceased to roam.
But where is thine,
Ay, and where mine?
Hesperus, silver star, glow in the West to-night?
Restless I wander and cannot find rest to-night.
Golden thou gleamest,
And ever seemest
Like eye of seraph fair,
Lone in the radiant air.
Fair evening Queen,
What may it mean?
There's a sweet singing bird comes to my breast to-night,
Fluttering strangely, builds there a nest to-night.
Cuckoo, hast sent him,
And swift wings lent him?
Hesperus, sunset star!
Comes he from thee afar?
Love is his name,
Me shall he claim?
Into his rosy chamber stepped the Sun,
Fair Venus lit her vestal lamp of gold;
A magic stillness did the earth enfold,
The coming Night a newer grace had won
Life is a glass wherein we dimly see
Foreshadowings of our devious plans and was;
Life is a glass. Lo! 'tis Eternity
That bounds the dim perspective of our days.
I saw a maiden, fairest of the fair,
With every grace bedight beyond compare.
Said I, "What does thou, pray, tell to me!"
"I see the good in others," answered she.
The faint-flushed buds awake within the cup
Of myriad folded roses yet to be;
Ere Life can drink its utmost sweetness up,
Love flutters, wakens, O how sweet to see!
When it is past -- golden moment--gone!
How we do rend ourselves, undone, forlorn!
The jewel left a moment in the hands,
We search, yet find it not o'er widest lander
What is ambition? 'tis unrest, defeat!
A goad, a spur, a Quick'ning the heart's beat;
A fevered pulse, a grasp at shadows fleet,
A beck'ning vision, fair, illusive, sweet!
But look a trial down from some far height,
And 'twill diminish to a speck in air.
Half-vision irks and frets. Let on the light!
The demon vanishes before a prayer
After the Storm
Sol took his nightcap off and gazed
Through cloudy curtains. At the sight
The mists fled scared to windy haunts;
And lo! the earth was filled with light.
At the Cascade
The waters rippled, gleamed and fell;
Sweet Jessie tripped adown the dell
She heard his voice, their fond lips met;
The rocks with silver spray were wet.
The soul that's fed on Nature is content
To lift itself in all-adorning love
Unto the Father who such glories sent,--
A shadow of the fairer joys above
What we to-day prize and most fondly cherish,
To-morrow scarce may claim a moment's reck'ning
Yet why adjust the cause? Let doubt all perish.
Can argument withstand the spirit's beck'ning?
The rose and gold and violet
Were fairest when the sun had set;
So when life's noblest battle's won,
Peace comes at setting of the sun.
THE PROCESSION OF THE SEASONS
To herald in another year,
With rhythmic note the snowflakes fall
Silently from their crystal courts,
To answer Winter's call.
Wake, mortal! Time is winged anew!
Call Love and Hope and Faith to fill
The chambers of thy soul to-day;
Life hath its blessings still!
The icicles upon the pane
Are busy architects; they leave
What temples and what chiseled forms
Of leaf and flower. Then believe
That though the woods be brown and bare,
And sunbeams peep through cloudy veils
Though tempests howl through leaden skies,
The Springtime never fails!
Robin! Robin! call the Springtime!
March is halting on his way;
Hear the gusts. What! snowflakes falling
Look not for the grass to-day.
Ay, the wind will frisk and play,
And we cannot say it nay.
She trips across the meadows,
The weird, capricious elf!
The buds unfold their perfumed cups
For love of her sweet self;
And silver throated birds begin to tune their lyres,
While wind-harps lend their strains to Nature's magic choirs
Sweet winsome May, coy, pensive fay,
Comes garlanded with lily-bells,
And apple blooms shed incense through the bow'r,
To be her dow'r;
While through the leafy dells
A wondrous concert swells
To welcome May, the dainty fay
Roses, roses, roses,
Creamy, fragrant, dewy!
See the rainbow shower!
Was there e'er so sweet a flower?
I'm the rose-nymph, June they call me.
Sunset's blush is not more fair
Than the gift of bloom so rare
Mortal, that I bring to thee!
Sunshine and shadow play amid the trees
In bosky groves, while from the vivid sky
The sun's gold arrows fleck the fields at noon,
Where weary cattle to their slumber hie
How sweet the music of the purling rill,
Trickling adown the grassy hill!
While dreamy fancies come to give repose
When the first star of evening glows.
Haste to the mighty ocean,
List to the lapsing waves;
With what a strange commotion
They seek their coral caves.
From heat and turmoil let us oft return
The ocean's solemn majesty to learn
With what a gentle sound
The autumn leaves drop to the ground;
With many-colored dyes,
They greet our watching eyes.
Rosy and russet, how they fall!
Throwing o'er earth a leafy pall
The mellow moon hangs golden in the sky,
The vintage song is over, far and nigh
A richer beauty Nature weareth now,
And silently, in reverence we bow
Before the forest altars, off spring praise
To Him who sweetness gives to all our days.
The leaves are sere,
The woods are drear,
The breeze that erst so merrily did play,
Naught giveth save a melancholy lay;
Yet life's great lessons do not fail
E'en in November's gale.
List! list! the sleigh bells peal across the snow;
The frost's sharp arrows touch the earth and lo!
How diamond-bright the stars do scintillate
When Night hath lit her lamps to Heaven's gate.
To the dim forest's cloistered arches go,
And seek the holly and the mistletoe;
For soon the bells of Christmas-tide will ring
To hail the Heavenly King!
THE SEER, THE SINGER AND THE SAGE
Rare medieval Spirit! brooding Seer!
Grand, lonely Poet! scaling heights divine
And lifting from grave mysteries the veil,
Through the dim centuries thou speakest still
In tones of thunder; and subdued by awe
We listen, for thy intutions fine,
Thy insight keen discovered motives hid,
And aim close wound in aim thou couldst perceive,
Unwinding minor aims in which 'twas wrapt.
Knit with the very fibres of thy soul,
Thy country's weal a cherished charge became;
And Destiny stern frowning o'er the land,
Upheaved thy feelings and inflamed thy speech.
Indignant at the wrongs that Florence bore,
Florence, thy well-beloved, thy hallowed home,
With stern denunciation thou didst wage
Against the law's lax mandates bloody war,
And all unawed, rebuked the false decrees
Of kings, of conquerors, popes and cardinals,
The pure "white flower" waving in thy hand.
Thy thought self-poised, self-centered, dragged thy soul
Into what depths of grief and deepest pain!
But to posterity thou didst bequeathe--
Despite the scathing of the contest fierce--
Thy reveries' illuminated page.
The groans of spirits plunged in woe's abyss,
The sweet repentance of the wistful souls
Climbing in patience Purgatory's steep,
Called thee to muse on life's strange mystery.
Before thy vision what fair vistas stretched,
Empurpled with the glow of Paradise!
Thou heardst in dreams the harmonies sublime
Of martyr glorified and rapturous saint.
And she, Beatrice the celestial one,
Who woke thy heart's best love and sweetest joy
Alone was meet to guide thy willing steps
From planet to fixed star, and onward still,
Above the splendor of the luminous stars,
Where blessed souls their orisons uplift
And isles supernal bloom with amaranth fair,
Up to the Empyrean's crystal courts,
Where Majesty Divine enthrones itself.
And soon the perfect Vision met thy gaze,
The mystic Trinity all solved by light,
Three colors, three reflections in the one,
Christ was reveals--the Human, the Divine!
God's plan for our redemption clear to thee!
And now, O lonely Spirit, brooding Seer!
So long in conflict, weary with unrest,
Within the beatific realms above,
Bathed in that Light Ineffable thou dwell'st,
O yearning Soul, at last, at last in peace!
The "Psalm of Life" for thee is o'er,
O bard serenest! on the shore
Of shad'wy Time, we see complete
Thy life, so rounded, fair and sweet.
Thy tender thoughts, thy soothing rhyme,
Like sweet bells ringing, e'er will chime
With much of hope and joy and need.
For thou couldt soothe and cheer indeed.
Like pictures in some stately hall,
Hung where the loving gaze of all
May seek contentment, thy true verse
May to each one some truth rehearse.
Who now can climb the Alpine height,
Nor see clear in the gleaming light,
The word that mystic banner bore,
That potent word,--"Excelsior?"
When dainty moonlight veils the stars,
We see framed in its "golden bars,"
"Endymion and Dian" fair,
While Love floats radiant through the air.
Shall we not oft at midnight hour
When silence reigns with mystic pow'r,
Hear loud "the old clock on the stairs,"
Its requiem mingling with our prayers?
When fierce the tempest roars o'erhead
And e'en the mariner knows dread,
Behold the little maiden fair,
The seaweed clinging to her hair!
Evangeline and Gabriel!
When woman's constancy we tell,
Her name in brightest hues shall shine,
Who made devotion so divine.
And Minnehaha! we can see
A scene of grace and witchery
When her we call; and then the grief
And pathos of her warrior chief.
When round the hearth some vacant chair
Is all the answer to our prayer,
We hear thee say, "Death is transition"
But leading to the "life elysian."
When "day is done" and misty shades
Are deep'ning all the solemn glades,
And sadness comes, who well as thou,
Can rest and cheer and calm us now?
We fain--the "architects of Fate"--
Would wisely build; though naught of great
May be the end of all our care,
We still will hope and nobly dare.
So runs our life with thine, sweet friend,
And now when all thy soul-songs blend
With Heaven's music, shall not we
Still sweeter rev'rence give to thee?
A Thought at Walden
(After visiting the site of Thoreau's Hut)
O sylvan priest of Nature! rightly thou
Didst read her lessons; on thy solemn brow
Was left the dew of morning, and thine eyes
Saw deepest meaning in the changing skies.
Thine ear attuned to catch her subtlest sound,
Heard quaintest music trilling from the ground.
The robin warbling on the leafy spray,
The lark upsoaring to salute the day,
Were more than simple warblers unto thee,
And e'en the tinest insect on the lea.
Nature, thy mother, taught thy spirit fine
The essence of her cadences divine;
And earth being to thee naught save joy and praise,
Made of thy living rare and wondrous days.
O antique city on St. Lawrence shore,
A relic, e'en a page of ancient lore
Thou art! Thy granite fortress tow'ring high,
Stretching its massive bulwarks toward the sky,
Tells of the march of war when nations proud
Proclaimed the force of arms in accents loud,--
The mighty cannon's boom; and valor rose,
While fearless armies ranged themselves as foes.
Here met two noble souls,--two chieftains brave,
Cast in heroic mould. Stern Fortune gave
To one,--the victor's meed; to each, a grave!
Renowned Champlain first gave these rocky heights
A name. Of yore full oft on starlight nights
The Indian war-whoop echoed round these plains,
And smote the desert shores with sad refrains.
Thy limpid waters, fair St. Lawrence, bore
Unchecked the rude canoe. Forevermore
In song and story will the red man be
A part of thy broad stream. Time unto thee
Will add fresh lusture as the ages roll,
And from life's warfare many a thoughtful soul
Hither repair, as to a pilgrim's goal.
Yet why a pilgrim's goal? Was it not here
That valiant armies met, and ev'ry fear
Was lulled in hope of conquest? Was't not here
On sunlit plains Wolfe's gallant troops drew near
And marched to vict'ry ere the morning broke?
Yes! e'en on Abraham's plains when courage woke,
The great commander closed his eyes in death;
But as he yielded up life's fitful breath,
And to proud England's isles the honor gave,
He claimed the poet's lines--this soldier brave:
"The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
A stately column here attests his worth,
And e'en the hero to whom France gave birth,
Despite he fell, shorn of the conqueror's wreath,
Not without glorious deeds within the sheath
Placed he his sword. His honored ashes lie
Where soft the vesper hymn goes echoing by,
Within the quiet convent's pious shade.
Such are the heroes that thy glory made,
O antique city by St. Lawrence shore!
And long as round thee mighty waters roar,
Thou wilt remain,--a page of ancient lore!
One whose majestic presence ever here,
Was as an inspiration held so dear,
Will greet us nevermore upon the earth.
The funeral bells have rung; there was no dearth
Of sorrow as the solemn cortege passed;
But ours is a grief that will outlast
The civic splendor. Say, among all men,
Who was this hero that they buried then,
With saddest plaint and sorrow-stricken face?
Ay! 'twas a princely leader of his race!
And for a leader well equipped was he;
Nature had given him most regally
E'en of her choicest gifts. What matter then
That he in chains was held, what matter when
He could uplift himself to noblest heights.
E'en with his native greatness, neither slights
Nor wrongs could harm him; and a solemn wrath
Burned in his soul. He well saw duty's path;
His days heroic purposes did know,
And could he then his chosen work forego?
Born to a fate most wretched, most forlorn!
A slave! alas! of benefits all shorn
Upon his entrance into life, what lot
More destitute of hope! Yet e'en that blot
Could not suffice to dim the glowing page
He leaves to History; for he could wage
Against oppression's deadliest blows a war
That knew no ending, until nevermore
Should any man be called a bondman. Ay!
Such was a conflict for which one could die.
Panting for freedom early, he did dare
To throw aside his shackles, for the air
Of slavery is poison unto men
Moulded as Douglass was; they suffer, then
Manhood asserts itself; they are too brave,
Such souls as his, to die content a slave.
So being free, one path alone he trod,
To bring to liberty--sweet boon from God--
His deeply injured race; his tireless zeal
Was consecrated to the bondman's weal.
He thought of children sobbing round the knees
Of hopeless mothers, where the summer breeze
Blew o'er the dank savannas. What of woe
In their sad story that he did not know!
He was a valiant leader in a cause
Than none less noble, though the nation's laws
Did seem to spurn it; and his matchless speech
To Britain's sea-girt island shores did reach.
Our Cicero, and yet our warrior knight,
Striving to show mankind might is not right!
He saw the slave uplifted from the dust,
A freeman! Loyal to the sacred trust
He gave himself in youth, with voice and pen,
He had been to the end. And now again
The grandest efforts of that brain and heart
In ev'ry human sorrow bore a part.
His regnant intellect, his dignity,
Did make him honored among all to be;
And public trusts his country gladly gave
Unto this princely leader, born a slave!
Shall the race falter in its courage now
That the great chief is fallen? Shall it bow
Tamely to aught of injury? Ah, nay!
For daring souls are needed e'en to-day.
Let his example be a shining light,
Leading through duty's paths to some far height
Of undreamed victory. All honored be
The silv'ry head of him we no more see!
Children unborn will venerate his name,
And History keep spotless his fair fame.
The Romans wove bright leafy crowns for those
Who saved a life in battle with their foes;
And shall not we as rare a chaplet weave
To that great master-soul for whom we grieve?
Yea! Since not always on the battle-field
Are the best vict'ries won; for they who yield
Themselves to conquer in a losing cause,
Because 'tis right in God's eternal laws,
Do noblest battle; therefore fitly we
Upon their brows a victor's crown would see.
Yes! our great chief has fallen as might fall
Some veteran warrior, answering the call
Of duty. With the old serenity,
His heart still strung with tender sympathy,
He passed beyond our ken; he'll come no more
To give us stately greeting as of yore.
We cannot fail to miss him. When we stand
In sudden helplessness, as through the land
Rings echo of some wrong he could not brook,
Then vainly for our leader will we look.
But courage! no great influence can die.
While he is doing grander work on high,
Shall not his deeds an inspiration be
To us left in life's struggle? May not we
Do aught to emulate him whom we mourn?
We are a people now, no more forlorn
And hopeless. We must gather courage then,
Rememb'ring that he stood man among men.
So let us give, now he has journeyed hence,
To our great chieftain's memory, reverence!
To Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, on her Eighty-fifth Birthday
We greet thee now upon this festal morn,
O Friend of Freedom! thou who in those days
When human rights were scorned and Justice slept,
Though loud the bondman cried, didst dare to raise
Thy voice to aid the lowly. Many a soul
Was roused to nobler thinking, many a heart
Impelled to braver doing by thy words,
And in the contest fitted to bear part.
We read, and lo! a vision rises there.
Who is't comes here? A hero crowned with bay?
Ah, no! a slave in chains, of meekest mien,
Treading with patient step a thorny way.
'Tis Uncle Tom, sad Uncle Tom! He turns,
He backward points, and what do we descry?
Unnumbered hosts in shackles, bleeding, torn,
To whom it were a blessing but to die.
Anon the vision passes! and we see
Another host,--a smiling, happy band.
The chains are torn away, and chants of praise
Vibrate along the mountains, through the land.
Such was the boon that thou didst help to give,
O noble woman! and as years fleet by,
Does not the thought of ransomed Uncle Toms
Moisten with tears of thankfulness thine eye?
For surely naught can e'er avail to check
A blessed influence: it still will live
While the majestic stars in solemn rhythm
Wheel in their mighty orbits. What could give
Such impulse unto Justice as the scenes
On thy pathetic pages? Who could learn
The story of that rare, heroic life,
And not with deepest indignation burn?
The nation's shame was lifted by the force
Of words like thine, far more than by decrees
Of lordliest statesmen in their councils grave.
And when war's din had ceased, and on the breeze
The silv'ry cadence of fair Freedom's chimes
Rang out in joyful measures, was the peal
Not sweeter for the work that thou hadst done?
Whose worth the coming years will still reveal.
So may thy birthday be all bright with bloom
Of happy thoughts, and from the stirring past
May sweetest mem'ries come of those brave deeds
For Freedom ventured. Lo! time speedeth fast,
And loved ones haste again with greeting glad
And as around they flock their gifts to lay
Before thy feet, our dearest prayer is this:
God's peace be thine upon thy natal day!
Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Muse of Poetry came down one day,
And brought with willing hands a rare, sweet gift;
She lingered near the cradle of a child,
Who first unto the sun his eyes did lift.
She touched his lips with true Olympian fire,
And at her bidding Fancies hastened there,
To flutter lovingly around the one
So favored by the Muse's gentle care.
Who was this child? The offspring of a race
That erst had toiled 'neath slavery's galling chains.
And soon he woke to utterance and sang
In sweetly cadenced and in stirring strains,
Of simple joys, and yearnings, and regrets;
Anon to loftier themes he turned his pen;
For so in tender, sympathetic mood
He caught the follies and the griefs of men.
His tones were various: we list, and lo!
"Malindy Sings," and as the echoes. die,
The keynote changes and another strain
Of solemn majesty goes floating by;
And sometimes in the beauty and the grace
Of an impassioned, melancholy lay,
We seem to hear the surge, and swell, and moan
Of soft orchestral music far away.
Paul Dunbar dead! His genius cannot die!
It lives in songs that thrill, and glow, and soar;
Their pathos and their joy will fill our hearts,
And charm and satisfy e'en as of yore.
So when we would lament our poet gone,
With sorrow that his lyre is resting now,
Let us remember, with the fondest pride,
That Fame's immortal wreath has crowned his brow.
Centenary, February 12,1909.
We lift the curtain of the past to-day,
And chase the mists and stains of years away,
Once more, O martyred chief, to gaze on thee,
The worth and purpose of thy life to see.
'Twas thine, not worlds to conquer, but men's hearts,
To change to balm the sting of slavery's darts,
In lowly charity thy joy to find,
And open "gates of mercy on mankind."
Long will they come, the freed, with grateful gift,
From whose sad path the shadows thou didst lift.
The years have rolled their changeful seasons round,
Since its most tragic close thy life-work found.
Yet through the vistas of the vanished days
We see thee still, responsive to our gaze,
As ever to thy country's solemn needs.
Not regal coronets, but princely deeds
Were thy chaste diadem; of truer worth
Thy modest virtues than the gems of earth.
Stanch, honest, fervent in the purest cause,
Truth was thy guide; her mandates were thy laws.
Rare heroism, spirit-purity,
The storied Spartan's stern simplicity,
Such moral strength as gleams like burnished gold
Amid the doubt of men of weaker mould,
Were thine. Called in thy country's sorest hour
When brother knew not brother--mad for power--
To guide the helm through bloody deeps of war,
While distant nations gazed in anxious awe,
Unflinching in the task, thou didst fulfill
Thy mighty mission with a deathless will.
Born to a destiny the most sublime,
Thou wert, O Lincoln! in the march of time,
God bade thee pause and bid the oppressed go free--
Most glorious boon giv'n to humanity.
While slavery ruled the land, what deeds were done!
What tragedies enacted 'neath the sun!
Her page is blurred with records of defeat,
Of lives heroic lived in silence, meet
For the world's praise; of woe, despair and tears,
The speechless agony of weary years.
Thou utteredst the word, and Freedom fair,
Rang her sweet bells on the clear winter air;
She waved her magic wand, and lo! from far
A long procession came. With many a scar
Their brows were wrinkled, in the bitter strife,
Full many had said their sad farewell to life.
But on they hastened, free, their shackles gone;
The aged, young,--e'en infancy was borne
To offer unto thee loud peans of praise,--
Their happy tribute after saddest days.
A race set free! The deed brought joy and light!
It bade calm Justice from her sacred height,
When faith and hope and courage slowly waned,
Unfurl the stars and stripes, at last unstained!
The nations rolled acclaim from sea to sea,
And Heaven's vault rang with Freedom's harmony.
The angels 'mid the amaranths must have hushed
Their chanted cadences, as upward rushed
The hymn sublime: and as the echoes pealed,
God's ceaseless benison the action sealed.
Exalted patriot! illustrious chief!
Thy life's immortal work compels belief.
To-day in radiance thy virtues shine,
And how can we a fitting garland twine?
Thy crown most glorious is a ransomed race!
High on our country's scroll we fondly trace,
In lines of fadeless light that softly blend,
Emancipator, hero, martyr, friend!
While Freedom may her holy sceptre claim,
The world shall echo with Our Lincoln's name.