Our patriot sires are gone,
The conqueror Death lays low
Those veterans one by one,
Who braved each other foe; -
Though on them rests death's sable pall,
Yet o'er their deeds no shade shall fall.
No, ye of deathless fame!
Ye shall not sleep unsung,
While freedom hath a name,
Or gratitude a tongue; -
Yet shall your names and deeds sublime
Shine brighter through the mists of Time.
Oh, keep your armor bright,
Sons of those mighty dead,
And guard ye well the right,
For which such blood was shed!
Your starry flag should only wave
O'er Freedom's home, or o'er your grave.
On The Death Of An Infant
Why should we weep for thee,
Since thou hast gone unsullied back to heaven,
No stain upon thy spirit's purity,
No sin to be forgiven?
Love watched thee from thy birth,
Fond hearts around thee tireless vigils kept;
And o'er thy tender soul the storms of earth
Had never rudely swept.
Thou art spared a fearful lore -
A knowledge all attain who linger here;
The changed, the cold, the dead, were words that bore
No import to thine ear.
Methought I saw in thee,
Thus early as I marked by many a token,
A soul that might not war with Destiny,
A heart that could be broken.
But sinless, tearless, gone,
Undimmed, unstained, who would not thus have died!
For thee then let these vain regrets be done,
These selfish tears be dried.
Go to thy little bed!
The verdant turf is springing fresh and fair,
The flowers thou lovedst shall blossom o'er thy head,
The spring birds warble there.
And while to shapeless dust
Thy cherub form is gently mouldering back,
Our thoughts shall upward soar, in hopeful trust,
On thy freed spirit's track.
The Dying Sycamores
A beauty like young womanhood's
Upon the green earth lies,
And June's sweet smile hath waked again
All summer's harmonies.
The insects hum their dreamy song,
The trees their honors wear,
And languid with its perfume spoils
Sighs the voluptuous air.
A gorgeous wealth of leaf and bloom
Enchants the dazzled sight;
And over earth and sky there smiles
A Presence of delight.
From yon sad dying Sycamores,
Alone a shadow falls, -
As from the ghastly form of Death,
In Egypt's banquet-halls.
Against the soft blue sky they stand,
Their naked limbs outspread,
And to the throbbing life around,
They murmur of the dead.
Spring, with her soft and odorous breath,
Hath sighed o'er them in vain,
Nor sun, nor dew, nor summer shower,
Awakes their bloom again.
Oh stately monarchs of the wood,
What blight hath o'er ye passed?
What kanker wastes your noble hearts?
What spell is on ye cast?
I watch ye where a thousand forms
With life and beauty glow,
Till half I deem that on ye lies
Some weight of human woe.
Sad emblems are ye of those hearts
In this fair world of ours,
Who live unloving and unloved,
Oh dying Sycamores.
To A Friend, On Being Asked To Write Some Verses
I thought the Soul of Song had made
This heart of mine her sepulchre;
For all her golden dreams had fled,
And I could win no note from her.
But when for thee thou bid'st her sing,
That spell dissolves her icy chain;
She slowly plumes her drooping wing,
And strikes her shattered chords again.
For more than lifeless would she be,
If thou shouldst bid her wake in vain;
And lost her chords, if still for thee
She could not wake one living strain.
For thee - that hours of deep distress,
And days of gloom with kindness lit,
Till half I blessed the bitterness
That gave me thee to sweeten it.
For thee - that when, despairing long,
I said, 'No friend has earth for me,'
Didst bid the tones die on my tongue,
And I could utter, 'only thee.'
For thee - that when my mother earth
Shall call me to her sheltering breast,
Of all I know wilt weep alone
Above my nameless place of rest.
But see! her wings refuse to fly;
Her chords are harsh from silence long;
Alas! thy gentle sorcery
Hath summoned but the ghost of Song.
She hovers o'er her living tomb,
She seeks once more her grave and chain,
As spectres haunt the midnight gloom:
Sweet friend, awake her not again.
If o'er the wind harp's gentle strings
The threatening tempest rudely flies,
It does not wake more thrilling strains -
The chords are rent, the music dies.
Thus is my harp, thus is my song -
I woo in vain its sweetness fled,
The storms have swept the chords too long,
The music of my soul is dead.
The Earth To The Sun
Oh Sun! oh glorious Sun!
The spell of winter binds me strong and dread
In the dark sleep, the coldness of the dead;
And song and beauty from thy haunts are gone.
The skies above me lower,
The frozen tempests beat upon my breast,
That wearily by its snow-shroud is prest;
And the wild winds rave o'er me in mad power.
At thine averted gaze,
Benumbed and desolate, I droop and die:
Life of my life! Lord of my destiny!
Shine on me with thy life-imparting rays.
Look from thy radiant throne,
And o'er this waste, drear and unlovely now,
Young summer's gorgeous loveliness shall glow,
And beauty clasp me in her magic zone.
Fair landscapes shall arise,
O'er which a sky of tenderest blue shall bend,
Where forest, hill, and vale, and stream shall blend
In beauty like a dream of Paradise.
And in thy living beams
The flowers shall wake, and every dewy cup
Shall send the homage of its perfume up,
And give thy brightness back in rosy gleams.
A full deep symphony,
The voice of streams, the air's melodious sighs,
Songs from all living things shall mingling rise
In one eternal hymn of love to thee.
* * * * * *
In vain, oh Earth, in vain; -
What heeds the Sun, if light or shadow rest
Upon the bosom in his smile so blest,
Or if thou perish in thine icy chain.
If from the shining host,
Like the lost Pleiad, thou wert stricken down,
He would not miss thee from his starry crown -
He would not mark one ray of brightness lost.
Then for the song and bloom,
The untold wealth of beauty, buried deep
Within thy frozen heart, in death-like sleep,
Oh! mourn thou not within thy conscious tomb.
On The Death Of Mrs, N. P. Willis
In life's freshness, and its fulness, —
In thy womanhood's young bloom,
While thy brow was all unclouded
With a darkening ray of gloom, —
The Angel Death hath said to thee,
'Thy Father calls thee home.'
And, as fades some lovely vision
In the morning's gathering light,
Or as sinks some unsphered radiance
From the starry crown of night,
Or as dies some burst of music, —
Thou hast vanished from our sight.
Far across the foaming waters,
From the country of thy birth,
From thy childhood's friends and memories,
From thy father's silent hearth,
A strange soil unveils its bosom,
And must clasp thee, earth to earth.
But the soft Spring sky bends o'er thee,
As thou goest to thy rest,
And Mount Auburn's green recesses
Soon in beauty will be drest;
And with waving leaves and blossoms,
Welcome in their lovely guest.
And when Summer all her glory
O'er that hallowed scene shall shed,
Then shall come the loved and living,
With hushed voice and noiseless tread;
And with tears bedew the flowers,
In that city of the dead.
There, where winds sigh through the pine trees,
Where the silver water flows;
Where the pale stars keep their vigils,
And the genial sunlight glows,
Oh, how calm will be thy slumber!
How I envy thy repose!
There, young mother, — with thy nursling
Safely pillowed on thy heart,
Safely shielded from the tempest,
From the poison and the dart, —
Ye will fade away together,
As the violets depart.
But not thus, oh gentle stranger,
Shall thy loved remembrance flee;
In the hearts where thou wast cherished,
The sweet memories of thee,
Like the evergreens above thee
Fresh and beautiful shall be.
Paul Preaching At Athens
Greece! hear that joyful sound,
A stranger's voice upon thy sacred hill;
Whose tones shall bid the slumbering nations round,
Wake with convulsive thrill.
Athenians! gather there; he brings you words
Brighter than all your boasted lore affords.
He brings you news of One,
Above Olympian Jove. One, in whose light
Your gods shall fade like stars before the sun.
On your bewildered night,
That UNKNOWN GOD of whom ye darkly dream,
In all his burning radiance shall beam.
Behold, he bids you rise
From your dark worship of that idol shrine;
He points to Him who reared your starry skies,
And bade your Phoebus shine.
Lift up your souls, from where in dust ye bow;
That God of gods commands your homage now.
But brighter tidings still!
He tells of One whose precious blood was spilt,
In lavish streams upon Judea's hill,
A ransom for your guilt, -
Who triumphed o'er the grave, and broke its chain;
Who conquered Death and Hell, and rose again.
Sages of Greece! come near -
Spirits of daring thought and giant mould.
Ye questioners of Time and Nature, hear
Mysteries before untold!
Immortal life revealed! light for which ye
Have tasked in vain your proud philosophy.
Searchers for some first cause,
'Midst doubt and darkness - lo! he points to One,
Where all your vaunted reason, lost, must pause,
And faint to think upon, -
That was from everlasting, that shall be
To everlasting still, eternally.
Ye followers of him
Who deemed his soul a spark of Deity!
Your fancies fade, - your master's dreams grow dim
To this reality.
Stoic! unbend that brow, drink in that sound!
Skeptic! dispel those doubts, the Truth is found.
Greece! though thy sculptured walls
Have with thy triumphs and thy glories rung,
And, through thy temples and thy pillared halls,
Immortal poets sung, -
No sounds like these have rent your startled air,
They open realms of light, and bid you enter there.
On The Death Of A Friend
There was no bell to peal thy funeral dirge,
No nodding plumes to wave above thy bier,
No shroud to wrap thee but the foaming surge,
No kindly voices thy dark way to cheer,
No eye to give the tribute of a tear.
Alone, 'unknell'd, uncoffin'd,' thou hast died,
Without one gentle mourner lingering near;
Down the deep waters thou unseen didst glide,
With Ocean's countless dead to slumber side by side.
Thou sleep'st not with thy fathers. O'er thy bed,
The flowers that deck their tombs may never wave;
To plead remembrance for thee o'er thy head
No sculptur'd marble shall arise. Thy grave
Is the dark boundless deep, whose waters lave
The shores of empires. When thou sought'st thy rest
Within their silent depths, they only gave
A circling ripple, then with foaming crest
The booming waves roll'd over their unconscious guest.
'Tis said that far beneath the wild waves rushing,
Where sea-flowers bloom and fabled Peris dwell,
That there the restless waters cease their gushing,
And leave their dead within some sparkling cell,
Where gems are gleaming, and the lone sea shell
Is breathing its sweet music. And 'tis said
That Time, who weaveth over Earth a spell
Of blight and ruin, o'er the Ocean's dead
He passeth lightly on, with trackless, silent tread.
Then, though no marble e'er shall rise for thee,
No monument to mark thy last long home,
Thine ocean grave unhonored shall not be, -
The coral insect there shall rear a tomb
That age shall ne'er destroy; and there shall bloom
The fadeless ocean flowers. And though the glare
Of the bright sunbeams ne'er shall light its gloom,
Yet glancing eyes and forms unearthly fair
Shall throng around thy couch, and hymn a requiem there.
Now fare thee well! I will not weep that thou
Didst pass so soon away; for though thou wert
Still in thy boyhood's prime, and thy fair brow
Undimmed by age; yet sad was thy young heart,
For thou hadst seen the light of life depart,
And Love had thrown his wild and burning spell
Around thee, and with deep, insidious art
Had maddened thee. Then sounded loud the knell
Of all thy bright young dreams. My earliest friend, farewell!
Day-Dawn In Italy
Italia! in thy bleeding heart,
I thought, e'en hope was dead;
That from thy scarred and prostrate form,
The spark of life had fled.
I thought, as Memory's sunset glow
Its radiance o'er thee cast,
That all thy glory and thy fame
Were buried in the past.
Twice Mistress of the world! I thought
Thy star had set in gloom;
That all thy shrines and monuments
Were but thy spirit's tomb.
The mausoleum of the world,
Where Art her spoils might keep;
Where pilgrims from all shrines might come,
To wonder and to weep.
The thunders of the Vatican
Had long since died away;
Saint Peter's chair seemed tottering,
And crumbling to decay.
Thy ancient line of Pontiff Kings
Was to the past allied;
And oft in Freedom's holy wars
They fought not on her side.
The sacred banner of the Cross
Was trailing, soiled and torn;
And often had the hostile ranks
That blessed ensign borne.
But from her death-like slumber now,
The seven-hilled city wakes:
Italia! on thy shrouded sky,
A gleam of morning breaks.
Along the Alps and Appenines
Runs an electric thrill;
A golden splendor lights once more
The Capitolian hill.
And hopes, bright as thy sunny skies,
Are o'er thy future cast;
The future that upon thee beams,
As glorious as thy past.
The laurels that thy Caesars wore,
Were dyed with crimson stains;
Their triumphs glittered with the spoil
Won on thy battle plains.
But for thy Pontiff Prince, to-day,
A laurel might'st thou twine,
Unsullied as the spotless life
He lays upon thy shrine.
For him might the triumphal car
Ascend the hill again;
No slaves, bound to the chariot wheels,
Should swell the lengthened train: -
Such train, as in her proudest days,
Was never seen in Rome, -
Of captives from the dungeon freed, -
Of exiles welcomed home.
When, gazing on the doubtful strife,
The Hebrew leader prayed,
The friends of Israel gathered round,
His drooping hands they staid.
And thus around the Patriarch's chair,
The friends of Freedom stand, -
All eager, though it falters not,
To stay his lifted hand.
And in a clearer, firmer tone,
Is heard their rallying cry;
From AEtna to the Alps it sounds:
'For God and Liberty!'
Byron Among The Ruins Of Greece
On what sweet shore the blue AEgean laves,
Where loveliness is wedded to decay, -
Beauty to desolation, - 'mid the graves
Of an immortal race, and ruins, gray
With the dim veil of years, a sleeper lay; -
And in his dream, Time's never-ebbing tide
Rolled back, and bore him to that earlier day,
When Greece was decked in beauty, like a bride,
Glory upon her path and freedom by her side.
Against the radiance of her azure sky,
Rose many a pillared fane, divinely wrought,
Whose marble forms defied mortality; -
There pale Philosophy unveiled, and taught
Her mystic lore, and waged her war of thought,
And all her bright and baseless visions wove; -
There Art her never-dying treasures brought:
He saw Apelles' glowing canvas move,
And at Pygmalion's prayer the statue wake to love.
Then came her bards, her orators and sages; -
Once more he heard those voices that had rung
Down through the vista of succeeding ages:
'The blind old bard of Scio's isle' there strung
His matchless lyre, and breathed the earliest song:
And now Demosthenes before him stood,
Pouring his tide of eloquence, that strong,
Deep and o'erwhelming, swayed the multitude,
As the invisible wind sways the wild ocean's flood.
Armed warriors too were there, their helmets gleaming
On deathless Marathon's green, sea-girt plain,
That now with Persia's choicest blood was streaming:
Thermopylae's 'three hundred' fought again;
Again its pass was piled with countless slain,
From the invader's host, as on that day
When Sparta's bravest sons had vowed to drain
Their heart's best blood for her. There, as he lay,
These glorious visions passed, in beautiful array.
The dreamer woke, - he rested there alone,
By that high temple whence had Pallas fled:
Where once she lingered, now the crescent shone,
And round him wandered many a turbanned head,
Treading in mockery o'er the immortal dead;
And conscious Nature there, as if to screen
The nakedness of Ruin, had ouspread
Her gayest flowers to deck her saddest scene,
And hung, o'er mouldering walls, her tapestry of green.
And many a Grecian slave to Turkish foe
In hopeless bondage bowed the unwilling knee,
And, all too weak to strike the avenging blow,
To rend the galling chains of slavery,
And write their names once more among the free,
But humbled in despair, unmoved behold
Their shrine defaced, their altars borne away,
By every plunderer, even the hallowed mould
Of Marathon itself, exchanged for foreign gold.
And as he mused upon her buried worth,
'Mid her fallen columns and her ruined fanes, -
That none were there to lead her children forth;
To strike with them, and burst their servile chains,
And with their blood to wash away the stains
That their great name on Freedom's record dyed, -
He touched his harp, and the enchanting strains,
The world was hushed to hear - and then aside
Bade Poesy retire, and made sad Greece his bride.
A fitting bride for one like him, who stood
On that high steep, where few have dared their flight;
Against whose name Time's all resistless flood
Shall dash in vain; who, through decay and blight
And desolation, dazzled with the light
That fast consumed him, where he stood on high,
Like a lone star on the dark brow of night: -
He sleeps upon that shore - a Grecian sky,
For a high soul like his, were fitting canopy.
Rest, warrior bard! Above thy head shall bloom
The greenest laurel of Peneus' tide; -
Genius shall come a pilgrim to thy tomb,
And for her champion Freedom turn aside,
To weep the bitter tears she may not hide;
And thy young handmaid, Poesy, shall shed
Her brightest halo there; and Greece, thy bride,
Shall give to thee (and oh, can more be said!)
A name to live with hers - a home among her Dead.
The Battle Of Life
THERE are countless fields the green earth o'er,
Where the verdant turf has been dyed with gore;
Where hostile ranks in their grim array,
With the battle's smoke have obscured the day;
Where hate has stamped on each rigid face
As foe met foe in the death embrace;
Where the groans of the wounded and dying rose,
Till the heart of the listener with horror froze,
And the wide expanse of the crimsoned plain
Was piled with its heaps of uncounted slain: —
But a fiercer combat, a deadlier strife,
Is that which is waged in the Battle of Life.
The hero that wars on the tented field,
With his shining sword and his burnished shield,
Goes not alone with his faithful brand,
Friends and comrades around him stand;
The trumpets sound and the war-steeds neigh,
To join in the shock of the coming fray,
And he flies to the onset, he charges the foe,
Where the bayonets gleam and the red tides flow;
And he bears his part in the conflict dire,
With an arm all nerve, and a heart all fire.
What though he fall! at the battle's close,
In the flush of victory won, he goes,
With martial music and waving plume,
From a field of fame to a laurelled tomb.
But the hero that wars in the Battle of Life,
Must stand alone in the fearful strife;
Alone in his weakness or strength must go,
Hero or craven to meet the foe;
He may not fly, — on that fated field,
He must win or lose, he must conquer or yield.
Warrior who com'st to this battle now,
With a careless step and a thoughtless brow,
As if the field were already won;
Pause, and gird all thy armor on.
Myriads have Come to this battle-ground,
With a valiant arm and a name renowned,
And have fallen vanquished, to rise no more,
Ere the sun was set, or the day half o'er.
Dost thou bring with thee hither a dauntless will,
An ardent soul that no blast can chill;
Thy shield of Faith hast thou tried and proved;
Canst thou say to the mountain — ' Be thou moved;'
In thy hand does the sword of truth flame bright;
Is thy banner emblazoned — 'For God and the Right;'
In the might of prayer, dost thou strive and plead?
Never had warrior greater need.
Unseen foes in thy pathway hide;
Thou art encompassed on every side.
There Pleasure waits, with her syren train,
Her poison flowers and her hidden chain;
Hope, with her Dead Sea fruits, is there;
Sin is spreading her gilded snare;
Flattery courts, with her hollow smiles;
Passion with silvery tone beguiles;
Love and Friendship their charmed spells weave:
Trust not too deeply, they may deceive.
Disease with a ruthless hand would smite,
and Care spread o'er thee a with'ring blight;
Hate and Envy, with visage black,
And the serpent Slander are on thy track;
Guilt and Falsehood, Remorse and Pride,
Doubt and Despair in thy pathway glide;
Haggard Want, in her demon joy,
Waits to degrade thee and then destroy;
Palsied Age in the distance lies,
And watches his victim with rayless eyes;
And Death, the insatiate, is hovering near,
To snatch from they grasp all thou holdest dear.
No skill may avail, and no ambush hide,
In the open field must the champion bide,
And face to face, and hand to hand,
Alone in his valor confront that band.
In war with these phantoms that gird him round,
No limbs dissevered may strew the ground;
No blood may flow, andno mortal ear
The groans of the wounded heart may hear,
As it struggles and writhes in their dread control,
As the iron enters the riven soul.
But the youthful form grows wasted and weak,
And sunken and wan is the rounded cheek;
The brow is furrowed, but not with years;
The eye is dimmed with its secret tears,
And streaked with white is the raven hair:
These are the tokens of conflict there.
The battle is over; the hero goes,
Scarred and worn, to his last repose.
He has won the day, he has conquered Doom,
He has sunk unknown to his nameless tomb.
For the victor's glory no voices plead,
Fame has no echo, and earth no meed.
But the guardian angels are hovering near;
They have watched unseen o'er the conflict here,
And they bear him now, on their wings away,
To a realm of peace, — to a cloudless day.
Ended now is the earthly strife,
And his brow is crowned with the Crown of Life.