An Apology For Sadness
When, in the miser's eager gaze,
His countless treasures lie,
Then most his coward spirit sinks,
With dread of poverty.
And when I felt within my grasp,
The treasure of thy love;
The insatiate avarice of the heart
Fierce with my spirit strove.
It troubled the clear fountain where
My thirsting soul had quaffed,
And mingled tears of bitterness
With the delicious draft.
Lines On Reading Some Verse Entitles 'A Farewell To Love'
Oh, stern indeed must be that minstrel's heart,
In the world's dusty highway doomed to move,
Who with life's sunshine and its flowers can part,
Who strikes his harp, and sings, Farewell to Love!
To Love! that beam that colors all our light,
As the red rays illume the light of day;
Whose rose-hue, once extinguished from the sight,
Leaves the life-landscape of a dull, cold gray.
To Love! the ethereal, the Promethean spirit,
That bids this dust with life divine be moved;
The only memory that we still inherit
Of the lost Eden where our parents roved.
Oh, hopeless bard, recall that farewell strain,
Nor from thy beast let this fond faith depart;
Recall that utterance of thy cold disdain,
Thy doubt of Love, the atheism of the heart.
And on the altar reared within thy soul,
Let the rekindled flame again aspire
And guard it round by all things beautiful,
As vestal forms watched o'er the sacred fire; -
That fire that once extinguished on the shrine,
Gave fearful sign of coming woe to Rome,
As the quenched brightness of this light divine
Forebodes to thee a dark and loveless doom.
A Farewell To Ole Bull
There was a fountain in my heart
Whose deeps had not been stirred;
A thirst for music in my soul
My ear had never heard; -
A feeling of the incomplete
To all bright things allied;
A sense of something beautiful,
But, waked beneath thy master-hand,
Those trembling chords have given
A foretaste of that deep, full life
That I shall know in Heaven.
In that resistless spell, for once,
The vulture of Unrest,
That whets its beak upon my heart,
Lies, charmed, within my breast.
Pale Memory and flushed Hope forget;
Ambition sinks to sleep;
And o'er my spirit falls a bliss
So perfect that I weep.
Oh, Stranger! though thy Farewell notes
Now on the breeze may sigh,
Yet, treasured in our thrilling hearts,
Their echo shall not die.
Thou'st brought us from thy Northern home
Old Norway's forest tones,
Wild melodies from ancient lands,
Of palaces and thrones.
Take back the 'Prairie's Solitude,'
The voice of that dry sea,
Whose billowy breast is dyed with flowers,
Made audible by thee.
Take back with thee what ne'er before
To Music's voice was given,
The anthem that 'Niagara' chaunts
Unceasingly to Heaven; -
The spirit of a People waked
By Freedom's battle cry;
The 'Memory of their Washington,'
Their song of victory.
Take back with thee a loftier Fame,
A prouder niche in Art,
Fresh laurels from our virgin soil,
And - take a Nation's heart!
A Thought By The Sea-Shore
'Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.'
Bury me by the sea,
When on my heart the hand of Death is press'd.
If the soul lingers ere she join the bless'd,
And haunts awhile her clay,
Then 'mid the forest shades I would not lie,
For the green leaves, like me, would droop and die.
Nor 'mid the homes of men,
The haunts of busy life, would I be laid:
There ever was I lone, and my vexed shade
Would sleep unquiet then:
The surging tide of life might overwhelm
The shadowy boundaries of the silent realm.
No sculptured marble pile,
To bear my name, be reared upon my breast, —
Beneath its weight my free soul would not rest;
But let the blue sky smile,
The changeless stars look lovingly on me,
And let me sleep beside this sounding sea —
This ever-beating heart
Of the great Universe; here would the soul
Plume her soiled pinions for the final goal,
Ere she should thence depart, —
Here would she fit her for the high abode, —
Here, by the sea, she would be nearer God.
I feel His presence now,
Thou mightiest of his vassals, as I stand
And watch beside thee on the sparkling sand,
Thy crested billows bow;
And, as thy solemn chant swells through the air,
My spirit, awed, joins in thy ceaseless prayer.
Life's fitful fever o'er,
Here then would I repose, majestic sea;
E'en now faint glimpses of eternity
Come o'er me on thy shore:
My thoughts from thee to highest themes are given,
As thy deep distant blue is lost in Heaven.
To what bright world afar didst thou belong,
Thou whose pure soul seemed not of mortal birth?
From what fair clime of flowers and love and song,
Cam'st thou, a star beam to our shadowed earth?
What hadst thou done, sweet spirit in that sphere,
That thou wert banished here?
Here, where our blossoms early fade and die,
Where autumn frosts despoil our loveliest bowers,
Where song goes up to heaven an anguished cry
From wounded hearts, like perfume from crushed flowers;
Where Love despairing waits and weeps in vain,
His Psyche to regain.
Thou cam'st not unattended on thy way; -
Spirits of grace and beauty, joy and love,
Were with thee ever, bearing each some ray
From the far home that thou hadst left above;
And ever at thy side, upon our sight
Gleamed forth their wings of light.
We heard their voices in the gushing song
That rose like incense from thy poet heart;
We saw the footsteps of the shining throng
Glancing upon thy pathway, high apart,
Where in thy radiance thou didst walk the earth,
Thou child of glorious birth.
But the way lengthened and the song grew sad,
Breathing those tones that find no echo here;
Aspiring, soaring, but no longer glad,
Its mournful music fell upon the ear:
'Twas the home-sickness of a soul that sighs
For its own native skies.
Then he that to earth's children comes at last,
The angel-messenger, white-robed and pale,
Upon thy soul his sweet oblivion cast,
And bore thee gently through the shadowy vale,
The fleeting years of thy brief exile o'er,
Home to the blissful shore.
As once I dreamed, methought I strayed
Within a snow-clad mountain's shade;
From whose far height the silence bore
One charméd word, 'Excelsior!'
And, as upon my soul it fell,
It bound me with a fearful spell;
It shut the sweet vale from my sight,
And called me up that dazzling height.
I could not choose but heed its tone,
And climb that dreary path alone;
And now around me hung the gloom,
Where the storm-spirit makes his home.
Upon my head the tempests beat;
Dark caverns opened at my feet;
The thunders rolled, the lightnings flashed
And fierce the swollen torrents dashed.
'Twas gained, that mountain's stormy pass;
But, chilled beside a _mer de glace,_
My heavy heart in vain would soar, -
The heart hears not 'Excelsior!'
The heart's home is the vale below,
Where kind words greet, where fond eyes glow;
It withers 'neath those frozen skies,
Where the aspiring thought would rise.
Above me the eternal snows
In the cold sunlight's glare arose,
And a dread Presence seemed to brood
O'er the appalling solitude.
But now, on that unquiet dream,
Did one of stateliest aspect beam;
Whose brow thought's kingly impress bore,
Whose soul thrilled to 'Excelsior!'
Though but one moment o'er my way
Did the bright form beside me stay;
In that pale brow and speaking eye,
Methought I saw _my Destiny!_
And as, far up the heaven-crowned height,
Thou seem'dst to vanish from my sight;
Thine image yet beside me stood,
And filled the voiceless solitude.
No longer drear that mountain waste.
For o'er its snows thy steps had passed;
No longer dread, in upper air,
That mountain's crest, for thou wert there!
As when untaught and blind,
To the mute stone the pagan bows his knee,
Spirit of Love! phantom of my own mind!
So have I worshipped thee!
When first a laughing child,
I gazed on nature with a wondering eye,
I learned of her in calm and tempest wild,
This thirst for sympathy.
I saw the flowers appear,
And spread their petals out to meet the sun,
The dew-drops on their glistening leaves draw near
And mingle into one.
And if a harp was stirred
By the soft pulses of some wandering sound,
Attuned to the same key, then I have heard
Its chords untouched respond.
Fast through the vaulted sky,
Giving no sound or light, when storms were loud,
I saw the electric cloud in silence fly, -
Seeking its sister cloud.
I saw the winds, the sea,
And all the hosts of heaven in bright array,
Governed by this sweet law of sympathy,
Roll on their destined way.
And then my spirit pined,
And, like the sea-shell for its parent sea,
Moaned for those kindred souls it could not find,
And panted to be free.
And then came wild despair,
And laid her palsying hand upon my soul,
And her dread ministers were with her there,
The dagger and the bowl.
Oh God of life and light,
Thou who didst stay my hand in that dread hour,
Thou who didst save me in that fearful night,
Of maddening passion's power!
Before thy throne I bow;
I tear my worshipped idols from their shrine;
I give to thee, though bruised and aching now,
This heart, - oh! make it thine.
I've sought to fill in vain
Its lonely, silent depths with human love:
Help me to cast away each earthly claim
And rise to thee above.
Lines To Frederika Bremer
'Hereafter, when I no more belong to earth, I should love to return to
it as a spirit, and impart to men the deepest of that which I have
suffered and enjoyed, lived and loved. And no one need fear me; should
I come in the midnight hour to a striving and unquiet spirit, it would
be only to make it more quiet, its night-lamp burn more brightly, and
myself its friend and sister.' - _Miss Bremmer's Letter. _
Hereafter! - nay, thou has thy wish e'en here;
To many a striving spirit dost thou come,
Sweet lady, from thy far-off northern home,
Like a blest presence from another sphere,
And love and faith, the night-lamps of the soul,
Have burned with brighter flame at thy control.
A friend and sister art thou now to those
Who weep o'erburdened with life's weary load,
And faint and toil-worn tread the desert road;
To them thou beckonest from thy high repose:
Thou'st gained that steep where endless day appears,
That faith whose followers are baptized with tears.
There came no voices from thy distant shore;
We heard no echo of thy country's lyres,
We saw no gleaming of her household fires;
A cloud had hung thy land and language o'er,
Until thy pictured thoughts broke on our eyes
Like an Aurora of thy native skies.
Thy name is loved through all our fair wide land:
Where the log-cabins of our western woods
Are scattered through the dim old solitudes,
Where, glowing with young life, our cities stand,
There go thy white-winged messengers, as went
Of old the angels to the patriarch's tent.
My harp is tuneless and unknown to fame;
A few weak chords, alas! chance-strung and frail,
O'er which sweeps fitfully the passing gale.
Would it indeed were worthier of its theme,
That it might bear across the distant sea
The homage of unnumbered hearts to thee.
Why mounts my blood to cheek and brow,
Like an ascending flame,
Whene'er from careless lips I hear
The accents of thy name?
Why, when my idle fancy seeks
Some pictured form to trace,
Beneath my pencil still will grow
The features of thy face?
Why comes thy haunting shadow thus
Between the world and me,
To bind my spirit with a charm
That blinds to all but thee?
To bid me watch thine upward course,
Thy path from mine so far;
As earth, 'mid all the hosts of heaven,
Watches the polar star?
Thy cold and polished courtesy,
Each look and tone of thine,
Might well have roused the woman's pride
In duller souls than mine.
They tell me, too, thy heart is light, -
That more than once thou'st loved;
And 'mid all flowers of loveliness
That bee-like thou hast roved.
Why is it, then, while o'er thy heart
There comes no thought of me,
The good, the true, the beautiful,
All speak to me of thee?
Think'st thou 'tis what the world calls love,
Love that return is seeking?
No - I would scorn a love I sought,
Although my heart were breaking.
It is because within the human heart
There is an altar to an _Unknown God,_
Who from the gods of this world dwells apart,
And in the Unseen, the Unreal, has his abode.
This disembodied thought the soul pursues,
And seeking in the visible a sign,
She moulds an image, like the apostate Jews,
And sets her idol on the vacant shrine.
Thus worshipped once an Indian maid the sun;
Thus was an Arab boy won by a star;
Thus loved a maid of France the god in stone;
And thus did Numa love a shape of air.
What were the sun, the star, the god, to them,
The fond idolators! thou art to me;
And rapturous as a poet's earliest dream,
Is the sweet worship that I give to thee.
The world around me is so dark and cold,
Life hath for me such draughts of bitter sadness,
Oh, bid me not the mocking Real behold!
Oh, wake me not from this delicious madness!
To The Memory Of Channing
Those spirits God ordained,
To stand the watchmen on the outer wall,
Upon whose souls the beams of truth first fall;
They who reveal the ideal, the unattained,
And to their age, in stirring tones, and high,
Speak out for God, Truth, Man, and Liberty -
Such prophets, do they die?
When dust to dust returns,
And the freed spirit seeks again its God,
To those with whom the blessed ones have trod;
Are they then lost? No, still their spirit burns
And quickens in the race; the life they give,
Humanity receives, and they survive,
While Hope and Virtue live.
The landmarks of their age,
High Priests, Kings of the realm of mind, are they,
A realm unbounded as posterity;
The hopeful future is their heritage;
Their words of truth, of love, and faith sublime,
To a dark world of doubt, despair, and crime,
Re-echo through all time.
Such kindling words are thine,
Thou, o'er whose tomb the requiem soundeth still,
Thou from whose lips the silvery tones yet thrill
In many a bosom, waking life divine;
And since thy Master to the world gave token
That for Love's faith the creed of fear was broken,
None higher have been spoken.
Thy reverent eye could see,
Though sinful, weak, and wedded to the clod,
The angel soul still as the child of God,
Heir of His love, born to high destiny:
Not for thy country, creed, or sect speak'st thou,
But him who bears God's image on his brow
Thy _brother_, high or low.
Great teachers formed thy youth,
As thou didst stand upon thy native shore,
In the calm sunshine, in the ocean's roar;
Nature and God spoke with thee, and the truth,
That o'er thy spirit then in radiance streamed,
And in thy life so calmly, brightly beamed,
Shall still shine on undimmed.
Ages agone, like thee,
The faméd Greek with kindling aspect stood,
And blent his eloquence with the wind and flood,
By the blue waters of the Egean Sea;
But he heard not their everlasting hymn;
His lofty soul with error's cloud was dim,
And thy great teachers spake not unto him.
A sad, sweet dream; it fell upon my soul
When song and thought first woke their echoes there,
Swaying my spirit to its wild control,
And with the shadow of a fond despair
Darkening the fountain of my young life's stream -
It haunts me still, and yet I know 'tis but a dream.
Whence art thou, shadowy presence, that canst hide
From my charmed sight the glorious things of earth?
A mirage o'er life's desert dost thou glide?
Or, with those glimmerings of a former birth,
A 'trailing cloud of glory,' hast thou come
From some bright world afar, our unremembered home?
I know thou dwell'st not in this dull cold Real,
I know thy home is in some brighter sphere;
I know I shall not meet thee, my Ideal!
In the dark wanderings that await me here -
Why comes thy gentle image then to me,
Wasting my night of life in one long dream of thee!
The city's peopled solitude, the glare
Of festal halls, moonlight and music's tone,
All breathe the sad refrain _thou art not there;_
And even with Nature, I am still alone;
With joy I watch her summer bloom depart -
I love drear winter's reign - 'tis winter in my heart.
And if I sigh upon my brow to see
The deepening shadow of Time's fleeting wing,
'Tis for the youth I might not give to thee, -
The vanished brightness of my first sweet spring;
That I might give thee not the joyous form,
Unsworn by bitter tears, unblighted by the storm.
And when the hearts I should be proud to win,
Breathe, in those tones that woman holds so dear,
Words of impassioned homage unto mine,
Coldly and harsh they fall upon my ear;
And as I listen to the fervent vow,
My weary heart replies, '_Alas! it is not thou!_'
And when the thoughts within my spirit glow,
That would outpour themselves in words of fire,
If some kind influence bade the music flow,
Like that which woke the notes of Memnon's lyre;
Thou, sunlight of my life! wakest not the lay -
And song within my heart unuttered dies away.
Depart, oh shadow! fatal dream, depart!
Go, I conjure thee; leave me this poor life,
And I will meet with firm, heroic heart,
Its threatening storms and its tumultuous strife,
And with the Poet-Seer will see thee stand,
To welcome my approach to thine own Spirit-land.
Dedication To My Mother
THE flowers of romance that I cherished,
Around me lie withered and dead;
The stars of my youth's shining heaven,
Were but meteors whose brightness misled;
And the day-dreams of life's vernal morning,
Like the mists of the morning have fled.
But one flower I have found still unwithered;
Like the night-scented jasmin it gleams;
And beyond where the fallen stars vanished,
One light pure and hallowed still beams;
One love I have found, deep and changeless,
As that I have yearned for in dreams.
Too often the links have been broken,
That bound me in friendship's bright chain
Too often has fancy deceived me
To blind or to charm me again;
And I sigh o'er my young heart's illusions,
With a sorrow I would were disdain.
But now, as the clouds return earthward,
From the cold and void ether above;
As on pinions all drooping and weary,
O'er the waste flew the wandering dove;
O'er the tide of the world's troubled waters,
I return to the ark of thy love.
Here, at length, my tired spirit reposes;
Here my heart's strongest tendrils entwine;
Here its warmest and deepest affections
It lays on earth's holiest shrine
Dearest mother, receive the devotion
Of the life thou hast given from thine.
Here, pressed to thy bosom, the tempests
That sweep over life's stormy sea,
Have beat, in their impotent fury, —
They were winged with no terror for me;
If I shrank from the fearful encounter,
If I trembled — it was but for thee.
The spirit of Song that lies buried
In silence or sleep in the breast,
Unlike the wild music of Memnon,
Is changed by the sunshine to rest;
In the clash of contending emotions
Are its harmonies only expressed.
When, at moments, my soul has been shaken,
In the strife with the world's rushing throng;
Or moved by some holier impulse,
As borne by its current along;
This spirit aroused, has responded,
And uttered these fragments of song.
I know they are but passing echoes,
For which time has no place and no name;
But hereafter, in loftier numbers,
Might I seek for the guerdon of fame —
Might I gather its evergreen laurels —
I would twine them around thy loved name.
But I mark now a pallor that deepens,
And spreads o'er thy brow and thy cheek;
And, filled with a fearful foreboding,
My strong heart grows nerveless and weak;
And shrinks back appalled from the anguish,
The blow beneath which it would break.
Oh, leave me not yet, gentle spirit,
Though our loved and our lost, gone before,
In the Better Land watch for thy coming,
And call thee away to that shore;
These clasped arms are strong to detain thee —
Leave, leave me not yet, I implore!
Oh God! let this cup but pass from me,
When thy bitterest draught would be thrown;
Not yet those sweet ties rend asunder
Heart with heart, life with life that have grown!
Not yet can I bear life's great burden,
And tread its dark wine-press alone.