To The Venerable General Gaines
Though Time has silvered o'er thy honored head,
And left some traces on thy gallant form,
Upon thy soul no hoar-frost has he shed,
Nor chilled the heart that yet beats true and warm.
And he, in whom the glow of early feeling,
Youth's fire and ardor, are not dimmed and cold,
Who still life's morning freshness is revealing, -
Howe'er Time's record stands, can ne'er grow old.
The fabled fountain of immortal youth,
That Ponce de Leon sought with such unrest,
In far-off southern isles, thou'st found in truth;
Its living waters gush within thy breast.
Washington. On Huntington's Picture Of Washington Crossing The Alleghany In Early Life
More proudly on thy winding course,
Dark Alleghany! flow;
The noblest burden thou couldst bear
Is on thy waters now.
But calm be every turbid wave,
And hushed be wind and storm:
There lies a Nation's destiny
Within that gallant form.
A spirit that shall stem a tide
More deep and dark than thine;
That on a night of War shall bid
The star of Victory shine.
A spirit that through coming time
Shall bear a hallowed name;
The glory of old conquerors
Shall pale before his fame.
And young Ambition on his course
Shall turn his eagle eye;
And men invoke his sainted shade
In threat'ning anarchy.
No baleful meteor shall he be,
To dazzle from afar;
But in the firmament of Fame
A fixed, a polar star!
Thoughts In A Library
Speak low - tread softly through these halls;
Here genius lives enshrined, -
Here reign, in silent majesty,
The monarchs of the mind.
A mighty spirit-host they come,
From every age and clime;
Above the buried wrecks of years,
They breast the tide of Time.
And in their presence-chamber here,
They hold their regal state,
And round them throng a noble train,
The gifted and the great.
Oh, child of Earth! when round thy path
The storms of life arise,
And when thy brothers pass thee by,
With stern, unloving eyes, -
Here shall the Poets chant for thee
Their sweetest, loftiest lays;
And Prophets wait to guide thy steps
In wisdom's pleasant ways.
Come, with these God-anointed kings,
Be thou companion here;
And in thy mighty realm of mind,
Thou shalt go forth a peer!
To The Century Plant
Plant of a hundred years! destroying Time
Passes thy gentle race with hurrying trend,
Leaves their bright petals colorless and dim,
Strews with their withered leaves the mossy bed,
And sweeps them onward with the countless dead,
Ere the swift passing of the summer hour -
But, beauteous flower, above thy towering head
An age hath passed and left no trace of power:
Plant of a hundred years, thou seem'st Time's favorite flower!
I would that he had passed less lightly o'er thee,
And on thy polished leaves some record made,
Of all the scenes that long since passed before thee,
When round thee waved a forest, in whose shade
The Indian lover wooed his dusky maid, -
When the red warriors lit their council fires,
As peal'd the war-cry over hill and glade,
And then in triumph raised the funeral pyre
Of the ill-fated captive, bride, or son, or sire.
Alas, fair flower! they've vanished from the earth,
That wronged and injured race, and none are here
Of all the friends that knew thee at thy birth, -
No longer near thee rests the wearied deer,
Thy sister flowers have faded with each year;
Still thou remainest, though they all have flown,
Like some strange being from another sphere,
Or like some aged man, sad and alone, -
May I not linger here, when those I love are gone!
Books For The People
'Let there be light.'
Light to the darkened mind
Bear, like the sun, the world's wide circle round,
Bright messengers that speak without a sound!
Sight on the spirit blind
Shall fall whene'er ye pass; your living ray
Shall change the night of ages into day: -
God speed ye on your way!
In closet and in hall,
Too long alone your message hath been spoken:
The spell of gold that bound ye there is broken;
Go forth and shine on all;
The world's inheritance, the legacy
Bequeathed by Genius to the race are ye;
Be like the sunlight, free!
A mighty power ye wield!
Ye wake grim centuries from their deep repose,
And bid their hoarded treasuries unclose,
The spoils of time to yield.
Ye hold the gift of immortality;
Bard, sage, and seer, whose fame shall never die,
Live through your ministry.
Noiseless upon your path,
Freighted with lore, romance, and song, ye speed,
Moving the world, in custom and in creed,
Waking its love or wrath.
Tyrants, that blench not on the battle-plain,
Quail at your silent coming, and in vain
Would bind the riven chain.
Shrines, that embalm great souls!
Where yet the illustrious dead high converse hold,
As gods spake through their oracles of old;
Upon your mystic scrolls,
There lives a spell to guide our destiny;
The fire by night, the pillared cloud by day,
Upon our upward way.
Maiden of the lofty brow,
Mournful eye and cheek of snow;
Thou whose gaze is ever cast
On the pageant of the Past;
Tell me what thou seest there;
Tell me what its voices bear.
'Wheresoe'er I turn mine eyes,
Gorgeous visions on them rise.
In the distance, dim and far,
I see the glorious pomp of war:
Grecian phalanx, Persian host,
Darken now yon rocky coast;
Now the youth of Macedon,
Half the trembling earth has won;
Now o'er barbaric hordes and kings,
The Roman eagle flaps his wings.
Where the Crusaders' ranks advance,
I see their burnished armor glance;
And turban'd Turk, in eastern garb,
Spur to the charge his fiery barb.
Kings and nobles I behold;
Steel-clad knights and barons bold;
Slaves and serfs, a countless band,
Throng the misty, phantom-land.
'Through cathedrals, old and dim,
Echo anthem, prayer, and hymn;
And holy priests, in flowing stoles,
Chaunt masses for departed souls.
I see the breathing forms of Art,
From the Grecian marble start;
Immortal pictures live and glow,
From Raphael and Angelo.
And voices, like the rushing blast,
Swell through this temple of the past:
Homer strikes his thrilling strings,
And to the listening ages sings;
Shakspeare's voice joins in the chime,
Echoing through the vaults of Time;
With the two to whom 'tis given
To lift the veil that curtains Heaven.
And while these changing shades appear,
And while these voices green mine ear,
Still, with vision backward cast,
I must mourn the vanished past.'
Eighteen hundred years agone
Was that deed of darkness done -
Was that sacred, thorn-crowned head
To a shameful death betrayed,
And Iscariot's traitor name
Blazoned in eternal shame.
Thou, disciple of our time,
Follower of the faith sublime,
Who with high and holy scorn
Of that traitrous deed dost burn,
Though the years may never more
To our earth that form restore
The Christ-Spirit ever lives -
Ever in thy heart he strives.
When pale Misery mutely calls;
When thy tempted brother falls;
When thy gentle words may chain
Hate, and Anger, and Disdain,
Or thy loving smile impart
Courage to some sinking heart;
When within thy troubled breast
Good and evil thoughts contest;
Though unconscious thou may'st be,
The Christ-Spirit strives with thee.
When he trod the Holy Land,
With his small disciple band,
And the fated hour had come
For that august martyrdom -
When the man, the human love,
And the God within him strove -
As in Gethsemane he wept,
They, the faithless watchers, slept:
While for them he wept and prayed,
One denied and one betrayed!
If to-day thou turn'st aside
In thy luxury and pride,
Wrapped within thyself and blind
To the sorrows of thy kind,
Thou a faithless watch dost keep -
Thou art one of those who sleep:
Or, if waking thou dost see
Nothing of Divinity
In our fallen, struggling race;
If in them thou seest no trace
Of a glory dimmed, not gone,
Of a Future to be won -
Of a Future, hopeful, high -
Thou, like Peter, dost deny:
But if, seeing, thou believest,
If the Evangel thou receivest,
Yet, if thou art bound to Sin,
False to the Ideal within,
Slave of Ease or slave of Gold,
Thou the Son of God hast sold!
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.
On Seeing Mrs. Kean As Constance In King John
'Twas no illusion; from the Past the veil was rent away;
The tide that never changes ebbed, and bore me to that day,
When in the lists and on the field brave deeds of arms were done,
When England blushed beneath the rule of recreant King John.
Scenes from that dim and buried Past came thronging on the gaze,
In all the splendid pageantry of those heroic days.
There Angiers' towers and battlements in stately grandeur frowned
Upon the engines of grim war grouped threat'ningly around:
And where the gathering warlike ranks in burnished armor gleamed,
The sacred Oriflamme of France, the Red Cross Banner streamed:
There Templars came with cross and sword, vowed to the Holy Land,
There were the fiery feudal lords, each with his vassal band:
And in his scarlet robes arrayed, the haughty legate strode,
As when above the prostrate King, in ancient days he trode.
Forgetful, for the hour I lived in that chivalric age,
Amid the stirring scenes portrayed on History's varied page.
But when the gentle Constance came and bowed her queenly head
To that wild tempest of the soul, that grief profound and dread,
The pageant vanished from my sight, I only heard her words,
I only felt the woe that thrilled the heart's electric chords.
Years bring decay and change and death to kingdom and to clime,
But human sympathy and love are changeless through all time:
In the eternal Now they live, though centuries o'er them roll;
They bloom forever fresh and young, immortal as the soul.
Thou, on whose brow the coronet of injured Constance shone,
Who to the glittering circlet gav'st a lustre not its own, -
Thou canst recall those lovely forms the faded Past inurns;
Thou summonest, and the shapeless dust to life and youth returns.
Thou hast the spell, the magic power, the heart's deep founts to move,
To wake the latent ecstasies of Hope, Despair and Love, -
And many a poet's loveliest dream now bears thy form and face,
Speaks in thy sweet impassioned voice, and wears thy matchless grace.
Written At Tivoli Falls, (Near Albany)
Sweet Tivoli! upon thy grassy side,
Whene'er I linger through the summer day,
And the soft music of thy silvery tide
So sweetly wiles the lagging hours away,
I cannot deem but thou are e'en as fair
As that Italian vale whose name thy waters bear.
O'er the old rocks thou boundest on thy way,
and wood, and glen, re-echo to thy song;
And then thy waters, weary of their play,
Through the long grass glide silently along,
So slow, and calm, as scarce to break the rest
Of the young flowers that sleep upon thy placid breast.
And sure no flowers are lovelier than these
That bloom so sweetly on thy grassy side,
And none more fair than the young forest trees,
That bathe their branches in thy crystal tide;
No sounds are sweeter than the winds at play
Amid these trembling pines at close of summer day.
Here by thy side I cannot feel alone;
Above my head the sheltering branches bend,
And at my feet the flowers; and thy low tone
Breathes softly in my ear, and, like a friend
Soothing my spirit, comes the perfumed air,
To kiss my fevered brow and play amid my hair.
Oh! when I turn me from the busy throng,
Chilled with their frozen words and heartless smiles,
I wander here, and thy melodious song,
And this sweet scene, my sadder mood beguiles;
And when I mingle with the crowd again,
More calm and holy thoughts flow through my burning brain.
Oft as I wander in these shadowy groves
My wayward fancy spreads her truant wing,
And through the past delightedly she roves,
From its recesses many a scene to bring
Of that far time, when, 'mid the deepening shade,
The Indian lover wooed, and won, his dusky maid.
And then she bears me on through future years,
When her frail prison will have passed away,
And she will look, with eyes undimmed by tears,
Upon the glories of a brighter day;
And still thy waves will glide as soft along;
And still thy praise be sung in many a sweeter song.
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.
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!
To The Sun
Thou glorious lamp of Space! Thou that dost flood
The void of heaven with brightness! in thy glow
Unnumbered worlds, age after age, have trod
In their appointed paths, and yet the flow
Of brightness hath not ebbed. - Before thy brow
The stars still veil themselves; thy burning glance
Is all unquenched, undimmed, unchanged e'en now,
As when the finger of Omnipotence
Pointed to thee thy throne amid the vast expanse.
Yes, all unchanged. - As on that morn when rang
The shout of joy as forth thy rays were spread,
While all the morning stars together sang,
So thou art now. The morning stars have fled,
The towering hill with age has bowed its head,
The sea has changed its home with the dry land,
The earth has gathered in her countless dead,
Again and yet again - but thou dost stand,
Exhaustless and unmoved, upheld by God's own hand.
Thy beams rest not alone where monarchs dwell,
They linger round the cottage of the poor,
And pierce the grating of the captive's cell;
And when thou lookest on the lowliest flower
That lifts its head to thee for one short hour,
Thy glances just as mildly, gently burn
As when thou gazest on the loftiest tower,
Or on the countless worlds that round thee turn.
Oh! what a lesson here might human frailty learn.
Thou look'st upon the earth, and in thy rays
She brings her increase forth. Thine early light
Unfolds the bud, and thy intenser gaze
The blushing summer flower. Thou takest thy flight
And o'er the earth then walks the starry night;
Thou guidest the waters of the unquiet main,
Whose billows foam and tremble in their might -
For o'er the winds of heaven thou hold'st thy reign,
From the soft, flower-kissed breeze to the wild hurricane.
When I behold thy bright, alchemic glance
A flood of gold-light o'er the landscape throw,
And every cloud that decks the blue expanse,
Beneath thy gaze with deeping blushes glow;
Or when I see thee tint the heavenly bow,
Or in thy gaze the icebound waters melt,
As spring returns before thy burning brow,
I wonder not that Persia's children knelt,
And deemed thou was the Heaven wherein the Eternal dwelt.
Thou isle of brightness 'mid an azure sea!
As oft I gaze on thee at closing day,
I feel my spirit fluttering to be free, -
To cast its bonds of ignorance away,
And learn thy mysteries; and then I say,
Peace, restless spirit! - yet a little time
And your frail prison will have changed to clay,
And thou shalt stand before the throne of Him
To whose veiled brow of light this glorious lamp is dim!