Stars trembling o'er us and sunset before us,
Mountains in shadow and forests asleep;
Down the dim river we float on forever,
Speak not, ah, breathe not - there's peace on the deep.

Come not, pale sorrow, flee till to-morrow;
Rest softly falling o'er eyelids that weep;
While down the river we float on forever,
Speak not, ah, breathe not - there's peace on the deep.

As the waves cover the depths we glide over,
So let the past in forgetfulness sleep,
While down the river we float on forever,
Speak not, ah, breathe not - there's peace on the deep.

Heaven shine above us, bless all that love us;
All whom we love in thy tenderness keep!
While down the river we float on forever,
Speak not, ah, breathe not - there's peace on the deep.

A Christmas Carol

TUNE--'God rest ye, merry gentleman.'

GOD rest ye, merry gentlemen; let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.
The dawn rose red o'er Bethlehem, the stars shone through the gray,
When Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.

God rest ye, little children; let nothing you affright,
For Jesus Christ, your Saviour, was born this happy night;
Along the hills of Galilee the white flocks sleeping lay,
When Christ, the Child of Nazareth, was born on Christmas-day.

God rest ye, all good Christians; upon this blessed morn
The Lord of all good Christians was of a woman born:
Now all your sorrows He doth heal, your sins He takes away;
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.

A German Student’s Funeral Hymn

WITH steady march across the daisy meadow,
And by the churchyard wall we go;
But leave behind, beneath the linden shadow,
One, who no more will rise and go:
Farewell, our brother, here sleeping in dust,
Till thou shalt wake again, wake with the just.

Along the street where neighbor nods to neighbor,
Along the busy street we throng,
Once more to laugh, to live and love and labor,--
But he will be remembered long:
Sleep well, our brother, though sleeping in dust:
Shalt thou not rise again--rise with the just?

Farewell, true heart and kindly hand, left lying
Where wave the linden branches calm;
'T is his to live, and ours to wait for dying,
We win, while he has won, the palm;
Farewell, our brother! But one day, we trust,
Call--he will answer Thee, God of the just.

IT is no joy to me to sit
On dreamy summer eves,
When silently the timid moon
Kisses the sleeping leaves,
And all things through the fair hushed earth
Love, rest--but nothing grieves.
Better I like old Autumn
With his hair tossed to and fro,
Firm striding o'er the stubble fields
When the equinoctials blow.

When shrinkingly the sun creeps up
Through misty mornings cold,
And Robin on the orchard hedge
Sings cheerily and bold,
While the frosted plum
Drops downward on the mould;--
And as he passes, Autumn
Into earth's lap does throw
Brown apples gay in a game of play,
As the equinoctials blow.

When the spent year its carol sinks
Into a humble psalm,
Asks no more for the pleasure draught,
But for the cup of balm,
And all its storms and sunshine bursts
Controls to one brave calm,--
Then step by step walks Autumn,
With steady eyes that show
Nor grief nor fear, to the death of the year,
While the equinoctials blow.

Twilight In The North

O THE long northern twilight between the day and the night,
When the heat and the weariness of the world are ended quite:
When the hills grow dim as dreams, and the crystal river seems
Like that River of Life from out the Throne where the blessèd walk in white.

O the weird northern twilight, which is neither night nor day,
When the amber wake of the long-set sun still marks his western way:
And but one great golden star in the deep blue east afar
Warns of sleep, and dark, and midnight--of oblivion and decay.

O the calm northern twilight, when labor is all done,
And the birds in drowsy twitter have dropped silent one by one:
And nothing stirs or sighs in mountains, waters, skies,--
Earth sleeps--but her heart waketh, till the rising of the sun.

O the sweet, sweet twilight, just before the time of rest,
When the black clouds are driven away, and the stormy winds suppressed:
And the dead day smiles so bright, filling earth and heaven with light,--
You would think 't was dawn come back again--but the light is in the west.

O the grand solemn twilight, spreading peace from pole to pole!--
Ere the rains sweep o'er the hillsides, and the waters rise and roll,
In the lull and the calm, come, O angel with the palm--
In the still norther twilight, Azrael, take my soul.

The Golden Island: Arran From Ayr

DEEP set in distant seas it lies;
The morning vapors float and fall,
The noonday clouds above it rise,
Then drop as white as virgin's pall.

And sometimes, when that shroud uplifts,
The far green fields show strange and fair;
Mute waterfalls in sliver rifts
Sparkle adown the hillside bare.

But ah! mists gather, more and more;
And though the blue sky has no tears,
And the sea laughs with light all o'er,--
The lovely Island disappears.

O vanished Island of the blest!
O dream of all things pure and high!
Hid in deep seas, as faithful breast
Hides loves that have but seemed to die,--

Whether on seas dividing tossed,
Or led through fertile lands the while,
Better lose all things than have lost
The memory of the morning Isle!

For lo! when gloaming shadows glide,
And all is calm in earth and air,
Above the heaving of the tide
The lonely Island rises fair;

Its purple peaks shine, outlined grand
And clear, as noble lives nigh done;
While stretches bright from land to land
The broad sea-pathway to the sun.
He wraps it in his glory's blaze,
He stoops to kiss its forehead cold;
And, all transfigured by his rays,
It gleams--an Isle of molten gold.

The sun may set, the shades descend,
Earth sleep--and yet while sleeping smile;
But it will live unto life's end--
That vision of the Golden Isle.

A Dream Of Death

WHERE shall we sail to-day?'--Thus said, methought,
A voice that only could be heard in dreams:
And on we glided without mast or oar,
A wondrous boat upon a wondrous sea.

Sudden, the shore curved inward to a bay,
Broad, calm, with gorgeous sea-weeds waving slow
Beneath the water, like rich thoughts that stir
In the mysterious deep of poets' hearts.

So still, so fair, so rosy in the dawn
Lay that bright bay: yet something seemed to breath,
Or in the air, or from the whispering waves,
Or from that voice, as near as one's own soul,

'There was a wreck last night.' A wreck? then where
The ship, the crew?--The all-entombing sea
On which is writ nor name nor chronicle
Laid itself o'er them with smooth crystal smile.

'Yet was the wreck last night.'. And gazing down
Deep down below the surface, we were ware
Of ghastly faces with their open eyes
Uplooking to the dawn they could not see.

One moved with moving sea-weeds: one lay prone,
The tinted fishes gliding o'er his breast;
One, caught by floating hair, rocked quietly
Upon his reedy cradle, like a child.

'The wreck has been'--said the melodious voice,
'Yet all is peace. The dead, that, while we slept,
Struggled for life, now sleep and fear no storms:
O'er them let us not weep when heaven smiles.'

So we sailed on above the diamond sands,
Bright sea-flowers, and white faces stony calm,
Till the waves bore us to the open main,
And the great sun arose upon the world.

REST--rest--four little letters, one short word,
Enfolding an infinitude of bliss--
Rest is upon the earth. The heavy clouds
Hang poised in silent ether, motionless,
Seeking nor sun nor breeze. No restless star
Thrills the sky's gray-robed breast with pulsing rays,
The night's heart has throbbed out.
No grass blade stirs,
No downy-wingèd moth comes flittering by
Caught by the light--Thank God, there is no light,
No open-eyed, loud-voiced, quick motioned light,
Nothing but gloom and rest.
A row of trees
Along the hill horizon, westward, stands
All black and still, as if it were a rank
Of fallen angels, melancholy met
Before the amber gate of Paradise--
The bright shut gate, whose everlasting smile
Deadens despair to calm.
O, better far
Better than bliss is rest! If suddenly
Those burnished doors of molten gold, steel-barred,
Which the sun closed behind him as he went
Into his bridal chamber--were to burst
Asunder with a clang, and in a breath
God's mysteries were revealed--His kingdom came--
The multitudes of heavenly messengers
Hastening throughout all space--the thunder quire
Of praise--the obedient lightnings' lambent gleam
Around the unseen Throne--should I not sink
Crushed by the weight of such beatitudes,
Crying, 'Rest, only rest, thou merciful God!
Hide me within the hollow of Thy hand
In some dark corner of the universe,
Thy bright, full, busy universe, that blinds,
Deafens, and tortures--Give me only rest!'

O for a soul-sleep, long and deep and still!
To lie down quiet after the weary day,
Dropping all pleasant flowers from the numbed hands,
Bidding good-night to all companions dear,
Drawing the curtains on this darkened world,
Closing the eyes, and with a patient sigh
Murmuring 'Our Father'--fall on sleep, till dawn!

By The Alma River

WILLIE, fold your little hands;
Let it drop, that 'soldier' toy:
Look where father's picture stands,--
Father, who here kissed his boy
Not two months since,--father kind,
Who this night may--Never mind
Mother's sob, my Willie dear,
Call aloud that He may hear
Who is God of battles, say,
'O, keep father safe this day
By the Alma river.'

Ask no more, child. Never heed
Either Russ, or Frank, or Turk,
Right of nations or of creed,
Chance-poised victory's bloody work:
Any flag i' the wind may roll
On thy heights, Sebastopol;
Willie, all to you and me
Is that spot, where'er it be,
Where he stands--no other word!
Stands--God sure the child's prayer heard--
By the Alma river.

Willie, listen to the bells
Ringing through the town to-day.
That's for victory. Ah, no knells
For the many swept away,--
Hundreds--thousands! Let us weep,
We who need not,--just to keep
Reason steady in my brain
Till the morning comes again,
Till the third dread morning tell
Who they were that fought and fell
By the Alma river.

Come, we'll lay us down, my child,
Poor the bed is, poor and hard;
Yet thy father, far exiled,
Sleeps upon the open sward,
Dreaming of us two at home:
Or beneath the starry dome
Digs out trenches in the dark,
Where he buries--Willie, mark--
Where he buries those who died
Fighting bravely at his side
By the Alma river.

Willie, Willie, go to sleep,
God will keep us, O my boy;
He will make the dull hours creep
Faster, and send news of joy,

When I need not shrink to meet
Those dread placards in the street,
Which for weeks will ghastly stare
In some eyes--Child, sy thy prayer
Once again; a different one:
Say, 'O God, Thy will be done
By the Alma river.'

A Dream Of Resurrection

SO heavenly beautiful it lay,
It was less like a human corse
Than that fair shape in which perforce
A lost hope clothes itself alway.

The dream showed very plain: the bed
Where that known unknown face reposed,--
A woman's face with eyelids closed,
A something precious that was dead;

A something, lost on this side life,
By which the mourner came and stood,
And laid down, ne'er to be indued,
All flaunting robes of earthly strife;

Shred off, like votive locks of hair,
Youth's ornaments of pride and strength,
And cast them in their golden length
The silence of that bier to share.

No tears fell,--but with gazings long
Lorn memory tried to print that face
On the heart's ever-vacant place,
With a sun-finger, sharp and strong.--

Then kisses, dropping without sound,
And solemn arms wound round the dead,
And lifting from the natural bed
Into the coffin's strange new bound.

Yet still no farewell, or belief
In death, no more than one believes
In some dread truth that sudden weaves
The whole world in a shroud of grief.

And still unanswered kisses; still
Warm clingings to the image cold
With an incredulous faith's close fold,
Creative in its fierce 'I will.'

Hush,--hush! the marble eyelids move,
The kissed lips quiver into breath:
Avaunt, thou mockery of Death!
Avaunt!--we are conquerors, I and Love.

Corpse of dead Hope, awake, arise,
A living Hope that only slept
Until the tears thus overwept
Had washed the blindness from our eyes.

Come back into the upper day:
Pluck off these cerements. Patient shroud,
We'll wrap thee as a garment proud
Round the fair shape we thought was clay.

Clasp, arms; cling, soul; eyes, drink anew
The beauty that returns with breath:
Faith, that out-loved this trance-like death,
May see this resurrection too.

The Cathedral Tombs

THEY lie, with upraised hands, and feet
Stretched like dead feet that walk no more,
And stony masks oft human sweet,
As if the olden look each wore,
Familiar curves of lip and eye,
Were wrought by some fond memory.

All waiting: the new-coffined dead,
The handful of mere dust that lies
Sarcophagused in stone and lead
Under the weight of centuries:
Knight, cardinal, bishop, abbess mild,
With last week's buried year-old child.

After the tempest cometh peace,
After long travail sweet repose;
These folded palms, these feet that cease
From any motion, are but shows
Of--what? What rest? How rest they? Where?
The generations naught declare.

Dark grave, unto whose brink we come,
Drawn nearer by all nights and days;
Each after each, thy solemn gloom
We pierce with momentary gaze,
Then go, unwilling or content,
The way that all our fathers went.

Is there no voice or guiding hand
Arising from the awful void,
To say, 'Fear not the silent land;
Would He make aught to be destroyed?
Would He? or can He? What know we
Of Him who is Infinity?

Strong Love, which taught us human love,
Helped us to follow through all spheres
Some soul that did sweet dead lips move,
Lived in dear eyes in smiles and tears,
Love--once so near our flesh allied,
That 'Jesus wept' when Lazarus died;--

Eagle-eyed Faith that can see God,
In worlds without and heart within;
In sorrow by the smart o' the rod,
In guilt by the anguish of the sin;
In everything pure, holy, fair,
God saying to man's soul, 'I am there';--

These only, twin-archangels, stand
Above the abyss of common doom,
These only stretch the tender hand
To us descending to the tomb,
Thus making it a bed of rest
With spices and with odors drest.

So, like one weary and worn, who sinks
To sleep beneath long faithful eyes,
Who asks no word of love, but drinks
The silence which is paradise--
We only cry--'Keep angelward,
And give us good rest, O good Lord!'

O COUSIN Robert, far away
Among the lands of gold,
How many years since we two met?--
You would not like it told.

O cousin Robert, buried deep
Amid your bags of gold--
I thought I saw you yesternight
Just as you were of old.

You own whole leagues--I half a rood
Behind my cottage door;
You have your lacs of gold rupees,
And I my children four;

Your tall barques dot the dangerous seas,
My 'ship's come home'--to rest
Safe anchored from the storms of life
Upon one faithful breast.

And it would cause no start or sigh,
Nor thought of doubt or blame,
If I should teach our little son
His cousin Robert's name.--

That name, however wide it rings,
I oft think, when alone,
I rather would have seen it graved
Upon a churchyard stone--

Upon the white sunshining stone
Where cousin Alick lies:
Ah, sometimes, woe to him that lives!
Happy is he that dies!

O Robert, Robert, many a tear--
Though not the tears of old--
Drops, thinking of your face last night
Your hand's remembered fold;

A young man's face, so like, so like
Our mothers' faces fair:
A young man's hand, so firm to clasp,
So resolute to dare.

I thought you good--I wished you great;
You were my hope, my pride:
To know you good, to make you great
I once had happy died.

To tear the plague-spot from your heart,
Place honor on your brow,
See old age come in crownèd peace--
I almost would die now!

Would give--all that's now mine to give--
To have you sitting there,
The cousin Robert of my youth--
Though beggar'd, with gray hair.

O Robert, Robert, some that live
Are dead, long ere they are old;
Better the pure heart of our youth
Than palaces of gold;

Better the blind faith of our youth
Than doubt, which all truth braves;
Better to mourn, God's children dear,
Than laugh, the Devil's slaves.

O Robert, Robert, life is sweet,
And love is boundless gain:
Yet if I mind of you, my heart
Is stabbed with sudden pain:

And as in peace this Christmas eve
I close our quiet doors,
And kiss 'good-night' on sleeping heads--
Such bonnie curls,--like yours:

I fall upon my bended knees
With sobs that choke each word;--
'On those who err and are deceived
Have mercy, O good Lord!'

IT is a moor
Barren and treeless; lying high and bare
Beneath the archèd sky. The rushing winds
Fly over it, each with his strong bow bent
And quiver full of whistling arrows keen.

I am a woman, lonely, old, and poor.
If there be any one who watches me
(But there is none) adown the long blank wold,
My figure painted on the level sky
Would startle him as if it were a ghost,--
And like a ghost, a weary wandering ghost,
I roam and roam, and shiver through the dark
That will not hide me. O but for one hour,
One blessed hour of warm and dewy night,
To wrap me like a pall--with not an eye
In earth or heaven to pierce the black serene.
Night, call yet this? No night; no dark--no rest--
A moon-ray sweeps down sudden from the sky,
And smites the moor--
Is't thou, accursèd Thing,
Broad, pallid, like a great woe looming out--
Out of its long-sealed grave, to fill all earth
With its dead, ghastly smile? Art there again,
Round, perfect, large, as when we buried thee,
I and the kindly clouds that heard my prayers?
I'll sit me down and meet thee face to face,
Mine enemy!--Why didst thou rise upon
My world--my innocent world, to make me mad?
Wherefore shine forth, a tiny tremulous curve
Hung out in the gray sunset beauteously,
To tempt mine eyes--then nightly to increase
Slow orbing, till thy full, blank, pitiless stare
Hunts me across the world?
No rest--no dark.
Hour after hour that passionless bright face
Climbs up the desolate blue. I will press down
The lids on my tired eyeballs--crouch in dust,
And pray.
--Thank God, thank God!--a cloud has hid
My torturer. The night at last is free:
Forth peep in crowds the merry twinkling stars.
Ah, we'll shine out, the little silly stars
And I; we'll dance together across the moor,
They up aloft--I here. At last, at last
We are avengèd of our adversary!

The freshening of the night air feels like dawn.
Who said that I was mad? I will arise,
Throw off my burthen, march across the wold
Airily--Ha! what, stumbling? Nay, no fear--
I am used unto the dark, for many a year
Steering compassionless athwart the waste
To where, deep hid in valleys of white mist,
The pleasant home-lights shine. I will but pause,
Turn round and gaze--
O me! O miserable me!
The cloud-bank overflows: sudden outpour
The bright white moon-rays--ah! I drown, I drown,
And o'er the flood, with steady motion, slow
It walketh--my inexorable Doom.

No more: I shall not struggle any more:
I will lie down as quiet as a child,--
I can but die.

There, I have hid my face:
Stray travellers passing o'er the silent wold
Would only say, 'She sleeps.'
Glare on, my Doom;
I will not look at thee: and if at times
I shiver, still I neither weep nor moan:
Angels may see, I neither weep nor moan.

Was that sharp whistling wind the morning breeze
That calls the stars back to the obscure of heaven?
I am very cold.--And yet there is a change.
Less fiercely the sharp moonbeams smite my brain,
My heart beats slower, duller: soothing rest
Like a soft garment binds my shuddering limbs.--
If I looked up now, should I see it still
Gibbeted ghastly in the hopeless sky?--
It is very strange: all things seem strange:
Pale spectral face, I do not fear thee now:
Was't this mere shadow which did haunt me once
Like an avenging fiend?--Well, we fade out
Together: I'll nor dread nor curse thee more.

How calm the earth seems! and I know the moor
Glistens with dew-stars. I will try and turn
My poor face eastward. Close not, eyes! That light
Fringing the far hills, all so fair--so fair,
Is it not dawn? I am dying, but 't is dawn.

'Upon the mountains I behold the feet
Of my Beloved: let us forth to meet'--
This is death. I see the light no more;
I sleep.
But like a morning bird my soul
Springs singing upward, into the deeps of heaven
Through world on world to follow Infinite Day.

Our Father’s Business:


O CHRIST-CHILD, Everlasting, Holy One,
Sufferer of all the sorrow of this world,
Redeemer of the sin of all this world,
Who by Thy death brought'st life into this world,--
O Christ, hear us!

This, this is Thou. No idle painter's dream
Of aureoled, imaginary Christ,
Laden with attributes that make not God;
But Jesus, son of Mary; lowly, wise,
Obedient, subject unto parents, mild,
Meek--as the meek that shall inherit earth,
Pure--as the pure in heart that shall see God.

O infinitely human, yet divine!
Half clinging childlike to the mother found,
Yet half repelling--as the soft eyes say,
'How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not
That I must be about my Father's business?'
As in the Temple's splendors mystical,
Earth's wisdom hearkening to the all-wise One,
Earth's closest love clasping the all-loving One,
He sees far off the vision of the cross,
The Christ-like glory and the Christ-like doom.

Messiah! Elder Brother, Priest and King,
The Son of God, and yet the woman's seed;
Enterer within the veil; Victor of death,
And made to us first fruits of them that sleep;
Saviour and Intercessor, Judge and Lord,--
All that we know of Thee, or knowing not
Love only, waiting till the perfect time
When we shall know even as we are known--
O Thou Child Jesus, Thou dost seem to say
By the soft silence of these heavenly eyes
(That rose out of the depths of nothingness
Upon this limner's reverent soul and hand)
We too should be about our father's business--
O Christ, hear us!

Have mercy on us, Jesus Christ, our Lord!
The cross Thou borest still is hard to bear;
And awful even to humblest follower
The little that Thou givest each to do

Of this Thy Father's business; whether it be
Temptation by the devil of the flesh,
Or long-linked years of lingering toil obscure,
Uncomforted, save by the solemn rests
On mountain-tops of solitary prayer;
Oft ending in the supreme sacrifice,
The putting off all garments of delight,
And taking sorrow's kingly crown of thorn,
In crucifixion of all self to Thee,
Who offeredst up Thyself for all the world.
O Christ, hear us!

Our Father's business:--unto us, as Thee,
The whole which this earth-life, this hand-breadth span
Out of our everlasting life that lies
Hidden with Thee in God, can ask or need.
Outweighing all that heap of petty woes--
To us a measure huge--which angels blow
Out of the balance of our total lot,
As zephyrs blow the winged dust away.

O Thou who wert the Child of Nazareth,
Make us see only this, and only Thee,
Who camest but to do thy Father's will,
And didst delight to do it. Take Thou then
Our bitterness of loss,--aspirings vain,
And anguishes of unfulfilled desire,

Our joys imperfect, our sublimed despairs,
Our hopes, our dreams, our wills, our loves, our all,
And cast them into the great crucible
In which the whole earth, slowly purified,
Runs molten, and shall run--the Will of God.
O Christ, hear us!
An Autumn Psalm For 1860
NO shadow o'er the silver sea,
That as in slumber heaves,
No cloud on the September sky,
No blight on any leaves,
As the reaper comes rejoicing,
Bringing in his sheaves.

Long, long and late the spring delayed,
And summer, dank with rain,
Hung trembling o'er her sunless fruit,
And her unripened grain;
And, like a weary, hopeless life,
Sobbed herself out in pain.

So the year laid her child to sleep,
Her beauty half expressed;
Then slowly, slowly cleared the skies,
And smoothed the seas to rest,
And raised the fields of yellowing corn
O'er Summer's buried breast;

Till Autumn counterfeited Spring,
With such a flush of flowers,
His fiery-tinctured garlands more
Than mocked the April bowers,
And airs as sweet as airs of June
Brought on the twilight hours.

O holy twilight, tender, calm!
O star above the sea!
O golden harvest, gathered in
With late solemnity,
And thankful joy for gifts nigh lost
Which yet so plenteous be;--

Although the rain-cloud wraps the hill,
And sudden swoop the leaves,
And the year nears his sacred end,
No eye weeps--no heart grieves:
For the reaper came rejoicing,
Bringing in his sheaves.