Since I walked careless in the noisy street,
With common words for any I might meet,
And did the petty duties each day brought,
And grievous troubles from small sources wrought,
Ah, me! it seems a weary while ago.
'Tis dreary desolation here to wait
The dreadful hour when I shall meet my fate!
Whilst others all the sweet of living share,
Nor of the hapless captive think or care.
Yet once it bore as little on my mind,
When other men in other prisons pined.
I too in heedless, over-hasty blame,
Forgot the human heart beat on the same;
Forgot the subtle agony which wrings
A wounded soul, remembering common things
As when the sunlight on this prison floor
Recalls some scene that I shall see no more!
Perchance some gentle hearts may grant my pain
The justice they would hope themselves to gain;
Nor blindly every accusation trust,
When he, who only can refute, is dust.
And in the end, most lives appeal above;
Some cry for 'Rest,' and others wait for 'Love:'
For 'Justice' to the one just Judge I call!—
And Heaven provides a recompense for all.
Yet still, 'tis very hard to die like this!
No household hearth my presence there to miss;
Nothing to leave, except this dismal cell,
No loving lip to press a last farewell!
But through the tumult of a rabble rout,
Mid grave hard faces, full of stinging doubt,
Forlornly lone, this hunted soul must go,
And bear to heaven few memories but woe!
And yet I could not join the world again;
My heart has withered in this bitter pain.
Wounded by finding mortal Justice blind,
I've almost lost my faith in human kind.
'Tis best to bow beneath man's erring rod,
And ask no more for justice—save from God!
Shadows Of The Past
I'm sitting in a shady room,
A dainty scent pervades its gloom,
The perfume from a withered flower
Gathered—who knows in what sweet hour?
Or pressed by what fair lips which must
Have mingled long ere this with dust?
The relic of a grandsire's love
Stored with a letter and a glove!
And all about the room are spread
The handiworks of ladies dead:
A great aunt's miracles in lace,
A Dian coming from the chase
Worked by great-grandmothers of mine
While great-grandfathers sipped their wine;
And here's a valentine so torn
I think it was received in scorn.
And from the wall the pictured face
Of one, the glory of our race,
Looks down at me with earnest gaze,
As if he wondered at the ways
By which the old world rumbles on,
Though all he counted best is gone,
And that old fealty is dead
For which he bravely fought and bled.
And in yon ancient chest there hide
Charters of farms and acres wide,
Traces of what we once possessed.
Well, perchance poverty is best,
And we can still afford to keep
(Since harmless pride is always cheap)
Our boast that those lost lands were due
For packs of wolves our forbears slew.
And have they left no more behind,
These soldiers brave, those ladies kind?
Of beings vanished like a dream
How little do such relics seem!
And what of those who strayed and fell,
Records of sad defeat to swell?
Or those who only loved and prayed,
'Mid homely duties on them laid?
There seems a whisper in the air,
'We're there, and here, and everywhere!
Why need you wish that you had more
Of these poor shadows which you store,
When all the life in which you move
Is outgrowth of our life and love?
The very thoughts you call your own,
But flowers from seeds which we have sown!
'And none have left a stronger trace
Than some who lived in silent grace;
The maid who faded in her bloom
Brightened the pathway to the tomb,
With hopes from soul to soul which flow
Like streams whose sources none may know,
And he who perished at his post
Inspired the leader of a host!
'The dead are nearer than some say
(Stars shine on through the sunshine day!),
Nor must we chain the Present fast
About the ankles of the Past,
For both are living, and most move
In step to God's great march of Love.
We need not fear that any soul
Can leave but rose leaves in a bowl!'