Not on Penobscot's wooded bank the spires
Of the sought City rose, nor yet beside
The winding Charles, nor where the daily tide
Of Naumkeag's haven rises and retires,
The vision tarried; but somewhere we knew
The beautiful gates must open to our quest,
Somewhere that marvellous City of the West
Would lift its towers and palace domes in view,
And, to! at last its mystery is made known--
Its only dwellers maidens fair and young,
Its Princess such as England's Laureate sung;
And safe from capture, save by love alone,
It lends its beauty to the lake's green shore,
And Norumbega is a myth no more.
Outbound, your bark awaits you. Were I one
Whose prayer availeth much, my wish should be
Your favoring trad-wind and consenting sea.
By sail or steed was never love outrun,
And, here or there, love follows her in whom
All graces and sweet charities unite,
The old Greek beauty set in holier light;
And her for whom New England's byways bloom,
Who walks among us welcome as the Spring,
Calling up blossoms where her light feet stray.
God keep you both, make beautiful your way,
Comfort, console, and bless; and safely bring,
Ere yet I make upon a vaster sea
The unreturning voyage, my friends to me.
An Artist Of The Beautiful
Haunted of Beauty, like the marvellous youth
Who sang Saint Agnes' Eve! How passing fair
Her shapes took color in thy homestead air!
How on thy canvas even her dreams were truth!
Magician! who from commonest elements
Called up divine ideals, clothed upon
By mystic lights soft blending into one
Womanly grace and child-like innocence.
Teacher I thy lesson was not given in vain.
Beauty is goodness; ugliness is sin;
Art's place is sacred: nothing foul therein
May crawl or tread with bestial feet profane.
If rightly choosing is the painter's test,
Thy choice, O master, ever was the best.
Talk not of sad November, when a day
Of warm, glad sunshine fills the sky of noon,
And a wind, borrowed from some morn of June,
Stirs the brown grasses and the leafless spray.
On the unfrosted pool the pillared pines
Lay their long shafts of shadow: the small rill,
Singing a pleasant song of summer still,
A line of silver, down the hill-slope shines.
Hushed the bird-voices and the hum of bees,
In the thin grass the crickets pipe no more;
But still the squirrel hoards his winter store,
And drops his nut-shells from the shag-bark trees.
Softly the dark green hemlocks whisper: high
Above, the spires of yellowing larches show,
Where the woodpecker and home-loving crow
And jay and nut-hatch winter’s threat defy.
O gracious beauty, ever new and old!
O sights and sounds of nature, doubly dear
When the low sunshine warns the closing year
Of snow-blown fields and waves of Arctic cold!
Close to my heart I fold each lovely thing
The sweet day yields; and, not disconsolate,
With the calm patience of the woods I wait
For leaf and blossom when God gives us Spring!
O painter of the fruits and flowers,
We own wise design,
Where these human hands of ours
May share work of Thine!
Apart from Thee we plant in vain
The root and sow the seed;
Thy early and Thy later rain,
Thy sun and dew we need.
Our toil is sweet with thankfulness,
Our burden is our boon;
The curse of Earth's gray morning is
The blessing of its noon.
Why search the wide world everywhere
For Eden's unknown ground?
That garden of the primal pair
May nevermore be found.
But, blest by Thee, our patient toil
May right the ancient wrong,
And give to every clime and soil
The beauty lost so long.
Our homestead flowers and fruited trees
May Eden's orchard shame;
We taste the tempting sweets of these
Like Eve, without her blame.
And, North and South and East and West,
The pride of every zone,
The fairest, rarest, and the best
May all be made our own.
Its earliest shrines the young world sought
In hill-groves and in bowers,
The fittest offerings thither brought
Were Thy own fruits and flowers.
And still with reverent hands we cull
Thy gifts each year renewed;
The good is always beautiful,
The beautiful is good.
God's love and peace be with thee, where
Soe'er this soft autumnal air
Lifts the dark tresses of thy hair.
Whether through city casements comes
Its kiss to thee, in crowded rooms,
Or, out among the woodland blooms,
It freshens o'er thy thoughtful face,
Imparting, in its glad embrace,
Beauty to beauty, grace to grace!
Fair Nature's book together read,
The old wood-paths that knew our tread,
The maple shadows overhead,--
The hills we climbed, the river seen
By gleams along its deep ravine,--
All keep thy memory fresh and green.
Where'er I look, where'er I stray,
Thy thought goes with me on my way,
And hence the prayer I breathe to-day;
O'er lapse of time and change of scene,
The weary waste which lies between
Thyself and me, my heart I lean.
Thou lack'st not Friendship's spell-word, nor
The half-unconscious power to draw
All hearts to thine by Love's sweet law.
With these good gifts of God is cast
Thy lot, and many a charm thou hast
To hold the blessed angels fast.
If, then, a fervent wish for thee
The gracious heavens will heed from me,
What should, dear heart, its burden be?
The sighing of a shaken reed,--
What can I more than meekly plead
The greatness of our common need?
God's love,--unchanging, pure, and true,--
The Paraclete white-shining through
His peace,--the fall of Hermon's dew!
With such a prayer, on this sweet day,
As thou mayst hear and I may say,
I greet thee, dearest, far away!
Dedication - Songs Of Labor
I WOULD the gift I offer here
Might graces from thy favor take,
And, seen through Friendship's atmosphere,
On softened lines and coloring, wear
The unaccustomed light of beauty, for thy sake.
Few leaves of Fancy's spring remain:
But what I have I give to thee,
The o'er-sunned bloom of summer's plain,
And paler flowers, the latter rain
Calls from the westering slope of life's autumnal lea.
Above the fallen groves of green,
Where youth's enchanted forest stood,
Dry root and mossëd trunk between,
A sober after-growth is seen,
As springs the pine where falls the gay-leafed maple wood!
Yet birds will sing, and breezes play
Their leaf-harps in the sombre tree;
And through the bleak and wintry day
It keeps its steady green alway, —
So, even my after-thoughts may have a charm for thee.
Art's perfect forms no moral need,
And beauty is its own excuse;
But for the dull and flowerless weed
Some healing virtue still must plead,
And the rough ore must find its honors in its use.
So haply these, my simple lays
Of homely toil, may serve to show
The orchard bloom and tasselled maize
That skirt and gladden duty's ways,
The unsung beauty hid life's common things below.
Haply from them the toiler, bent
Above his forge or plough, may gain,
A manlier spirit of content,
And feel that life is wisest spent
Where the strong working hand makes strong the working brain.
The doom which to the guilty pair
Without the walls of Eden came,
Transforming sinless ease to care
And rugged toil, no more shall bear
The burden of old crime, or mark of primal shame.
A blessing now, a curse no more;
Since He, whose name we breathe with awe,
The coarse mechanic vesture wore,
A poor man toiling with the poor,
In labor, as in prayer, fulfilling the same law.
The Clear Vision
I did but dream. I never knew
What charms our sternest season wore.
Was never yet the sky so blue,
Was never earth so white before.
Till now I never saw the glow
Of sunset on yon hills of snow,
And never learned the bough's designs
Of beauty in its leafless lines.
Did ever such a morning break
As that my eastern windows see?
Did ever such a moonlight take
Weird photographs of shrub and tree?
Rang ever bells so wild and fleet
The music of the winter street?
Was ever yet a sound by half
So merry as you school-boy's laugh?
O Earth! with gladness overfraught,
No added charm thy face hath found;
Within my heart the change is wrought,
My footsteps make enchanted ground.
From couch of pain and curtained room
Forth to thy light and air I come,
To find in all that meets my eyes
The freshness of a glad surprise.
Fair seem these winter days, and soon
Shall blow the warm west-winds of spring,
To set the unbound rills in tune
And hither urge the bluebird's wing.
The vales shall laugh in flowers, the woods
Grow misty green with leafing buds,
And violets and wind-flowers sway
Against the throbbing heart of May.
Break forth, my lips, in praise, and own
The wiser love severely kind;
Since, richer for its chastening grown,
I see, whereas I once was blind.
The world, O Father! hath not wronged
With loss the life by Thee prolonged;
But still, with every added year,
More beautiful Thy works appear!
As Thou hast made thy world without,
Make Thou more fair my world within;
Shine through its lingering clouds of doubt;
Rebuke its haunting shapes of sin;
Fill, brief or long, my granted span
Of life with love to thee and man;
Strike when thou wilt the hour of rest,
But let my last days be my best!
The Cities Of The Plain
'Get ye up from the wrath of God's terrible day!
Ungirded, unsandalled, arise and away!
'T is the vintage of blood, 't is the fulness of time,
And vengeance shall gather the harvest of crime!'
The warning was spoken--the righteous had gone,
And the proud ones of Sodom were feasting alone;
All gay was the banquet--the revel was long,
With the pouring of wine and the breathing of song.
'T was an evening of beauty; the air was perfume,
The earth was all greenness, the trees were all bloom;
And softly the delicate viol was heard,
Like the murmur of love or the notes of a bird.
And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance,
With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance
And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free
As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.
Where the shrines of foul idols were lighted on high,
And wantonness tempted the lust of the eye;
Midst rites of obsceneness, strange, loathsome, abhorred,
The blasphemer scoffed at the name of the Lord.
Hark! the growl of the thunder,--the quaking of earth!
Woe, woe to the worship, and woe to the mirth!
The black sky has opened; there's flame in the air;
The red arm of vengeance is lifted and bare!
Then the shriek of the dying rose wild where the song
And the low tone of love had been whispered along;
For the fierce flames went lightly o'er palace and bower,
Like the red tongues of demons, to blast and devour!
Down, down on the fallen the red ruin rained,
And the reveller sank with his wine-cup undrained;
The foot of the dancer, the music's loved thrill,
And the shout and the laughter grew suddenly still.
The last throb of anguish was fearfully given;
The last eye glared forth in its madness on Heaven!
The last groan of horror rose wildly and vain,
And death brooded over the pride of the Plain!
For An Autumn Festival
The Persian's flowery gifts, the shrine
Of fruitful Ceres, charm no more;
The woven wreaths of oak and pine
Are dust along the Isthmian shore.
But beauty hath its homage still,
And nature holds us still in debt;
And woman's grace and household skill,
And manhood's toil, are honored yet.
And we, to-day, amidst our flowers
And fruits, have come to own again
The blessings of the summer hours,
The early and the latter rain;
To see our Father's hand once more
Reverse for us the plenteous horn
Of autumn, filled and running o'er
With fruit, and flower, and golden corn!
Once more the liberal year laughs out
O'er richer stores than gems or gold;
Once more with harvest-song and shout
Is Nature's bloodless triumph told.
Our common mother rests and sings,
Like Ruth, among her garnered sheaves;
Her lap is full of goodly things,
Her brow is bright with autumn leaves.
Oh, favors every year made new!
Oh, gifts with rain and sunshine sent
The bounty overruns our due,
The fulness shames our discontent.
We shut our eyes, the flowers bloom on;
We murmur, but the corn-ears fill,
We choose the shadow, but the sun
That casts it shines behind us still.
God gives us with our rugged soil
The power to make it Eden-fair,
And richer fruits to crown our toil
Than summer-wedded islands bear.
Who murmurs at his lot to-day?
Who scorns his native fruit and bloom?
Or sighs for dainties far away,
Beside the bounteous board of home?
Thank Heaven, instead, that Freedom's arm
Can change a rocky soil to gold,--
That brave and generous lives can warm
A clime with northern ices cold.
And let these altars, wreathed with flowers
And piled with fruits, awake again
Thanksgivings for the golden hours,
The early and the latter rain!
Beneath the moonlight and the snow
Lies dead my latest year;
The winter winds are wailing low
Its dirges in my ear.
I grieve not with the moaning wind
As if a loss befell;
Before me, even as behind,
God is, and all is well!
His light shines on me from above,
His low voice speaks within,--
The patience of immortal love
Outwearying mortal sin.
Not mindless of the growing years
Of care and loss and pain,
My eyes are wet with thankful tears
For blessings which remain.
If dim the gold of life has grown,
I will not count it dross,
Nor turn from treasures still my own
To sigh for lack and loss.
The years no charm from Nature take;
As sweet her voices call,
As beautiful her mornings break,
As fair her evenings fall.
Love watches o'er my quiet ways,
Kind voices speak my name,
And lips that find it hard to praise
Are slow, at least, to blame.
How softly ebb the tides of will!
How fields, once lost or won,
Now lie behind me green and still
Beneath a level sun.
How hushed the hiss of party hate,
The clamor of the throng!
How old, harsh voices of debate
Flow into rhythmic song!
Methinks the spirit's temper grows
Too soft in this still air;
Somewhat the restful heart foregoes
Of needed watch and prayer.
The bark by tempest vainly tossed
May founder in the calm,
And he who braved the polar frost
Faint by the isles of balm.
Better than self-indulgent years
The outflung heart of youth,
Than pleasant songs in idle ears
The tumult of the truth.
Rest for the weary hands is good,
And love for hearts that pine,
But let the manly habitude
Of upright souls be mine.
Let winds that blow from heaven refresh,
Dear Lord, the languid air;
And let the weakness of the flesh
Thy strength of spirit share.
And, if the eye must fail of light,
The ear forget to hear,
Make clearer still the spirit's sight,
More fine the inward ear!
Be near me in mine hours of need
To soothe, or cheer, or warn,
And down these slopes of sunset lead
As up the hills of morn!
The circle is broken, one seat is forsaken,
One bud from the tree of our friendship is shaken;
One heart from among us no longer shall thrill
With joy in our gladness, or grief in our ill.
Weep! lonely and lowly are slumbering now
The light of her glances, the pride of her brow;
Weep! sadly and long shall we listen in vain
To hear the soft tones of her welcome again.
Give our tears to the dead! For humanity's claim
From its silence and darkness is ever the same;
The hope of that world whose existence is bliss
May not stifle the tears of the mourners of this.
For, oh! if one glance the freed spirit can throw
On the scene of its troubled probation below,
Than the pride of the marble, the pomp of the dead,
To that glance will be dearer the tears which we shed.
Oh, who can forget the mild light of her smile,
Over lips moved with music and feeling the while,
The eye's deep enchantment, dark, dream-like, and clear,
In the glow of its gladness, the shade of its tear.
And the charm of her features, while over the whole
Played the hues of the heart and the sunshine of soul;
And the tones of her voice, like the music which seems
Murmured low in our ears by the Angel of dreams!
But holier and dearer our memories hold
Those treasures of feeling, more precious than gold,
The love and the kindness and pity which gave
Fresh flowers for the bridal, green wreaths for the grave!
The heart ever open to Charity's claim,
Unmoved from its purpose by censure and blame,
While vainly alike on her eye and her ear
Fell the scorn of the heartless, the jesting and jeer.
How true to our hearts was that beautiful sleeper
With smiles for the joyful, with tears for the weeper,
Yet, evermore prompt, whether mournful or gay,
With warnings in love to the passing astray.
For, though spotless herself, she could sorrow for them
Who sullied with evil the spirit's pure gem;
And a sigh or a tear could the erring reprove,
And the sting of reproof was still tempered by love.
As a cloud of the sunset, slow melting in heaven,
As a star that is lost when the daylight is given,
As a glad dream of slumber, which wakens in bliss,
She hath passed to the world of the holy from this.
BOWDOIN STREET, BOSTON, 1877.
The end has come, as come it must
To all things; in these sweet June days
The teacher and the scholar trust
Their parting feet to separate ways.
They part: but in the years to be
Shall pleasant memories cling to each,
As shells bear inland from the sea
The murmur of the rhythmic beach.
One knew the joy the sculptor knows
When, plastic to his lightest touch,
His clay-wrought model slowly grows
To that fine grace desired so much.
So daily grew before her eyes
The living shapes whereon she wrought,
Strong, tender, innocently wise,
The child's heart with the woman's thought.
And one shall never quite forget
The voice that called from dream and play,
The firm but kindly hand that set
Her feet in learning's pleasant way,--
The joy of Undine soul-possessed,
The wakening sense, the strange delight
That swelled the fabled statue's breast
And filled its clouded eyes with sight.
O Youth and Beauty, loved of all!
Ye pass from girlhood's gate of dreams;
In broader ways your footsteps fall,
Ye test the truth of all that seams.
Her little realm the teacher leaves,
She breaks her wand of power apart,
While, for your love and trust, she gives
The warm thanks of a grateful heart.
Hers is the sober summer noon
Contrasted with your morn of spring,
The waning with the waxing moon,
The folded with the outspread wing.
Across the distance of the years
She sends her God-speed back to you;
She has no thought of doubts or fears
Be but yourselves, be pure, be true,
And prompt in duty; heed the deep,
Low voice of conscience; through the ill
And discord round about you, keep
Your faith in human nature still.
Be gentle: unto griefs and needs,
Be pitiful as woman should,
And, spite of all the lies of creeds,
Hold fast the truth that God is good.
Give and receive; go forth and bless
The world that needs the hand and heart
Of Martha's helpful carefulness
No less than Mary's better part.
So shall the stream of time flow by
And leave each year a richer good,
And matron loveliness outvie
The nameless charm of maidenhood.
And, when the world shall link your names
With gracious lives and manners fine,
The teacher shall assert her claims,
And proudly whisper, 'These were mine!'
The Christian Tourists
No aimless wanderers, by the fiend Unrest
Goaded from shore to shore;
No schoolmen, turning, in their classic quest,
The leaves of empire o'er.
Simple of faith, and bearing in their hearts
The love of man and God,
Isles of old song, the Moslem's ancient marts,
And Scythia's steppes, they trod.
Where the long shadows of the fir and pine
In the night sun are cast,
And the deep heart of many a Norland mine
Quakes at each riving blast;
Where, in barbaric grandeur, Moskwa stands,
A baptized Scythian queen,
With Europe's arts and Asia's jewelled hands,
The North and East between!
Where still, through vales of Grecian fable, stray
The classic forms of yore,
And beauty smiles, new risen from the spray,
And Dian weeps once more;
Where every tongue in Smyrna's mart resounds;
And Stamboul from the sea
Lifts her tall minarets over burial-grounds
Black with the cypress-tree!
From Malta's temples to the gates of Rome,
Following the track of Paul,
And where the Alps gird round the Switzer's home
Their vast, eternal wall;
They paused not by the ruins of old time,
They scanned no pictures rare,
Nor lingered where the snow-locked mountains climb
The cold abyss of air!
But unto prisons, where men lay in chains,
To haunts where Hunger pined,
To kings and courts forgetful of the pains
And wants of human-kind,
Scattering sweet words, and quiet deeds of good,
Along their way, like flowers,
Or pleading, as Christ's freemen only could,
With princes and with powers;
Their single aim the purpose to fulfil
Of Truth, from day to day,
Simply obedient to its guiding will,
They held their pilgrim way.
Yet dream not, hence, the beautiful and old
Were wasted on their sight,
Who in the school of Christ had learned to hold
All outward things aright.
Not less to them the breath of vineyards blown
From off the Cyprian shore,
Not less for them the Alps in sunset shone,
That man they valued more.
A life of beauty lends to all it sees
The beauty of its thought;
And fairest forms and sweetest harmonies
Make glad its way, unsought.
In sweet accordancy of praise and love,
The singing waters run;
And sunset mountains wear in light above
The smile of duty done;
Sure stands the promise, — ever to the meek
A heritage is given;
Nor lose they Earth who, single-hearted, seek
The righteousness of Heaven!
To The Memory Of Thomas Shipley
GONE to thy Heavenly Father's rest!
The flowers of Eden round thee blowing,
And on thine ear the murmurs blest
Of Siloa's waters softly flowing!
Beneath that Tree of Life which gives
To all the earth its healing leaves
In the white robe of angels clad,
And wandering by that sacred river,
Whose streams of holiness make glad
The city of our God forever!
Gentlest of spirits! not for thee
Our tears are shed, our sighs are given;
Why mourn to know thou art a free
Partaker of the joys of heaven?
Finished thy work, and kept thy faith
In Christian firmness unto death;
And beautiful as sky and earth,
When autumn's sun is downward going,
The blessed memory of thy worth
Around thy place of slumber glowing!
But woe for us! who linger still
With feebler strength and hearts less lowly,
And minds less steadfast to the will
Of Him whose every work is holy.
For not like thine, is crucified
The spirit of our human pride:
And at the bondman's tale of woe,
And for the outcast and forsaken,
Not warm like thine, but cold and slow,
Our weaker sympathies awaken.
Darkly upon our struggling way
The storm of human hate is sweeping;
Hunted and branded, and a prey,
Our watch amidst the darkness keeping,
Oh, for that hidden strength which can
Nerve unto death the inner man!
Oh, for thy spirit, tried and true,
And constant in the hour of trial,
Prepared to suffer, or to do,
In meekness and in self-denial.
Oh, for that spirit, meek and mild,
Derided, spurned, yet uncomplaining;
By man deserted and reviled,
Yet faithful to its trust remaining.
Still prompt and resolute to save
From scourge and chain the hunted slave;
Unwavering in the Truth's defence,
Even where the fires of Hate were burning,
The unquailing eye of innocence
Alone upon the oppressor turning!
O loved of thousands! to thy grave,
Sorrowing of heart, thy brethren bore thee.
The poor man and the rescued slave
Wept as the broken earth closed o'er thee;
And grateful tears, like summer rain,
Quickened its dying grass again!
And there, as to some pilgrim-shrine,
Shall come the outcast and the lowly,
Of gentle deeds and words of thine
Recalling memories sweet and holy!
Oh, for the death the righteous die!
An end, like autumn's day declining,
On human hearts, as on the sky,
With holier, tenderer beauty shining;
As to the parting soul were given
The radiance of an opening heaven!
As if that pure and blessed light,
From off the Eternal altar flowing,
Were bathing, in its upward flight,
The spirit to its worship going!
The roll of drums and the bugle's wailing
Vex the air of our vales-no more;
The spear is beaten to hooks of pruning,
The share is the sword the soldier wore!
Sing soft, sing low, our lowland river,
Under thy banks of laurel bloom;
Softly and sweet, as the hour beseemeth,
Sing us the songs of peace and home.
Let all the tenderer voices of nature
Temper the triumph and chasten mirth,
Full of the infinite love and pity
For fallen martyr and darkened hearth.
But to Him who gives us beauty for ashes,
And the oil of joy for mourning long,
Let thy hills give thanks, and all thy waters
Break into jubilant waves of song!
Bring us the airs of hills and forests,
The sweet aroma of birch and pine,
Give us a waft of the north-wind laden
With sweethrier odors and breath of kine!
Bring us the purple of mountain sunsets,
Shadows of clouds that rake the hills,
The green repose of thy Plymouth meadows,
The gleam and ripple of Campton rills.
Lead us away in shadow and sunshine,
Slaves of fancy, through all thy miles,
The winding ways of Pemigewasset,
And Winnipesaukee's hundred isles.
Shatter in sunshine over thy ledges,
Laugh in thy plunges from fall to fall;
Play with thy fringes of elms, and darken
Under the shade of the mountain wall.
The cradle-song of thy hillside fountains
Here in thy glory and strength repeat;
Give us a taste of thy upland music,
Show us the dance of thy silver feet.
Into thy dutiful life of uses
Pour the music and weave the flowers;
With the song of birds and bloom of meadows
Lighten and gladden thy heart and ours.
Sing on! bring down, O lowland river,
The joy of the hills to the waiting sea;
The wealth of the vales, the pomp of mountains,
The breath of the woodlands, bear with thee.
Here, in the calm of thy seaward, valley,
Mirth and labor shall hold their truce;
Dance of water and mill of grinding,
Both are beauty and both are use.
Type of the Northland's strength and glory,
Pride and hope of our home and race,--
Freedom lending to rugged labor
Tints of beauty and lines of grace.
Once again, O beautiful river,
Hear our greetings and take our thanks;
Hither we come, as Eastern pilgrims
Throng to the Jordan's sacred banks.
For though by the Master's feet untrodden,
Though never His word has stilled thy waves,
Well for us may thy shores be holy,
With Christian altars and saintly graves.
And well may we own thy hint and token
Of fairer valleys and streams than these,
Where the rivers of God are full of water,
And full of sap are His healing trees!
I shall not soon forget that sight
The glow of Autumn's westering day,
A hazy warmth, a dreamy light,
On Raphael's picture lay.
It was a simple print I saw,
The fair face of a musing boy;
Yet, while I gazed, a sense of awe
Seemed blending with my joy.
A simple print,--the graceful flow
Of boyhood's soft and wavy hair,
And fresh young lip and cheek, and brow
Unmarked and clear, were there.
Yet through its sweet and calm repose
I saw the inward spirit shine;
It was as if before me rose
The white veil of a shrine.
As if, as Gothland's sage has told,
The hidden life, the man within,
Dissevered from its frame and mould,
By mortal eye were seen.
Was it the lifting of that eye,
The waving of that pictured hand?
Loose as a cloud-wreath on the sky,
I saw the walls expand.
The narrow room had vanished,--space,
Broad, luminous, remained alone,
Through which all hues and shapes of grace
And beauty looked or shone.
Around the mighty master came
The marvels which his pencil wrought,
Those miracles of power whose fame
Is wide as human thought.
There drooped thy more than mortal face,
O Mother, beautiful and mild
Enfolding in one dear embrace
Thy Saviour and thy Child!
The rapt brow of the Desert John;
The awful glory of that day
When all the Father's brightness shone
Through manhood's veil of clay.
And, midst gray prophet forms, and wild
Dark visions of the days of old,
How sweetly woman's beauty smiled
Through locks of brown and gold!
There Fornarina's fair young face
Once more upon her lover shone,
Whose model of an angel's grace
He borrowed from her own.
Slow passed that vision from my view,
But not the lesson which it taught;
The soft, calm shadows which it threw
Still rested on my thought:
The truth, that painter, bard, and sage,
Even in Earth's cold and changeful clime,
Plant for their deathless heritage
The fruits and flowers of time.
We shape ourselves the joy or fear
Of which the coming life is made,
And fill our Future's atmosphere
With sunshine or with shade.
The tissue of the Life to be
We weave with colors all our own,
And in the field of Destiny
We reap as we have sown.
Still shall the soul around it call
The shadows which it gathered here,
And, painted on the eternal wall,
The Past shall reappear.
Think ye the notes of holy song
On Milton's tuneful ear have died?
Think ye that Raphael's angel throng
Has vanished from his side?
Oh no!--We live our life again;
Or warmly touched, or coldly dim,
The pictures of the Past remain,---
Man's works shall follow him!
To Avis Keene
ON RECEIVING A BASKET OF SEA-MOSSES.
Thanks for thy gift
Of ocean flowers,
Born where the golden drift
Of the slant sunshine falls
Down the green, tremulous walls
Of water, to the cool, still coral bowers,
Where, under rainbows of perpetual showers,
God's gardens of the deep
His patient angels keep;
Gladdening the dim, strange solitude
With fairest forms and hues, and thus
Forever teaching us
The lesson which the many-colored skies,
The flowers, and leaves, and painted butterflies,
The deer's branched antlers, the gay bird that flings
The tropic sunshine from its golden wings,
The brightness of the human countenance,
Its play of smiles, the magic of a glance,
In varied tones and sweet,
That beauty, in and of itself, is good.
O kind and generous friend, o'er whom
The sunset hues of Time are cast,
Painting, upon the overpast
And scattered clouds of noonday sorrow
The promise of a fairer morrow,
An earnest of the better life to come;
The binding of the spirit broken,
The warning to the erring spoken,
The comfort of the sad,
The eye to see, the hand to cull
Of common things the beautiful,
The absent heart made glad
By simple gift or graceful token
Of love it needs as daily food,
All own one Source, and all are good
Hence, tracking sunny cove and reach,
Where spent waves glimmer up the beach,
And toss their gifts of weed and shell
From foamy curve and combing swell,
No unbefitting task was thine
To weave these flowers so soft and fair
In unison with His design
Who loveth beauty everywhere;
And makes in every zone and clime,
In ocean and in upper air,
All things beautiful in their time.
For not alone in tones of awe and power
He speaks to Inan;
The cloudy horror of the thunder-shower
His rainbows span;
And where the caravan
Winds o'er the desert, leaving, as in air
The crane-flock leaves, no trace of passage there,
He gives the weary eye
The palm-leaf shadow for the hot noon hours,
And on its branches dry
Calls out the acacia's flowers;
And where the dark shaft pierces down
Beneath the mountain roots,
Seen by the miner's lamp alone,
The star-like crystal shoots;
So, where, the winds and waves below,
The coral-branched gardens grow,
His climbing weeds and mosses show,
Like foliage, on each stony bough,
Of varied hues more strangely gay
Than forest leaves in autumn's day;--
On sky, and wave, and shore,
An all-pervading beauty seems to say
God's love and power are one; and they,
Who, like the thunder of a sultry day,
Smite to restore,
And they, who, like the gentle wind, uplift
The petals of the dew-wet flowers, and drift
Their perfume on the air,
Alike may serve Him, each, with their own gift,
Making their lives a prayer!
A beautiful and happy girl,
With step as light as summer air,
Eyes glad with smiles, and brow of pearl,
Shadowed by many a careless curl
Of unconfined and flowing hair;
A seeming child in everything,
Save thoughtful brow and ripening charms,
As Nature wears the smile of Spring
When sinking into Summer's arms.
A mind rejoicing in the light
Which melted through its graceful bower,
Leaf after leaf, dew-moist and bright,
And stainless in its holy white,
Unfolding like a morning flower
A heart, which, like a fine-toned lute,
With every breath of feeling woke,
And, even when the tongue was mute,
From eye and lip in music spoke.
How thrills once more the lengthening chain
Of memory, at the thought of thee!
Old hopes which long in dust have lain
Old dreams, come thronging back again,
And boyhood lives again in me;
I feel its glow upon my cheek,
Its fulness of the heart is mine,
As when I leaned to hear thee speak,
Or raised my doubtful eye to thine.
I hear again thy low replies,
I feel thy arm within my own,
And timidly again uprise
The fringed lids of hazel eyes,
With soft brown tresses overblown.
Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
And smiles and tones more dear than they!
Ere this, thy quiet eye hath smiled
My picture of thy youth to see,
When, half a woman, half a child,
Thy very artlessness beguiled,
And folly's self seemed wise in thee;
I too can smile, when o'er that hour
The lights of memory backward stream,
Yet feel the while that manhood's power
Is vainer than my boyhood's dream.
Years have passed on, and left their trace,
Of graver care and deeper thought;
And unto me the calm, cold face
Of manhood, and to thee the grace
Of woman's pensive beauty brought.
More wide, perchance, for blame than praise,
The school-boy's humble name has flown;
Thine, in the green and quiet ways
Of unobtrusive goodness known.
And wider yet in thought and deed
Diverge our pathways, one in youth;
Thine the Genevan's sternest creed,
While answers to my spirit's need
The Derby dalesman's simple truth.
For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
And holy day, and solemn psalm;
For me, the silent reverence where
My brethren gather, slow and calm.
Yet hath thy spirit left on me
An impress Time has worn not out,
And something of myself in thee,
A shadow from the past, I see,
Lingering, even yet, thy way about;
Not wholly can the heart unlearn
That lesson of its better hours,
Not yet has Time's dull footstep worn
To common dust that path of flowers.
Thus, while at times before our eyes
The shadows melt, and fall apart,
And, smiling through them, round us lies
The warm light of our morning skies,--
The Indian Summer of the heart!
In secret sympathies of mind,
In founts of feeling which retain
Their pure, fresh flow, we yet may find
Our early dreams not wholly vain
How bland and sweet the greeting of this breeze
To him who flies
From crowded street and red wall's weary gleam,
Till far behind him like a hideous dream
The close dark city lies
Here, while the market murmurs, while men throng
The marble floor
Of Mammon's altar, from the crush and din
Of the world's madness let me gather in
My better thoughts once more.
Oh, once again revive, while on my ear
The cry of Gain
And low hoarse hum of Traffic die away,
Ye blessed memories of my early day
Like sere grass wet with rain!
Once more let God's green earth and sunset air
Old feelings waken;
Through weary years of toil and strife and ill,
Oh, let me feel that my good angel still
Hath not his trust forsaken.
And well do time and place befit my mood
Beneath the arms
Of this embracing wood, a good man made
His home, like Abraham resting in the shade
Of Mamre's lonely palms.
Here, rich with autumn gifts of countless years,
The virgin soil
Turned from the share he guided, and in rain
And summer sunshine throve the fruits and grain
Which blessed his honest toil.
Here, from his voyages on the stormy seas,
Weary and worn,
He came to meet his children and to bless
The Giver of all good in thankfulness
And praise for his return.
And here his neighbors gathered in to greet
Their friend again,
Safe from the wave and the destroying gales,
Which reap untimely green Bermuda's vales,
And vex the Carib main.
To hear the good man tell of simple truth,
Sown in an hour
Of weakness in some far-off Indian isle,
From the parched bosom of a barren soil,
Raised up in life and power.
How at those gatherings in Barbadian vales,
A tendering love
Came o'er him, like the gentle rain from heaven,
And words of fitness to his lips were given,
And strength as from above.
How the sad captive listened to the Word,
Until his chain
Grew lighter, and his wounded spirit felt
The healing balm of consolation melt
Upon its life-long pain
How the armed warrior sat him down to hear
Of Peace and Truth,
And the proud ruler and his Creole dame,
Jewelled and gorgeous in her beauty came,
And fair and bright-eyed youth.
Oh, far away beneath New England's sky,
Even when a boy,
Following my plough by Merrimac's green shore,
His simple record I have pondered o'er
With deep and quiet joy.
And hence this scene, in sunset glory warm,--
Its woods around,
Its still stream winding on in light and shade,
Its soft, green meadows and its upland glade,--
To me is holy ground.
And dearer far than haunts where Genius keeps
His vigils still;
Than that where Avon's son of song is laid,
Or Vaucluse hallowed by its Petrarch's shade,
Or Virgil's laurelled hill.
To the gray walls of fallen Paraclete,
To Juliet's urn,
Fair Arno and Sorrento's orange-grove,
Where Tasso sang, let young Romance and Love
Like brother pilgrims turn.
But here a deeper and serener charm
To all is given;
And blessed memories of the faithful dead
O'er wood and vale and meadow-stream have shed
The holy hues of Heaven!
On A Prayer-Book, With Its Frontispiece, Ary Scheffer’s
O ARY SCHEFFER! when beneath thine eye,
Touched with the light that cometh from above,
Grew the sweet picture of the dear Lord's love,
No dream hadst thou that Christian hands would tear
Therefrom the token of His equal care,
And make thy symbol of His truth a lie!
The poor, dumb slave whose shackles fall away
In His compassionate gaze, grubbed smoothly out,
To mar no more the exercise devout
Of sleek oppression kneeling down to pray
Where the great oriel stains the Sabbath day!
Let whoso can before such praying-books
Kneel on his velvet cushion; I, for one,
Would sooner bow, a Parsee, to the sun,
Or tend a prayer-wheel in Thibetar brooks,
Or beat a drum on Yedo's temple-floor.
No falser idol man has bowed before,
In Indian groves or islands of the sea,
Than that which through the quaint-carved Gothic door
Looks forth, — a Church without humanity!
Patron of pride, and prejudice, and wrong, —
The rich man's charm and fetich of the strong,
The Eternal Fulness meted, clipped, and shorn,
The seamless robe of equal mercy torn,
The dear Christ hidden from His kindred flesh,
And, in His poor ones, crucified afresh!
Better the simple Lama scattering wide,
Where sweeps the storm Alechan's steppes along,
His paper horses for the lost to ride,
And wearying Buddha with his prayers to make
The figures living for the traveller's sake,
Than he who hopes with cheap praise to beguile
The ear of God, dishonoring man the while;
Who dreams the pearl gate's hinges, rusty grown,
Are moved by flattery's oil of tongue alone;
That in the scale Eternal Justice bears
The generous deed weighs less than selfish prayers,
And words intoned with graceful unction move
The Eternal Goodness more than lives of truth and love.
Alas, the Church! The reverend head of Jay,
Enhaloed with its saintly silvered hair,
Adorns no more the places of her prayer;
And brave young Tyng, too early called away,
Troubles the Haman of her courts no more
Like the just Hebrew at the Assyrian's door;
And her sweet ritual, beautiful but dead
As the dry husk from which the grain is shed,
And holy hymns from which the life devout
Of saints and martyrs has wellneigh gone out,
Like candles dying in exhausted air,
For Sabbath use in measured grists are ground;
And, ever while the spiritual mill goes round,
Between the upper and the nether stones,
Unseen, unheard, the wretched bondman groans,
And urges his vain plea, prayer-smothered, anthem-drowned!.
O heart of mine, keep patience!
As from the Mount of Vision, I behold,
Pure, just, and free, the Church of Christ on earth;
The martyr's dream, the golden age foretold!
And found, at last, the mystic Graal I see,
Brimmed with His blessing, pass from lip to lip
In sacred pledge of human fellowship;
And over all the songs of angels hear;
Songs of the love that casteth out all fear;
Songs of the Gospel of Humanity!
Lo! in the midst, with the same look He wore,
Healing and blessing on Genesaret's shore,
Folding together, with the all-tender might
Of His great love, the dark hands and the white,
Stands the Consoler, soothing every pain,
Making all burdens light, and breaking every chain.
Blest land of Judea! thrice hallowed of song,
Where the holiest of memories pilgrim-like throng;
In the shade of thy palms, by the shores of thy sea,
On the hills of thy beauty, my heart is with thee.
With the eye of a spirit I look on that shore,
Where pilgrim and prophet have lingered before;
With the glide of a spirit, I traverse the sod
Made bright by the steps of the angels of God.
Blue sea of the hills! in my spirit I hear
Thy waters, Genasseret, chime on my ear;
Where the Lowly and Just with the people sat down,
And thy spray on the dust of His sandals was thrown.
Beyond are Bethulia's mountains of green,
And the desolate hills of the wild Godarene;
And I pause on the goat-crags of Tabor to see
The gleam of thy waters, oh dark Gallilee!
Hark, a sound in the vallies! where, swollen and strong,
Thy river, oh Kishon, is sweeping along;
Where the Canaanite strove with Jehovah in vain,
And thy torrent grew dark with the blood of the slain.
There down from his mountains stern Zebulon came,
And Naphtali's stag, with his eye-balls of flame,
And the chariots of Jabin rolled harmlessly on,
For the arm of the Lord was Abinoam's son!
There sleep the still rocks and the caverns which rang
To the song which the beautiful Prophetess sang,
When the Princes of Issachar stood by her side,
And the shout of a host in its triumph replied.
Lo! Bethlehem's hill-site before me is seen,
With the mountains around, and the vallies between;
There rested the shepherds of Judah, and there
The song of the angels rose sweet on the air.
And Bethany's palm-trees in beauty still throw
Their shadows at noon on the ruins below;
But where are the sisters who hastened to greet
The lowly Redeemer, and sit at His feet?
I tread where the TWELVE in their wayfaring trod;
I stand where they stood with the CHOSEN of GOD!
Where his blessing was heard, and his lessons were taught,
Where the blind were restored, and the healing was wrought.
Oh, here with his flock the sad Wanderer came,
These hills he toiled over in grief are the same-
The founts where he drank by the wayside still flow,
And the same airs are blowing which breathed on his brow.
And throned on her hills sits Jerusalem yet,
But with dust on her forehead, and chains on her feet:
For the crown of her pride to the mocker hath gone,
And the holy Shechinah is dark where it shone!
But wherefore this dream of the earthly abode
Of Humanity clothed in the brightness of God?
Were my spirit but turned from the outward and dim,
It could gaze, even now, on the presence of Him!
Not in clouds and in terrors, but gentle as when
In love and in meekness he moved among men;
And the voice which breathed peace to the waves of the sea,
In the hush of my spirit would whisper to me!
And what if my feet may not tread where He stood,
Nor my ears hear the dashing of Gallilee's flood,
Nor my eyes see the cross which He bowed him to bear,
Nor my knees press Gethsemane's garden of prayer.
Yet, Loved of the Father, Thy spirit is near
To the meek, and the lowly, and penitent here;
And the voice of thy love is the same even now,
As at Bethany's tomb, or on Olivet's brow,mdash;
Oh, the outward hath gone!-but in glory and power,
The SPIRIT surviveth the things of an hour;
Unchanged, undecaying, its Pentecost flame
On the heart's secret altar is burning the same!
A Summer Pilgrimage
To kneel before some saintly shrine,
To breathe the health of airs divine,
Or bathe where sacred rivers flow,
The cowled and turbaned pilgrims go.
I too, a palmer, take, as they
With staff and scallop-shell, my way
To feel, from burdening cares and ills,
The strong uplifting of the hills.
The years are many since, at first,
For dreamed-of wonders all athirst,
I saw on Winnipesaukee fall
The shadow of the mountain wall.
Ah! where are they who sailed with me
The beautiful island-studded sea?
And am I he whose keen surprise
Flashed out from such unclouded eyes?
Still, when the sun of summer burns,
My longing for the hills returns;
And northward, leaving at my back
The warm vale of the Merrimac,
I go to meet the winds of morn,
Blown down the hill-gaps, mountain-born,
Breathe scent of pines, and satisfy
The hunger of a lowland eye.
Again I see the day decline
Along a ridged horizon line;
Touching the hill-tops, as a nun
Her beaded rosary, sinks the sun.
One lake lies golden, which shall soon
Be silver in the rising moon;
And one, the crimson of the skies
And mountain purple multiplies.
With the untroubled quiet blends
The distance-softened voice of friends;
The girl's light laugh no discord brings
To the low song the pine-tree sings;
And, not unwelcome, comes the hail
Of boyhood from his nearing sail.
The human presence breaks no spell,
And sunset still is miracle!
Calm as the hour, methinks I feel
A sense of worship o'er me steal;
Not that of satyr-charming Pan,
No cult of Nature shaming man,
Not Beauty's self, but that which lives
And shines through all the veils it weaves,--
Soul of the mountain, lake, and wood,
Their witness to the Eternal Good!
And if, by fond illusion, here
The earth to heaven seems drawing near,
And yon outlying range invites
To other and serener heights,
Scarce hid behind its topmost swell,
The shining Mounts Delectable
A dream may hint of truth no less
Than the sharp light of wakefulness.
As through her vale of incense smoke.
Of old the spell-rapt priestess spoke,
More than her heathen oracle,
May not this trance of sunset tell
That Nature's forms of loveliness
Their heavenly archetypes confess,
Fashioned like Israel's ark alone
From patterns in the Mount made known?
A holier beauty overbroods
These fair and faint similitudes;
Yet not unblest is he who sees
Shadows of God's realities,
And knows beyond this masquerade
Of shape and color, light and shade,
And dawn and set, and wax and wane,
Eternal verities remain.
O gems of sapphire, granite set!
O hills that charmed horizons fret
I know how fair your morns can break,
In rosy light on isle and lake;
How over wooded slopes can run
The noonday play of cloud and sun,
And evening droop her oriflamme
Of gold and red in still Asquam.
The summer moons may round again,
And careless feet these hills profane;
These sunsets waste on vacant eyes
The lavish splendor of the skies;
Fashion and folly, misplaced here,
Sigh for their natural atmosphere,
And travelled pride the outlook scorn
Of lesser heights than Matterhorn.
But let me dream that hill and sky
Of unseen beauty prophesy;
And in these tinted lakes behold
The trailing of the raiment fold
Of that which, still eluding gaze,
Allures to upward-tending ways,
Whose footprints make, wherever found,
Our common earth a holy ground.
Traveller! on thy journey toiling
By the swift Powow,
With the summer sunshine falling
On thy heated brow,
Listen, while all else is still,
To the brooklet from the hill.
Wild and sweet the flowers are blowing
By that streamlet's side,
And a greener verdure showing
Where its waters glide,
Down the hill-slope murmuring on,
Over root and mossy stone.
Where yon oak his broad arms flingeth
O'er the sloping hill,
Beautiful and freshly springeth
That soft-flowing rill,
Through its dark roots wreathed and bare,
Gushing up to sun and air.
Brighter waters sparkled never
In that magic well,
Of whose gift of life forever
Ancient legends tell,
In the lonely desert wasted,
And by mortal lip untasted.
Waters which the proud Castilian
Sought with longing eyes,
Underneath the bright pavilion
Of the Indian skies,
Where his forest pathway lay
Through the blooms of Florida.
Years ago a lonely stranger,
With the dusky brow
Of the outcast forest-ranger,
Crossed the swift Powow,
And betook him to the rill
And the oak upon the hill.
O'er his face of moody sadness
For an instant shone
Something like a gleam of gladness,
As he stooped him down
To the fountain's grassy side,
And his eager thirst supplied.
With the oak its shadow throwing
O'er his mossy seat,
And the cool, sweet waters flowing
Softly at his feet,
Closely by the fountain's rim
That lone Indian seated him.
Autumn's earliest frost had given
To the woods below
Hues of beauty, such as heaven
Lendeth to its bow;
And the soft breeze from the west
Scarcely broke their dreamy rest.
Far behind was Ocean striving
With his chains of sand;
Southward, sunny glimpses giving,
'Twixt the swells of land,
Of its calm and silvery track,
Rolled the tranquil Merrimac.
Over village, wood, and meadow
Gazed that stranger man,
Sadly, till the twilight shadow
Over all things ran,
Save where spire and westward pane
Flashed the sunset back again.
Gazing thus upon the dwelling
Of his warrior sires,
Where no lingering trace was telling
Of their wigwam fires,
Who the gloomy thoughts might know
Of that wandering child of woe?
Naked lay, in sunshine glowing,
Hills that once had stood
Down their sides the shadows throwing
Of a mighty wood,
Where the deer his covert kept,
And the eagle's pinion swept!
Where the birch canoe had glided
Down the swift Powow,
Dark and gloomy bridges strided
Those clear waters now;
And where once the beaver swam,
Jarred the wheel and frowned the dam.
For the wood-bird's merry singing,
And the hunter's cheer,
Iron clang and hammer's ringing
Smote upon his ear;
And the thick and sullen smoke
From the blackened forges broke.
Could it be his fathers ever
Loved to linger here?
These bare hills, this conquered river,-
Could they hold them dear,
With their native loveliness
Tamed and tortured into this?
Sadly, as the shades of even
Gathered o'er the hill,
While the western half of heaven
Blushed with sunset still,
From the fountain's mossy seat
Turned the Indian's weary feet.
Year on year hath flown forever,
But he came no more
To the hillside on the river
Where he came before.
But the villager can tell
Of that strange man's visit well.
And the merry children, laden
With their fruits or flowers,
Roving boy and laughing maiden,
In their school-day hours,
Love the simple tale to tell
Of the Indian and his well.
In Remembrance Of Joseph Sturge
In the fair land o'erwatched by Ischia's mountains,
Across the charmed bay
Whose blue waves keep with Capri's silver fountains
A king lies dead, his wafer duly eaten,
His gold-bought masses given;
And Rome's great altar smokes with gums to sweeten
Her foulest gift to Heaven.
And while all Naples thrills with mute thanksgiving,
The court of England's queen
For the dead monster so abhorred while living
In mourning garb is seen.
With a true sorrow God rebukes that feigning;
By lone Edgbaston's side
Stands a great city in the sky's sad raining,
Bareheaded and wet-eyed!
Silent for once the restless hive of labor,
Save the low funeral tread,
Or voice of craftsman whispering to his neighbor
The good deeds of the dead.
For him no minster's chant of the immortals
Rose from the lips of sin;
No mitred priest swung back the heavenly portals
To let the white soul in.
But Age and Sickness framed their tearful faces
In the low hovel's door,
And prayers went up from all the dark by-places
And Ghettos of the poor.
The pallid toiler and the negro chattel,
The vagrant of the street,
The human dice wherewith in games of battle
The lords of earth compete,
Touched with a grief that needs no outward draping,
All swelled the long lament,
Of grateful hearts, instead of marble, shaping
His viewless monument!
For never yet, with ritual pomp and splendor,
In the long heretofore,
A heart more loyal, warm, and true, and tender,
Has England's turf closed o'er.
And if there fell from out her grand old steeples
No crash of brazen wail,
The murmurous woe of kindreds, tongues, and peoples
Swept in on every gale.
It came from Holstein's birchen-belted meadows,
And from the tropic calms
Of Indian islands in the sunlit shadows
Of Occidental palms;
From the locked roadsteads of the Bothniaii peasants,
And harbors of the Finn,
Where war's worn victims saw his gentle presence
Come sailing, Christ-like, in,
To seek the lost, to build the old waste places,
To link the hostile shores
Of severing seas, and sow with England's daisies
The moss of Finland's moors.
Thanks for the good man's beautiful example,
Who in the vilest saw
Some sacred crypt or altar of a temple
Still vocal with God's law;
And heard with tender ear the spirit sighing
As from its prison cell,
Praying for pity, like the mournful crying
Of Jonah out of hell.
Not his the golden pen's or lip's persuasion,
But a fine sense of right,
And Truth's directness, meeting each occasion
Straight as a line of light.
His faith and works, like streams that intermingle,
In the same channel ran
The crystal clearness of an eye kept single
Shamed all the frauds of man.
The very gentlest of all human natures
He joined to courage strong,
And love outreaching unto all God's creatures
With sturdy hate of wrong.
Tender as woman, manliness and meekness
In him were so allied
That they who judged him by his strength or weakness
Saw but a single side.
Men failed, betrayed him, but his zeal seemed nourished
By failure and by fall;
Still a large faith in human-kind he cherished,
And in God's love for all.
And now he rests: his greatness and his sweetness
No more shall seem at strife,
And death has moulded into calm completeness
The statue of his life.
Where the dews glisten and the songbirds warble,
His dust to dust is laid,
In Nature's keeping, with no pomp of marble
To shame his modest shade.
The forges glow, the hammers all are ringing;
Beneath its smoky vale,
Hard by, the city of his love is swinging
Its clamorous iron flail.
But round his grave are quietude and beauty,
And the sweet heaven above,--
The fitting symbols of a life of duty
Transfigured into love!
They tell me, Lucy, thou art dead,
That all of thee we loved and cherished
Has with thy summer roses perished;
And left, as its young beauty fled,
An ashen memory in its stead,
The twilight of a parted day
Whose fading light is cold and vain,
The heart's faint echo of a strain
Of low, sweet music passed away.
That true and loving heart, that gift
Of a mind, earnest, clear, profound,
Bestowing, with a glad unthrift,
Its sunny light on all around,
Affinities which only could
Cleave to the pure, the true, and good;
And sympathies which found no rest,
Save with the loveliest and best.
Of them--of thee--remains there naught
But sorrow in the mourner's breast?
A shadow in the land of thought?
No! Even my weak and trembling faith
Can lift for thee the veil which doubt
And human fear have drawn about
The all-awaiting scene of death.
Even as thou wast I see thee still;
And, save the absence of all ill
And pain and weariness, which here
Summoned the sigh or wrung the tear,
The same as when, two summers back,
Beside our childhood's Merrimac,
I saw thy dark eye wander o'er
Stream, sunny upland, rocky shore,
And heard thy low, soft voice alone
Midst lapse of waters, and the tone
Of pine-leaves by the west-wind blown,
There's not a charm of soul or brow,
Of all we knew and loved in thee,
But lives in holier beauty now,
Baptized in immortality!
Not mine the sad and freezing dream
Of souls that, with their earthly mould,
Cast off the loves and joys of old,
Unbodied, like a pale moonbeam,
As pure, as passionless, and cold;
Nor mine the hope of Indra's son,
Of slumbering in oblivion's rest,
Life's myriads blending into one,
In blank annihilation blest;
Dust-atoms of the infinite,
Sparks scattered from the central light,
And winning back through mortal pain
Their old unconsciousness again.
No! I have friends in Spirit Land,
Not shadows in a shadowy band,
Not others, but themselves are they.
And still I think of them the same
As when the Master's summons came;
Their change,--the holy morn-light breaking
Upon the dream-worn sleeper, waking,--
A change from twilight into day.
They 've laid thee midst the household graves,
Where father, brother, sister lie;
Below thee sweep the dark blue waves,
Above thee bends the summer sky.
Thy own loved church in sadness read
Her solemn ritual o'er thy head,
And blessed and hallowed with her prayer
The turf laid lightly o'er thee there.
That church, whose rites and liturgy,
Sublime and old, were truth to thee,
Undoubted to thy bosom taken,
As symbols of a faith unshaken.
Even I, of simpler views, could feel
The beauty of thy trust and zeal;
And, owning not thy creed, could see
How deep a truth it seemed to thee,
And how thy fervent heart had thrown
O'er all, a coloring of its own,
And kindled up, intense and warm,
A life in every rite and form,
As. when on Chebar's banks of old,
The Hebrew's gorgeous vision rolled,
A spirit filled the vast machine,
A life, 'within the wheels' was seen.
Farewell! A little time, and we
Who knew thee well, and loved thee here,
One after one shall follow thee
As pilgrims through the gate of fear,
Which opens on eternity.
Yet shall we cherish not the less
All that is left our hearts meanwhile;
The memory of thy loveliness
Shall round our weary pathway smile,
Like moonlight when the sun has set,
A sweet and tender radiance yet.
Thoughts of thy clear-eyed sense of duty,
Thy generous scorn of all things wrong,
The truth, the strength, the graceful beauty
Which blended in thy song.
All lovely things, by thee beloved,
Shall whisper to our hearts of thee;
These green hills, where thy childhood roved,
Yon river winding to the sea,
The sunset light of autumn eves
Reflecting on the deep, still floods,
Cloud, crimson sky, and trembling leaves
Of rainbow-tinted woods,
These, in our view, shall henceforth take
A tenderer meaning for thy sake;
And all thou lovedst of earth and sky,
Seem sacred to thy memory.
The Two Elizabeths
Read at the unveiling of the bust of Elizabeth Fry at the Friends'
School, Providence, R. I.
A. D. 1209.
AMIDST Thuringia's wooded hills she dwelt,
A high-born princess, servant of the poor,
Sweetening with gracious words the food she dealt
To starving throngs at Wartburg's blazoned door.
A blinded zealot held her soul in chains,
Cramped the sweet nature that he could not kill,
Scarred her fair body with his penance-pains,
And gauged her conscience by his narrow will.
God gave her gifts of beauty and of grace,
With fast and vigil she denied them all;
Unquestioning, with sad, pathetic face,
She followed meekly at her stern guide's call.
So drooped and died her home-blown rose of bliss
In the chill rigor of a discipline
That turned her fond lips from her children's kiss,
And made her joy of motherhood a sin.
To their sad level by compassion led,
One with the low and vile herself she made,
While thankless misery mocked the hand that fed,
And laughed to scorn her piteous masquerade.
But still, with patience that outwearied hate,
She gave her all while yet she had to give;
And then her empty hands, importunate,
In prayer she lifted that the poor might live.
Sore pressed by grief, and wrongs more hard to bear,
And dwarfed and stifled by a harsh control,
She kept life fragrant with good deeds and prayer,
And fresh and pure the white flower of her soul.
Death found her busy at her task: one word
Alone she uttered as she paused to die,
'Silence!'--then listened even as one who heard
With song and wing the angels drawing nigh!
Now Fra Angelico's roses fill her hands,
And, on Murillo's canvas, Want and Pain
Kneel at her feet. Her marble image stands
Worshipped and crowned in Marburg's holy fane.
Yea, wheresoe'er her Church its cross uprears,
Wide as the world her story still is told;
In manhood's reverence, woman's prayers and tears,
She lives again whose grave is centuries old.
And still, despite the weakness or the blame
Of blind submission to the blind, she hath
A tender place in hearts of every name,
And more than Rome owns Saint Elizabeth!
A. D. 1780.
Slow ages passed: and lo! another came,
An English matron, in whose simple faith
Nor priestly rule nor ritual had claim,
A plain, uncanonized Elizabeth.
No sackcloth robe, nor ashen-sprinkled hair,
Nor wasting fast, nor scourge, nor vigil long,
Marred her calm presence. God had made her fair,
And she could do His goodly work no wrong.
Their yoke is easy and their burden light
Whose sole confessor is the Christ of God;
Her quiet trust and faith transcending sight
Smoothed to her feet the difficult paths she trod.
And there she walked, as duty bade her go,
Safe and unsullied as a cloistered nun,
Shamed with her plainness Fashion's gaudy show,
And overcame the world she did not shun.
In Earlham's bowers, in Plashet's liberal hall,
In the great city's restless crowd and din,
Her ear was open to the Master's call,
And knew the summons of His voice within.
Tender as mother, beautiful as wife,
Amidst the throngs of prisoned crime she stood
In modest raiment faultless as her life,
The type of England's worthiest womanhood.
To melt the hearts that harshness turned to stone
The sweet persuasion of her lips sufficed,
And guilt, which only hate and fear had known,
Saw in her own the pitying love of Christ.
So wheresoe'er the guiding Spirit went
She followed, finding every prison cell
It opened for her sacred as a tent
Pitched by Gennesaret or by Jacob's well.
And Pride and Fashion felt her strong appeal,
And priest and ruler marvelled as they saw
How hand in hand went wisdom with her zeal,
And woman's pity kept the bounds of law.
She rests in God's peace; but her memory stirs
The air of earth as with an angel's wings,
And warms and moves the hearts of men like hers,
The sainted daughter of Hungarian kings.
United now, the Briton and the Hun,
Each, in her own time, faithful unto death,
Live sister souls! in name and spirit one,
Thuringia's saint and our Elizabeth!
The Pastoral Letter
So, this is all, — the utmost reach
Of priestly power the mind to fetter!
When laymen think, when women preach,
A war of words, a 'Pastoral Letter!'
Now, shame upon ye, parish Popes!
Was it thus with those, your predecessors,
Who sealed with racks, and fire, and ropes
Their loving-kindness to transgressors?
A 'Pastoral Letter,' grave and dull;
Alas! in hoof and horns and features,
How different is your Brookfield bull
From him who bellows from St. Peter's!
Your pastoral rights and powers from harm,
Think ye, can words alone preserve them?
Your wiser fathers taught the arm
And sword of temporal power to serve them.
Oh, glorious days, when Church and State
Were wedded by your spiritual fathers!
And on submissive shoulders sat
Your Wilsons and your Cotton Mathers,
No vile 'itinerant' then could mar
The beauty of your tranquil Zion,
But at his peril of the scar
Of hangman's whip and branding-iron.
Then, wholesome laws relieved the Church
Of heretic and mischief-maker,
And priest and bailiff joined in search,
By turns, of Papist, witch, and Quaker!
The stocks were at each church's door,
The gallows stood on Boston Common,
A Papist's ears the pillory bore, —
The gallows-rope, a Quaker woman!
Your fathers dealt not as ye deal
With 'non-professing' frantic teachers;
They bored the tongue with red-hot steel,
And flayed the backs of 'female preachers.'
Old Hampton, had her fields a tongue,
And Salem's streets could tell their story,
Of fainting woman dragged along,
Gashed by the whip accursed and gory!
And will ye ask me, why this taunt
Of memories sacred from the scorner?
And why with reckless hand I plant
A nettle on the graves ye honor?
Not to reproach New England's dead
This record from the past I summon,
Of manhood to the scaffold led,
And suffering and heroic woman.
No, for yourselves alone, I turn
The pages of intolerance over,
That, in their spirit, dark and stern,
Ye haply may your own discover!
For, if ye claim the 'pastoral right'
To silence Freedom's voice of warning,
And from your precincts shut the light
Of Freedom's day around ye dawning;
If when an earthquake voice of power
And signs in earth and heaven are showing
That forth, in its appointed hour,
The Spirit of the Lord is going!
And, with that Spirit, Freedom's light
On kindred, tongue, and people breaking,
Whose slumbering millions, at the sight,
In glory and in strength are waking!
When for the sighing of the poor,
And for the needy, God hath risen,
And chains are breaking, and a door
Is opening for the souls in prison!
If then ye would, with puny hands,
Arrest the very work of Heaven,
And bind anew the evil bands
Which God's right arm of power hath riven;
What marvel that, in many a mind,
Those darker deeds of bigot madness
Are closely with your own combined,
Yet 'less in anger than in sadness '?
What marvel, if the people learn
To claim the right of free opinion?
What marvel, if at times they spurn
The ancient yoke of your dominion?
A glorious remnant linger yet,
Whose lips are wet at Freedom's fountains,
The coming of whose welcome feet
Is beautiful upon our mountains!
Men, who the gospel tidings bring
Of Liberty and Love forever,
Whose joy is an abiding spring,
Whose peace is as a gentle river!
But ye, who scorn the thrilling tale
Of Carolina's high-souled daughters,
Which echoes here the mournful wail
Of sorrow from Edisto's waters,
Close while ye may the public ear,
With malice vex, with slander wound them,
The pure and good shall throng to hear,
And tried and manly hearts surround them.
Oh, ever may the power which led
Their way to such a fiery trial,
And strengthened womanhood to tread
The wine-press of such self-denial,
Be round them in an evil land,
With wisdom and with strength from Heaven,
With Miriam's voice, and Judith's hand,
And Deborah's song, for triumph given!
And what are ye who strive with God
Against the ark of His salvation,
Moved by the breath of prayer abroad,
With blessings for a dying nation?
What, but the stubble and the hay
To perish, even as flax consuming,
With all that bars His glorious way,
Before the brightness of His coming?
And thou, sad Angel, who so long
Hast waited for the glorious token,
That Earth from all her bonds of wrong
To liberty and light has broken, —
Angel of Freedom! soon to thee
The sounding trumpet shall be given,
And over Earth's full jubilee
Shall deeper joy be felt in Heaven!
O river winding to the sea!
We call the old time back to thee;
From forest paths and water-ways
The century-woven veil we raise.
The voices of to-day are dumb,
Unheard its sounds that go and come;
We listen, through long-lapsing years,
To footsteps of the pioneers.
Gone steepled town and cultured plain,
The wilderness returns again,
The drear, untrodden solitude,
The gloom and mystery of the wood!
Once more the bear and panther prowl,
The wolf repeats his hungry howl,
And, peering through his leafy screen,
The Indian's copper face is seen.
We see, their rude-built huts beside,
Grave men and women anxious-eyed,
And wistful youth remembering still
Dear homes in England's Haverhill.
We summon forth to mortal view
Dark Passaquo and Saggahew,--
Wild chiefs, who owned the mighty sway
Of wizard Passaconaway.
Weird memories of the border town,
By old tradition handed down,
In chance and change before us pass
Like pictures in a magic glass,--
The terrors of the midnight raid,
The winter march, through deserts wild,
Of captive mother, wife, and child.
Ah! bleeding hands alone subdued
And tamed the savage habitude
Of forests hiding beasts of prey,
And human shapes as fierce as they.
Slow from the plough the woods withdrew,
Slowly each year the corn-lands grew;
Nor fire, nor frost, nor foe could kill
The Saxon energy of will.
And never in the hamlet's bound
Was lack of sturdy manhood found,
And never failed the kindred good
Of brave and helpful womanhood.
That hamlet now a city is,
Its log-built huts are palaces;
The wood-path of the settler's cow
Is Traffic's crowded highway now.
And far and wide it stretches still,
Along its southward sloping hill,
And overlooks on either hand
A rich and many-watered land.
And, gladdening all the landscape, fair
As Pison was to Eden's pair,
Our river to its valley brings
The blessing of its mountain springs.
And Nature holds with narrowing space,
From mart and crowd, her old-time grace,
And guards with fondly jealous arms
The wild growths of outlying farms.
Her sunsets on Kenoza fall,
Her autumn leaves by Saltonstall;
No lavished gold can richer make
Her opulence of hill and lake.
Wise was the choice which led out sires
To kindle here their household fires,
And share the large content of all
Whose lines in pleasant places fall.
More dear, as years on years advance,
We prize the old inheritance,
And feel, as far and wide we roam,
That all we seek we leave at home.
Our palms are pines, our oranges
Are apples on our orchard trees;
Our thrushes are our nightingales,
Our larks the blackbirds of our vales.
No incense which the Orient burns
Is sweeter than our hillside ferns;
What tropic splendor can outvie
Our autumn woods, our sunset sky?
If, where the slow years came and went,
And left not affluence, but content,
Now flashes in our dazzled eyes
The electric light of enterprise;
And if the old idyllic ease
Seems lost in keen activities,
And crowded workshops now replace
The hearth's and farm-field's rustic grace;
No dull, mechanic round of toil
Life's morning charm can quite despoil;
And youth and beauty, hand in hand,
Will always find enchanted land.
No task is ill where hand and brain
And skill and strength have equal gain,
And each shall each in honor hold,
And simple manhood outweigh gold.
Earth shall be near to Heaven when all
That severs man from man shall fall,
For, here or there, salvation's plan
Alone is love of God and man.
O dwellers by the Merrimac,
The heirs of centuries at your back,
Still reaping where you have not sown,
A broader field is now your own.
Hold fast your Puritan heritage,
But let the free thought of the age
Its light and hope and sweetness add
To the stern faith the fathers had.
Adrift on Time's returnless tide,
As waves that follow waves, we glide.
God grant we leave upon the shore
Some waif of good it lacked before;
Some seed, or flower, or plant of worth,
Some added beauty to the earth;
Some larger hope, some thought to make
The sad world happier for its sake.
As tenants of uncertain stay,
So may we live our little day
That only grateful hearts shall fill
The homes we leave in Haverhill.
The singer of a farewell rhyme,
Upon whose outmost verge of time
The shades of night are falling down,
I pray, God bless the good old town!
WITH A COPY OF WOOLMAN'S JOURNAL.
Maiden! with the fair brown tresses
Shading o'er thy dreamy eye,
Floating on thy thoughtful forehead
Cloud wreaths of its sky.
Youthful years and maiden beauty,
Joy with them should still abide,--
Instinct take the place of Duty,
Love, not Reason, guide.
Ever in the New rejoicing,
Kindly beckoning back the Old,
Turning, with the gift of Midas,
All things into gold.
And the passing shades of sadness
Wearing even a welcome guise,
As, when some bright lake lies open
To the sunny skies,
Every wing of bird above it,
Every light cloud floating on,
Glitters like that flashing mirror
In the self-same sun.
But upon thy youthful forehead
Something like a shadow lies;
And a serious soul is looking
From thy earnest eyes.
With an early introversion,
Through the forms of outward things,
Seeking for the subtle essence,
And the bidden springs.
Deeper than the gilded surface
Hath thy wakeful vision seen,
Farther than the narrow present
Have thy journeyings been.
Thou hast midst Life's empty noises
Heard the solemn steps of Time,
And the low mysterious voices
Of another clime.
All the mystery of Being
Hath upon thy spirit pressed,--
Thoughts which, like the Deluge wanderer,
Find no place of rest:
That which mystic Plato pondered,
That which Zeno heard with awe,
And the star-rapt Zoroaster
In his night-watch saw.
From the doubt and darkness springing
Of the dim, uncertain Past,
Moving to the dark still shadows
O'er the Future cast,
Early hath Life's mighty question
Thrilled within thy heart of youth,
With a deep and strong beseeching
What and where is Truth?
Hollow creed and ceremonial,
Whence the ancient life hath fled,
Idle faith unknown to action,
Dull and cold and dead.
Oracles, whose wire-worked meanings
Only wake a quiet scorn,--
Not from these thy seeking spirit
Hath its answer drawn.
But, like some tired child at even,
On thy mother Nature's breast,
Thou, methinks, art vainly seeking
Truth, and peace, and rest.
O'er that mother's rugged features
Thou art throwing Fancy's veil,
Light and soft as woven moonbeams,
Beautiful and frail
O'er the rough chart of Existence,
Rocks of sin and wastes of woe,
Soft airs breathe, and green leaves tremble,
And cool fountains flow.
And to thee an answer cometh
From the earth and from the sky,
And to thee the hills and waters
And the stars reply.
But a soul-sufficing answer
Hath no outward origin;
More than Nature's many voices
May be heard within.
Even as the great Augustine
Questioned earth and sea and sky,
And the dusty tomes of learning
And old poesy.
But his earnest spirit needed
More than outward Nature taught;
More than blest the poet's vision
Or the sage's thought.
Only in the gathered silence
Of a calm and waiting frame,
Light and wisdom as from Heaven
To the seeker came.
Not to ease and aimless quiet
Doth that inward answer tend,
But to works of love and duty
As our being's end;
Not to idle dreams and trances,
Length of face, and solemn tone,
But to Faith, in daily striving
And performance shown.
Earnest toil and strong endeavor
Of a spirit which within
Wrestles with familiar evil
And besetting sin;
And without, with tireless vigor,
Steady heart, and weapon strong,
In the power of truth assailing
Every form of wrong.
Guided thus, how passing lovely
Is the track of Woolman's feet!
And his brief and simple record
How serenely sweet!
O'er life's humblest duties throwing
Light the earthling never knew,
Freshening all its dark waste places
As with Hermon's dew.
All which glows in Pascal's pages,
All which sainted Guion sought,
Or the blue-eyed German Rahel
Beauty, such as Goethe pictured,
Such as Shelley dreamed of, shed
Living warmth and starry brightness
Round that poor man's head.
Not a vain and cold ideal,
Not a poet's dream alone,
But a presence warm and real,
Seen and felt and known.
When the red right-hand of slaughter
Moulders with the steel it swung,
When the name of seer and poet
Dies on Memory's tongue,
All bright thoughts and pure shall gather
Round that meek and suffering one,--
Glorious, like the seer-seen angel
Standing in the sun!
Take the good man's book and ponder
What its pages say to thee;
Blessed as the hand of healing
May its lesson be.
If it only serves to strengthen
Yearnings for a higher good,
For the fount of living waters
And diviner food;
If the pride of human reason
Feels its meek and still rebuke,
Quailing like the eye of Peter
From the Just One's look!
If with readier ear thou heedest
What the Inward Teacher saith,
Listening with a willing spirit
And a childlike faith,--
Thou mayst live to bless the giver,
Who, himself but frail and weak,
Would at least the highest welfare
Of another seek;
And his gift, though poor and lowly
It may seem to other eyes,
Yet may prove an angel holy
In a pilgrim's guise.
The Brown Dwarf Of Rügen (From Narrative And Legendary Poems )
THE pleasant isle of Rügen looks the Baltic water o'er,
To the silver-sanded beaches of the Pomeranian shore;
And in the town of Rambin a little boy and maid
Plucked the meadow-flowers together and in the sea-surf played.
Alike were they in beauty if not in their degree:
He was the Amptman's first-born, the miller's child was she.
Now of old the isle of Rügen was full of Dwarfs and Trolls,
The brown-faced little Earth-men, the people without souls;
And for every man and woman in Rügen's island found
Walking in air and sunshine, a Troll was underground.
It chanced the little maiden, one morning, strolled away
Among the haunted Nine Hills, where the elves and goblins play.
That day, in barley fields below, the harvesters had known
Of evil voices in the air, and heard the small horns blown.
She came not back; the search for her in field and wood was vain:
They cried her east, they cried her west, but she came not again.
"She's down among the Brown Dwarfs," said the dream-wives wise and old,
And prayers were made, and masses said, and Rambin's church bell tolled.
Five years her father mourned her; and then John Deitrich said:
"I will find my little playmate, be she alive or dead."
He watched among the Nine Hills, he heard the Brown Dwarfs sing,
And saw them dance by moonlight merrily in a ring.
And when their gay-robed leader tossed up his cap of red,
Young Deitrich caught it as it fell, and thrust it on his head.
The Troll came crouching at his feet and wept for lack of it.
"Oh, give me back my magic cap, for your great head unfit!"
"Nay," Deitrich said; "the Dwarf who throws his charmëd cap away,
Must serve its finder at his will, and for his folly pay.
"You stole my pretty Lisbeth, and hid her in the earth;
And you shall ope the door of glass and let me lead her forth."
"She will not come; she's one of us; she's mine!" the Brown Dwarf said;
"The day is set, the cake is baked, to-morrow we shall wed."
"The fell fiend fetch thee!" Deitrich cried, "and keep thy foul tongue still.
Quick! open, to thy evil world, the glass door of the hill!"
The Dwarf obeyed; and youth and Troll down the long stairway passed,
And saw in dim and sunless light a country strange and vast.
Weird, rich, and wonderful, he saw the elfin under-land, --
Its palaces of precious stones, its streets of golden sand.
He came unto a banquet-hall with tables richly spread,
Where a young maiden served to him the red wine and the bread.
How fair she seemed among the Trolls so ugly and so wild!
Yet pale and very sorrowful, like one who never smiled!
Her low, sweet voice, her gold-brown hair, her tender blue eyes seemed
Like something he had seen elsewhere or something he had dreamed.
He looked; he clasped her in his arms; he knew the long-lost one;
"O Lisbeth! See thy playmate -- I am the Amptman's son!"
She leaned her fair head on his breast, and through her sobs she spoke:
"Oh, take me from this evil place, and from the elfin folk!
"And let me tread the grass-green fields and smell the flowers again,
And feel the soft wind on my cheek and hear the dropping rain!
"And oh, to hear the singing bird, the rustling of the tree,
The lowing cows, the bleat of sheep, the voices of the sea;
"And oh, upon my father's knee to set beside the door,
And hear the bell of vespers ring in Rambin church once more!"
He kissed her cheek, he kissed her lips; the Brown Dwarf groaned to see,
And tore his tangled hair and ground his long teeth angrily.
But Deitrich said: "For five long years this tender Christian maid
Has served you in your evil world, and well must she be paid!
"Haste! -- hither bring me precious gems, the richest in your store;
Then when we pass the gate of glass, you'll take your cap once more."
No choice was left the baffled Troll, and, murmuring, he obeyed,
And filled the pockets of the youth and apron of the maid.
They left the dreadful under-land and passed the gate of glass;
They felt the sunshine's warm caress, they trod the soft, green grass.
And when, beneath, they saw the Dwarf stretch up to them his brown
And crooked claw-like fingers, they tossed his red cap down.
Oh, never shone so bright a sun, was never sky so blue,
As hand in hand they homeward walked the pleasant meadows through!
And never sang the birds so sweet in Rambin's woods before,
And never washed the waves so soft along the Baltic shore;
And when beneath his door-yard trees the father met his child,
The bells rung out their merriest peal, the folks with joy ran wild.
And soon from Rambin's holy church the twain came forth as one,
The Amptman kissed a daughter, the miller blest a son.
John Deitrich's fame went far and wide, and nurse and maid crooned o'er
Their cradle song: "Sleep on, sleep well, the Trolls shall come no more!"
for in the haunted Nine Hills he set a cross of stone;
And Elf and Brown Dwarf sought in vain a door where door was none.
The tower he built in Rambin, fair Rügen's pride and boast,
Looked o'er the Baltic water to the Pomeranian coast;
And, for his worth ennobled, and rich beyond compare,
Count Deitrich and his lovely bride dwelt long and happy there.
Cobbler Keezar's Vision
The beaver cut his timber
With patient teeth that day,
The minks were fish-wards, and the crows
Surveyors of highway,-
When Keezar sat on the hillside
Upon his cobbler's form,
With a pan of coals on either hand
To keep his waxed-ends warm.
And there, in the golden weather,
He stitched and hammered and sung;
In the brook he moistened his leather,
In the pewter mug his tongue.
Well knew the tough old Teuton
Who brewed the stoutest ale,
And he paid the goodwife's reckoning
In the coin of song and tale.
The songs they still are singing
Who dress the hills of vine,
The tales that haunt the Brocken
And whisper down the Rhine.
Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
The swift stream wound away,
Through birches and scarlet maples
Flashing in foam and spray,-
Down on the sharp-horned ledges
Plunging in steep cascade,
Tossing its white-maned waters
Against the hemlock's shade.
Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
East and west and north and south;
Only the village of fishers
Down at the river's mouth;
Only here and there a clearing,
With its farm-house rude and new,
And tree-stumps, swart as Indians,
Where the scanty harvest grew.
No shout of home-bound reapers,
No vintage-song he heard,
And on the green no dancing feet
The merry violin stirred.
'Why should folk be glum,' said Keezar,
'When Nature herself is glad,
And the painted woods are laughing
At the faces so sour and sad?'
Small heed had the careless cobbler
What sorrow of heart was theirs
Who travailed in pain with the births of God,
And planted a state with prayers,-
Hunting of witches and warlocks,
Smiting the heathen horde,-
One hand on the mason's trowel,
And one on the soldier's sword.
But give him his ale and cider,
Give him his pipe and song,
Little he cared for Church or State,
Or the balance of right and wrong.
'T is work, work, work,' he muttered,-
'And for rest a snuffle of psalms!'
He smote on his leathern apron
With his brown and waxen palms.
'Oh for the purple harvests
Of the days when I was young
For the merry grape-stained maidens,
And the pleasant songs they sung!
'Oh for the breath of vineyards,
Of apples and nuts and wine
For an oar to row and a breeze to blow
Down the grand old river Rhine!'
A tear in his blue eye glistened,
And dropped on his beard so gray.
'Old, old am I,' said Keezar,
'And the Rhine flows far away!'
But a cunning man was the cobbler;
He could call the birds from the trees,
Charm the black snake out of the ledges,
And bring back the swarming bees.
All the virtues of herbs and metals,
All the lore of the woods, he knew,
And the arts of the Old World mingle
With the marvels of the New.
Well he knew the tricks of magic,
And the lapstone on his knee
Had the gift of the Mormon's goggles
Or the stone of Doctor Dee.
For the mighty master Agrippa
Wrought it with spell and rhyme
From a fragment of mystic moonstone
In the tower of Nettesheim.
To a cobbler Minnesinger
The marvellous stone gave he,-
And he gave it, in turn, to Keezar,
Who brought it over the sea.
He held up that mystic lapstone,
He held it up like a lens,
And he counted the long years coming
Ey twenties and by tens.
'One hundred years,' quoth Keezar,
'And fifty have I told
Now open the new before me,
And shut me out the old!'
Like a cloud of mist, the blackness
Rolled from the magic stone,
And a marvellous picture mingled
The unknown and the known.
Still ran the stream to the river,
And river and ocean joined;
And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-line,
And cold north hills behind.
But-the mighty forest was broken
By many a steepled town,
By many a white-walled farm-house,
And many a garner brown.
Turning a score of mill-wheels,
The stream no more ran free;
White sails on the winding river,
White sails on the far-off sea.
Below in the noisy village
The flags were floating gay,
And shone on a thousand faces
The light of a holiday.
Swiftly the rival ploughmen
Turned the brown earth from their shares;
Here were the farmer's treasures,
There were the craftsman's wares.
Golden the goodwife's butter,
Ruby her currant-wine;
Grand were the strutting turkeys,
Fat were the beeves and swine.
Yellow and red were the apples,
And the ripe pears russet-brown,
And the peaches had stolen blushes
From the girls who shook them down.
And with blooms of hill and wildwood,
That shame the toil of art,
Mingled the gorgeous blossoms
Of the garden's tropic heart.
'What is it I see?' said Keezar
'Am I here, or ant I there?
Is it a fete at Bingen?
Do I look on Frankfort fair?
'But where are the clowns and puppets,
And imps with horns and tail?
And where are the Rhenish flagons?
And where is the foaming ale?
'Strange things, I know, will happen,-
Strange things the Lord permits;
But that droughty folk should be jolly
Puzzles my poor old wits.
'Here are smiling manly faces,
And the maiden's step is gay;
Nor sad by thinking, nor mad by drinking,
Nor mopes, nor fools, are they.
'Here's pleasure without regretting,
And good without abuse,
The holiday and the bridal
Of beauty and of use.
'Here's a priest and there is a Quaker,
Do the cat and dog agree?
Have they burned the stocks for ovenwood?
Have they cut down the gallows-tree?
'Would the old folk know their children?
Would they own the graceless town,
With never a ranter to worry
And never a witch to drown?'
Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar,
Laughed like a school-boy gay;
Tossing his arms above him,
The lapstone rolled away.
It rolled down the rugged hillside,
It spun like a wheel bewitched,
It plunged through the leaning willows,
And into the river pitched.
There, in the deep, dark water,
The magic stone lies still,
Under the leaning willows
In the shadow of the hill.
But oft the idle fisher
Sits on the shadowy bank,
And his dreams make marvellous pictures
Where the wizard's lapstone sank.
And still, in the summer twilights,
When the river seems to run
Out from the inner glory,
Warm with the melted sun,
The weary mill-girl lingers
Beside the charmed stream,
And the sky and the golden water
Shape and color her dream.
Air wave the sunset gardens,
The rosy signals fly;
Her homestead beckons from the cloud,
And love goes sailing by.
The Human Sacrifice
FAR from his close and noisome cell,
By grassy lane and sunny stream,
Blown clover field and strawberry dell,
And green and meadow freshness, fell
The footsteps of his dream.
Again from careless feet the dew
Of summer's misty morn he shook;
Again with merry heart he threw
His light line in the rippling brook.
Back crowded all his school-day joys;
He urged the ball and quoit again,
And heard the shout of laughing boys
Come ringing down the walnut glen.
Again he felt the western breeze,
With scent of flowers and crisping hay;
And down again through wind-stirred trees
He saw the quivering sunlight play.
An angel in home's vine-hung door,
He saw his sister smile once more;
Once more the truant's brown-locked head
Upon his mother's knees was laid,
And sweetly lulled to slumber there,
With evening's holy hymn and prayer!
He woke. At once on heart and brain
The present Terror rushed again;
Clanked on his limbs the felon's chain!
He woke, to hear the church-tower tell
Time's footfall on the conscious bell,
And, shuddering, feel that clanging din
His life's last hour had ushered in;
To see within his prison-yard,
Through the small window, iron barred,
The gallows shadow rising dim
Between the sunrise heaven and him;
A horror in God's blessed air;
A blackness in his morning light;
Like some foul devil-altar there
Built up by demon hands at night,
And, maddened by that evil sight,
Dark, horrible, confused, and strange,
A chaos of wild, weltering change,
All power of check and guidance gone,
Dizzy and blind, his mind swept on.
In vain he strove to breathe a prayer,
In vain he turned the Holy Book,
He only heard the gallows-stair
Creak as the wind its timbers shook.
No dream for him of sin forgiven,
While still that baleful spectre stood,
With its hoarse murmur, 'Blood for Blood!'
Between him and the pitying Heaven!
Low on his dungeon floor he knelt,
And smote his breast, and on his chain,
Whose iron clasp he always felt,
His hot tears fell like rain;
And near him, with the cold, calm look
And tone of one whose formal part,
Unwarmed, unsoftened of the heart,
Is measured out by rule and book,
With placid lip and tranquil blood,
The hangman's ghostly ally stood,
Blessing with solemn text and word
The gallows-drop and strangling cord;
Lending the sacred Gospel's awe
And sanction to the crime of Law.
He saw the victim's tortured brow,
The sweat of anguish starting there,
The record of a nameless woe
In the dim eye's imploring stare,
Seen hideous through the long, damp hair, —
Fingers of ghastly skin and bone
Working and writhing on the stone!
And heard, by mortal terror wrung
From heaving breast and stiffened tongue,
The choking sob and low hoarse prayer;
As o'er his half-crazed fancy came
A vision of the eternal flame,
Its smoking cloud of agonies,
Its demon-worm that never dies,
The everlasting rise and fall
Of fire-waves round the infernal wall;
While high above that dark red flood,
Black, giant-like, the gallows stood;
Two busy fiends attending there:
One with cold mocking rite and prayer,
The other with impatient grasp,
Tightening the death-rope's strangling clasp.
The unfelt rite at length was done,
The prayer unheard at length was said,
An hour had passed: the noonday sun
Smote on the features of the dead!
And he who stood the doomed beside,
Calm gauger of the swelling tide
Of mortal agony and fear,
Heeding with curious eye and ear
Whate'er revealed the keen excess
Of man's extremest wretchedness:
And who in that dark anguish saw
An earnest of the victim's fate,
The vengeful terrors of God's law,
The kindlings of Eternal hate,
The first drops of that fiery rain
Which beats the dark red realm of pain,
Did he uplift his earnest cries
Against the crime of Law, which gave
His brother to that fearful grave,
Whereon Hope's moonlight never lies,
And Faith's white blossoms never wave
To the soft breath of Memory's sighs;
Which sent a spirit marred and stained,
By fiends of sin possessed, profaned,
In madness and in blindness stark,
Into the silent, unknown dark?
No, from the wild and shrinking dread,
With which he saw the victim led
Beneath the dark veil which divides
Ever the living from the dead,
And Nature's solemn secret hides,
The man of prayer can only draw
New reasons for his bloody law;
New faith in staying Murder's hand
By murder at that Law's command;
New reverence for the gallows-rope,
As human nature's latest hope;
Last relic of the good old time,
When Power found license for its crime,
And held a writhing world in check
By that fell cord about its neck;
Stifled Sedition's rising shout,
Choked the young breath of Freedom out,
And timely checked the words which sprung
From Heresy's forbidden tongue;
While in its noose of terror bound,
The Church its cherished union found,
Conforming, on the Moslem plan,
The motley-colored mind of man,
Not by the Koran and the Sword,
But by the Bible and the Cord!
O Thou! at whose rebuke the grave
Back to warm life its sleeper gave,
Beneath whose sad and tearful glance
The cold and changëd countenance
Broke the still horror of its trance,
And, waking, saw with joy above,
A brother's face of tenderest love;
Thou, unto whom the blind and lame,
The sorrowing and the sin-sick came,
And from Thy very garment's hem
Drew life and healing unto them,
The burden of Thy holy faith
Was love and life, not hate and death;
Man's demon ministers of pain,
The fiends of his revenge, were sent
From thy pure Gospel's element
To their dark home again.
Thy name is Love! What, then, is he,
Who in that name the gallows rears,
An awful altar built to Thee,
With sacrifice of blood and tears?
Oh, once again Thy healing lay
On the blind eyes which knew Thee not,
And let the light of Thy pure day
Melt in upon his darkened thought.
Soften his hard, cold heart, and show
The power which in forbearance lies,
And let him feel that mercy now
Is better than old sacrifice!
As on the White Sea's charmëd shore,
The Parsee sees his holy hill10
With dunnest smoke-clouds curtained o'er,
Yet knows beneath them, evermore,
The low, pale fire is quivering still;
So, underneath its clouds of sin,
The heart of man retaineth yet
Gleams of its holy origin;
And half-quenched stars that never set,
Dim colors of its faded bow,
And early beauty, linger there,
And o'er its wasted desert blow
Faint breathings of its morning air.
Oh, never yet upon the scroll
Of the sin-stained, but priceless soul,
Hath Heaven inscribed 'Despair!'
Cast not the clouded gem away,
Quench not the dim but living ray, —
My brother man, Beware!
With that deep voice which from the skies
Forbade the Patriarch's sacrifice,
God's angel cries, Forbear!
The elder folks shook hands at last,
Down seat by seat the signal passed.
To simple ways like ours unused,
Half solemnized and half amused,
With long-drawn breath and shrug, my guest
His sense of glad relief expressed.
Outside, the hills lay warm in sun;
The cattle in the meadow-run
Stood half-leg deep; a single bird
The green repose above us stirred.
'What part or lot have you,' he said,
'In these dull rites of drowsy-head?
Is silence worship? Seek it where
It soothes with dreams the summer air,
Not in this close and rude-benched hall,
But where soft lights and shadows fall,
And all the slow, sleep-walking hours
Glide soundless over grass and flowers!
From time and place and form apart,
Its holy ground the human heart,
Nor ritual-bound nor templeward
Walks the free spirit of the Lord!
Our common Master did not pen
His followers up from other men;
His service liberty indeed,
He built no church, He framed no creed;
But while the saintly Pharisee
Made broader his phylactery,
As from the synagogue was seen
The dusty-sandalled Nazarene
Through ripening cornfields lead the way
Upon the awful Sabbath day,
His sermons were the healthful talk
That shorter made the mountain-walk,
His wayside texts were flowers and birds,
Where mingled with His gracious words
The rustle of the tamarisk-tree
And ripple-wash of Galilee.'
'Thy words are well, O friend,' I said;
'Unmeasured and unlimited,
With noiseless slide of stone to stone,
The mystic Church of God has grown.
Invisible and silent stands
The temple never made with hands,
Unheard the voices still and small
Of its unseen confessional.
He needs no special place of prayer
Whose hearing ear is everywhere;
He brings not back the childish days
That ringed the earth with stones of praise,
Roofed Karnak's hall of gods, and laid
The plinths of Phil e's colonnade.
Still less He owns the selfish good
And sickly growth of solitude,--
The worthless grace that, out of sight,
Flowers in the desert anchorite;
Dissevered from the suffering whole,
Love hath no power to save a soul.
Not out of Self, the origin
And native air and soil of sin,
The living waters spring and flow,
The trees with leaves of healing grow.
'Dream not, O friend, because I seek
This quiet shelter twice a week,
I better deem its pine-laid floor
Than breezy hill or sea-sung shore;
But nature is not solitude
She crowds us with her thronging wood;
Her many hands reach out to us,
Her many tongues are garrulous;
Perpetual riddles of surprise
She offers to our ears and eyes;
She will not leave our senses still,
But drags them captive at her will
And, making earth too great for heaven,
She hides the Giver in the given.
'And so, I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs;
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.
'Yet rarely through the charmed repose
Unmixed the stream of motive flows,
A flavor of its many springs,
The tints of earth and sky it brings;
In the still waters needs must be
Some shade of human sympathy;
And here, in its accustomed place,
I look on memory's dearest face;
The blind by-sitter guesseth not
What shadow haunts that vacant spot;
No eyes save mine alone can see
The love wherewith it welcomes me!
And still, with those alone my kin,
In doubt and weakness, want and sin,
I bow my head, my heart I bare
As when that face was living there,
And strive (too oft, alas! in vain)
The peace of simple trust to gain,
Fold fancy's restless wings, and lay
The idols of my heart away.
'Welcome the silence all unbroken,
Nor less the words of fitness spoken,--
Such golden words as hers for whom
Our autumn flowers have just made room;
Whose hopeful utterance through and through
The freshness of the morning blew;
Who loved not less the earth that light
Fell on it from the heavens in sight,
But saw in all fair forms more fair
The Eternal beauty mirrored there.
Whose eighty years but added grace
And saintlier meaning to her face,--
The look of one who bore away
Glad tidings from the hills of day,
While all our hearts went forth to meet
The coming of her beautiful feet!
Or haply hers, whose pilgrim tread
Is in the paths where Jesus led;
Who dreams her childhood's Sabbath dream
By Jordan's willow-shaded stream,
And, of the hymns of hope and faith,
Sung by the monks of Nazareth,
Hears pious echoes, in the call
To prayer, from Moslem minarets fall,
Repeating where His works were wrought
The lesson that her Master taught,
Of whom an elder Sibyl gave,
The prophecies of Cuma 's cave.
'I ask no organ's soulless breath
To drone the themes of life and death,
No altar candle-lit by day,
No ornate wordsman's rhetoric-play,
No cool philosophy to teach
Its bland audacities of speech
To double-tasked idolaters
Themselves their gods and worshippers,
No pulpit hammered by the fist
Of loud-asserting dogmatist,
Who borrows for the Hand of love
The smoking thunderbolts of Jove.
I know how well the fathers taught,
What work the later schoolmen wrought;
I reverence old-time faith and men,
But God is near us now as then;
His force of love is still unspent,
His hate of sin as imminent;
And still the measure of our needs
Outgrows the cramping bounds of creeds;
The manna gathered yesterday
Already savors of decay;
Doubts to the world's child-heart unknown
Question us now from star and stone;
Too little or too much we know,
And sight is swift and faith is slow;
The power is lost to self-deceive
With shallow forms of make-believe.
W e walk at high noon, and the bells
Call to a thousand oracles,
But the sound deafens, and the light
Is stronger than our dazzled sight;
The letters of the sacred Book
Glimmer and swim beneath our look;
Still struggles in the Age's breast
With deepening agony of quest
The old entreaty: 'Art thou He,
Or look we for the Christ to be?'
'God should be most where man is least
So, where is neither church nor priest,
And never rag of form or creed
To clothe the nakedness of need,--
Where farmer-folk in silence meet,--
I turn my bell-unsummoned feet;'
I lay the critic's glass aside,
I tread upon my lettered pride,
And, lowest-seated, testify
To the oneness of humanity;
Confess the universal want,
And share whatever Heaven may grant.
He findeth not who seeks his own,
The soul is lost that's saved alone.
Not on one favored forehead fell
Of old the fire-tongued miracle,
But flamed o'er all the thronging host
The baptism of the Holy Ghost;
Heart answers heart: in one desire
The blending lines of prayer aspire;
'Where, in my name, meet two or three,'
Our Lord hath said, 'I there will be!'
'So sometimes comes to soul and sense
The feeling which is evidence
That very near about us lies
The realm of spiritual mysteries.
The sphere of the supernal powers
Impinges on this world of ours.
The low and dark horizon lifts,
To light the scenic terror shifts;
The breath of a diviner air
Blows down the answer of a prayer
That all our sorrow, pain, and doubt
A great compassion clasps about,
And law and goodness, love and force,
Are wedded fast beyond divorce.
Then duty leaves to love its task,
The beggar Self forgets to ask;
With smile of trust and folded hands,
The passive soul in waiting stands
To feel, as flowers the sun and dew,
The One true Life its own renew.
'So, to the calmly gathered thought
The innermost of truth is taught,
The mystery dimly understood,
That love of God is love of good,
And, chiefly, its divinest trace
In Him of Nazareth's holy face;
That to be saved is only this,--
Salvation from our selfishness,
From more than elemental fire,
The soul's unsanetified desire,
From sin itself, and not the pain
That warns us of its chafing chain;
That worship's deeper meaning lies
In mercy, and not sacrifice,
Not proud humilities of sense
And posturing of penitence,
But love's unforced obedience;
That Book and Church and Day are given
For man, not God,--for earth, not heaven,--
The blessed means to holiest ends,
Not masters, but benignant friends;
That the dear Christ dwells not afar,
The king of some remoter star,
Listening, at times, with flattered ear
To homage wrung from selfish fear,
But here, amidst the poor and blind,
The bound and suffering of our kind,
In works we do, in prayers we pray,
Life of our life, He lives to-day.'
'T WAS night. The tranquil moonlight smile
With which Heaven dreams of Earth, shed down
Its beauty on the Indian isle, —
On broad green field and white-walled town;
And inland waste of rock and wood,
In searching sunshine, wild and rude,
Rose, mellowed through the silver gleam,
Soft as the landscape of a dream.
All motionless and dewy wet,
Tree, vine, and flower in shadow met:
The myrtle with its snowy bloom,
Crossing the nightshade's solemn gloom, —
The white cecropia's silver rind
Relieved by deeper green behind,
The orange with its fruit of gold,
The lithe paullinia's verdant fold,
The passion-flower, with symbol holy,
Twining its tendrils long and lowly,
The rhexias dark, and cassia tall,
And proudly rising over all,
The kingly palm's imperial stem,.
Crowned with its leafy diadem,
Star-like, beneath whose sombre shade,
The fiery-winged cucullo played!
How lovely was thine aspect, then,
Fair island of the Western Sea!
Lavish of beauty, even whe
Thy brutes were happier than thy men,
For they, at least, were free!
Regardless of thy glorious clime,
Unmindful of thy soil of flowers,
The toiling negro sighed, that Time
No faster sped his hours.
For, by the dewy moonlight still,
He fed the weary-turning mill,
Or bent him in the chill morass,
To pluck the long and tangled grass,
And hear above his scar-worn back
The heavy slave-whip's frequent crack:
While in his heart one evil thought
In solitary madness wrought,
One baleful fire surviving still
The quenching of the immortal mind,
One sterner passion of his kind,
Which even fetters could not kill,
The savage hope, to deal, erelong,
A vengeance bitterer than his wrong!
Hark to that cry! long, loud, and shrill,
From field and forest, rock and hill,
Thrilling and horrible it rang,
Around, beneath, above;
The wild beast from his cavern sprang,
The wild bird from her grove!
Nor fear, nor joy, nor agony
Were mingled in that midnight cry;
But like the lion's growl of wrath,
When falls that hunter in his path
Whose barbed arrow, deeply set,
Is rankling in his bosom yet,
It told of hate, full, deep, and strong,
Of vengeance kindling out of wrong;
It was as if the crimes of years —
The unrequited toil, the tears,
The shame and hate, which liken well
Earth's garden to the nether hell—
Had found in nature's self a tongue,
On which the gathered horror hung;
As if from cliff, and stream, and glen
Burst on the startled ears of men
That voice which rises unto God,
Solemn and stern, —the cry of blood!
It ceased, and all was still once more,
Save ocean chafing on his shore,
The sighing of the wind between
The broad banana's leaves of green,
Or bough by restless plumage shook,
Or murmuring voice of mountain brook.
Brief was the silence. Once again
Pealed to the skies that frantic yell,
Glowed on the heavens a fiery stain,
And flashes rose and fell;
And painted on the blood-red sky,
Dark, naked arms were tossed on high;
And, round the white man's lordly hall,
Trod, fierce and free, the brute he made;
And those who crept along the wall,
And answered to his lightest call
With more than spaniel dread,
The creatures of his lawless beck,
Were trampling on his very neck!
And on the night-air, wild and clear,
Rose woman's shriek of more than fear;
For bloodied arms were round her thrown,
Aan dark cheeks pressed against her own!
Then, injured Afric! for the shame
Of thy own daughters, vengeance came
Full on the scornful hearts of those,
Who mocked thee in thy nameless woes,
And to thy hapless children gave
One choice,—pollution or the grave!
Where then was he whose fiery zeal
Had taught the trampled heart to feel,
Until despair itself grew strong,
And vengeance fed its torch from wrong?
Now, when the thunderbolt is speeding;
Now, when oppression's heart is bleeding;
Now, when the latent curse of Time
Is raining down in fire and blood,
That curse which, through long years of crime,
Has gathered, drop by drop, its flood, —
Why strikes he not, the foremost one,
Where murder's sternest deeds are done?
He stood the aged palms beneath,
That shadowed o'er his humble door,
Listening, with half-suspended breath,
To the wild sounds of fear and death,
What marvel that his heart beat high!
The blow for freedom had been given,
And blood had answered to the cry
Which Earth sent up to Heaven!
What marvel that a fierce delight
Smiled grimly o'er his brow of night,
As groan and shout and bursting flame
Told where the midnight tempest came,
With blood and fire along its van,
And death behind! he was a Man!
Yes, dark-souled chieftain! if the light
Of mild Religion's heavenly ray
Unveiled not to thy mental sight
The lowlier and the purer way,
In which the Holy Sufferer trod,
Meekly amidst the sons of crime;
That calm reliance upon God
For justice in His own good time;
That gentleness to which belongs
Forgiveness for its many wrongs,
Even as the primal martyr, kneeling
For mercy on the evil-dealing;
Let not the favored white man name
Thy stern appeal, with words of blame.
Has he not, with the light of heaven
Broadly around him, made the same?
Yea, on his thousand war-fields striven,
And gloried in his ghastly shame?
Kneeling amidst his brother's blood,
To offer mockery unto God,
As if the High and Holy One
Could smile on deeds of murder done!
As if a human sacrifice
Were purer in His holy eyes,
Though offered up by Christian hands,
Than the foul rites of Pagan lands!
. . . . . . . .
Sternly, amidst his household band,
His carbine grasped within his hand,
The white man stood, prepared and still,
Waiting the shock of maddened men,
Unchained, and fierce as tigers, when
The horn winds through their caverned hill.
And one was weeping in his sight,
The sweetest flower of all the isle,
The bride who seemed but yesternight
Love's fair embodied smile.
And, clinging to her trembling knee,
Looked up the form of infancy,
With tearful glance in either face
The secret of its fear to trace.
'Ha! stand or die!' The white man's eye
His steady musket gleamed along,
As a tall Negro hastened nigh,
With fearless step and strong.
'What, ho, Toussaint!' A moment more,
His shadow crossed the lighted floor.
'Away!' he shouted; 'fly with me,
The white man's bark is on the sea;
Her sails must catch the seaward wind,
For sudden vengeance sweeps behind.
Our brethren from their graves have spoken,
The yoke is spurned, the chain is broken;
On all the hills our fires are glowing,
Through all the vales red blood is flowing!
No more the mocking White shall rest
His foot upon the Negro's breast;
No more, at morn or eve, shall drip
The warm blood from the driver's whip:
Yet, though Tonssaint has vengeance sworn
For all the wrongs his race have borne,
Though for each drop of Negro blood
The white man's veins shall pour a flood;
Not all alone the sense of ill
Around his heart is lingering still,
Nor deeper can the white man feel
The generous warmth of grateful zeal.
Friends of the Negro! fly with me,
The path is open to the sea:
Away, for life!' He spoke, and pressed
The young child to his manly breast,
As, headlong, through the cracking cane,
Down swept the dark insurgent train,
Drunken and grim, with shout and yell
Howled through the dark, like sounds from hell.
Far out, in peace, the white man's sail
Swayed free before the sunrise gale.
Cloud-like that island hung afar,
Along the bright horizon's verge,
O'er which the curse of servile war
Rolled its red torrent, surge on surge;
And he, the Negro champion, where
In the fierce tumult struggled he?
Go trace him by the fiery glare
Of dwellings in the midnight air,
The yells of triumph and despair,
The streams that crimson to the sea!
Sleep calmly in thy dungeon-tomb,
Beneath Besançon's alien sky,
Dark Haytien! for the time shall come,
Yea, even now is nigh,
When, everywhere, thy name shall be
Redeemed from color's infamy;
And men shall learn to speak of thee
As one of earth's great spirits, born
In servitude, and nursed in scorn,
Casting aside the weary weight
And fetters of its low estate,
In that strong majesty of soul
Which knows no color, tongue, or clime,
Which still hath spurned the base control
Of tyrants through all time!
Far other hands than mine may wreathe
The laurel round thy brow of death,
And speak thy praise, as one whose word
A thousand fiery spirits stirred,
Who crushed his foeman as a worm,1
Whose step on human hearts fell firm:
Be mine the better task to find
A tribute for thy lofty mind,
Amidst whose gloomy vengeance shone
Some milder virtues all thine own,
Some gleams of feeling pure and warm,
Like sunshine on a sky of storm,
Proofs that the Negro's heart retains
Some nobleness amid its chains, —
That kindness to the wronged is never
Without its excellent reward,
Holy to human-kind and ever
Acceptable to God.
The Grave By The Lake
Where the Great Lake's sunny smiles
Dimple round its hundred isles,
And the mountain's granite ledge
Cleaves the water like a wedge,
Ringed about with smooth, gray stones,
Rest the giant's mighty bones.
Close beside, in shade and gleam,
Laughs and ripples Melvin stream;
Melvin water, mountain-born,
All fair flowers its banks adorn;
All the woodland's voices meet,
Mingling with its murmurs sweet.
Over lowlands forest-grown,
Over waters island-strown,
Over silver-sanded beach,
Leaf-locked bay and misty reach,
Melvin stream and burial-heap,
Watch and ward the mountains keep.
Who that Titan cromlech fills?
Forest-kaiser, lord o' the hills?
Knight who on the birchen tree
Carved his savage heraldry?
Priest o' the pine-wood temples dim,
Prophet, sage, or wizard grim?
Rugged type of primal man,
Loving woods for hunt and prowl,
Lake and hill for fish and fowl,
As the brown bear blind and dull
To the grand and beautiful:
Not for him the lesson drawn
From the mountains smit with dawn,
Star-rise, moon-rise, flowers of May,
Sunset's purple bloom of day,--
Took his life no hue from thence,
Poor amid such affluence?
Haply unto hill and tree
All too near akin was he
Unto him who stands afar
Nature's marvels greatest are;
Who the mountain purple seeks
Must not climb the higher peaks.
Yet who knows in winter tramp,
Or the midnight of the camp,
What revealings faint and far,
Stealing down from moon and star,
Kindled in that human clod
Thought of destiny and God?
Stateliest forest patriarch,
Grand in robes of skin and bark,
What sepulchral mysteries,
What weird funeral-rites, were his?
What sharp wail, what drear lament,
Back scared wolf and eagle sent?
Now, whate'er he may have been,
Low he lies as other men;
On his mound the partridge drums,
There the noisy blue-jay comes;
Rank nor name nor pomp has he
In the grave's democracy.
Part thy blue lips, Northern lake!
Moss-grown rocks, your silence break!
Tell the tale, thou ancient tree!
Thou, too, slide-worn Ossipee!
Speak, and tell us how and when
Lived and died this king of men!
Wordless moans the ancient pine;
Lake and mountain give no sign;
Vain to trace this ring of stones;
Vain the search of crumbling bones
Deepest of all mysteries,
And the saddest, silence is.
Nameless, noteless, clay with clay
Mingles slowly day by day;
But somewhere, for good or ill,
That dark soul is living still;
Somewhere yet that atom's force
Moves the light-poised universe.
Strange that on his burial-sod
Harebells bloom, and golden-rod,
While the soul's dark horoscope
Holds no starry sign of hope!
Is the Unseen with sight at odds?
Nature's pity more than God's?
Thus I mused by Melvin's side,
While the summer eventide
Made the woods and inland sea
And the mountains mystery;
And the hush of earth and air
Seemed the pause before a prayer,--
Prayer for him, for all who rest,
Mother Earth, upon thy breast,--
Lapped on Christian turf, or hid
In rock-cave or pyramid
All who sleep, as all who live,
Well may need the prayer, 'Forgive!'
Knee-deep dust that once was man,
Battle-trenches ghastly piled,
Ocean-floors with white bones tiled,
Crowded tomb and mounded sod,
Dumbly crave that prayer to God.
Oh, the generations old
Over whom no church-bells tolled,
Christless, lifting up blind eyes
To the silence of the skies!
For the innumerable dead
Is my soul disquieted.
Where be now these silent hosts?
Where the camping-ground of ghosts?
Where the spectral conscripts led
To the white tents of the dead?
What strange shore or chartless sea
Holds the awful mystery?
Then the warm sky stooped to make
Double sunset in the lake;
While above I saw with it,
Range on range, the mountains lit;
And the calm and splendor stole
Like an answer to my soul.
Hear'st thou, O of little faith,
What to thee the mountain saith,
What is whispered by the trees?
Cast on God thy care for these;
Trust Him, if thy sight be dim
Doubt for them is doubt of Him.
'Blind must be their close-shut eyes
Where like night the sunshine lies,
Fiery-linked the self-forged chain
Binding ever sin to pain,
Strong their prison-house of will,
But without He waiteth still.
'Not with hatred's undertow
Doth the Love Eternal flow;
Every chain that spirits wear
Crumbles in the breath of prayer;
And the penitent's desire
Opens every gate of fire.
'Still Thy love, O Christ arisen,
Yearns to reach these souls in prison!
Through all depths of sin and loss
Drops the plummet of Thy cross!
Never yet abyss was found
Deeper than that cross could sound!'
Therefore well may Nature keep
Equal faith with all who sleep,
Set her watch of hills around
Christian grave and heathen mound,
And to cairn and kirkyard send
Summer's flowery dividend.
Keep, O pleasant Melvin stream,
Thy sweet laugh in shade and gleam
On the Indian's grassy tomb
Swing, O flowers, your bells of bloom!
Deep below, as high above,
Sweeps the circle of God's love.
. . . . .
He paused and questioned with his eye
The hearers' verdict on his song.
A low voice asked: Is 't well to pry
Into the secrets which belong
Only to God?--The life to be
Is still the unguessed mystery
Unsealed, unpierced the cloudy walls remain,
We beat with dream and wish the soundless doors in vain.
'But faith beyond our sight may go.'
He said: 'The gracious Fatherhood
Can only know above, below,
Eternal purposes of good.
From our free heritage of will,
The bitter springs of pain and ill
Flow only in all worlds. The perfect day
Of God is shadowless, and love is love alway.'
'I know,' she said, 'the letter kills;
That on our arid fields of strife
And heat of clashing texts distils
The clew of spirit and of life.
But, searching still the written Word,
I fain would find, Thus saith the Lord,
A voucher for the hope I also feel
That sin can give no wound beyond love's power to heal.'
'Pray,' said the Man of Books, 'give o'er
A theme too vast for time and place.
Go on, Sir Poet, ride once more
Your hobby at his old free pace.
But let him keep, with step discreet,
The solid earth beneath his feet.
In the great mystery which around us lies,
The wisest is a fool, the fool Heaven-helped is wise.'
The Traveller said: 'If songs have creeds,
Their choice of them let singers make;
But Art no other sanction needs
Than beauty for its own fair sake.
It grinds not in the mill of use,
Nor asks for leave, nor begs excuse;
It makes the flexile laws it deigns to own,
And gives its atmosphere its color and its tone.
'Confess, old friend, your austere school
Has left your fancy little chance;
You square to reason's rigid rule
The flowing outlines of romance.
With conscience keen from exercise,
And chronic fear of compromise,
You check the free play of your rhymes, to clap
A moral underneath, and spring it like a trap.'
The sweet voice answered: 'Better so
Than bolder flights that know no check;
Better to use the bit, than throw
The reins all loose on fancy's neck.
The liberal range of Art should be
The breadth of Christian liberty,
Restrained alone by challenge and alarm
Where its charmed footsteps tread the border land of harm.
'Beyond the poet's sweet dream lives
The eternal epic of the man.
He wisest is who only gives,
True to himself, the best he can;
Who, drifting in the winds of praise,
The inward monitor obeys;
And, with the boldness that confesses fear,
Takes in the crowded sail, and lets his conscience steer.
'Thanks for the fitting word he speaks,
Nor less for doubtful word unspoken;
For the false model that he breaks,
As for the moulded grace unbroken;
For what is missed and what remains,
For losses which are truest gains,
For reverence conscious of the Eternal eye,
And truth too fair to need the garnish of a lie.'
Laughing, the Critic bowed. 'I yield
The point without another word;
Who ever yet a case appealed
Where beauty's judgment had been heard?
And you, my good friend, owe to me
Your warmest thanks for such a plea,
As true withal as sweet. For my offence
Of cavil, let her words be ample recompense.'
Across the sea one lighthouse star,
With crimson ray that came and went,
Revolving on its tower afar,
Looked through the doorway of the tent.
While outward, over sand-slopes wet,
The lamp flashed down its yellow jet
On the long wash of waves, with red and green
Tangles of weltering weed through the white foam-wreaths seen.
'Sing while we may,--another day
May bring enough of sorrow;'--thus
Our Traveller in his own sweet lay,
His Crimean camp-song, hints to us,'
The lady said. 'So let it be;
Sing us a song,' exclaimed all three.
She smiled: 'I can but marvel at your choice
To hear our poet's words through my poor borrowed voice.'
. . . . .
Her window opens to the bay,
On glistening light or misty gray,
And there at dawn and set of day
In prayer she kneels.
'Dear Lord!' she saith, 'to many a borne
From wind and wave the wanderers come;
I only see the tossing foam
Of stranger keels.
'Blown out and in by summer gales,
The stately ships, with crowded sails,
And sailors leaning o'er their rails,
Before me glide;
They come, they go, but nevermore,
Spice-laden from the Indian shore,
I see his swift-winged Isidore
The waves divide.
'O Thou! with whom the night is day
And one the near and far away,
Look out on yon gray waste, and say
Where lingers he.
Alive, perchance, on some lone beach
Or thirsty isle beyond the reach
Of man, he hears the mocking speech
Of wind and sea.
'O dread and cruel deep, reveal
The secret which thy waves conceal,
And, ye wild sea-birds, hither wheel
And tell your tale.
Let winds that tossed his raven hair
A message from my lost one bear,--
Some thought of me, a last fond prayer
Or dying wail!
'Come, with your dreariest truth shut out
The fears that haunt me round about;
O God! I cannot bear this doubt
That stifles breath.
The worst is better than the dread;
Give me but leave to mourn my dead
Asleep in trust and hope, instead
Of life in death!'
It might have been the evening breeze
That whispered in the garden trees,
It might have been the sound of seas
That rose and fell;
But, with her heart, if not her ear,
The old loved voice she seemed to hear
'I wait to meet thee: be of cheer,
For all is well!'
. . . . .
The sweet voice into silence went,
A silence which was almost pain
As through it rolled the long lament,
The cadence of the mournful main.
Glancing his written pages o'er,
The Reader tried his part once more;
Leaving the land of hackmatack and pine
For Tuscan valleys glad with olive and with vine.
A HARVEST IDYL.
I CALL the old time back: I bring my lay
in tender memory of the summer day
When, where our native river lapsed away,
We dreamed it over, while the thrushes made
Songs of their own, and the great pine-trees laid
On warm noonlights the masses of their shade.
And she was with us, living o'er again
Her life in ours, despite of years and pain,--
The Autumn's brightness after latter rain.
Beautiful in her holy peace as one
Who stands, at evening, when the work is done,
Glorified in the setting of the sun!
Her memory makes our common landscape seem
Fairer than any of which painters dream;
Lights the brown hills and sings in every stream;
For she whose speech was always truth's pure gold
Heard, not unpleased, its simple legends told,
And loved with us the beautiful and old.
I. THE RIVER VALLEY.
Across the level tableland,
A grassy, rarely trodden way,
With thinnest skirt of birchen spray
And stunted growth of cedar, leads
To where you see the dull plain fall
Sheer off, steep-slanted, ploughed by all
The seasons' rainfalls. On its brink
The over-leaning harebells swing,
With roots half bare the pine-trees cling;
And, through the shadow looking west,
You see the wavering river flow
Along a vale, that far below
Holds to the sun, the sheltering hills
And glimmering water-line between,
Broad fields of corn and meadows green,
And fruit-bent orchards grouped around
The low brown roofs and painted eaves,
And chimney-tops half hid in leaves.
No warmer valley hides behind
Yon wind-scourged sand-dunes, cold and bleak;
No fairer river comes to seek
The wave-sung welcome of the sea,
Or mark the northmost border line
Of sun-loved growths of nut and vine.
Here, ground-fast in their native fields,
Untempted by the city's gain,
The quiet farmer folk remain
Who bear the pleasant name of Friends,
And keep their fathers' gentle ways
And simple speech of Bible days;
In whose neat homesteads woman holds
With modest ease her equal place,
And wears upon her tranquil face
The look of one who, merging not
Her self-hood in another's will,
Is love's and duty's handmaid still.
Pass with me down the path that winds
Through birches to the open land,
Where, close upon the river strand
You mark a cellar, vine o'errun,
Above whose wall of loosened stones
The sumach lifts its reddening cones,
And the black nightshade's berries shine,
And broad, unsightly burdocks fold
The household ruin, century-old.
Here, in the dim colonial time
Of sterner lives and gloomier faith,
A woman lived, tradition saith,
Who wrought her neighbors foul annoy,
And witched and plagued the country-side,
Till at the hangman's hand she died.
Sit with me while the westering day
Falls slantwise down the quiet vale,
And, haply ere yon loitering sail,
That rounds the upper headland, falls
Below Deer Island's pines, or sees
Behind it Hawkswood's belt of trees
Rise black against the sinking sun,
My idyl of its days of old,
The valley's legend, shall be told.
II. THE HUSKING.
It was the pleasant harvest-time,
When cellar-bins are closely stowed,
And garrets bend beneath their load,
And the old swallow-haunted barns,--
Brown-gabled, long, and full of seams
Through which the rooted sunlight streams,
And winds blow freshly in, to shake
The red plumes of the roosted cocks,
And the loose hay-mow's scented locks,
Are filled with summer's ripened stores,
Its odorous grass and barley sheaves,
From their low scaffolds to their eaves.
On Esek Harden's oaken floor,
With many an autumn threshing worn,
Lay the heaped ears of unhusked corn.
And thither came young men and maids,
Beneath a moon that, large and low,
Lit that sweet eve of long ago.
They took their places; some by chance,
And others by a merry voice
Or sweet smile guided to their choice.
How pleasantly the rising moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm-boughs!
On sturdy boyhood, sun-embrowned,
On girlhood with its solid curves
Of healthful strength and painless nerves!
And jests went round, and laughs that made
The house-dog answer with his howl,
And kept astir the barn-yard fowl;
And quaint old songs their fathers sung
In Derby dales and Yorkshire moors,
Ere Norman William trod their shores;
And tales, whose merry license shook
The fat sides of the Saxon thane,
Forgetful of the hovering Dane,--
Rude plays to Celt and Cimbri known,
The charms and riddles that beguiled
On Oxus' banks the young world's child,--
That primal picture-speech wherein
Have youth and maid the story told,
So new in each, so dateless old,
Recalling pastoral Ruth in her
Who waited, blushing and demure,
The red-ear's kiss of forfeiture.
But still the sweetest voice was mute
That river-valley ever heard
From lips of maid or throat of bird;
For Mabel Martin sat apart,
And let the hay-mow's shadow fall
Upon the loveliest face of all.
She sat apart, as one forbid,
Who knew that none would condescend
To own the Witch-wife's child a friend.
The seasons scarce had gone their round,
Since curious thousands thronged to see
Her mother at the gallows-tree;
And mocked the prison-palsied limbs
That faltered on the fatal stairs,
And wan lip trembling with its prayers!
Few questioned of the sorrowing child,
Or, when they saw the mother die;
Dreamed of the daughter's agony.
They went up to their homes that day,
As men and Christians justified
God willed it, and the wretch had died!
Dear God and Father of us all,
Forgive our faith in cruel lies,--
Forgive the blindness that denies!
Forgive thy creature when he takes,
For the all-perfect love Thou art,
Some grim creation of his heart.
Cast down our idols, overturn
Our bloody altars; let us see
Thyself in Thy humanity!
Young Mabel from her mother's grave
Crept to her desolate hearth-stone,
And wrestled with her fate alone;
With love, and anger, and despair,
The phantoms of disordered sense,
The awful doubts of Providence!
Oh, dreary broke the winter days,
And dreary fell the winter nights
When, one by one, the neighboring lights
Went out, and human sounds grew still,
And all the phantom-peopled dark
Closed round her hearth-fire's dying spark.
And summer days were sad and long,
And sad the uncompanioned eves,
And sadder sunset-tinted leaves,
And Indian Summer's airs of balm;
She scarcely felt the soft caress,
The beauty died of loneliness!
The school-boys jeered her as they passed,
And, when she sought the house of prayer,
Her mother's curse pursued her there.
And still o'er many a neighboring door
She saw the horseshoe's curved charm,
To guard against her mother's harm!
That mother, poor and sick and lame,
Who daily, by the old arm-chair,
Folded her withered hands in prayer;--
Who turned, in Salem's dreary jail,
Her worn old Bible o'er and o'er,
When her dim eyes could read no more!
Sore tried and pained, the poor girl kept
Her faith, and trusted that her way,
So dark, would somewhere meet the day.
And still her weary wheel went round
Day after day, with no relief
Small leisure have the poor for grief.
IV. THE CHAMPION.
So in the shadow Mabel sits;
Untouched by mirth she sees and hears,
Her smile is sadder than her tears.
But cruel eyes have found her out,
And cruel lips repeat her name,
And taunt her with her mother's shame.
She answered not with railing words,
But drew her apron o'er her face,
And, sobbing, glided from the place.
And only pausing at the door,
Her sad eyes met the troubled gaze
Of one who, in her better days,
Had been her warm and steady friend,
Ere yet her mother's doom had made
Even Esek Harden half afraid.
He felt that mute appeal of tears,
And, starting, with an angry frown,
Hushed all the wicked murmurs down.
'Good neighbors mine,' he sternly said,
'This passes harmless mirth or jest;
I brook no insult to my guest.
'She is indeed her mother's child;
But God's sweet pity ministers
Unto no whiter soul than hers.
'Let Goody Martin rest in peace;
I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not, God knows--not I.
'I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I'd not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them.'
The broadest lands in all the town,
The skill to guide, the power to awe,
Were Harden's; and his word was law.
None dared withstand him to his face,
But one sly maiden spake aside
'The little witch is evil-eyed!
'Her mother only killed a cow,
Or witched a churn or dairy-pan;
But she, forsooth, must charm a man!'
V. IN THE SHADOW.
Poor Mabel, homeward turning, passed
The nameless terrors of the wood,
And saw, as if a ghost pursued,
Her shadow gliding in the moon;
The soft breath of the west-wind gave
A chill as from her mother's grave.
How dreary seemed the silent house!
Wide in the moonbeams' ghastly glare
Its windows had a dead man's stare!
And, like a gaunt and spectral hand,
The tremulous shadow of a birch
Reached out and touched the door's low porch,
As if to lift its latch; hard by,
A sudden warning call she beard,
The night-cry of a boding bird.
She leaned against the door; her face,
So fair, so young, so full of pain,
White in the moonlight's silver rain.
The river, on its pebbled rim,
Made music such as childhood knew;
The door-yard tree was whispered through
By voices such as childhood's ear
Had heard in moonlights long ago;
And through the willow-boughs below.
She saw the rippled waters shine;
Beyond, in waves of shade and light,
The hills rolled off into the night.
She saw and heard, but over all
A sense of some transforming spell,
The shadow of her sick heart fell.
And still across the wooded space
The harvest lights of Harden shone,
And song and jest and laugh went on.
And he, so gentle, true, and strong,
Of men the bravest and the best,
Had he, too, scorned her with the rest?
She strove to drown her sense of wrong,
And, in her old and simple way,
To teach her bitter heart to pray.
Poor child! the prayer, begun in faith,
Grew to a low, despairing cry
Of utter misery: 'Let me die!
'Oh! take me from the scornful eyes,
And hide me where the cruel speech
And mocking finger may not reach!
'I dare not breathe my mother's name
A daughter's right I dare not crave
To weep above her unblest grave!
'Let me not live until my heart,
With few to pity, and with none
To love me, hardens into stone.
'O God! have mercy on Thy child,
Whose faith in Thee grows weak and small,
And take me ere I lose it all!'
A shadow on the moonlight fell,
And murmuring wind and wave became
A voice whose burden was her name.
VI. THE BETROTHAL.
Had then God heard her? Had He sent
His angel down? In flesh and blood,
Before her Esek Harden stood!
He laid his hand upon her arm
'Dear Mabel, this no more shall be;
Who scoffs at you must scoff at me.
'You know rough Esek Harden well;
And if he seems no suitor gay,
And if his hair is touched with gray,
'The maiden grown shall never find
His heart less warm than when she smiled,
Upon his knees, a little child!'
Her tears of grief were tears of joy,
As, folded in his strong embrace,
She looked in Esek Harden's face.
'O truest friend of all'' she said,
'God bless you for your kindly thought,
And make me worthy of my lot!'
He led her forth, and, blent in one,
Beside their happy pathway ran
The shadows of the maid and man.
He led her through his dewy fields,
To where the swinging lanterns glowed,
And through the doors the huskers showed.
'Good friends and neighbors!' Esek said,
'I'm weary of this lonely life;
In Mabel see my chosen wife!
'She greets you kindly, one and all;
The past is past, and all offence
Falls harmless from her innocence.
'Henceforth she stands no more alone;
You know what Esek Harden is;--
He brooks no wrong to him or his.
'Now let the merriest tales be told,
And let the sweetest songs be sung
That ever made the old heart young!
'For now the lost has found a home;
And a lone hearth shall brighter burn,
As all the household joys return!'
Oh, pleasantly the harvest-moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm--boughs!
On Mabel's curls of golden hair,
On Esek's shaggy strength it fell;
And the wind whispered, 'It is well!'
The Chapel Of The Hermits
'I do believe, and yet, in grief,
I pray for help to unbelief;
For needful strength aside to lay
The daily cumberings of my way.
'I 'm sick at heart of craft and cant,
Sick of the crazed enthusiast's rant,
Profession's smooth hypocrisies,
And creeds of iron, and lives of ease.
'I ponder o'er the sacred word,
I read the record of our Lord;
And, weak and troubled, envy them
Who touched His seamless garment's hem;
'Who saw the tears of love He wept
Above the grave where Lazarus slept;
And heard, amidst the shadows dim
Of Olivet, His evening hymn.
'How blessed the swineherd's low estate,
The beggar crouching at the gate,
The leper loathly and abhorred,
Whose eyes of flesh beheld the Lord!
'O sacred soil His sandals pressed!
Sweet fountains of His noonday rest!
O light and air of Palestine,
Impregnate with His life divine!
'Oh, bear me thither! Let me look
On Siloa's pool, and Kedron's brook;
Kneel at Gethsemane, and by
Gennesaret walk, before I die!
'Methinks this cold and northern night
Would melt before that Orient light;
And, wet by Hermon's dew and rain,
My childhood's faith revive again!'
So spake my friend, one autumn day,
Where the still river slid away
Beneath us, and above the brown
Red curtains of the woods shut down.
Then said I,-for I could not brook
The mute appealing of his look,-
'I, too, am weak, and faith is small,
And blindness happeneth unto all.
'Yet, sometimes glimpses on my sight,
Through present wrong, the eternal right;
And, step by step, since time began,
I see the steady gain of man;
'That all of good the past hath had
Remains to make our own time glad,
Our common daily life divine,
And every land a Palestine.
'Thou weariest of thy present state;
What gain to thee time's holiest date?
The doubter now perchance had been
As High Priest or as Pilate then!
'What thought Chorazin's scribes? What faith
In Him had Nain and Nazareth?
Of the few followers whom He led
One sold Him,-all forsook and fled.
'O friend! we need nor rock nor sand,
Nor storied stream of Morning-Land;
The heavens are glassed in Merrimac,-
What more could Jordan render back?
'We lack but open eye and ear
To find the Orient's marvels here;
The still small voice in autumn's hush,
Yon maple wood the burning bush.
'For still the new transcends the old,
In signs and tokens manifold;
Slaves rise up men; the olive waves,
With roots deep set in battle graves!
'Through the harsh noises of our day
A low, sweet prelude finds its way;
Through clouds of doubt, and creeds of fear,
A light is breaking, calm and clear.
'That song of Love, now low and far,
Erelong shall swell from star to star!
That light, the breaking day, which tips
The golden-spired Apocalypse!'
Then, when my good friend shook his head,
And, sighing, sadly smiled, I said:
'Thou mind'st me of a story told
In rare Bernardin's leaves of gold.'
And while the slanted sunbeams wove
The shadows of the frost-stained grove,
And, picturing all, the river ran
O'er cloud and wood, I thus began:-
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In Mount Valerien's chestnut wood
The Chapel of the Hermits stood;
And thither, at the close of day,
Came two old pilgrims, worn and gray.
One, whose impetuous youth defied
The storms of Baikal's wintry side,
And mused and dreamed where tropic day
Flamed o'er his lost Virginia's bay.
His simple tale of love and woe
All hearts had melted, high or low;-
A blissful pain, a sweet distress,
Immortal in its tenderness.
Yet, while above his charmed page
Beat quick the young heart of his age,
He walked amidst the crowd unknown,
A sorrowing old man, strange and lone.
A homeless, troubled age,-the gray
Pale setting of a weary day;
Too dull his ear for voice of praise,
Too sadly worn his brow for bays.
Pride, lust of power and glory, slept;
Yet still his heart its young dream kept,
And, wandering like the deluge-dove,
Still sought the resting-place of love.
And, mateless, childless, envied more
The peasant's welcome from his door
By smiling eyes at eventide,
Than kingly gifts or lettered pride.
Until, in place of wife and child,
All-pitying Nature on him smiled,
And gave to him the golden keys
To all her inmost sanctities.
Mild Druid of her wood-paths dim!
She laid her great heart bare to him,
Its loves and sweet accords;-he saw
The beauty of her perfect law.
The language of her signs lie knew,
What notes her cloudy clarion blew;
The rhythm of autumn's forest dyes,
The hymn of sunset's painted skies.
And thus he seemed to hear the song
Which swept, of old, the stars along;
And to his eyes the earth once more
Its fresh and primal beauty wore.
Who sought with him, from summer air,
And field and wood, a balm for care;
And bathed in light of sunset skies
His tortured nerves and weary eyes?
His fame on all the winds had flown;
His words had shaken crypt and throne;
Like fire, on camp and court and cell
They dropped, and kindled as they fell.
Beneath the pomps of state, below
The mitred juggler's masque and show,
A prophecy, a vague hope, ran
His burning thought from man to man.
For peace or rest too well he saw
The fraud of priests, the wrong of law,
And felt how hard, between the two,
Their breath of pain the millions drew.
A prophet-utterance, strong and wild,
The weakness of an unweaned child,
A sun-bright hope for human-kind,
And self-despair, in him combined.
He loathed the false, yet lived not true
To half the glorious truths he knew;
The doubt, the discord, and the sin,
He mourned without, he felt within.
Untrod by him the path he showed,
Sweet pictures on his easel glowed
Of simple faith, and loves of home,
And virtue's golden days to come.
But weakness, shame, and folly made
The foil to all his pen portrayed;
Still, where his dreamy splendors shone,
The shadow of himself was thrown.
Lord, what is man, whose thought, at times,
Up to Thy sevenfold brightness climbs,
While still his grosser instinct clings
To earth, like other creeping things!
So rich in words, in acts so mean;
So high, so low; chance-swung between
The foulness of the penal pit
And Truth's clear sky, millennium-lit!
Vain, pride of star-lent genius!-vain,
Quick fancy and creative brain,
Unblest by prayerful sacrifice,
Absurdly great, or weakly wise!
Midst yearnings for a truer life,
Without were fears, within was strife;
And still his wayward act denied
The perfect good for which he sighed.
The love he sent forth void returned;
The fame that crowned him scorched and burned,
Burning, yet cold and drear and lone,-
A fire-mount in a frozen zone!
Like that the gray-haired sea-king passed,
Seen southward from his sleety mast,
About whose brows of changeless frost
A wreath of flame the wild winds tossed.
Far round the mournful beauty played
Of lambent light and purple shade,
Lost on the fixed and dumb despair
Of frozen earth and sea and air!
A man apart, unknown, unloved
By those whose wrongs his soul had moved,
He bore the ban of Church and State,
The good man's fear, the bigot's hate!
Forth from the city's noise and throng,
Its pomp and shame, its sin and wrong,
The twain that summer day had strayed
To Mount Valerien's chestnut shade.
To them the green fields and the wood
Lent something of their quietude,
And golden-tinted sunset seemed
Prophetical of all they dreamed.
The hermits from their simple cares
The bell was calling home to prayers,
And, listening to its sound, the twain
Seemed lapped in childhood's trust again.
Wide open stood the chapel door;
A sweet old music, swelling o'er
Low prayerful murmurs, issued thence,-
The Litanies of Providence!
Then Rousseau spake: 'Where two or three
In His name meet, He there will be!'
And then, in silence, on their knees
They sank beneath the chestnut-trees.
As to the blind returning light,
As daybreak to the Arctic night,
Old faith revived; the doubts of years
Dissolved in reverential tears.
That gush of feeling overpast,
'Ah me!' Bernardin sighed at last,
I would thy bitterest foes could see
Thy heart as it is seen of me!
'No church of God hast thou denied;
Thou hast but spurned in scorn aside
A bare and hollow counterfeit,
Profaning the pure name of it!
'With dry dead moss and marish weeds
His fire the western herdsman feeds,
And greener from the ashen plain
The sweet spring grasses rise again.
'Nor thunder-peal nor mighty wind
Disturb the solid sky behind;
And through the cloud the red bolt rends
The calm, still smile of Heaven descends.
'Thus through the world, like bolt and blast,
And scourging fire, thy words have passed.
Clouds break,-the steadfast heavens remain;
Weeds burn,-the ashes feed the grain!
'But whoso strives with wrong may find
Its touch pollute, its darkness blind;
And learn, as latent fraud is shown
In others' faith, to doubt his own.
'With dream and falsehood, simple trust
And pious hope we tread in dust;
Lost the calm faith in goodness,-lost
The baptism of the Pentecost!
'Alas!-the blows for error meant
Too oft on truth itself are spent,
As through the false and vile and base
Looks forth her sad, rebuking face.
'Not ours the Theban's charmed life;
We come not scathless from the strife!
The Python's coil about us clings,
The trampled Hydra bites and stings!
'Meanwhile, the sport of seeming chance,
The plastic shapes of circumstance,
What might have been we fondly guess,
If earlier born, or tempted less.
'And thou, in these wild, troubled days,
Misjudged alike in blame and praise,
Unsought and undeserved the same
The skeptic's praise, the bigot's blame;-
'I cannot doubt, if thou hadst been
Among the highly favored men
Who walked on earth with Fenelon,
He would have owned thee as his son;
'And, bright with wings of cherubim
Visibly waving over him,
Seen through his life, the Church had seemed
All that its old confessors dreamed.'
'I would have been,' Jean Jaques replied,
'The humblest servant at his side,
Obscure, unknown, content to see
How beautiful man's life may be!
'Oh, more than thrice-blest relic, more
Than solemn rite or sacred lore,
The holy life of one who trod
The foot-marks of the Christ of God!
'Amidst a blinded world he saw
The oneness of the Dual law;
That Heaven's sweet peace on Earth began,
And God was loved through love of man.
'He lived the Truth which reconciled
The strong man Reason, Faith the child;
In him belief and act were one,
The homilies of duty done!'
So speaking, through the twilight gray
The two old pilgrims went their way.
What seeds of life that day were sown,
The heavenly watchers knew alone.
Time passed, and Autumn came to fold
Green Summer in her brown and gold;
Time passed, and Winter's tears of snow
Dropped on the grave-mound of Rousseau.
'The tree remaineth where it fell,
The pained on earth is pained in hell!'
So priestcraft from its altars cursed
The mournful doubts its falsehood nursed.
Ah! well of old the Psalmist prayed,
'Thy hand, not man's, on me be laid!'
Earth frowns below, Heaven weeps above,
And man is hate, but God is love!
No Hermits now the wanderer sees,
Nor chapel with its chestnut-trees;
A morning dream, a tale that's told,
The wave of change o'er all has rolled.
Yet lives the lesson of that day;
And from its twilight cool and gray
Comes up a low, sad whisper, 'Make
The truth thine own, for truth's own sake.
'Why wait to see in thy brief span
Its perfect flower and fruit in man?
No saintly touch can save; no balm
Of healing hath the martyr's palm.
'Midst soulless forms, and false pretence
Of spiritual pride and pampered sense,
A voice saith, 'What is that to thee?
Be true thyself, and follow Me!
'In days when throne and altar heard
The wanton's wish, the bigot's word,
And pomp of state and ritual show
Scarce hid the loathsome death below,-
'Midst fawning priests and courtiers foul,
The losel swarm of crown and cowl,
White-robed walked Francois Fenelon,
Stainless as Uriel in the sun!
'Yet in his time the stake blazed red,
The poor were eaten up like bread
Men knew him not; his garment's hem
No healing virtue had for them.
'Alas! no present saint we find;
The white cymar gleams far behind,
Revealed in outline vague, sublime,
Through telescopic mists of time!
'Trust not in man with passing breath,
But in the Lord, old Scripture saith;
The truth which saves thou mayst not blend
With false professor, faithless friend.
'Search thine own heart. What paineth thee
In others in thyself may be;
All dust is frail, all flesh is weak;
Be thou the true man thou dost seek!
'Where now with pain thou treadest, trod
The whitest of the saints of God!
To show thee where their feet were set,
the light which led them shineth yet.
'The footprints of the life divine,
Which marked their path, remain in thine;
And that great Life, transfused in theirs,
Awaits thy faith, thy love, thy prayers!'
A lesson which I well may heed,
A word of fitness to my need;
So from that twilight cool and gray
Still saith a voice, or seems to say.
We rose, and slowly homeward turned,
While down the west the sunset burned;
And, in its light, hill, wood, and tide,
And human forms seemed glorified.
The village homes transfigured stood,
And purple bluffs, whose belting wood
Across the waters leaned to hold
The yellow leaves like lamps of hold.
Then spake my friend: 'Thy words are true;
Forever old, forever new,
These home-seen splendors are the same
Which over Eden's sunsets came.
'To these bowed heavens let wood and hill
Lift voiceless praise and anthem still;
Fall, warm with blessing, over them,
Light of the New Jerusalem!
'Flow on, sweet river, like the stream
Of John's Apocalyptic dream
This mapled ridge shall Horeb be,
Yon green-banked lake our Galilee!
'Henceforth my heart shall sigh no more
For olden time and holier shore;
God's love and blessing, then and there,
Are now and here and everywhere.'
Its windows flashing to the sky,
Beneath a thousand roofs of brown,
Far down the vale, my friend and I
Beheld the old and quiet town;
The ghostly sails that out at sea
Flapped their white wings of mystery;
The beaches glimmering in the sun,
And the low wooded capes that run
Into the sea-mist north and south;
The sand-bluffs at the river's mouth;
The swinging chain-bridge, and, afar,
The foam-line of the harbor-bar.
Over the woods and meadow-lands
A crimson-tinted shadow lay,
Of clouds through which the setting day
Flung a slant glory far away.
It glittered on the wet sea-sands,
It flamed upon the city's panes,
Smote the white sails of ships that wore
Outward or in, and glided o'er
The steeples with their veering vanes!
Awhile my friend with rapid search
O'erran the landscape. 'Yonder spire
Over gray roofs, a shaft of fire;
What is it, pray?'-'The Whitefield Church!
Walled about by its basement stones,
There rest the marvellous prophet's bones.'
Then as our homeward way we walked,
Of the great preacher's life we talked;
And through the mystery of our theme
The outward glory seemed to stream,
And Nature's self interpreted
The doubtful record of the dead;
And every level beam that smote
The sails upon the dark afloat
A symbol of the light became,
Which touched the shadows of our blame,
With tongues of Pentecostal flame.
Over the roofs of the pioneers
Gathers the moss of a hundred years;
On man and his works has passed the change
Which needs must be in a century's range.
The land lies open and warm in the sun,
Anvils clamor and mill-wheels run,-
Flocks on the hillsides, herds on the plain,
The wilderness gladdened with fruit and grain!
But the living faith of the settlers old
A dead profession their children hold;
To the lust of office and greed of trade
A stepping-stone is the altar made.
The church, to place and power the door,
Rebukes the sin of the world no more,
Nor sees its Lord in the homeless poor.
Everywhere is the grasping hand,
And eager adding of land to land;
And earth, which seemed to the fathers meant
But as a pilgrim's wayside tent,-
A nightly shelter to fold away
When the Lord should call at the break of day,-
Solid and steadfast seems to be,
And Time has forgotten Eternity!
But fresh and green from the rotting roots
Of primal forests the young growth shoots;
From the death of the old the new proceeds,
And the life of truth from the rot of creeds
On the ladder of God, which upward leads,
The steps of progress are human needs.
For His judgments still are a mighty deep,
And the eyes of His providence never sleep
When the night is darkest He gives the morn;
When the famine is sorest, the wine and corn!
In the church of the wilderness Edwards wrought,
Shaping his creed at the forge of thought;
And with Thor's own hammer welded and bent
The iron links of his argument,
Which strove to grasp in its mighty span
The purpose of God and the fate of man
Yet faithful still, in his daily round
To the weak, and the poor, and sin-sick found,
The schoolman's lore and the casuist's art
Drew warmth and life from his fervent heart.
Had he not seen in the solitudes
Of his deep and dark Northampton woods
A vision of love about him fall?
Not the blinding splendor which fell on Saul,
But the tenderer glory that rests on them
Who walk in the New Jerusalem,
Where never the sun nor moon are known,
But the Lord and His love are the light alone
And watching the sweet, still countenance
Of the wife of his bosom rapt in trance,
Had he not treasured each broken word
Of the mystical wonder seen and heard;
And loved the beautiful dreamer more
That thus to the desert of earth she bore
Clusters of Eshcol from Canaan's shore?
As the barley-winnower, holding with pain
Aloft in waiting his chaff and grain,
Joyfully welcomes the far-off breeze
Sounding the pine-tree's slender keys,
So he who had waited long to hear
The sound of the Spirit drawing near,
Like that which the son of Iddo heard
When the feet of angels the myrtles stirred,
Felt the answer of prayer, at last,
As over his church the afflatus passed,
Breaking its sleep as breezes break
To sun-bright ripples a stagnant lake.
At first a tremor of silent fear,
The creep of the flesh at danger near,
A vague foreboding and discontent,
Over the hearts of the people went.
All nature warned in sounds and signs
The wind in the tops of the forest pines
In the name of the Highest called to prayer,
As the muezzin calls from the minaret stair.
Through ceiled chambers of secret sin
Sudden and strong the light shone in;
A guilty sense of his neighbor's needs
Startled the man of title-deeds;
The trembling hand of the worldling shook
The dust of years from the Holy Book;
And the psalms of David, forgotten long,
Took the place of the scoffer's song.
The impulse spread like the outward course
Of waters moved by a central force;
The tide of spiritual life rolled down
From inland mountains to seaboard town.
Prepared and ready the altar stands
Waiting the prophet's outstretched hands
And prayer availing, to downward call
The fiery answer in view of all.
Hearts are like wax in the furnace; who
Shall mould, and shape, and cast them anew?
Lo! by the Merrimac Whitefield stands
In the temple that never was made by hands,-
Curtains of azure, and crystal wall,
And dome of the sunshine over all-
A homeless pilgrim, with dubious name
Blown about on the winds of fame;
Now as an angel of blessing classed,
And now as a mad enthusiast.
Called in his youth to sound and gauge
The moral lapse of his race and age,
And, sharp as truth, the contrast draw
Of human frailty and perfect law;
Possessed by the one dread thought that lent
Its goad to his fiery temperament,
Up and down the world he went,
A John the Baptist crying, Repent!
No perfect whole can our nature make;
Here or there the circle will break;
The orb of life as it takes the light
On one side leaves the other in night.
Never was saint so good and great
As to give no chance at St. Peter's gate
For the plea of the Devil's advocate.
So, incomplete by his being's law,
The marvellous preacher had his flaw;
With step unequal, and lame with faults,
His shade on the path of History halts.
Wisely and well said the Eastern bard
Fear is easy, but love is hard,-
Easy to glow with the Santon's rage,
And walk on the Meccan pilgrimage;
But he is greatest and best who can
Worship Allah by loving man.
Thus he,-to whom, in the painful stress
Of zeal on fire from its own excess,
Heaven seemed so vast and earth so small
That man was nothing, since God was all,-
Forgot, as the best at times have done,
That the love of the Lord and of man are one.
Little to him whose feet unshod
The thorny path of the desert trod,
Careless of pain, so it led to God,
Seemed the hunger-pang and the poor man's wrong,
The weak ones trodden beneath the strong.
Should the worm be chooser?-the clay withstand
The shaping will of the potter's hand?
In the Indian fable Arjoon hears
The scorn of a god rebuke his fears
'Spare thy pity!' Krishna saith;
'Not in thy sword is the power of death!
All is illusion,-loss but seems;
Pleasure and pain are only dreams;
Who deems he slayeth doth not kill;
Who counts as slain is living still.
Strike, nor fear thy blow is crime;
Nothing dies but the cheats of time;
Slain or slayer, small the odds
To each, immortal as Indra's gods!'
So by Savannah's banks of shade,
The stones of his mission the preacher laid
On the heart of the negro crushed and rent,
And made of his blood the wall's cement;
Bade the slave-ship speed from coast to coast,
Fanned by the wings of the Holy Ghost;
And begged, for the love of Christ, the gold
Coined from the hearts in its groaning hold.
What could it matter, more or less
Of stripes, and hunger, and weariness?
Living or dying, bond or free,
What was time to eternity?
Alas for the preacher's cherished schemes!
Mission and church are now but dreams;
Nor prayer nor fasting availed the plan
To honor God through the wrong of man.
Of all his labors no trace remains
Save the bondman lifting his hands in chains.
The woof he wove in the righteous warp
Of freedom-loving Oglethorpe,
Clothes with curses the goodly land,
Changes its greenness and bloom to sand;
And a century's lapse reveals once more
The slave-ship stealing to Georgia's shore.
Father of Light! how blind is he
Who sprinkles the altar he rears to Thee
With the blood and tears of humanity!
He erred: shall we count His gifts as naught?
Was the work of God in him unwrought?
The servant may through his deafness err,
And blind may be God's messenger;
But the Errand is sure they go upon,-
The word is spoken, the deed is done.
Was the Hebrew temple less fair and good
That Solomon bowed to gods of wood?
For his tempted heart and wandering feet,
Were the songs of David less pure and sweet?
So in light and shadow the preacher went,
God's erring and human instrument;
And the hearts of the people where he passed
Swayed as the reeds sway in the blast,
Under the spell of a voice which took
In its compass the flow of Siloa's brook,
And the mystical chime of the bells of gold
On the ephod's hem of the priest of old,-
Now the roll of thunder, and now the awe
Of the trumpet heard in the Mount of Law.
A solemn fear on the listening crowd
Fell like the shadow of a cloud.
The sailor reeling from out the ships
Whose masts stood thick in the river-slips
Felt the jest and the curse die on his lips.
Listened the fisherman rude and hard,
The calker rough from the builder's yard;
The man of the market left his load,
The teamster leaned on his bending goad,
The maiden, and youth beside her, felt
Their hearts in a closer union melt,
And saw the flowers of their love in bloom
Down the endless vistas of life to come.
Old age sat feebly brushing away
From his ears the scanty locks of gray;
And careless boyhood, living the free
Unconscious life of bird and tree,
Suddenly wakened to a sense
Of sin and its guilty consequence.
It was as if an angel's voice
Called the listeners up for their final choice;
As if a strong hand rent apart
The veils of sense from soul and heart,
Showing in light ineffable
The joys of heaven and woes of hell
All about in the misty air
The hills seemed kneeling in silent prayer;
The rustle of leaves, the moaning sedge,
The water's lap on its gravelled edge,
The wailing pines, and, far and faint,
The wood-dove's note of sad complaint,-
To the solemn voice of the preacher lent
An undertone as of low lament;
And the note of the sea from its sand coast,
On the easterly wind, now heard, now lost,
Seemed the murmurous sound of the judgment host.
Yet wise men doubted, and good men wept,
As that storm of passion above them swept,
And, comet-like, adding flame to flame,
The priests of the new Evangel came,-
Davenport, flashing upon the crowd,
Charged like summer's electric cloud,
Now holding the listener still as death
With terrible warnings under breath,
Now shouting for joy, as if he viewed
The vision of Heaven's beatitude!
And Celtic Tennant, his long coat bound
Like a monk's with leathern girdle round,
Wild with the toss of unshorn hair,
And wringing of hands, and, eyes aglare,
Groaning under the world's despair!
Grave pastors, grieving their flocks to lose,
Prophesied to the empty pews
That gourds would wither, and mushrooms die,
And noisiest fountains run soonest dry,
Like the spring that gushed in Newbury Street,
Under the tramp of the earthquake's feet,
A silver shaft in the air and light,
For a single day, then lost in night,
Leaving only, its place to tell,
Sandy fissure and sulphurous smell.
With zeal wing-clipped and white-heat cool,
Moved by the spirit in grooves of rule,
No longer harried, and cropped, and fleeced,
Flogged by sheriff and cursed by priest,
But by wiser counsels left at ease
To settle quietly on his lees,
And, self-concentred, to count as done
The work which his fathers well begun,
In silent protest of letting alone,
The Quaker kept the way of his own,-
A non-conductor among the wires,
With coat of asbestos proof to fires.
And quite unable to mend his pace
To catch the falling manna of grace,
He hugged the closer his little store
Of faith, and silently prayed for more.
And vague of creed and barren of rite,
But holding, as in his Master's sight,
Act and thought to the inner light,
The round of his simple duties walked,
And strove to live what the others talked.
And who shall marvel if evil went
Step by step with the good intent,
And with love and meekness, side by side,
Lust of the flesh and spiritual pride?-
That passionate longings and fancies vain
Set the heart on fire and crazed the brain?
That over the holy oracles
Folly sported with cap and bells?
That goodly women and learned men
Marvelling told with tongue and pen
How unweaned children chirped like birds
Texts of Scripture and solemn words,
Like the infant seers of the rocky glens
In the Puy de Dome of wild Cevennes
Or baby Lamas who pray and preach
From Tartir cradles in Buddha's speech?
In the war which Truth or Freedom wages
With impious fraud and the wrong of ages,
Hate and malice and self-love mar
The notes of triumph with painful jar,
And the helping angels turn aside
Their sorrowing faces the shame to bide.
Never on custom's oiled grooves
The world to a higher level moves,
But grates and grinds with friction hard
On granite boulder and flinty shard.
The heart must bleed before it feels,
The pool be troubled before it heals;
Ever by losses the right must gain,
Every good have its birth of pain;
The active Virtues blush to find
The Vices wearing their badge behind,
And Graces and Charities feel the fire
Wherein the sins of the age expire;
The fiend still rends as of old he rent
The tortured body from which be went.
But Time tests all. In the over-drift
And flow of the Nile, with its annual gift,
Who cares for the Hadji's relics sunk?
Who thinks of the drowned-out Coptic monk?
The tide that loosens the temple's stones,
And scatters the sacred ibis-bones,
Drives away from the valley-land
That Arab robber, the wandering sand,
Moistens the fields that know no rain,
Fringes the desert with belts of grain,
And bread to the sower brings again.
So the flood of emotion deep and strong
Troubled the land as it swept along,
But left a result of holier lives,
Tenderer-mothers and worthier wives.
The husband and father whose children fled
And sad wife wept when his drunken tread
Frightened peace from his roof-tree's shade,
And a rock of offence his hearthstone made,
In a strength that was not his own began
To rise from the brute's to the plane of man.
Old friends embraced, long held apart
By evil counsel and pride of heart;
And penitence saw through misty tears,
In the bow of hope on its cloud of fears,
The promise of Heaven's eternal years,-
The peace of God for the world's annoy,-
Beauty for ashes, and oil of joy
Under the church of Federal Street,
Under the tread of its Sabbath feet,
Walled about by its basement stones,
Lie the marvellous preacher's bones.
No saintly honors to them are shown,
No sign nor miracle have they known;
But be who passes the ancient church
Stops in the shade of its belfry-porch,
And ponders the wonderful life of him
Who lies at rest in that charnel dim.
Long shall the traveller strain his eye
From the railroad car, as it plunges by,
And the vanishing town behind him search
For the slender spire of the Whitefield Church;
And feel for one moment the ghosts of trade,
And fashion, and folly, and pleasure laid,
By the thought of that life of pure intent,
That voice of warning yet eloquent,
Of one on the errands of angels sent.
And if where he labored the flood of sin
Like a tide from the harbor-bar sets in,
And over a life of tune and sense
The church-spires lift their vain defence,
As if to scatter the bolts of God
With the points of Calvin's thunder-rod,-
Still, as the gem of its civic crown,
Precious beyond the world's renown,
His memory hallows the ancient town!
One Sabbath day my friend and I
After the meeting, quietly
Passed from the crowded village lanes,
White with dry dust for lack of rains,
And climbed the neighboring slope, with feet
Slackened and heavy from the heat,
Although the day was wellnigh done,
And the low angle of the sun
Along the naked hillside cast
Our shadows as of giants vast.
We reached, at length, the topmost swell,
Whence, either way, the green turf fell
In terraces of nature down
To fruit-hung orchards, and the town
With white, pretenceless houses, tall
Church-steeples, and, o'ershadowing all,
Huge mills whose windows had the look
Of eager eyes that ill could brook
The Sabbath rest. We traced the track
Of the sea-seeking river back,
Glistening for miles above its mouth,
Through the long valley to the south,
And, looking eastward, cool to view,
Stretched the illimitable blue
Of ocean, from its curved coast-line;
Sombred and still, the warm sunshine
Filled with pale gold-dust all the reach
Of slumberous woods from hill to beach,-
Slanted on walls of thronged retreats
From city toil and dusty streets,
On grassy bluff, and dune of sand,
And rocky islands miles from land;
Touched the far-glancing sails, and showed
White lines of foam where long waves flowed
Dumb in the distance. In the north,
Dim through their misty hair, looked forth
The space-dwarfed mountains to the sea,
From mystery to mystery!
So, sitting on that green hill-slope,
We talked of human life, its hope
And fear, and unsolved doubts, and what
It might have been, and yet was not.
And, when at last the evening air
Grew sweeter for the bells of prayer
Ringing in steeples far below,
We watched the people churchward go,
Each to his place, as if thereon
The true shekinah only shone;
And my friend queried how it came
To pass that they who owned the same
Great Master still could not agree
To worship Him in company.
Then, broadening in his thought, he ran
Over the whole vast field of man,-
The varying forms of faith and creed
That somehow served the holders' need;
In which, unquestioned, undenied,
Uncounted millions lived and died;
The bibles of the ancient folk,
Through which the heart of nations spoke;
The old moralities which lent
To home its sweetness and content,
And rendered possible to bear
The life of peoples everywhere
And asked if we, who boast of light,
Claim not a too exclusive right
To truths which must for all be meant,
Like rain and sunshine freely sent.
In bondage to the letter still,
We give it power to cramp and kill,-
To tax God's fulness with a scheme
Narrower than Peter's house-top dream,
His wisdom and his love with plans
Poor and inadequate as man's.
It must be that He witnesses
Somehow to all men that He is
That something of His saving grace
Reaches the lowest of the race,
Who, through strange creed and rite, may draw
The hints of a diviner law.
We walk in clearer light;-but then,
Is He not God?-are they not men?
Are His responsibilities
For us alone and not for these?
And I made answer: 'Truth is one;
And, in all lands beneath the sun,
Whoso hath eyes to see may see
The tokens of its unity.
No scroll of creed its fulness wraps,
We trace it not by school-boy maps,
Free as the sun and air it is
Of latitudes and boundaries.
In Vedic verse, in dull Koran,
Are messages of good to man;
The angels to our Aryan sires
Talked by the earliest household fires;
The prophets of the elder day,
The slant-eyed sages of Cathay,
Read not the riddle all amiss
Of higher life evolved from this.
'Nor doth it lessen what He taught,
Or make the gospel Jesus brought
Less precious, that His lips retold
Some portion of that truth of old;
Denying not the proven seers,
The tested wisdom of the years;
Confirming with his own impress
The common law of righteousness.
We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
From all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read,
And all our treasure of old thought
In His harmonious fulness wrought
Who gathers in one sheaf complete
The scattered blades of God's sown wheat,
The common growth that maketh good
His all-embracing Fatherhood.
'Wherever through the ages rise
The altars of self-sacrifice,
Where love its arms has opened wide,
Or man for man has calmly died,
I see the same white wings outspread
That hovered o'er the Master's head!
Up from undated time they come,
The martyr souls of heathendom,
And to His cross and passion bring
Their fellowship of suffering.
I trace His presence in the blind
Pathetic gropings of my kind,-
In prayers from sin and sorrow wrung,
In cradle-hymns of life they sung,
Each, in its measure, but a part
Of the unmeasured Over-Heart;
And with a stronger faith confess
The greater that it owns the less.
Good cause it is for thankfulness
That the world-blessing of His life
With the long past is not at strife;
That the great marvel of His death
To the one order witnesseth,
No doubt of changeless goodness wakes,
No link of cause and sequence breaks,
But, one with nature, rooted is
In the eternal verities;
Whereby, while differing in degree
As finite from infinity,
The pain and loss for others borne,
Love's crown of suffering meekly worn,
The life man giveth for his friend
Become vicarious in the end;
Their healing place in nature take,
And make life sweeter for their sake.
'So welcome I from every source
The tokens of that primal Force,
Older than heaven itself, yet new
As the young heart it reaches to,
Beneath whose steady impulse rolls
The tidal wave of human souls;
Guide, comforter, and inward word,
The eternal spirit of the Lord
Nor fear I aught that science brings
From searching through material things;
Content to let its glasses prove,
Not by the letter's oldness move,
The myriad worlds on worlds that course
The spaces of the universe;
Since everywhere the Spirit walks
The garden of the heart, and talks
With man, as under Eden's trees,
In all his varied languages.
Why mourn above some hopeless flaw
In the stone tables of the law,
When scripture every day afresh
Is traced on tablets of the flesh?
By inward sense, by outward signs,
God's presence still the heart divines;
Through deepest joy of Him we learn,
In sorest grief to Him we turn,
And reason stoops its pride to share
The child-like instinct of a prayer.'
And then, as is my wont, I told
A story of the days of old,
Not found in printed books,-in sooth,
A fancy, with slight hint of truth,
Showing how differing faiths agree
In one sweet law of charity.
Meanwhile the sky had golden grown,
Our faces in its glory shone;
But shadows down the valley swept,
And gray below the ocean slept,
As time and space I wandered o'er
To tread the Mogul's marble floor,
And see a fairer sunset fall
On Jumna's wave and Agra's wall.
The good Shah Akbar (peace be his alway!)
Came forth from the Divan at close of day
Bowed with the burden of his many cares,
Worn with the hearing of unnumbered prayers,-
Wild cries for justice, the importunate
Appeals of greed and jealousy and hate,
And all the strife of sect and creed and rite,
Santon and Gouroo waging holy fight
For the wise monarch, claiming not to be
Allah's avenger, left his people free,
With a faint hope, his Book scarce justified,
That all the paths of faith, though severed wide,
O'er which the feet of prayerful reverence passed,
Met at the gate of Paradise at last.
He sought an alcove of his cool hareem,
Where, far beneath, he heard the Jumna's stream
Lapse soft and low along his palace wall,
And all about the cool sound of the fall
Of fountains, and of water circling free
Through marble ducts along the balcony;
The voice of women in the distance sweet,
And, sweeter still, of one who, at his feet,
Soothed his tired ear with songs of a far land
Where Tagus shatters on the salt sea-sand
The mirror of its cork-grown hills of drouth
And vales of vine, at Lisbon's harbor-mouth.
The date-palms rustled not; the peepul laid
Its topmost boughs against the balustrade,
Motionless as the mimic leaves and vines
That, light and graceful as the shawl-designs
Of Delhi or Umritsir, twined in stone;
And the tired monarch, who aside had thrown
The day's hard burden, sat from care apart,
And let the quiet steal into his heart
From the still hour. Below him Agra slept,
By the long light of sunset overswept
The river flowing through a level land,
By mango-groves and banks of yellow sand,
Skirted with lime and orange, gay kiosks,
Fountains at play, tall minarets of mosques,
Fair pleasure-gardens, with their flowering trees
Relieved against the mournful cypresses;
And, air-poised lightly as the blown sea-foam,
The marble wonder of some holy dome
Hung a white moonrise over the still wood,
Glassing its beauty in a stiller flood.
Silent the monarch gazed, until the night
Swift-falling hid the city from his sight;
Then to the woman at his feet he said
'Tell me, O Miriam, something thou hast read
In childhood of the Master of thy faith,
Whom Islam also owns. Our Prophet saith
'He was a true apostle, yea, a Word
And Spirit sent before me from the Lord.'
Thus the Book witnesseth; and well I know
By what thou art, O dearest, it is so.
As the lute's tone the maker's hand betrays,
The sweet disciple speaks her Master's praise.'
Then Miriam, glad of heart, (for in some sort
She cherished in the Moslem's liberal court
The sweet traditions of a Christian child;
And, through her life of sense, the undefiled
And chaste ideal of the sinless One
Gazed on her with an eye she might not shun,-
The sad, reproachful look of pity, born
Of love that hath no part in wrath or scorn,)
Began, with low voice and moist eyes, to tell
Of the all-loving Christ, and what befell
When the fierce zealots, thirsting for her blood,
Dragged to his feet a shame of womanhood.
How, when his searching answer pierced within
Each heart, and touched the secret of its sin,
And her accusers fled his face before,
He bade the poor one go and sin no more.
And Akbar said, after a moment's thought,
'Wise is the lesson by thy prophet taught;
Woe unto him who judges and forgets
What hidden evil his own heart besets!
Something of this large charity I find
In all the sects that sever human kind;
I would to Allah that their lives agreed
More nearly with the lesson of their creed!
Those yellow Lamas who at Meerut pray
By wind and water power, and love to say
'He who forgiveth not shall, unforgiven,
Fail of the rest of Buddha,' and who even
Spare the black gnat that stings them, vex my ears
With the poor hates and jealousies and fears
Nursed in their human hives. That lean, fierce priest
Of thy own people, (be his heart increased
By Allah's love!) his black robes smelling yet
Of Goa's roasted Jews, have I not met
Meek-faced, barefooted, crying in the street
The saying of his prophet true and sweet,-
'He who is merciful shall mercy meet!''
But, next day, so it chanced, as night began
To fall, a murmur through the hareem ran
That one, recalling in her dusky face
The full-lipped, mild-eyed beauty of a race
Known as the blameless Ethiops of Greek song,
Plotting to do her royal master wrong,
Watching, reproachful of the lingering light,
The evening shadows deepen for her flight,
Love-guided, to her home in a far land,
Now waited death at the great Shah's command.
Shapely as that dark princess for whose smile
A world was bartered, daughter of the Nile
Herself, and veiling in her large, soft eyes
The passion and the languor of her skies,
The Abyssinian knelt low at the feet
Of her stern lord: 'O king, if it be meet,
And for thy honor's sake,' she said, 'that I,
Who am the humblest of thy slaves, should die,
I will not tax thy mercy to forgive.
Easier it is to die than to outlive
All that life gave me,-him whose wrong of thee
Was but the outcome of his love for me,
Cherished from childhood, when, beneath the shade
Of templed Axum, side by side we played.
Stolen from his arms, my lover followed me
Through weary seasons over land and sea;
And two days since, sitting disconsolate
Within the shadow of the hareem gate,
Suddenly, as if dropping from the sky,
Down from the lattice of the balcony
Fell the sweet song by Tigre's cowherds sung
In the old music of his native tongue.
He knew my voice, for love is quick of ear,
Answering in song.
This night he waited near
To fly with me. The fault was mine alone
He knew thee not, he did but seek his own;
Who, in the very shadow of thy throne,
Sharing thy bounty, knowing all thou art,
Greatest and best of men, and in her heart
Grateful to tears for favor undeserved,
Turned ever homeward, nor one moment swerved
From her young love. He looked into my eyes,
He heard my voice, and could not otherwise
Than he hath done; yet, save one wild embrace
When first we stood together face to face,
And all that fate had done since last we met
Seemed but a dream that left us children yet,
He hath not wronged thee nor thy royal bed;
Spare him, O king! and slay me in his stead!'
But over Akbar's brows the frown hung black,
And, turning to the eunuch at his back,
'Take them,' he said, 'and let the Jumna's waves
Hide both my shame and these accursed slaves!'
His loathly length the unsexed bondman bowed
'On my head be it!'
Straightway from a cloud
Of dainty shawls and veils of woven mist
The Christian Miriam rose, and, stooping, kissed
The monarch's hand. Loose down her shoulders bare
Swept all the rippled darkness of her hair,
Veiling the bosom that, with high, quick swell
Of fear and pity, through it rose and fell.
'Alas!' she cried, 'hast thou forgotten quite
The words of Him we spake of yesternight?
Or thy own prophet's, 'Whoso doth endure
And pardon, of eternal life is sure'?
O great and good! be thy revenge alone
Felt in thy mercy to the erring shown;
Let thwarted love and youth their pardon plead,
Who sinned but in intent, and not in deed!'
One moment the strong frame of Akbar shook
With the great storm of passion. Then his look
Softened to her uplifted face, that still
Pleaded more strongly than all words, until
Its pride and anger seemed like overblown,
Spent clouds of thunder left to tell alone
Of strife and overcoming. With bowed head,
And smiting on his bosom: 'God,' he said,
'Alone is great, and let His holy name
Be honored, even to His servant's shame!
Well spake thy prophet, Miriam,-he alone
Who hath not sinned is meet to cast a stone
At such as these, who here their doom await,
Held like myself in the strong grasp of fate.
They sinned through love, as I through love forgive;
Take them beyond my realm, but let them live!'
And, like a chorus to the words of grace,
The ancient Fakir, sitting in his place,
Motionless as an idol and as grim,
In the pavilion Akbar built for him
Under the court-yard trees, (for he was wise,
Knew Menu's laws, and through his close-shut eyes
Saw things far off, and as an open book
Into the thoughts of other men could look,)
Began, half chant, half howling, to rehearse
The fragment of a holy Vedic verse;
And thus it ran: 'He who all things forgives
Conquers himself and all things else, and lives
Above the reach of wrong or hate or fear,
Calm as the gods, to whom he is most dear.'
Two leagues from Agra still the traveller sees
The tomb of Akbar through its cypress-trees;
And, near at hand, the marble walls that hide
The Christian Begum sleeping at his side.
And o'er her vault of burial (who shall tell
If it be chance alone or miracle?)
The Mission press with tireless hand unrolls
The words of Jesus on its lettered scrolls,-
Tells, in all tongues, the tale of mercy o'er,
And bids the guilty, 'Go and sin no more!'
It now was dew-fall; very still
The night lay on the lonely hill,
Down which our homeward steps we bent,
And, silent, through great silence went,
Save that the tireless crickets played
Their long, monotonous serenade.
A young moon, at its narrowest,
Curved sharp against the darkening west;
And, momently, the beacon's star,
Slow wheeling o'er its rock afar,
From out the level darkness shot
One instant and again was not.
And then my friend spake quietly
The thought of both: 'Yon crescent see!
Like Islam's symbol-moon it gives
Hints of the light whereby it lives
Somewhat of goodness, something true
From sun and spirit shining through
All faiths, all worlds, as through the dark
Of ocean shines the lighthouse spark,
Attests the presence everywhere
Of love and providential care.
The faith the old Norse heart confessed
In one dear name,-the hopefulest
And tenderest heard from mortal lips
In pangs of birth or death, from ships
Ice-bitten in the winter sea,
Or lisped beside a mother's knee,-
The wiser world hath not outgrown,
And the All-Father is our own!'