O HOLY FATHER! just and true
Are all Thy works and words and ways,
And unto Thee alone are due
Thanksgiving and eternal praise!
As children of Thy gracious care,
We veil the eye, we bend the knee,
With broken words of praise and prayer,
Father and God, we come to Thee.
For Thou hast heard, O God of Right,
The sighing of the island slave;
And stretched for him the arm of might,
Not shortened that it could not save.
The laborer sits beneath his vine,
The shackled soul and hand are free;
Thanksgiving! for the work is Thine!
Praise! for the blessing is of Thee!
And oh, we feel Thy presence here,
Thy awful arm in judgment bare!
Thine eye hath seen the bondman's tear;
Thine ear hath heard the bondman's prayer.
Praise! for the pride of man is low,
The counsels of the wise are naught,
The fountains of repentance flow;
What hath our God in mercy wrought?
Speed on Thy work, Lord God of Hosts!
And when the bondman's chain is riven,
And swells from all our guilty coasts
The anthem of the free to Heaven,
Oh, not to those whom Thou hast led,
As with Thy cloud and fire before,
But. unto Thee, in fear and dread,
Be praise and glory evermore.
A Word For The Hour
The firmament breaks up. In black eclipse
Light after light goes out. One evil star,
Luridly glaring through the smoke of war,
As in the dream of the Apocalypse,
Drags others down. Let us not weakly weep
Nor rashly threaten. Give us grace to keep
Our faith and patience; wherefore should we leap
On one hand into fratricidal fight,
Or, on the other, yield eternal right,
Frame lies of laws, and good and ill confound?
What fear we? Safe on freedom's vantage ground
Our feet are planted; let us there remain
In unrevengeful calm, no means untried
Which truth can sanction, no just claim denied,
The sad spectators of a suicide!
They break the lines of Union: shall we light
The fires of hell to weld anew the chain
On that red anvil where each blow is pain?
Draw we not even now a freer breath,
As from our shoulders falls a load of death
Loathsome as that the Tuscan's victim bore
When keen with life to a dead horror bound?
Why take we up the accursed thing again?
Pity, forgive, but urge them back no more
Who, drunk with passion, flaunt disunion's rag
With its vile reptile blazon. Let us press
The golden cluster on our brave old flag
In closer union, and, if numbering less,
Brighter shall shine the stars which still remain.
At Port Royal
The tent-lights glimmer on the land,
The ship-lights on the sea;
The night-wind smooths with drifting sand
Our track on lone Tybee.
At last our grating keels outslide,
Our good boats forward swing;
And while we ride the land-locked tide,
Our negroes row and sing.
For dear the bondman holds his gifts
Of music and of song:
The gold that kindly Nature sifts
Among his sands of wrong;
The power to make his toiling days
And poor home-comforts please;
The quaint relief of mirth that plays
With sorrow's minor keys.
Another glow than sunset's fire
Has filled the West with light,
Where field and garner, barn and byre,
Are blazing through the night.
The land is wild with fear and hate,
The rout runs mad and fast;
From hand to hand, from gate to gate,
The flaming brand is passed.
The lurid glow falls strong across
Dark faces broad with smiles;
Not theirs the terror, hate, and loss
That fire yon blazing piles.
With oar-strokes timing to their song,
They weave in simple lays
The pathos of remembered wrong,
The hope of better days,—
The triumph-note that Miriam sung,
The joy of uncaged birds:
Softening with Afric's mellow tongue
Their broken Saxon words.
"Put up the sword!" The voice of Christ once more
Speaks, in the pauses of the cannon's roar,
O'er fields of corn by fiery sickles reaped
And left dry ashes; over trenches heaped
With nameless dead; o'er cities starving slow
Under a rain of fire; through wards of woe
Down which a groaning diapason runs
From tortured brothers, husbands, lovers, sons
Of desolate women in their far-off homes
Waiting to hear the step that never comes!
O men and brothers! let that voice be heard.
War fails, try peace; put up the useless sword!
Fear not the end. There is a story told
In Eastern tents, when autumn nights grow cold,
And round the fire the Mongol shepherds sit
With grave responses listening unto it:
Once, on the errands of his mercy bent,
Buddha, the holy and benevolent,
Met a fell monster, huge and fierce of look,
Whose awful voice the hills and forests shook,
"O son of peace!" the giant cried, "thy fate
Is sealed at last, and love shall yield to hate."
The unarmed Buddha looking, with no trace
Of fear and anger, in the monster's face,
In pity said, "Poor fiend, even thee I love."
Lo! as he spake the sky-tall terror sank
To hand-breadth size; the huge abhorrence shrank
Into the form and fashion of a dove
And where the thunder of its rage was heard,
Circling above him sweetly sang the bird:
"Hate hath no harm for love," so ran the song,
"And peace unweaponed conquers every wrong!"
Sunlight upon Judha's hills!
And on the waves of Galilee;
On Jordan's stream, and on the rills
That feed the dead and sleeping sea!
Most freshly from the green wood springs
The light breeze on its scented wings;
And gayly quiver in the sun
The cedar tops of Lebanon!
A few more hours,--a change hath come!
The sky is dark without a cloud!
The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb,
And proud knees unto earth are bowed.
A change is on the hill of Death,
The helmed watchers pant for breath,
And turn with wild and maniac eyes
From the dark scene of sacrifice!
That Sacrifice!--the death of Him,--
The Christ of God, the holy One!
Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim,
And blacken the beholding, Sun.
The wonted light hath fled away,
Night settles on the middle day,
And earthquake from his caverned bed
Is waking with a thrill of dread!
The dead are waking underneath!
Their prison door is rent away!
And, ghastly with the seal of death,
They wander in the eye of day!
The temple of the Cherubim,
The House of God is cold and dim;
A curse is on its trembling walls,
Its mighty veil asunder falls!
Well may the cavern-depths of Earth
Be shaken, and her mountains nod;
Well may the sheeted dead come forth
To see the suffering son of God!
Well may the temple-shrine grow dim,
And shadows veil the Cherubim,
When He, the chosen one of Heaven,
A sacrifice for guilt is given!
And shall the sinful heart, alone,
Behold unmoved the fearful hour,
When Nature trembled on her throne,
And Death resigned his iron power?
Oh, shall the heart--whose sinfulness
Gave keenness to His sore distress,
And added to His tears of blood--
Refuse its trembling gratitude!
The Call Of The Christian
Not always as the whirlwind's rush
On Horeb's mount of fear,
Not always as the burning bush
To Midian's shepherd seer,
Nor as the awful voice which came
To Israel's prophet bards,
Nor as the tongues of cloven flame,
Nor gift of fearful words,--
Not always thus, with outward sign
Of fire or voice from Heaven,
The message of a truth divine,
The call of God is given!
Awaking in the human heart
Love for the true and right,--
Zeal for the Christian's better part,
Strength for the Christian's fight.
Nor unto manhood's heart alone
The holy influence steals
Warm with a rapture not its own,
The heart of woman feels!
As she who by Samaria's wall
The Saviour's errand sought,--
As those who with the fervent Paul
And meek Aquila wrought:
Or those meek ones whose martyrdom
Rome's gathered grandeur saw
Or those who in their Alpine home
Braved the Crusader's war,
When the green Vaudois, trembling, heard,
Through all its vales of death,
The martyr's song of triumph poured
From woman's failing breath.
And gently, by a thousand things
Which o'er our spirits pass,
Like breezes o'er the harp's fine strings,
Or vapors o'er a glass,
Leaving their token strange and new
Of music or of shade,
The summons to the right and true
And merciful is made.
Oh, then, if gleams of truth and light
Flash o'er thy waiting mind,
Unfolding to thy mental sight
The wants of human-kind;
If, brooding over human grief,
The earnest wish is known
To soothe and gladden with relief
An anguish not thine own;
Though heralded with naught of fear,
Or outward sign or show;
Though only to the inward ear
It whispers soft and low;
Though dropping, as the manna fell,
Unseen, yet from above,
Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,---
Thy Father's call of love!
Along the aisle where prayer was made,
A woman, all in black arrayed,
Close-veiled, between the kneeling host,
With gliding motion of a ghost,
Passed to the desk, and laid thereon
A scroll which bore these words alone,
_Pray for me_!
Back from the place of worshipping
She glided like a guilty thing
The rustle of her draperies, stirred
By hurrying feet, alone was heard;
While, full of awe, the preacher read,
As out into the dark she sped:
'_Pray for me_!'
Back to the night from whence she came,
To unimagined grief or shame!
Across the threshold of that door
None knew the burden that she bore;
Alone she left the written scroll,
The legend of a troubled soul,--
_Pray for me_!
Glide on, poor ghost of woe or sin!
Thou leav'st a common need within;
Each bears, like thee, some nameless weight,
Some misery inarticulate,
Some secret sin, some shrouded dread,
Some household sorrow all unsaid.
_Pray for us_!
Pass on! The type of all thou art,
Sad witness to the common heart!
With face in veil and seal on lip,
In mute and strange companionship,
Like thee we wander to and fro,
Dumbly imploring as we go
_Pray for us_!
Ah, who shall pray, since he who pleads
Our want perchance hath greater needs?
Yet they who make their loss the gain
Of others shall not ask in vain,
And Heaven bends low to hear the prayer
Of love from lips of self-despair
_Pray for us_!
In vain remorse and fear and hate
Beat with bruised bands against a fate
Whose walls of iron only move
And open to the touch of love.
He only feels his burdens fall
Who, taught by suffering, pities all.
_Pray for us_!
He prayeth best who leaves unguessed
The mystery of another's breast.
Why cheeks grow pale, why eyes o'erflow,
Or heads are white, thou need'st not know.
Enough to note by many a sign
That every heart hath needs like thine.
_Pray for us_!
Still, as of old, in Beavor's Vale,
O man of God! our hope and faith
The Elements and Stars assail,
And the awed spirit holds its breath,
Blown over by a wind of death.
Takes Nature thought for such as we,
What place her human atom fills,
The weed-drift of her careless sea,
The mist on her unheeding hills?
What reeks she of our helpless wills?
Strange god of Force, with fear, not love,
Its trembling worshipper! Can prayer
Reach the shut ear of Fate, or move
Unpitying Energy to spare?
What doth the cosmic Vastness care?
In vain to this dread Unconcern
For the All-Father's love we look;
In vain, in quest of it, we turn
The storied leaves of Nature's book,
The prints her rocky tablets took.
I pray for faith, I long to trust;
I listen with my heart, and hear
A Voice without a sound: 'Be just,
Be true, be merciful, revere
The Word within thee: God is near!
'A light to sky and earth unknown
Pales all their lights: a mightier force
Than theirs the powers of Nature own,
And, to its goal as at its source,
His Spirit moves the Universe.
'Believe and trust. Through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of His providence
Is star-lit with benign intents.'
O joy supreme! I know the Voice,
Like none beside on earth or sea;
Yea, more, O soul of mine, rejoice,
By all that He requires of me,
I know what God himself must be.
No picture to my aid I call,
I shape no image in my prayer;
I only know in Him is all
Of life, light, beauty, everywhere,
Eternal Goodness here and there!
I know He is, and what He is,
Whose one great purpose is the good
Of all. I rest my soul on His
Immortal Love and Fatherhood;
And trust Him, as His children should.
I fear no more. The clouded face
Of Nature smiles; through all her things
Of time and space and sense I trace
The moving of the Spirit's wings,
And hear the song of hope she sings.
A NOTELESS stream, the Birchbrook runs
Beneath its leaning trees;
That low, soft ripple is its own,
That dull roar is the sea's.
Of human signs it sees alone
The distant church spire's tip,
And, ghost-like, on a blank of gray,
The white sail of a ship.
No more a toiler at the wheel,
It wanders at its will;
Nor dam nor pond is left to tell
Where once was Birchbrook mill.
The timbers of that mill have fed
Long since a farmer's fires;
His doorsteps are the stones that ground
The harvest of his sires.
Man trespassed here; but Nature lost
No right of her domain;
She waited, and she brought the old
Wild beauty back again.
By day the sunlight through the leaves
Falls on its moist, green sod,
And wakes the violet bloom of spring
And autumn's golden-rod.
Its birches whisper to the wind,
The swallow dips her wings
In the cool spray, and on its banks
The gray song-sparrow sings.
But from it, when the dark night falls,
The school-girl shrinks with dread;
The farmer, home-bound from his fields,
Goes by with quickened tread.
They dare not pause to hear the grind
Of shadowy stone on stone;
The plashing of a water-wheel
Where wheel there now is none.
Has not a cry of pain been heard
Above the clattering mill?
The pawing of an unseen horse,
Who waits his mistress still?
Yet never to the listener's eye
Has sight confirmed the sound;
A wavering birch line marks alone
The vacant pasture ground.
No ghostly arms fling up to heaven
The agony of prayer;
No spectral steed impatient shakes
His white mane on the air.
The meaning of that common dread
No tongue has fitly told;
The secret of the dark surmise
The brook and birches hold.
What nameless horror of the past
Broods here forevermore?
What ghost his unforgiven sin
Is grinding o'er and o'er?
Does, then, immortal memory play
The actor's tragic part,
Rehearsals of a mortal life
And unveiled human heart?
God's pity spare a guilty soul
That drama of its ill,
And let the scenic curtain fall
On Birchbrook's haunted mill
Above, below, in sky and sod,
In leaf and spar, in star and man,
Well might the wise Athenian scan
The geometric signs of God,
The measured order of His plan.
And India's mystics sang aright
Of the One Life pervading all,--
One Being's tidal rise and fall
In soul and form, in sound and sight,--
Eternal outflow and recall.
God is: and man in guilt and fear
The central fact of Nature owns;
Kneels, trembling, by his altar-stones,
And darkly dreams the ghastly smear
Of blood appeases and atones.
Guilt shapes the Terror: deep within
The human heart the secret lies
Of all the hideous deities;
And, painted on a ground of sin,
The fabled gods of torment rise!
And what is He? The ripe grain nods,
The sweet dews fall, the sweet flowers blow;
But darker signs His presence show
The earthquake and the storm are God's,
And good and evil interflow.
O hearts of love! O souls that turn
Like sunflowers to the pure and best!
To you the truth is manifest:
For they the mind of Christ discern
Who lean like John upon His breast!
In him of whom the sibyl told,
For whom the prophet's harp was toned,
Whose need the sage and magian owned,
The loving heart of God behold,
The hope for which the ages groaned!
Fade, pomp of dreadful imagery
Wherewith mankind have deified
Their hate, and selfishness, and pride!
Let the scared dreamer wake to see
The Christ of Nazareth at his side!
What doth that holy Guide require?
No rite of pain, nor gift of blood,
But man a kindly brotherhood,
Looking, where duty is desire,
To Him, the beautiful and good.
Gone be the faithlessness of fear,
And let the pitying heaven's sweet rain
Wash out the altar's bloody stain;
The law of Hatred disappear,
The law of Love alone remain.
How fall the idols false and grim!
And to! their hideous wreck above
The emblems of the Lamb and Dove!
Man turns from God, not God from him;
And guilt, in suffering, whispers Love!
The world sits at the feet of Christ,
Unknowing, blind, and unconsoled;
It yet shall touch His garment's fold,
And feel the heavenly Alchemist
Transform its very dust to gold.
The theme befitting angel tongues
Beyond a mortal's scope has grown.
O heart of mine! with reverence own
The fulness which to it belongs,
And trust the unknown for the known.
BESIDE a stricken field I stood;
On the torn turf, on grass and wood,
Hung heavily the dew of blood.
Still in their fresh mounds lay the slain,
But all the air was quick with pain
And gusty sighs and tearful rain.
Two angels, each with drooping head
And folded wings and noiseless tread,
Watched by that valley of the dead.
The one, with forehead saintly bland
And lips of blessing, not command,
Leaned, weeping, on her olive wand.
The other's brows were scarred and knit,
His restless eyes were watch-fires lit,
His hands for battle-gauntlets fit.
'How long!' — I knew the voice of Peace, —
'Is there no respite? no release?
When shall the hopeless quarrel cease?
'O Lord, how long! One human soul
Is more than any parchment scroll,
Or any flag thy winds unroll.
'What price was Ellsworth's, young and brave?
How weigh the gift that Lyon gave,
Or count the cost of Winthrop's grave?
'O brother! if thine eye can see,
Tell how and when the end shall be,
What hope remains for thee and me.'
Then Freedom sternly said: 'I shun
No strife nor pang beneath the sun,
When human rights are staked and won.
'I knelt with Ziska's hunted flock,
I watched in Toussaint's cell of rock,
I walked with Sidney to the block.
'The moor of Marston felt my tread,
Through Jersey snows the march I led,
My voice Magenta's charges sped.
'But now, through weary day and night,
I watch a vague and aimless fight
For leave to strike one blow aright.
'On either side my foe they own:
One guards through love his ghastly throne,
And one through fear to reverence grown.
'Why wait we longer, mocked, betrayed,
By open foes, or those afraid
To speed thy coming through my aid?
'Why watch to see who win or fall?
I shake the dust against them all,
I leave them to their senseless brawl.'
'Nay,' Peace implored: 'yet longer wait;
The doom is near, the stake is great:
God knoweth if it be too late.
'Still wait and watch; the way prepare
Where I with folded wings of prayer
May follow, weaponless and bare.'
'Too late!' the stern, sad voice replied,
'Too late!' its mournful echo sighed,
In low lament the answer died.
A rustling as of wings in flight,
An upward gleam of lessening white,
So passed the vision, sound and sight.
But round me, like a silver bell
Rung down the listening sky to tell
Of holy help, a sweet voice fell.
'Still hope and trust,' it sang; 'the rod
Must fall, the wine-press must be trod,
But all is possible with God!'
How has New England's romance fled,
Even as a vision of the morning!
Its rites foredone, its guardians dead,
Its priestesses, bereft of dread,
Waking the veriest urchin's scorning!
Gone like the Indian wizard's yell
And fire-dance round the magic rock,
Forgotten like the Druid's spell
At moonrise by his holy oak!
No more along the shadowy glen
Glide the dim ghosts of murdered men;
No more the unquiet churchyard dead
Glimpse upward from their turfy bed,
Startling the traveller, late and lone;
As, on some night of starless weather,
They silently commune together,
Each sitting on his own head-stone
The roofless house, decayed, deserted,
Its living tenants all departed,
No longer rings with midnight revel
Of witch, or ghost, or goblin evil;
No pale blue flame sends out its flashes
Through creviced roof and shattered sashes!
The witch-grass round the hazel spring
May sharply to the night-air sing,
But there no more shall withered hags
Refresh at ease their broomstick nags,
Or taste those hazel-shadowed waters
As beverage meet for Satan's daughters;
No more their mimic tones be heard,
The mew of cat, the chirp of bird,
Shrill blending with the hoarser laughter
Of the fell demon following after!
The cautious goodman nails no more
A horseshoe on his outer door,
Lest some unseemly hag should fit
To his own mouth her bridle-bit;
The goodwife's churn no more refuses
Its wonted culinary uses
Until, with heated needle burned,
The witch has to her place returned!
Our witches are no longer old
And wrinkled beldames, Satan-sold,
But young and gay and laughing creatures,
With the heart's sunshine on their features;
Their sorcery--the light which dances
Where the raised lid unveils its glances;
Or that low-breathed and gentle tone,
The music of Love's twilight hours,
Soft, dream-like, as a fairy's moan
Above her nightly closing flowers,
Sweeter than that which sighed of yore
Along the charmed Ausonian shore!
Even she, our own weird heroine,
Sole Pythoness of ancient Lynn,'
Sleeps calmly where the living laid her;
And the wide realm of sorcery,
Left by its latest mistress free,
Hath found no gray and skilled invader.
So--perished Albion's 'glammarye,'
With him in Melrose Abbey sleeping,
His charmed torch beside his knee,
That even the dead himself might see
The magic scroll within his keeping.
And now our modern Yankee sees
Nor omens, spells, nor mysteries;
And naught above, below, around,
Of life or death, of sight or sound,
Whate'er its nature, form, or look,
Excites his terror or surprise,
All seeming to his knowing eyes
Familiar as his 'catechise,'
Or 'Webster's Spelling-Book.'
The Minister’s Daughter
In the minister's morning sermon
He had told of the primal fall,
And how thenceforth the wrath of God
Rested on each and all.
And how of His will and pleasure,
All souls, save a chosen few,
Were doomed to the quenchless burning,
And held in the way thereto.
Yet never by faith's unreason
A saintlier soul was tried,
And never the harsh old lesson
A tenderer heart belied.
And, after the painful service
On that pleasant Sabbath day,
He walked with his little daughter
Through the apple-bloom of May.
Sweet in the fresh green meadows
Sparrow and blackbird sung;
Above him their tinted petals
The blossoming orchards hung.
Around on the wonderful glory
The minister looked and smiled;
'How good is the Lord who gives us
These gifts from His hand, my child.
'Behold in the bloom of apples
And the violets in the sward
A hint of the old, lost beauty
Of the Garden of the Lord!'
Then up spake the little maiden,
Treading on snow and pink
'O father! these pretty blossoms
Are very wicked, I think.
'Had there been no Garden of Eden
There never had been a fall;
And if never a tree had blossomed
God would have loved us all.'
'Hush, child!' the father answered,
'By His decree man fell;
His ways are in clouds and darkness,
But He doeth all things well.
'And whether by His ordaining
To us cometh good or ill,
Joy or pain, or light or shadow,
We must fear and love Him still.'
'Oh, I fear Him!' said the daughter,
'And I try to love Him, too;
But I wish He was good and gentle,
Kind and loving as you.'
The minister groaned in spirit
As the tremulous lips of pain
And wide, wet eyes uplifted
Questioned his own in vain.
Bowing his head he pondered
The words of the little one;
Had he erred in his life-long teaching?
Had he wrong to his Master done?
To what grim and dreadful idol
Had he lent the holiest name?
Did his own heart, loving and human,
The God of his worship shame?
And lo! from the bloom and greenness,
From the tender skies above,
And the face of his little daughter,
He read a lesson of love.
No more as the cloudy terror
Of Sinai's mount of law,
But as Christ in the Syrian lilies
The vision of God he saw.
And, as when, in the clefts of Horeb,
Of old was His presence known,
The dread Ineffable Glory
Was Infinite Goodness alone.
Thereafter his hearers noted
In his prayers a tenderer strain,
And never the gospel of hatred
Burned on his lips again.
And the scoffing tongue was prayerful,
And the blinded eyes found sight,
And hearts, as flint aforetime,
Grew soft in his warmth and light.
The Pagan's myths through marble lips are spoken,
And ghosts of old Beliefs still flit and moan
Round fane and altar overthrown and broken,
O'er tree-grown barrow and gray ring of stone.
Blind Faith had martyrs in those old high places,
The Syrian hill grove and the Druid's wood,
With mother's offering, to the Fiend's embraces,
Bone of their bone, and blood of their own blood.
Red altars, kindling through that night of error,
Smoked with warm blood beneath the cruel eye
Of lawless Power and sanguinary Terror,
Throned on the circle of a pitiless sky;
Beneath whose baleful shadow, overcasting
All heaven above, and blighting earth below,
The scourge grew red, the lip grew pale with fasting,
And man's oblation was his fear and woe!
Then through great temples swelled the dismal moaning
Of dirge-like music and sepulchral prayer;
Pale wizard priests, o'er occult symbols droning,
Swung their white censers in the burdened air
As if the pomp of rituals, and the savor
Of gums and spices could the Unseen One please;
As if His ear could bend, with childish favor,
To the poor flattery of the organ keys!
Feet red from war-fields trod the church aisles holy,
With trembling reverence: and the oppressor there,
Kneeling before his priest, abased and lowly,
Crushed human hearts beneath his knee of prayer.
Not such the service the benignant Father
Requireth at His earthly children's hands
Not the poor offering of vain rites, but rather
The simple duty man from man demands.
For Earth He asks it: the full joy of heaven
Knoweth no change of waning or increase;
The great heart of the Infinite beats even,
Untroubled flows the river of His peace.
He asks no taper lights, on high surrounding
The priestly altar and the saintly grave,
No dolorous chant nor organ music sounding,
Nor incense clouding tip the twilight nave.
For he whom Jesus loved hath truly spoken
The holier worship which he deigns to bless
Restores the lost, and binds the spirit broken,
And feeds the widow and the fatherless!
Types of our human weakness and our sorrow!
Who lives unhaunted by his loved ones dead?
Who, with vain longing, seeketh not to borrow
From stranger eyes the home lights which have fled?
O brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother;
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy work was 'doing good;'
So shall the wide earth seem our Father's temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude.
Then shall all shackles fall; the stormy clangor
Of wild war music o'er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace!
The Old Burying-Ground
Our vales are sweet with fern and rose,
Our hills are maple-crowned;
But not from them our fathers chose
The village burying-ground.
The dreariest spot in all the land
To Death they set apart;
With scanty grace from Nature's hand,
And none from that of Art.
A winding wall of mossy stone,
Frost-flung and broken, lines
A lonesome acre thinly grown
With grass and wandering vines.
Without the wall a birch-tree shows
Its drooped and tasselled head;
Within, a stag-horned sumach grows,
Fern-leafed, with spikes of red.
There, sheep that graze the neighboring plain
Like white ghosts come and go,
The farm-horse drags his fetlock chain,
The cow-bell tinkles slow.
Low moans the river from its bed,
The distant pines reply;
Like mourners shrinking from the dead,
They stand apart and sigh.
Unshaded smites the summer sun,
Unchecked the winter blast;
The school-girl learns the place to shun,
With glances backward cast.
For thus our fathers testified,
That he might read who ran,
The emptiness of human pride,
The nothingness of man.
They dared not plant the grave with flowers,
Nor dress the funeral sod,
Where, with a love as deep as ours,
They left their dead with God.
The hard and thorny path they kept
From beauty turned aside;
Nor missed they over those who slept
The grace to life denied.
Yet still the wilding flowers would blow,
The golden leaves would fall,
The seasons come, the seasons go,
And God be good to all.
Above the graves the' blackberry hung
In bloom and green its wreath,
And harebells swung as if they rung
The chimes of peace beneath.
The beauty Nature loves to share,
The gifts she hath for all,
The common light, the common air,
O'ercrept the graveyard's wall.
It knew the glow of eventide,
The sunrise and the noon,
And glorified and sanctified
It slept beneath the moon.
With flowers or snow-flakes for its sod,
Around the seasons ran,
And evermore the love of God
Rebuked the fear of man.
We dwell with fears on either hand,
Within a daily strife,
And spectral problems waiting stand
Before the gates of life.
The doubts we vainly seek to solve,
The truths we know, are one;
The known and nameless stars revolve
Around the Central Sun.
And if we reap as we have sown,
And take the dole we deal,
The law of pain is love alone,
The wounding is to heal.
Unharmed from change to change we glide,
We fall as in our dreams;
The far-off terror at our side
A smiling angel seems.
Secure on God's all-tender heart
Alike rest great and small;
Why fear to lose our little part,
When He is pledged for all?
O fearful heart and troubled brain
Take hope and strength from this,--
That Nature never hints in vain,
Nor prophesies amiss.
Her wild birds sing the same sweet stave,
Her lights and airs are given
Alike to playground and the grave;
And over both is Heaven.
How sweetly on the wood-girt town
The mellow light of sunset shone!
Each small, bright lake, whose waters still
Mirror the forest and the hill,
Reflected from its waveless breast
The beauty of a cloudless west,
Glorious as if a glimpse were given
Within the western gates of heaven,
Left, by the spirit of the star
Of sunset's holy hour, ajar!
Beside the river's tranquil flood
The dark and low-walled dwellings stood,
Where many a rood of open land
Stretched up and down on either hand,
With corn-leaves waving freshly green
The thick and blackened stumps between.
Behind, unbroken, deep and dread,
The wild, untravelled forest spread,
Back to those mountains, white and cold,
Of which the Indian trapper told,
Upon whose summits never yet
Was mortal foot in safety set.
Quiet and calm without a fear,
Of danger darkly lurking near,
The weary laborer left his plough,
The milkmaid carolled by her cow;
From cottage door and household hearth
Rose songs of praise, or tones of mirth.
At length the murmur died away,
And silence on that village lay.
-So slept Pompeii, tower and hall,
Ere the quick earthquake swallowed all,
Undreaming of the fiery fate
Which made its dwellings desolate.
Hours passed away. By moonlight sped
The Merrimac along his bed.
Bathed in the pallid lustre, stood
Dark cottage-wall and rock and wood,
Silent, beneath that tranquil beam,
As the hushed grouping of a dream.
Yet on the still air crept a sound,
No bark of fox, nor rabbit's bound,
Nor stir of wings, nor waters flowing,
Nor leaves in midnight breezes blowing.
Was that the tread of many feet,
Which downward from the hillside beat?
What forms were those which darkly stood
Just on the margin of the wood?-
Charred tree-stumps in the moonlight dim,
Or paling rude, or leafless limb?
No,-through the trees fierce eyeballs glowed,
Dark human forms in moonshine showed,
Wild from their native wilderness,
With painted limbs and battle-dress.
A yell the dead might wake to hear
Swelled on the night air, far and clear;
Then smote the Indian tomahawk
On crashing door and shattering lock;
Then rang the rifle-shot, and then
The shrill death-scream of stricken men,-
Sank the red axe in woman's brain,
And childhood's cry arose in vain.
Bursting through roof and window came,
Red, fast, and fierce, the kindled flame,
And blended fire and moonlight glared
On still dead men and scalp-knives bared.
The morning sun looked brightly through
The river willows, wet with dew.
No sound of combat filled the air,
No shout was heard, nor gunshot there;
Yet still the thick and sullen smoke
From smouldering ruins slowly broke;
And on the greensward many a stain,
And, here and there, the mangled slain,
Told how that midnight bolt had sped
Pentucket, on thy fated head.
Even now the villager can tell
Where Rolfe beside his hearthstone fell,
Still show the door of wasting oak,
Through which the fatal death-shot broke,
And point the curious stranger where
De Rouville's corse lay grim and bare;
Whose hideous head, in death still feared,
Bore not a trace of hair or beard;
And still, within the churchyard ground,
Heaves darkly up the ancient mound,
Whose grass-grown surface overlies
The victims of that sacrifice.
The Wife Of Manoah To Her Husband
Against the sunset's glowing wall
The city towers rise black and tall,
Where Zorah, on its rocky height,
Stands like an armed man in the light.
Down Eshtaol's vales of ripened grain
Falls like a cloud the night amain,
And up the hillsides climbing slow
The barley reapers homeward go.
Look, dearest! how our fair child's head
The sunset light hath hallowed,
Where at this olive's foot he lies,
Uplooking to the tranquil skies.
Oh, while beneath the fervent heat
Thy sickle swept the bearded wheat,
I've watched, with mingled joy and dread,
Our child upon his grassy bed.
Joy, which the mother feels alone
Whose morning hope like mine had flown,
When to her bosom, over-blessed,
A dearer life than hers is pressed.
Dread, for the future dark and still,
Which shapes our dear one to its will;
Forever in his large calm eyes,
I read a tale of sacrifice.
The same foreboding awe I felt
When at the altar's side we knelt,
And he, who as a pilgrim came,
Rose, winged and glorious, through the flame.
I slept not, though the wild bees made
A dreamlike murmuring in the shade,
And on me the warm-fingered hours
Pressed with the drowsy smell of flowers.
Before me, in a vision, rose
The hosts of Israel's scornful foes,--
Rank over rank, helm, shield, and spear,
Glittered in noon's hot atmosphere.
I heard their boast, and bitter word,
Their mockery of the Hebrew's Lord,
I saw their hands His ark assail,
Their feet profane His holy veil.
No angel down the blue space spoke,
No thunder from the still sky broke;
But in their midst, in power and awe,
Like God's waked wrath, our child I saw!
A child no more!--harsh-browed and strong,
He towered a giant in the throng,
And down his shoulders, broad and bare,
Swept the black terror of his hair.
He raised his arm--he smote amain;
As round the reaper falls the grain,
So the dark host around him fell,
So sank the foes of Israel!
Again I looked. In sunlight shone
The towers and domes of Askelon;
Priest, warrior, slave, a mighty crowd
Within her idol temple bowed.
Yet one knelt not; stark, gaunt, and blind,
His arms the massive pillars twined,--
An eyeless captive, strong with hate,
He stood there like an evil Fate.
The red shrines smoked,--the trumpets pealed
He stooped,--the giant columns reeled;
Reeled tower and fane, sank arch and wall,
And the thick dust-cloud closed o'er all!
Above the shriek, the crash, the groan
Of the fallen pride of Askelon,
I heard, sheer down the echoing sky,
A voice as of an angel cry,--
The voice of him, who at our side
Sat through the golden eventide;
Of him who, on thy altar's blaze,
Rose fire-winged, with his song of praise.
'Rejoice o'er Israel's broken chain,
Gray mother of the mighty slain!
Rejoice!' it cried, 'he vanquisheth!
The strong in life is strong in death!
'To him shall Zorah's daughters raise
Through coming years their hymns of praise,
And gray old men at evening tell
Of all be wrought for Israel.
'And they who sing and they who hear
Alike shall hold thy memory dear,
And pour their blessings on thy head,
O mother of the mighty dead!'
It ceased; and though a sound I heard
As if great wings the still air stirred,
I only saw the barley sheaves
And hills half hid by olive leaves.
I bowed my face, in awe and fear,
On the dear child who slumbered near;
'With me, as with my only son,
O God,' I said, 'Thy will be done!'
The Mantle Of St. John De Matha. A Legend Of
A STRONG and mighty Angel,
Calm, terrible, and bright,
The cross in blended red and blue
Upon his mantle white!
Two captives by him kneeling,
Each on his broken chain,
Sang praise to God who raiseth
The dead to life again!
Dropping his cross-wrought mantle,
'Wear this,' the Angel said;
'Take thou, O Freedom's priest, its sign, —
The white, the blue, and red.'
Then rose up John de Matha
In the strength the Lord Christ gave,
And begged through all the land of France
The ransom of the slave.
The gates of tower and castle
Before him open flew,
The drawbridge at his coming fell,
The door-bolt backward drew.
For all men owned his errand,
And paid his righteous tax;
And the hearts of lord and peasant
Were in his hands as wax.
At last, outbound from Tunis,
His bark her anchor weighed,
Freighted with seven-score Christian souls
Whose ransom he had paid.
But, torn by Paynim hatred,
Her sails in tatters hung;
And on the wild waves, rudderless,
A shattered hulk she swung.
'God save us!' cried the captain,
'For naught can man avail;
Oh, woe betide the ship that lacks
Her rudder and her sail!
'Behind us are the Moormen;
At sea we sink or strand:
There's death upon the water,
There's death upon the land!'
Then up spake John de Matha:
'God's errands never fail!
Take thou the mantle which I wear,
And make of it a sail.'
They raised the cross-wrought mantle,
The blue, the white, the red;
And straight before the wind off-shore
The ship of Freedom sped.
'God help us!' cried the seamen,
'For vain is mortal skill:
The good ship on a stormy sea
Is drifting at its will.'
Then up spake John de Matha:
'My mariners, never fear!
The Lord whose breath has filled her sail
May well our vessel steer!'
So on through storm and darkness
They drove for weary hours;
And lo! the third gray morning shone
On Ostia's friendly towers.
And on the walls the watchers
The ship of mercy knew, —
They knew far off its holy cross,
The red, the white, and blue.
And the bells in all the steeples
Rang out in glad accord,
To welcome home to Christian soil
The ransomed of the Lord.
So runs the ancient legend
By bard and painter told;
And lo! the cycle rounds again,
The new is as the old!
With rudder foully broken,
And sails by traitors torn,
Our country on a midnight sea
Is waiting for the morn.
Before her, nameless terror;
Behind, the pirate foe;
The clouds are black above her,
The sea is white below.
The hope of all who suffer,
The dread of all who wrong,
She drifts in darkness and in storm,
How long, O Lord! how long?
But courage, O my mariners!
Ye shall not suffer wreck,
While up to God the freedman's prayers
Are rising from your deck.
Is not your sail the banner
Which God hath blest anew,
The mantle that De Matha wore,
The red, the white, the blue?
Its hues are all of heaven, —
The red of sunset's dye,
The whiteness of the moon-lit cloud,
The blue of morning's sky.
Wait cheerily, then, O mariners,
For daylight and for land;
The breath of God is in your sail,
Your rudder is His hand.
Sail on, sail on, deep-freighted
With blessings and with hopes;
The saints of old with shadowy hands
Are pulling at your ropes.
Behind ye holy martyrs
Uplift the palm and crown;
Before ye unborn ages send
Their benedictions down.
Take heart from John de Matha! —
God's errands never fail!
Sweep on through storm and darkness,
The thunder and the hail!
Sail on! The morning cometh,
The port ye yet shall win;
And all the bells of God shall ring
The good ship bravely in!
Skipper Ireson's Ride
Of all the rides since the birth of time,
Told in story or sung in rhyme, -
On Apuleius' Golden Ass,
Or one-eyed Calendar's horse of brass,
Witch astride of a human back,
Islam's prophet on Al-Borak, -
The strangest ride that ever was sped
Was Ireson's, out from Marblehead!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
Body of turkey, head of owl,
Wings a-droop like a rained-on fowl,
Feathered and ruffled in every part,
Skipper Ireson stood in the cart.
Scores of women, old and young,
Strong of muscle, and glib of tongue,
Pushed and pulled up the rocky lane,
Shouting and singing the shrill refrain:
'Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!'
Wrinkled scolds with hands on hips,
Girls in bloom of cheek and lips,
Wild-eyed, free-limbed, such as chase
Bacchus round some antique vase,
Brief of skirt, with ankles bare,
Loose of kerchief and loose of hair,
With conch-shells blowing and fish-horns' twang,
Over and over the Maenads sang:
'Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!'
Small pity for him! - He sailed away
From a leaking ship in Chaleur Bay, -
Sailed away from a sinking wreck,
With his own town's-people on her deck!
'Lay by! lay by!' they called to him.
Back he answered, 'Sink or swim!
Brag of your catch of fish again!'
And off he sailed through the fog and rain!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
Fathoms deep in dark Chaleur
That wreck shall lie forevermore.
Mother and sister, wife and maid,
Looked from the rocks of Marblehead
Over the moaning and rainy sea, -
Looked for the coming that might not be!
What did the winds and the sea-birds say
Of the cruel captain who sailed away? -
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
Through the street, on either side,
Up flew windows, doors swung wide;
Sharp-tongued spinsters, old wives gray,
Treble lent the fish-horn's bray.
Sea-worn grandsires, cripple-bound,
Hulks of old sailors run aground,
Shook head, and fist, and hat, and cane,
And cracked with curses the hoarse refrain:
'Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!'
Sweetly along the Salem road
Bloom of orchard and lilac showed.
Little the wicked skipper knew
Of the fields so green and the sky so blue.
Riding there in his sorry trim,
Like an Indian idol glum and grim,
Scarcely he seemed the sound to hear
Of voices shouting, far and near:
'Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!'
'Hear me, neighbors!' at last he cried, -
'What to me is this noisy ride?
What is the shame that clothes the skin
To the nameless horror that lives within?
Waking or sleeping, I see a wreck,
And hear a cry from a reeling deck!
Hate me and curse me, - I only dread
The hand of God and the face of the dead!'
Said old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea
Said, 'God has touched him! why should we!'
Said an old wife mourning her only son,
'Cut the rogue's tether and let him run!'
So with soft relentings and rude excuse,
Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose,
And gave him a cloak to hide him in,
And left him alone with his shame and sin.
Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
In the old days (a custom laid aside
With breeches and cocked hats) the people sent
Their wisest men to make the public laws.
And so, from a brown homestead, where the Sound
Drinks the small tribute of the Mianas,
Waved over by the woods of Rippowams,
And hallowed by pure lives and tranquil deaths,
Stamford sent up to the councils of the State
Wisdom and grace in Abraham Davenport.
'T was on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the Spring,
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell,--
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater's sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ
Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked
A loving guest at Bethany, but stern
As Justice and inexorable Law.
Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
'It is the Lord's Great Day! Let us adjourn,'
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. 'This well may be
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord's command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hath set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,--
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.' And they brought them in.
Then by the flaring lights the Speaker read,
Albeit with husky voice and shaking hands,
An act to amend an act to regulate
The shad and alewive fisheries. Whereupon
Wisely and well spake Abraham Davenport,
Straight to the question, with no figures of speech
Save the ten Arab signs, yet not without
The shrewd dry humor natural to the man
His awe-struck colleagues listening all the while,
Between the pauses of his argument,
To hear the thunder of the wrath of God
Break from the hollow trumpet of the cloud.
And there he stands in memory to this day,
Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen
Against the background of unnatural dark,
A witness to the ages as they pass,
That simple duty hath no place for fear.
. . . . .
He ceased: just then the ocean seemed
To lift a half-faced moon in sight;
And, shore-ward, o'er the waters gleamed,
From crest to crest, a line of light,
Such as of old, with solemn awe,
The fishers by Gennesaret saw,
When dry-shod o'er it walked the Son of God,
Tracking the waves with light where'er his sandals trod.
Silently for a space each eye
Upon that sudden glory turned
Cool from the land the breeze blew by,
The tent-ropes flapped, the long beach churned
Its waves to foam; on either hand
Stretched, far as sight, the hills of sand;
With bays of marsh, and capes of bush and tree,
The wood's black shore-line loomed beyond the meadowy sea.
The lady rose to leave. 'One song,
Or hymn,' they urged, 'before we part.'
And she, with lips to which belong
Sweet intuitions of all art,
Gave to the winds of night a strain
Which they who heard would hear again;
And to her voice the solemn ocean lent,
Touching its harp of sand, a deep accompaniment.
The Double-Headed Snake Of Newbury
Far away in the twilight time
Of every people, in every clime,
Dragons and griffins and monsters dire,
Born of water, and air, and fire,
Or nursed, like the Python, in the mud
And ooze of the old Deucalion flood,
Crawl and wriggle and foam with rage,
Through dusk tradition and ballad age.
So from the childhood of Newbury town
And its time of fable the tale comes down
Of a terror which haunted bush and brake,
The Amphisbaena, the Double Snake!
Thou who makest the tale thy mirth,
Consider that strip of Christian earth
On the desolate shore of a sailless sea,
Full of terror and mystery,
Half redeemed from the evil hold
Of the wood so dreary, and dark, and old,
Which drank with its lips of leaves the dew
When Time was young, and the world was new,
And wove its shadows with sun and moon,
Ere the stones of Cheops were squared and hewn.
Think of the sea's dread monotone,
Of the mournful wail from the pine-wood blown,
Of the strange, vast splendors that lit the North,
Of the troubled throes of the quaking earth,
And the dismal tales the Indian told,
Till the settler's heart at his hearth grew cold,
And he shrank from the tawny wizard boasts,
And the hovering shadows seemed full of ghosts,
And above, below, and on every side,
The fear of his creed seemed verified;-
And think, if his lot were now thine own,
To grope with terrors nor named nor known,
How laxer muscle and weaker nerve
And a feebler faith thy need might serve;
And own to thyself the wonder more
That the snake had two heads, and not a score!
Whether he lurked in the Oldtown fen
Or the gray earth-flax of the Devil's Den,
Or swam in the wooded Artichoke,
Or coiled by the Northman's Written Rock,
Nothing on record is left to show;
Only the fact that be lived, we know,
And left the cast of a double head
In the scaly mask which he yearly shed.
For he carried a head where his tail should be,
And the two, of course, could never agree,
But wriggled about with main and might,
Now to the left and now to the right;
Pulling and twisting this way and that,
Neither knew what the other was at.
A snake with two beads, lurking so near!
Judge of the wonder, guess at the fear!
Think what ancient gossips might say,
Shaking their heads in their dreary way,
Between the meetings on Sabbath-day!
How urchins, searching at day's decline
The Common Pasture for sheep or kine,
The terrible double-ganger heard
In leafy rustle or whir of bird!
Think what a zest it gave to the sport,
In berry-time, of the younger sort,
As over pastures blackberry-twined,
Reuben and Dorothy lagged behind,
And closer and closer, for fear of harm,
The maiden clung to her lover's arm;
And how the spark, who was forced to stay,
By his sweetheart's fears, till the break of day,
Thanked the snake for the fond delay.
Far and wide the tale was told,
Like a snowball growing while it rolled.
The nurse hushed with it the baby's cry;
And it served, in the worthy minister's eye,
To paint the primitive serpent by.
Cotton Mather came galloping down
All the way to Newbury town,
With his eyes agog and his ears set wide,
And his marvellous inkhorn at his side;
Stirring the while in the shallow pool
Of his brains for the lore he learned at school,
To garnish the story, with here a streak
Of Latin, and there another of Greek
And the tales he heard and the notes he took,
Behold! are they not in his Wonder-Book?
Stories, like dragons, are hard to kill.
If the snake does not, the tale runs still
In Byfield Meadows, on Pipestave Hill.
And still, whenever husband and wife
Publish the shame of their daily strife,
And, with mad cross-purpose, tug and strain
At either end of the marriage-chain,
The gossips say, with a knowing shake
Of their gray heads, 'Look at the Double Snake
One in body and two in will,
The Amphisbaena is living still!'
The Angels Of Buena Vista
Speak and tell us, our Ximena, looking northward far away,
O'er the camp of the invaders, o'er the Mexican array,
Who is losing? who is winning? are they far or come they near?
Look abroad, and tell us, sister, whither rolls the storm we hear.
Down the hills of Angostura still the storm of battle rolls;
Blood is flowing, men are dying; God have mercy on their souls!
'Who is losing? who is winning?' Over hill and over plain,
I see but smoke of cannon clouding through the mountain rain.'
Holy Mother! keep our brothers! Look, Ximena, look once more.
'Still I see the fearful whirlwind rolling darkly as before,
Bearing on, in strange confusion, friend and foeman, foot and horse,
Like some wild and troubled torrent sweeping down its mountain course.'
Look forth once more, Ximena! 'Ah! the smoke has rolled away;
And I see the Northern rifles gleaming down the ranks of gray.
Hark! that sudden blast of bugles! there the troop of Minon wheels;
There the Northern horses thunder, with the cannon at their heels.
'Jesu, pity I how it thickens I now retreat and now advance!
Bight against the blazing cannon shivers Puebla's charging lance!
Down they go, the brave young riders; horse and foot together fall;
Like a ploughshare in the fallow, through them ploughs the Northern ball.'
Nearer came the storm and nearer, rolling fast and frightful on!
Speak, Ximena, speak and tell us, who has lost, and who has won?
Alas! alas! I know not; friend and foe together fall,
O'er the dying rush the living: pray, my sisters, for them all!
'Lo! the wind the smoke is lifting. Blessed Mother, save my brain!
I can see the wounded crawling slowly out from heaps of slain.
Now they stagger, blind and bleeding; now they fall, and strive to rise;
Hasten, sisters, haste and save them, lest they die before our eyes!
'O my hearts love! O my dear one! lay thy poor head on my knee;
Dost thou know the lips that kiss thee? Canst thou hear me? canst thou see?
O my husband, brave and gentle! O my Bernal, look once more
On the blessed cross before thee! Mercy! all is o'er!'
Dry thy tears, my poor Ximena; lay thy dear one down to rest;
Let his hands be meekly folded, lay the cross upon his breast;
Let his dirge be sung hereafter, and his funeral masses said;
To-day, thou poor bereaved one, the living ask thy aid.
Close beside her, faintly moaning, fair and young, a soldier lay,
Torn with shot and pierced with lances, bleeding slow his life away;
But, as tenderly before him the lorn Ximena knelt,
She saw the Northern eagle shining on his pistol-belt.
With a stifled cry of horror straight she turned away her head;
With a sad and bitter feeling looked she back upon her dead;
But she heard the youth's low moaning, and his struggling breath of pain,
And she raised the cooling water to his parching lips again.
Whispered low the dying soldier, pressed her hand and faintly smiled;
Was that pitying face his mother's? did she watch beside her child?
All his stranger words with meaning her woman's heart supplied;
With her kiss upon his forehead, 'Mother!' murmured he, and died!
'A bitter curse upon them, poor boy, who led thee forth,
From some gentle, sad-eyed mother, weeping, lonely, in the North!'
Spake the mournful Mexic woman, as she laid him with her dead,
And turned to soothe the living, and bind the wounds which bled.
'Look forth once more, Ximena!' Like a cloud before the wind
Rolls the battle down the mountains, leaving blood and death behind;
Ah! they plead in vain for mercy; in the dust the wounded strive;
'Hide your faces, holy angels! O thou Christ of God, forgive!'
Sink, O Night, among thy mountains! let the cool, gray shadows fall;
Dying brothers, fighting demons, drop thy curtain over all!
Through the thickening winter twilight, wide apart the battle rolled,
In its sheath the sabre rested, and the cannon's lips grew cold.
But the noble Mexic women still their holy task pursued,
Through that long, dark night of sorrow, worn and faint and lacking food.
Over weak and suffering brothers, with a tender care they hung,
And the dying foeman blessed them in a strange and Northern tongue.
Not wholly lost, O Father! is this evil world of ours;
Upward, through its blood and ashes, spring afresh the Eden flowers;
From its smoking hell of battle, Love and Pity send their prayer,
And still thy white-winged angels hover dimly in our air!
They hear Thee not, O God! nor see;
Beneath Thy rod they mock at Thee;
The princes of our ancient line
Lie drunken with Assyrian wine;
The priests around Thy altar speak
The false words which their hearers seek;
And hymns which Chaldea's wanton maids
Have sung in Dura's idol-shades
Are with the Levites' chant ascending,
With Zion's holiest anthems blending!
On Israel's bleeding bosom set,
The heathen heel is crushing yet;
The towers upon our holy hill
Echo Chaldean footsteps still.
Our wasted shrines,--who weeps for them?
Who mourneth for Jerusalem?
Who turneth from his gains away?
Whose knee with mine is bowed to pray?
Who, leaving feast and purpling cup,
Takes Zion's lamentation up?
A sad and thoughtful youth, I went
With Israel's early banishment;
And where the sullen Chebar crept,
The ritual of my fathers kept.
The water for the trench I drew,
The firstling of the flock I slew,
And, standing at the altar's side,
I shared the Levites' lingering pride,
That still, amidst her mocking foes,
The smoke of Zion's offering rose.
In sudden whirlwind, cloud and flame,
The Spirit of the Highest came!
Before mine eyes a vision passed,
A glory terrible and vast;
With dreadful eyes of living things,
And sounding sweep of angel wings,
With circling light and sapphire throne,
And flame-like form of One thereon,
And voice of that dread Likeness sent
Down from the crystal firmament!
The burden of a prophet's power
Fell on me in that fearful hour;
From off unutterable woes
The curtain of the future rose;
I saw far down the coming time
The fiery chastisement of crime;
With noise of mingling hosts, and jar
Of falling towers and shouts of war,
I saw the nations rise and fall,
Like fire-gleams on my tent's white wall.
In dream and trance, I--saw the slain
Of Egypt heaped like harvest grain.
I saw the walls of sea-born Tyre
Swept over by the spoiler's fire;
And heard the low, expiring moan
Of Edom on his rocky throne;
And, woe is me! the wild lament
From Zion's desolation sent;
And felt within my heart each blow
Which laid her holy places low.
In bonds and sorrow, day by day,
Before the pictured tile I lay;
And there, as in a mirror, saw
The coming of Assyria's war;
Her swarthy lines of spearmen pass
Like locusts through Bethhoron's grass;
I saw them draw their stormy hem
Of battle round Jerusalem;
And, listening, heard the Hebrew wail!
Blend with the victor-trump of Baal!
Who trembled at my warning word?
Who owned the prophet of the Lord?
How mocked the rude, how scoffed the vile,
How stung the Levites' scornful smile,
As o'er my spirit, dark and slow,
The shadow crept of Israel's woe
As if the angel's mournful roll
Had left its record on my soul,
And traced in lines of darkness there
The picture of its great despair!
Yet ever at the hour I feel
My lips in prophecy unseal.
Prince, priest, and Levite gather near,
And Salem's daughters haste to hear,
On Chebar's waste and alien shore,
The harp of Judah swept once more.
They listen, as in Babel's throng
The Chaldeans to the dancer's song,
Or wild sabbeka's nightly play,--
As careless and as vain as they.
. . . . .
And thus, O Prophet-bard of old,
Hast thou thy tale of sorrow told
The same which earth's unwelcome seers
Have felt in all succeeding years.
Sport of the changeful multitude,
Nor calmly heard nor understood,
Their song has seemed a trick of art,
Their warnings but, the actor's part.
With bonds, and scorn, and evil will,
The world requites its prophets still.
So was it when the Holy One
The garments of the flesh put on
Men followed where the Highest led
For common gifts of daily bread,
And gross of ear, of vision dim,
Owned not the Godlike power of Him.
Vain as a dreamer's words to them
His wail above Jerusalem,
And meaningless the watch He kept
Through which His weak disciples slept.
Yet shrink not thou, whoe'er thou art,
For God's great purpose set apart,
Before whose far-discerning eyes,
The Future as the Present lies!
Beyond a narrow-bounded age
Stretches thy prophet-heritage,
Through Heaven's vast spaces angel-trod,
And through the eternal years of God
Thy audience, worlds!--all things to be
The witness of the Truth in thee!
The New Wife And The Old
Dark the halls, and cold the feast,
Gone the bridemaids, gone the priest.
All is over, all is done,
Twain of yesterday are one!
Blooming girl and manhood gray,
Autumn in the arms of May!
Hushed within and hushed without,
Dancing feet and wrestlers' shout;
Dies the bonfire on the hill;
All is dark and all is still,
Save the starlight, save the breeze
Moaning through the graveyard trees,
And the great sea-waves below,
Pulse of the midnight beating slow.
From the brief dream of a bride
She hath wakened, at his side.
With half-uttered shriek and start,-
Feels she not his beating heart?
And the pressure of his arm,
And his breathing near and warm?
Lightly from the bridal bed
Springs that fair dishevelled head,
And a feeling, new, intense,
Half of shame, half innocence,
Maiden fear and wonder speaks
Through her lips and changing cheeks.
From the oaken mantel glowing,
Faintest light the lamp is throwing
On the mirror's antique mould,
High-backed chair, and wainscot old,
And, through faded curtains stealing,
His dark sleeping face revealing.
Listless lies the strong man there,
Silver-streaked his careless hair;
Lips of love have left no trace
On that hard and haughty face;
And that forehead's knitted thought
Love's soft hand hath not unwrought.
'Yet,' she sighs, 'he loves me well,
More than these calm lips will tell.
Stooping to my lowly state,
He hath made me rich and great,
And I bless him, though he be
Hard and stern to all save me!'
While she speaketh, falls the light
O'er her fingers small and white;
Gold and gem, and costly ring
Back the timid lustre fling,-
Love's selectest gifts, and rare,
His proud hand had fastened there.
Gratefully she marks the glow
From those tapering lines of snow;
Fondly o'er the sleeper bending
His black hair with golden blending,
In her soft and light caress,
Cheek and lip together press.
Ha!-that start of horror! why
That wild stare and wilder cry,
Full of terror, full of pain?
Is there madness in her brain?
Hark! that gasping, hoarse and low,
'Spare me,-spare me,-let me go!'
God have mercy!-icy cold
Spectral hands her own enfold,
Drawing silently from them
Love's fair gifts of gold and gem.
'Waken! save me!' still as death
At her side he slumbereth.
Ring and bracelet all are gone,
And that ice-cold hand withdrawn;
But she hears a murmur low,
Full of sweetness, full of woe,
Half a sigh and half a moan
'Fear not! give the dead her own!'
Ah!-the dead wife's voice she knows!
That cold hand whose pressure froze,
Once in warmest life had borne
Gem and band her own hath worn.
'Wake thee! wake thee!' Lo, his eyes
Open with a dull surprise.
In his arms the strong man folds her,
Closer to his breast he holds her;
Trembling limbs his own are meeting,
And he feels her heart's quick beating
'Nay, my dearest, why this fear?'
'Hush!' she saith, 'the dead is here!'
'Nay, a dream,-an idle dream.'
But before the lamp's pale gleam
Tremblingly her hand she raises.
There no more the diamond blazes,
Clasp of pearl, or ring of gold,-
'Ah!' she sighs, 'her hand was cold!'
Broken words of cheer he saith,
But his dark lip quivereth,
And as o'er the past he thinketh,
From his young wife's arms he shrinketh;
Can those soft arms round him lie,
Underneath his dead wife's eye?
She her fair young head can rest
Soothed and childlike on his breast,
And in trustful innocence
Draw new strength and courage thence;
He, the proud man, feels within
But the cowardice of sin!
She can murmur in her thought
Simple prayers her mother taught,
And His blessed angels call,
Whose great love is over all;
He, alone, in prayerless pride,
Meets the dark Past at her side!
One, who living shrank with dread
From his look, or word, or tread,
Unto whom her early grave
Was as freedom to the slave,
Moves him at this midnight hour,
With the dead's unconscious power!
Ah, the dead, the unforgot!
From their solemn homes of thought,
Where the cypress shadows blend
Darkly over foe and friend,
Or in love or sad rebuke,
Back upon the living look.
And the tenderest ones and weakest,
Who their wrongs have borne the meekest,
Lifting from those dark, still places,
Sweet and sad-remembered faces,
O'er the guilty hearts behind
An unwitting triumph find.
The Slaves Of Martinique
BEAMS of noon, like burning lances, through the tree-tops flash and glisten,
As she stands before her lover, with raised face to look and listen.
Dark, but comely, like the maiden in the ancient Jewish song:
Scarcely has the toil of task-fields done her graceful beauty wrong.
He, the strong one and the manly, with the vassal's garb and hue,
Holding still his spirit's birthright, to his higher nature true;
Hiding deep the strengthening purpose of a freeman in his heart,
As the gregree holds his Fetich from the white man's gaze apart.
Ever foremost of his comrades, when the driver's morning horn
Calls away to stifling mill-house, to the fields of cane and corn:
Fall the keen and burning lashes never on his back or limb;
Scarce with look or word of censure, turns the driver unto him.
Yet, his brow is always thoughtful, and his eye is hard and stern;
Slavery's last and humblest lesson he has never deigned to learn.
And, at evening, when his comrades dance before their master's door,
Folding arms and knitting forehead, stands he silent evermore.
God be praised for every instinct which rebels against a lot
Where the brute survives the human, and man's upright form is not!
As the serpent-like bejuco winds his spiral fold on fold
Round the tall and stately ceiba, till it withers in his hold;
Slow decays the forest monarch, closer girds the fell embrace,
Till the tree is seen no longer, and the vine is in its place;
So a base and bestial nature round the vassal's manhood twines,
And the spirit wastes beneath it, like the ceiba choked with vines.
God is Love, saith the Evangel; and our world of woe and sin
Is made light and happy only when a Love is shining in.
Ye whose lives are free as sunshine, finding, wheresoe'er ye roam,
Smiles of welcome, looks of kindness, making all the world like home;
In the veins of whose affections kindred blood is but a part,
Of one kindly current throbbing from the universal heart;
Can ye know the deeper meaning of a love in Slavery nursed,
Last flower of a lost Eden, blooming in that Soil accursed?
Love of Home, and Love of Woman! — dear to all, but doubly dear
To the heart whose pulses elsewhere measure only hate and fear.
All around the desert circles, underneath a brazen sky,
Only one green spot remaining where the dew is never dry!
From the horror of that desert, from its atmosphere of hell,
Turns the fainting spirit thither, as the diver seeks his bell.
'Tis the fervid tropic noontime; faint and low the sea-waves beat;
Hazy rise the inland mountains through the glimmer of the heat, —
Where, through mingled leaves and blossoms, arrowy sunbeams flash and glisten,
Speaks her lover to the slave-girl, and she lifts her head to listen: —
'We shall live as slaves no longer! Freedom's hour is close at hand!
Rocks her bark upon the waters, rests the boat upon the strand!
'I have seen the Haytien Captain; I have seen his swarthy crew,
Haters of the pallid faces, to their race and color true.
'They have sworn to wait our coming till the night has passed its noon,
And the gray and darkening waters roll above the sunken moon!'
Oh, the blessed hope of freedom! how with joy and glad surprise,
For an instant throbs her bosom, for an instant beam her eyes!
But she looks across the valley, where her mother's hut is seen,
Through the snowy bloom of coffee, and the lemon-leaves so green.
And she answers, sad and earnest: 'It were wrong for thee to stay;
God hath heard thy prayer for freedom, and his finger points the way.
'Well I know with what endurance, for the sake of me and mine,
Thou hast borne too long a burden never meant for souls like thine.
'Go; and at the hour of midnight, when our last farewell is o'er,
Kneeling on our place of parting, I will bless thee from the shore.
'But for me, my mother, lying on her sick-bed all the day,
Lifts her weary head to watch me, coming through the twilight gray.
'Should I leave her sick and helpless, even freedom, shared with thee,
Would be sadder far than bondage, lonely toil, and stripes to me.
'For my heart would die within me, and my brain would soon be wild;
I should hear my mother calling through the twilight for her child!'
Blazing upward from the ocean, shines the sun of morning-time,
Through the coffee-trees in blossom, and green hedges of the lime.
Side by side, amidst the slave-gang, toil the lover and the maid;
Wherefore looks he o'er the waters, leaning forward on his spade?
Sadly looks he, deeply sighs he: 't is the Haytien's sail he sees,
Like a white cloud of the mountains, driven seaward by the breeze!
But his arm a light hand presses, and he hears a low voice call:
Hate of Slavery, hope of Freedom, Love is mightier than all.
THE suns of eighteen centuries have shone
Since the Redeemer walked with man, and made
The fisher's boat, the cavern's floor of stone,
And mountain moss, a pillow for His head;
And He, who wandered with the peasant Jew,
And broke with publicans the bread of shame,
And drank with blessings, in His Father's name,
The water which Samaria's outcast drew,
Hath now His temples upon every shore,
Altar and shrine and priest; and incense dim
Evermore rising, with low prayer and hymn,
From lips which press the temple's marble floor,
Or kiss the gilded sign of the dread cross He bore.
Yet as of old, when, meekly 'doing good,'
He fed a blind and selfish multitude,
And even the poor companions of His lot
With their dim earthly vision knew Him not,
How ill are His high teachings understood!
Where He hath spoken Liberty, the priest
At His own altar binds the chain anew;
Where He hath bidden to Life's equal feast,
The starving many wait upon the few;
Where He hath spoken Peace, His name hath been
The loudest war-cry of contending men;
Priests, pale with vigils, in His name have blessed
The unsheathed sword, and laid the spear in rest,
Wet the war-banner with their sacred wine,
And crossed its blazon with the holy sign;
Yea, in His name who bade the erring live,
And daily taught His lesson, to forgive!
Twisted the cord and edged the murderous steel;
And, with His words of mercy on their lips,
Hung gloating o'er the pincer's burning grips,
And the grim horror of the straining wheel;
Fed the slow flame which gnawed the victim's limb,
Who saw before his searing eyeballs swim
The image of their Christ in cruel zeal,
Through the black torment-smoke, held mockingly to him!
The blood which mingled with the desert sand,
And beaded with its red and ghastly dew
The vines and olives of the Holy Land;
The shrieking curses of the hunted Jew;
The white-sown bones of heretics, where'er
They sank beneath the Crusade's holy spear;
Goa's dark dungeons, Malta's sea-washed cell,
Where with the hymns the ghostly fathers sung
Mingled the groans by subtle torture wrung,
Heaven's anthem blending with the shriek of hell!
The midnight of Bartholomew, the stake
Of Smithfield, and that thrice-accursed flame
Which Calvin kindled by Geneva's lake;
New England's scaffold, and the priestly sneer
Which mocked its victims in that hour of fear,
When guilt itself a human tear might claim, —
Bear witness, O Thou wronged and merciful One!
That Earth's most hateful crimes have in Thy name been done!
Thank God! that I have lived to see the time
When the great truth begins at last to find
An utterance from the deep heart of mankind,
Earnest and clear, that all Revenge is Crime,
That man is holier than a creed, that all
Restraint upon him must consult his good,
Hope's sunshine linger on his prison wall,
And Love look in upon his solitude.
The beautiful lesson which our Saviour taught
Through long, dark centuries its way hath wrought
Into the common mind and popular thought;
And words, to which by Galilee's lake shore
The humble fishers listened with hushed oar,
Have found an echo in the general heart,
And of the public faith become a living part.
Who shall arrest this tendency? Bring back
The cells of Venice and the bigot's rack?
Harden the softening human heart again
To cold indifference to a brother's pain?
Ye most unhappy men! who, turned away
From the mild sunshine of the Gospel day,
Grope in the shadows of Man's twilight time,
What mean ye, that with ghoul-like zest ye brood,
O'er those foul altars streaming with warm blood,
Permitted in another age and clime?
Why cite that law with which the bigot Jew
Rebuked the Pagan's mercy, when he knew
No evil in the Just One? Wherefore turn
To the dark, cruel past? Can ye not learn
From the pure Teacher's life how mildly free
Is the great Gospel of Humanity?
The Flamen's knife is bloodless, and no more
Mexitli's altars soak with human gore,
No more the ghastly sacrifices smoke
Through the green arches of the Druid's oak;
And ye of milder faith, with your high claim.
Of prophet-utterance in the Holiest name,
Will ye become the Druids of our time!
Set up your scaffold-altars in our land,
And, consecrators of Law's darkest crime,
Urge to its loathsome work the hangman's hand?
Beware, lest human nature, roused at last,
From its peeled shoulder your encumbrance cast,
And, sick to loathing of your cry for blood,
Rank ye with those who led their victims round
The Celt's red altar and the Indian's mound,
Abhorred of Earth and Heaven, a pagan brotherhood!
NIGHT on the city of the Moor!
On mosque and tomb, and white-walled shore,
On sea-waves, to whose ceaseless knock
The narrow harbor gates unlock,
On corsair's galley, carack tall,
And plundered Christian caraval!
The sounds of Moslem life are still;
No mule-bell tinkles down the hill;
Stretched in the broad court of the khan,
The dusty Bornou caravan
Lies heaped in slumber, beast and man;
The Sheik is dreaming in his tent,
His noisy Arab tongue o'erspent;
The kiosk's glimmering lights are gone,
The merchant with his wares withdrawn;
Rough pillowed on some pirate breast,
The dancing-girl has sunk to rest;
And, save where measured footsteps fall
Along the Bashaw's guarded wall,
Or where, like some bad dream, the Jew
Creeps stealthily his quarter through,
Or counts with fear his golden heaps,
The City of the Corsair sleeps!
But where yon prison long and low
Stands black against the pale star-glow,
Chafed by the ceaseless wash of waves,
There watch and pine the Christian slaves;
Rough-bearded men, whose far-off wives
Wear out with grief their lonely lives;
And youth, still flashing from his eyes
The clear blue of New England skies,
A treasured lock of whose soft hair
Now wakes some sorrowing mother's prayer;
Or, worn upon some maiden breast,
Stirs with the loving heart's unrest!
A bitter cup each life must drain,
The groaning earth is cursed with pain,
And, like the scroll the angel bore
The shuddering Hebrew seer before,
O'erwrit alike, without, within,
With all the woes which follow sin;
But, bitterest of the ills beneath
Whose load man totters down to death,
Is that which plucks the regal crown
Of Freedom from his forehead down,
And snatches from his powerless hand
The sceptred sign of self-command,
Effacing with the chain and rod
The image and the seal of God;
Till from his nature, day by day,
The manly virtues fall away,
And leave him naked, blind and mute,
The godlike merging in the brute!
Why mourn the quiet ones who die
Beneath affection's tender eye,
Unto their household and their kin
Like ripened corn-sheaves gathered in?
O weeper, from that tranquil sod,
That holy harvest-home of God,
Turn to the quick and suffering, shed
Thy tears upon the living dead!
Thank God above thy dear ones' graves,
They sleep with Him, they are not slaves.
What dark mass, down the mountain-sides
Swift-pouring, like a stream divides?
A long, loose, straggling caravan,
Camel and horse and armëd man.
The moon's low crescent, glimmering o'er
Its grave of waters to the shore,
Lights up that mountain cavalcade,
And gleams from gun and spear and blade
Near and more near! now o'er them falls
The shadow of the city walls.
Hark to the sentry's challenge, drowned
In the fierce trumpet's charging sound!
The rush of men, the musket's peal,
The short, sharp clang of meeting steel!
Vain, Moslem, vain thy lifeblood poured
So freely on thy foeman's sword!
Not to the swift nor to the strong
The battles of the right belong;
For he who strikes for Freedom wears
The armor of the captive's prayers,
And Nature proffers to his cause
The strength of her eternal laws;
While he whose arm essays to bind
And herd with common brutes his kind
Strives evermore at fearful odds
With Nature and the jealous gods,
And dares the dread recoil which late
Or soon their right shall vindicate.
'T is done, the hornëd crescent falls!
The star-flag flouts the broken walls!
Joy to the captive husband! joy
To thy sick heart, O brown-locked boy!
In sullen wrath the conquered Moor
Wide open flings your dungeon-door,
And leaves ye free from cell and chain,
The owners of yourselves again.
Dark as his allies desert-born,
Soiled with the battle's stain, and worn
With the long marches of his band
Through hottest wastes of rock and sand,
Scorched by the sun and furnace-breath
Of the red desert's wind of death,
With welcome words and grasping hands,
The victor and deliverer stands!
The tale is one of distant skies;
The dust of half a century lies
Upon it; yet its hero's name
Still lingers on the lips of Fame.
Men speak the praise of him who gave
Deliverance to the Moorman's slave,
Yet dare to brand with shame and crime
The heroes of our land and time, —
The self-forgetful ones, who stake
Home, name, and life for Freedom's sake.
God mend his heart who cannot feel
The impulse of a holy zeal,
And sees not, with his sordid eyes,
The beauty of self-sacrifice!
Though in the sacred place he stands,
Uplifting consecrated hands,
Unworthy are his lips to tell
Of Jesus' martyr-miracle,
Or name aright that dread embrace
Of suffering for a fallen race!
The Demon Of The Study
The Brownie sits in the Scotchman's room,
And eats his meat and drinks his ale,
And beats the maid with her unused broom,
And the lazy lout with his idle flail;
But he sweeps the floor and threshes the corn,
And hies him away ere the break of dawn.
The shade of Denmark fled from the sun,
And the Cocklane ghost from the barn-loft cheer,
The fiend of Faust was a faithful one,
Agrippa's demon wrought in fear,
And the devil of Martin Luther sat
By the stout monk's side in social chat.
The Old Man of the Sea, on the neck of him
Who seven times crossed the deep,
Twined closely each lean and withered limb,
Like the nightmare in one's sleep.
But he drank of the wine, and Sindbad cast
The evil weight from his back at last.
But the demon that cometh day by day
To my quiet room and fireside nook,
Where the casement light falls dim and gray
On faded painting and ancient book,
Is a sorrier one than any whose names
Are chronicled well by good King James.
No bearer of burdens like Caliban,
No runner of errands like Ariel,
He comes in the shape of a fat old man,
Without rap of knuckle or pull of bell;
And whence he comes, or whither he goes,
I know as I do of the wind which blows.
A stout old man with a greasy hat
Slouched heavily down to his dark, red nose,
And two gray eyes enveloped in fat,
Looking through glasses with iron bows.
Read ye, and heed ye, and ye who can,
Guard well your doors from that old man!
He comes with a careless 'How d' ye do?'
And seats himself in my elbow-chair;
And my morning paper and pamphlet new
Fall forthwith under his special care,
And he wipes his glasses and clears his throat,
And, button by button, unfolds his coat.
And then he reads from paper and book,
In a low and husky asthmatic tone,
With the stolid sameness of posture and look
Of one who reads to himself alone;
And hour after hour on my senses come
That husky wheeze and that dolorous hum.
The price of stocks, the auction sales,
The poet's song and the lover's glee,
The horrible murders, the seaboard gales,
The marriage list, and the jeu d'esprit,
All reach my ear in the self-same tone,-
I shudder at each, but the fiend reads on!
Oh, sweet as the lapse of water at noon
O'er the mossy roots of some forest tree,
The sigh of the wind in the woods of June,
Or sound of flutes o'er a moonlight sea,
Or the low soft music, perchance, which seems
To float through the slumbering singer's dreams,
So sweet, so dear is the silvery tone,
Of her in whose features I sometimes look,
As I sit at eve by her side alone,
And we read by turns, from the self-same book,
Some tale perhaps of the olden time,
Some lover's romance or quaint old rhyme.
Then when the story is one of woe,-
Some prisoner's plaint through his dungeon-bar,
Her blue eye glistens with tears, and low
Her voice sinks down like a moan afar;
And I seem to hear that prisoner's wail,
And his face looks on me worn and pale.
And when she reads some merrier song,
Her voice is glad as an April bird's,
And when the tale is of war and wrong,
A trumpet's summons is in her words,
And the rush of the hosts I seem to hear,
And see the tossing of plume and spear!
Oh, pity me then, when, day by day,
The stout fiend darkens my parlor door;
And reads me perchance the self-same lay
Which melted in music, the night before,
From lips as the lips of Hylas sweet,
And moved like twin roses which zephyrs meet!
I cross my floor with a nervous tread,
I whistle and laugh and sing and shout,
I flourish my cane above his head,
And stir up the fire to roast him out;
I topple the chairs, and drum on the pane,
And press my hands on my ears, in vain!
I've studied Glanville and James the wise,
And wizard black-letter tomes which treat
Of demons of every name and size
Which a Christian man is presumed to meet,
But never a hint and never a line
Can I find of a reading fiend like mine.
I've crossed the Psalter with Brady and Tate,
And laid the Primer above them all,
I've nailed a horseshoe over the grate,
And hung a wig to my parlor wall
Once worn by a learned Judge, they say,
At Salem court in the witchcraft day!
'Conjuro te, sceleratissime,
Abire ad tuum locum!'-still
Like a visible nightmare he sits by me,-
The exorcism has lost its skill;
And I hear again in my haunted room
The husky wheeze and the dolorous hum!
Ah! commend me to Mary Magdalen
With her sevenfold plagues, to the wandering Jew,
To the terrors which haunted Orestes when
The furies his midnight curtains drew,
But charm him off, ye who charm him can,
That reading demon, that fat old man!
Nauhaught, The Deacon
NAUHAUGHT, the Indian deacon, who of old
Dwelt, poor but blameless, where his narrowing Cape
Stretches its shrunk arm out to all the winds
And the relentless smiting of the waves,
Awoke one morning from a pleasant dream
Of a good angel dropping in his hand
A fair, broad gold-piece, in the name of God.
He rose and went forth with the early day
Far inland, where the voices of the waves
Mellowed and Mingled with the whispering leaves,
As, through the tangle of the low, thick woods,
He searched his traps. Therein nor beast nor bird
He found; though meanwhile in the reedy pools
The otter plashed, and underneath the pines
The partridge drummed: and as his thoughts went back
To the sick wife and little child at home,
What marvel that the poor man felt his faith
Too weak to bear its burden,--like a rope
That, strand by strand uncoiling, breaks above
The hand that grasps it. 'Even now, O Lord!
Send me,' he prayed, 'the angel of my dream!
Nauhaught is very poor; he cannot wait.'
Even as he spake he heard at his bare feet
A low, metallic clink, and, looking down,
He saw a dainty purse with disks of gold
Crowding its silken net. Awhile he held
The treasure up before his eyes, alone
With his great need, feeling the wondrous coins
Slide through his eager fingers, one by one.
So then the dream was true. The angel brought
One broad piece only; should he take all these?
Who would be wiser, in the blind, dumb woods?
The loser, doubtless rich, would scarcely miss
This dropped crumb from a table always full.
Still, while he mused, he seemed to hear the cry
Of a starved child; the sick face of his wife
Tempted him. Heart and flesh in fierce revolt
Urged the wild license of his savage youth
Against his later scruples. Bitter toil,
Prayer, fasting, dread of blame, and pitiless eyes
To watch his halting,--had he lost for these
The freedom of the woods;--the hunting-grounds
Of happy spirits for a walled-in heaven
Of everlasting psalms? One healed the sick
Very far off thousands of moons ago
Had he not prayed him night and day to come
And cure his bed-bound wife? Was there a hell?
Were all his fathers' people writhing there--
Like the poor shell-fish set to boil alive--
Forever, dying never? If he kept
This gold, so needed, would the dreadful God
Torment him like a Mohawk's captive stuck
With slow-consuming splinters? Would the saints
And the white angels dance and laugh to see him
Burn like a pitch-pine torch? His Christian garb
Seemed falling from him; with the fear and shame
Of Adam naked at the cool of day,
He gazed around. A black snake lay in coil
On the hot sand, a crow with sidelong eye
Watched from a dead bough. All his Indian lore
Of evil blending with a convert's faith
In the supernal terrors of the Book,
He saw the Tempter in the coiling snake
And ominous, black-winged bird; and all the while
The low rebuking of the distant waves
Stole in upon him like the voice of God
Among the trees of Eden. Girding up
His soul's loins with a resolute hand, he thrust
The base thought from him: 'Nauhaught, be a man
Starve, if need be; but, while you live, look out
From honest eyes on all men, unashamed.
God help me! I am deacon of the church,
A baptized, praying Indian! Should I do
This secret meanness, even the barken knots
Of the old trees would turn to eyes to see it,
The birds would tell of it, and all the leaves
Whisper above me: 'Nauhaught is a thief!'
The sun would know it, and the stars that hide
Behind his light would watch me, and at night
Follow me with their sharp, accusing eyes.
Yea, thou, God, seest me!' Then Nauhaught drew
Closer his belt of leather, dulling thus
The pain of hunger, and walked bravely back
To the brown fishing-hamlet by the sea;
And, pausing at the inn-door, cheerily asked
'Who hath lost aught to-day?'
'I,' said a voice;
'Ten golden pieces, in a silken purse,
My daughter's handiwork.' He looked, and to
One stood before him in a coat of frieze,
And the glazed bat of a seafaring man,
Shrewd-faced, broad-shouldered, with no trace of wings.
Marvelling, he dropped within the stranger's hand
The silken web, and turned to go his way.
But the man said: 'A tithe at least is yours;
Take it in God's name as an honest man.'
And as the deacon's dusky fingers closed
Over the golden gift, 'Yea, in God's name
I take it, with a poor man's thanks,' he said.
So down the street that, like a river of sand,
Ran, white in sunshine, to the summer sea,
He sought his home singing and praising God;
And when his neighbors in their careless way
Spoke of the owner of the silken purse--
A Wellfleet skipper, known in every port
That the Cape opens in its sandy wall--
He answered, with a wise smile, to himself
'I saw the angel where they see a man.'
How The Women Went From Dover
THE tossing spray of Cocheco's fall
Hardened to ice on its rocky wall,
As through Dover town in the chill, gray dawn,
Three women passed, at the cart-tail drawn!
Bared to the waist, for the north wind's grip
And keener sting of the constable's whip,
The blood that followed each hissing blow
Froze as it sprinkled the winter snow.
Priest and ruler, boy and maid
Followed the dismal cavalcade;
And from door and window, open thrown,
Looked and wondered gaffer and crone.
'God is our witness,' the victims cried,
We suffer for Him who for all men died;
The wrong ye do has been done before,
We bear the stripes that the Master bore!
And thou, O Richard Waldron, for whom
We hear the feet of a coming doom,
On thy cruel heart and thy hand of wrong
Vengeance is sure, though it tarry long.
'In the light of the Lord, a flame we see
Climb and kindle a proud roof-tree;
And beneath it an old man lying dead,
With stains of blood on his hoary head.'
'Smite, Goodman Hate-Evil!--harder still!'
The magistrate cried, 'lay on with a will!
Drive out of their bodies the Father of Lies,
Who through them preaches and prophesies!'
So into the forest they held their way,
By winding river and frost-rimmed bay,
Over wind-swept hills that felt the beat
Of the winter sea at their icy feet.
The Indian hunter, searching his traps,
Peered stealthily through the forest gaps;
And the outlying settler shook his head,--
'They're witches going to jail,' he said.
At last a meeting-house came in view;
A blast on his horn the constable blew;
And the boys of Hampton cried up and down,
'The Quakers have come!' to the wondering town.
From barn and woodpile the goodman came;
The goodwife quitted her quilting frame,
With her child at her breast; and, hobbling slow,
The grandam followed to see the show.
Once more the torturing whip was swung,
Once more keen lashes the bare flesh stung.
'Oh, spare! they are bleeding!'' a little maid cried,
And covered her face the sight to hide.
A murmur ran round the crowd: 'Good folks,'
Quoth the constable, busy counting the strokes,
'No pity to wretches like these is due,
They have beaten the gospel black and blue!'
Then a pallid woman, in wild-eyed fear,
With her wooden noggin of milk drew near.
'Drink, poor hearts!' a rude hand smote
Her draught away from a parching throat.
'Take heed,' one whispered, 'they'll take your cow
For fines, as they took your horse and plough,
And the bed from under you.' 'Even so,'
She said; 'they are cruel as death, I know.'
Then on they passed, in the waning day,
Through Seabrook woods, a weariful way;
By great salt meadows and sand-hills bare,
And glimpses of blue sea here and there.
By the meeting-house in Salisbury town,
The sufferers stood, in the red sundown,
Bare for the lash! O pitying Night,
Drop swift thy curtain and hide the sight.
With shame in his eye and wrath on his lip
The Salisbury constable dropped his whip.
'This warrant means murder foul and red;
Cursed is he who serves it,' he said.
'Show me the order, and meanwhile strike
A blow at your peril!' said Justice Pike.
Of all the rulers the land possessed,
Wisest and boldest was he and best.
He scoffed at witchcraft; the priest he met
As man meets man; his feet he set
Beyond his dark age, standing upright,
Soul-free, with his face to the morning light.
He read the warrant: 'These convey
From our precincts; at every town on the way
Give each ten lashes.' 'God judge the brute!
I tread his order under my foot!
'Cut loose these poor ones and let them go;
Come what will of it, all men shall know
No warrant is good, though backed by the Crown,
For whipping women in Salisbury town!'
The hearts of the villagers, half released
From creed of terror and rule of priest,
By a primal instinct owned the right
Of human pity in law's despite.
For ruth and chivalry only slept,
His Saxon manhood the yeoman kept;
Quicker or slower, the same blood ran
In the Cavalier and the Puritan.
The Quakers sank on their knees in praise
And thanks. A last, low sunset blaze
Flashed out from under a cloud, and shed
A golden glory on each bowed head.
The tale is one of an evil time,
When souls were fettered and thought was crime,
And heresy's whisper above its breath
Meant shameful scourging and bonds and death!
What marvel, that hunted and sorely tried,
Even woman rebuked and prophesied,
And soft words rarely answered back
The grim persuasion of whip and rack.
If her cry from the whipping-post and jail
Pierced sharp as the Kenite's driven nail,
O woman, at ease in these happier days,
Forbear to judge of thy sister's ways!
How much thy beautiful life may owe
To her faith and courage thou canst not know,
Nor how from the paths of thy calm retreat
She smoothed the thorns with her bleeding feet.
WITH a cold and wintry noon-light.
On its roofs and steeples shed,
Shadows weaving with t e sunlight
From the gray sky overhead,
Broadly, vaguely, all around me, lies the half-built town outspread.
Through this broad street, restless ever,
Ebbs and flows a human tide,
Wave on wave a living river;
Wealth and fashion side by side;
Toiler, idler, slave and master, in the same quick current glide.
Underneath yon dome, whose coping
Springs above them, vast and tall,
Grave men in the dust are groping.
For the largess, base and small,
Which the hand of Power is scattering, crumbs which from its table fall.
Base of heart! They vilely barter
Honor's wealth for party's place;
Step by step on Freedom's charter
Leaving footprints of disgrace;
For to-day's poor pittance turning from the great hope of their race.
Yet, where festal lamps are throwing
Glory round the dancer's hair,
Gold-tressed, like an angel's, flowing
Backward on the sunset air;
And the low quick pulse of music beats its measure sweet and rare:
There to-night shall woman's glances,
Star-like, welcome give to them;
Fawning fools with shy advances
Seek to touch their garments' hem,
With the tongue of flattery glozing deeds which God and Truth condemn.
From this glittering lie my vision
Takes a broader, sadder range,
Full before me have arisen
Other pictures dark and strange;
From the parlor to the prison must the scene and witness change.
Hark! the heavy gate is swinging
On its hinges, harsh and slow;
One pale prison lamp is flinging
On a fearful group below
Such a light as leaves to terror whatsoe'er it does not show.
Pitying God! Is that a woman
On whose wrist the shackles clash?
Is that shriek she utters human,
Underneath the stinging lash?
Are they men whose eyes of madness from that sad procession flash?
Still the dance goes gayly onward!
What is it to Wealth and Pride
That without the stars are looking
On a scene which earth should hide?
That the slave-ship lies in waiting, rocking on Potomac's tide!
Vainly to that mean Ambition
Which, upon a rival's fall,
Winds above its old condition,
With a reptile's slimy crawl,
Shall the pleading voice of sorrow, shall the slave in anguish call.
Vainly to the child of Fashion,
Giving to ideal woe
Graceful luxury of compassion,
Shall the stricken mourner go;
Hateful seems the earnest sorrow, beautiful the hollow show!
Nay, my words are all too sweeping:
In this crowded human mart,
Feeling is not dead, but sleeping;
Man's strong will and woman's heart,
In the coming strife for Freedom, yet shall bear their generous part.
And from yonder sunny valleys,
Southward in the distance lost,
Freedom yet shall summon allies
Worthier than the North can boast,
With the Evil by their hearth-stones grappling at severer cost.
Now, the soul alone is willing.
Faint the heart and weak the knee;
And as yet no lip is thrilling
With the mighty words, 'Be Free!'
Tarrieth long the land's Good Angel, but his advent is to be!
Meanwhile, turning from the revel
To the prison-cell my sight,
For intenser hate of evil,
For a keener sense of right,
Shaking off thy dust, I thank thee, City of the Slaves, to-night!
'To thy duty now and ever!
Dream no more of rest or stay:
Give to Freedom's great endeavor
All thou art and hast to-day:'
Thus, above the city's murmur, saith a Voice, or seems to say.
Ye with heart and vision gifted
To discern and love the right,
Whose worn faces have been lifted
To the slowly-growing light,
Where from Freedom's sunrise drifted slowly back the murk of night!
Ye who through long years of trial
Still have held your purpose fast,
While a lengthening shade the dial
From the westering sunshine cast,
And of hope each hour's denial seemed an echo of the last!
O my brothers! O my sisters!
Would to God that ye were near,
Gazing with me down the vistas
Of a sorrow strange and drear;
Would to God that ye were listeners to the Voice I seem to hear!
With the storm above us driving,
With the false earth mined below,
Who shall marvel if thus striving
We have counted friend as foe;
Unto one another giving in the darkness blow for blow.
Well it may be that our natures
Have grown sterner and more hard,
And the freshness of their features
Somewhat harsh and battle-scarred,
And their harmonies of feeling overtasked and rudely jarred.
Be it so. It should not swerve us
From a purpose true and brave;
Dearer Freedom's rugged service
Than the pastime of the slave;
Better is the storm above it than the quiet of the grave.
Let us then, uniting, bury
All our idle feuds in dust,
And to future conflicts carry
Mutual faith and common trust;
Always he who most forgiveth in his brother is most just.
From the eternal shadow rounding
All our sun and starlight here,
Voices of our lost ones sounding
Bid us be of heart and cheer,
Through the silence, down the spaces, falling on the inward ear.
Know we not our dead are looking
Downward with a sad surprise,
All our strife of words rebuking
With their mild and loving eyes?
Shall we grieve the holy angels? Shall we cloud their blessed skies?
Let us draw their mantles o'er us,
Which have fallen in our way;
Let us do the work before us,
Cheerly, bravely, while we may,
Ere the long night-silence cometh, and with us it is not day!
The New Year
THE wave is breaking on the shore,
The echo fading from the chime;
Again the shadow moveth o'er
The dial-plate of time!
O seer-seen Angel! waiting now
With weary feet on sea and shore,
Impatient for the last dread vow
That time shall be no more!
Once more across thy sleepless eye
The semblance of a smile has passed:
The year departing leaves more nigh
Time's fearfullest and last.
Oh, in that dying year hath been
The sum of all since time began;
The birth and death, the joy and pain,
Of Nature and of Man.
Spring, with her change of sun and shower,
And streams released from Winter's chain,
And bursting bud, and opening flower,
And greenly growing grain;
And Summer's shade, and sunshine warm,
And rainbows o'er her hill-tops bowed,
And voices in her rising storm;
God speaking from His cloud!
And Autumn's fruits and clustering sheaves,
And soft, warm days of golden light,
The glory of her forest leaves,
And harvest-moon at night;
And Winter with her leafless grove,
And prisoned stream, and drifting snow,
The brilliance of her heaven above
And of her earth below:
And man, in whom an angel's mind
With earth's low instincts finds abode,
The highest of the links which bind
Brute nature to her God;
His infant eye hath seen the light,
His childhood's merriest laughter rung,
And active sports to manlier might
The nerves of boyhood strung!
And quiet love, and passion's fires,
Have soothed or burned in manhood's breast,
And lofty aims and low desires
By turns disturbed his rest.
The wailing of the newly-born
Has mingled with the funeral knell;
And o'er the dying's ear has gone
The merry marriage-bell.
And Wealth has filled his halls with mirth,
While Want, in many a humble shed,
Toiled, shivering by her cheerless hearth,
The live-long night for bread.
And worse than all, the human slave,
The sport of lust, and pride, and scorn!
Plucked off the crown his Maker gave,
His regal manhood gone!
Oh, still,my country! o'er thy plains,
Blackened with slavery's blight and ban,
That human chattel drags his chains,
An uncreated man!
And still, where'er to sun and breeze,
My country, is thy flag unrolled,
With scorn, the gazing stranger sees
A stain on every fold.
Oh, tear the gorgeous emblem down!
It gathers scorn from every eye,
And despots smile and good men frown
Whene'er it passes by.
Shame! shame! its starry splendors glow
Above the slaver's loathsome jail;
Its folds are ruffling even now
His crimson flag of sale.
Still round our country's proudest hall
The trade in human flesh is driven,
And at each careless hammer-fall
A human heart is riven.
And this, too, sanctioned by the men
Vested with power to shield the right,
And throw each vile and robber den
Wide open to the light.
Yet, shame upon them! there they sit,
Men of the North, subdued and still;
Meek, pliant poltroons, only fit
To work a master's will.
Sold, bargained off for Southern votes,
A passive herd of Northern mules,
Just braying through their purchased throats
Whate'er their owner rules.
And he,2 the basest of the base
The vilest of the vile, whose name,
Embalmed in infinite disgrace,
Is deathless in its shame!
A tool, to bolt the people's door
Against the people clamoring there,
An ass, to trample on their floor
A people's right of prayer!
Nailed to his self-made gibbet fast,
Self-pilloried to the public view,
A mark for every passing blast
Of scorn to whistle through;
There let him hang, and hear the boast
Of Southrons o'er their pliant tool, —
A new Stylites on his post,
'Sacred to ridicule!'
Look we at home! our noble hall,
To Freedom's holy purpose given,
Now rears its black and ruined wall,
Beneath the wintry heaven,
Telling the story of its doom,
The fiendish mob, the prostrate law,
The fiery jet through midnight's gloom,
Our gazing thousands saw.
Look to our State! the poor man's right
Torn from him: and the sons of those
Whose blood in Freedom's sternest fight
Sprinkled the Jersey snows,
Outlawed within the land of Penn,
That Slavery's guilty fears might cease,
And those whom God created men
Toil on as brutes in peace.
Yet o'er the blackness of the storm
A bow of promise bends on high,
And gleams of sunshine, soft and warm,
Break through our clouded sky.
East, West, and North, the shout is heard,
Of freemen rising for the right:
Each valley hath its rallying word,
Each hill its signal light.
O'er Massachusetts' rocks of gray,
The strengthening light of freedom shines,
Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay,
And Vermont's snow-hung pines!
From Hudson's frowning palisades
To Alleghany's laurelled crest,
O'er lakes and prairies, streams and glades,
It shines upon the West.
Speed on the light to those who dwell
In Slavery's land of woe and sin,
And through the blackness of that hell,
Let Heaven's own light break in.
So shall the Southern conscience quake
Before that light poured full and strong,
So shall the Southern heart awake
To all the bondman's wrong.
And from that rich and sunny land
The song of grateful millions rise,
Like that of Israel's ransomed band
Beneath Arabians skies:
And all who now are bound beneath
Our banner's shade, our eagle's wing,
From Slavery's night of moral death
To light and life shall spring.
Broken the bondman's chain, and gone
The master's guilt, and hate, and fear,
And unto both alike shall dawn
A New and Happy Year.
My Soul And I
Stand still, my soul, in the silent dark
I would question thee,
Alone in the shadow drear and stark
With God and me!
What, my soul, was thy errand here?
Was it mirth or ease,
Or heaping up dust from year to year?
'Nay, none of these!'
Speak, soul, aright in His holy sight
Whose eye looks still
And steadily on thee through the night
'To do His will!'
What hast thou done, O soul of mine,
That thou tremblest so?
Hast thou wrought His task, and kept the line
He bade thee go?
Aha! thou tremblest!--well I see
Thou 'rt craven grown.
Is it so hard with God and me
To stand alone?
Summon thy sunshine bravery back,
O wretched sprite!
Let me hear thy voice through this deep and black
What hast thou wrought for Right and Truth,
For God and Man,
From the golden hours of bright-eyed youth
To life's mid span?
What, silent all! art sad of cheer?
Art fearful now?
When God seemed far and men were near,
How brave wert thou!
Ah, soul of mine, thy tones I hear,
But weak and low,
Like far sad murmurs on my ear
They come and go.
I have wrestled stoutly with the Wrong,
And borne the Right
From beneath the footfall of the throng
To life and light.
'Wherever Freedom shivered a chain,
God speed, quoth I;
To Error amidst her shouting train
I gave the lie.'
Ah, soul of mine! ah, soul of mine!
Thy deeds are well:
Were they wrought for Truth's sake or for thine?
My soul, pray tell.
'Of all the work my hand hath wrought
Beneath the sky,
Save a place in kindly human thought,
No gain have I.'
Go to, go to! for thy very self
Thy deeds were done
Thou for fame, the miser for pelf,
Your end is one!
And where art thou going, soul of mine?
Canst see the end?
And whither this troubled life of thine
Evermore doth tend?
What daunts thee now? what shakes thee so?
My sad soul say.
'I see a cloud like a curtain low
Hang o'er my way.
'Whither I go I cannot tell
That cloud hangs black,
High as the heaven and deep as hell
Across my track.
'I see its shadow coldly enwrap
The souls before.
Sadly they enter it, step by step,
To return no more.
'They shrink, they shudder, dear God! they kneel
To Thee in prayer.
They shut their eyes on the cloud, but feel
That it still is there.
'In vain they turn from the dread Before
To the Known and Gone;
For while gazing behind them evermore
Their feet glide on.
'Yet, at times, I see upon sweet pale faces
A light begin
To tremble, as if from holy places
And shrines within.
'And at times methinks their cold lips move
With hymn and prayer,
As if somewhat of awe, but more of love
And hope were there.
'I call on the souls who have left the light
To reveal their lot;
I bend mine ear to that wall of night,
And they answer not.
'But I hear around me sighs of pain
And the cry of fear,
And a sound like the slow sad dropping of rain,
Each drop a tear!
'Ah, the cloud is dark, and day by day
I am moving thither
I must pass beneath it on my way--
God pity me!--whither?'
Ah, soul of mine! so brave and wise
In the life-storm loud,
Fronting so calmly all human eyes
In the sunlit crowd!
Now standing apart with God and me
Thou art weakness all,
Gazing vainly after the things to be
Through Death's dread wall.
But never for this, never for this
Was thy being lent;
For the craven's fear is but selfishness,
Like his merriment.
Folly and Fear are sisters twain
One closing her eyes.
The other peopling the dark inane
With spectral lies.
Know well, my soul, God's hand controls
Whate'er thou fearest;
Round Him in calmest music rolls
Whate'er thou Nearest.
What to thee is shadow, to Him is day,
And the end He knoweth,
And not on a blind and aimless way
The spirit goeth.
Man sees no future,--a phantom show
Is alone before him;
Past Time is dead, and the grasses grow,
And flowers bloom o'er him.
Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of Faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath.
The Present, the Present is all thou hast
For thy sure possessing;
Like the patriarch's angel hold it fast
Till it gives its blessing.
Why fear the night? why shrink from Death;
That phantom wan?
There is nothing in heaven or earth beneath
Save God and man.
Peopling the shadows we turn from Him
And from one another;
All is spectral and vague and dim
Save God and our brother!
Like warp and woof all destinies
Are woven fast,
Linked in sympathy like the keys
Of an organ vast.
Pluck one thread, and the web ye mar;
Break but one
Of a thousand keys, and the paining jar
Through all will run.
O restless spirit! wherefore strain
Beyond thy sphere?
Heaven and hell, with their joy and pain,
Are now and here.
Back to thyself is measured well
All thou hast given;
Thy neighbor's wrong is thy present hell,
His bliss, thy heaven.
And in life, in death, in dark and light,
All are in God's care
Sound the black abyss, pierce the deep of night,
And He is there!
All which is real now remaineth,
And fadeth never
The hand which upholds it now sustaineth
The soul forever.
Leaning on Him, make with reverent meekness
His own thy will,
And with strength from Him shall thy utter weakness
Life's task fulfil;
And that cloud itself, which now before thee
Lies dark in view,
Shall with beams of light from the inner glory
Be stricken through.
And like meadow mist through autumn's dawn
Its thickest folds when about thee drawn
Let sunlight in.
Then of what is to be, and of what is done,
Why queriest thou?
The past and the time to be are one,
And both are now!
The Garrison Of Cape Ann
From the hills of home forth looking, far beneath the tent-like span
Of the sky, I see the white gleam of the headland of Cape Ann.
Well I know its coves and beaches to the ebb-tide glimmering down,
And the white-walled hamlet children of its ancient fishing town.
Long has passed the summer morning, and its memory waxes old,
When along yon breezy headlands with a pleasant friend I strolled.
Ah! the autumn sun is shining, and the ocean wind blows cool,
And the golden-rod and aster bloom around thy grave, Rantoul!
With the memory of that morning by the summer sea I blend
A wild and wondrous story, by the younger Mather penned,
In that quaint Magnalia Christi, with all strange and marvellous things,
Heaped up huge and undigested, like the chaos Ovid sings.
Dear to me these far, faint glimpses of the dual life of old,
Inward, grand with awe and reverence; outward, mean and coarse and cold;
Gleams of mystic beauty playing over dull and vulgar clay,
Golden-threaded fancies weaving in a web of hodden gray.
The great eventful Present hides the Past; but through the din
Of its loud life hints and echoes from the life behind steal in;
And the lore of homeland fireside, and the legendary rhyme,
Make the task of duty lighter which the true man owes his time.
So, with something of the feeling which the Covenanter knew,
When with pious chisel wandering Scotland's moorland graveyards through,
From the graves of old traditions I part the black- berry-vines,
Wipe the moss from off the headstones, and retouch the faded lines.
Where the sea-waves back and forward, hoarse with rolling pebbles, ran,
The garrison-house stood watching on the gray rocks of Cape Ann;
On its windy site uplifting gabled roof and palisade,
And rough walls of unhewn timber with the moonlight overlaid.
On his slow round walked the sentry, south and eastward looking forth
O'er a rude and broken coast-line, white with breakers stretching north,-
Wood and rock and gleaming sand-drift, jagged capes, with bush and tree,
Leaning inland from the smiting of the wild and gusty sea.
Before the deep-mouthed chimney, dimly lit by dying brands,
Twenty soldiers sat and waited, with their muskets in their hands;
On the rough-hewn oaken table the venison haunch was shared,
And the pewter tankard circled slowly round from beard to beard.
Long they sat and talked together,-talked of wizards Satan-sold;
Of all ghostly sights and noises,-signs and wonders manifold;
Of the spectre-ship of Salem, with the dead men in her shrouds,
Sailing sheer above the water, in the loom of morning clouds;
Of the marvellous valley hidden in the depths of Gloucester woods,
Full of plants that love the summer,-blooms of warmer latitudes;
Where the Arctic birch is braided by the tropic's flowery vines,
And the white magnolia-blossoms star the twilight of the pines!
But their voices sank yet lower, sank to husky tones of fear,
As they spake of present tokens of the powers of evil near;
Of a spectral host, defying stroke of steel and aim of gun;
Never yet was ball to slay them in the mould of mortals run.
Thrice, with plumes and flowing scalp-locks, from the midnight wood they came,-
Thrice around the block-house marching, met, unharmed, its volleyed flame;
Then, with mocking laugh and gesture, sunk in earth or lost in air,
All the ghostly wonder vanished, and the moonlit sands lay bare.
Midnight came; from out the forest moved a dusky mass that soon
Grew to warriors, plumed and painted, grimly marching in the moon.
'Ghosts or witches,' said the captain, 'thus I foil the Evil One!'
And he rammed a silver button, from his doublet, down his gun.
Once again the spectral horror moved the guarded wall about;
Once again the levelled muskets through the palisades flashed out,
With that deadly aim the squirrel on his tree-top might not shun,
Nor the beach-bird seaward flying with his slant wing to the sun.
Like the idle rain of summer sped the harmless shower of lead.
With a laugh of fierce derision, once again the phantoms fled;
Once again, without a shadow on the sands the moonlight lay,
And the white smoke curling through it drifted slowly down the bay!
'God preserve us!' said the captain; 'never mortal foes were there;
They have vanished with their leader, Prince and Power of the air!
Lay aside your useless weapons; skill and prowess naught avail;
They who do the Devil's service wear their master's coat of mail!'
So the night grew near to cock-crow, when again a warning call
Roused the score of weary soldiers watching round the dusky hall
And they looked to flint and priming, and they longed for break of day;
But the captain closed his Bible: 'Let us cease from man, and pray!'
To the men who went before us, all the unseen powers seemed near,
And their steadfast strength of courage struck its roots in holy fear.
Every hand forsook the musket, every head was bowed and bare,
Every stout knee pressed the flag-stones, as the captain led in prayer.
Ceased thereat the mystic marching of the spectres round the wall,
But a sound abhorred, unearthly, smote the ears and hearts of all,-
Howls of rage and shrieks of anguish! Never after mortal man
Saw the ghostly leaguers marching round the block-house of Cape Ann.
So to us who walk in summer through the cool and sea-blown town,
From the childhood of its people comes the solemn legend down.
Not in vain the ancient fiction, in whose moral lives the youth
And the fitness and the freshness of an undecaying truth.
Soon or late to all our dwellings come the spectres of the mind,
Doubts and fears and dread forebodings, in the darkness undefined;
Round us throng the grim projections of the heart and of the brain,
And our pride of strength is weakness, and the cunning hand is vain.
In the dark we cry like children; and no answer from on high
Breaks the crystal spheres of silence, and no white wings downward fly;
But the heavenly help we pray for comes to faith, and not to sight,
And our prayers themselves drive backward all the spirits of the night!
The Vision Of Echard
The Benedictine Echard
Sat by the wayside well,
Where Marsberg sees the bridal
Of the Sarre and the Moselle.
Fair with its sloping vineyards
And tawny chestnut bloom,
The happy vale Ausonius sunk
For holy Treves made room.
On the shrine Helena builded
To keep the Christ coat well,
On minster tower and kloster cross,
The westering sunshine fell.
There, where the rock-hewn circles
O'erlooked the Roman's game,
The veil of sleep fell on him,
And his thought a dream became.
He felt the heart of silence
Throb with a soundless word,
And by the inward ear alone
A spirit's voice he heard.
And the spoken word seemed written
On air and wave and sod,
And the bending walls of sapphire
Blazed with the thought of God.
'What lack I, O my children?
All things are in my band;
The vast earth and the awful stars
I hold as grains of sand.
'Need I your alms? The silver
And gold are mine alone;
The gifts ye bring before me
Were evermore my own.
'Heed I the noise of viols,
Your pomp of masque and show?
Have I not dawns and sunsets
Have I not winds that blow?
'Do I smell your gums of incense?
Is my ear with chantings fed?
Taste I your wine of worship,
Or eat your holy bread?
'Of rank and name and honors
Am I vain as ye are vain?
What can Eternal Fulness
From your lip-service gain?
'Ye make me not your debtor
Who serve yourselves alone;
Ye boast to me of homage
Whose gain is all your own.
'For you I gave the prophets,
For you the Psalmist's lay
For you the law's stone tables,
And holy book and day.
'Ye change to weary burdens
The helps that should uplift;
Ye lose in form the spirit,
The Giver in the gift.
'Who called ye to self-torment,
To fast and penance vain?
Dream ye Eternal Goodness
Has joy in mortal pain?
'For the death in life of Nitria,
For your Chartreuse ever dumb,
What better is the neighbor,
Or happier the home?
'Who counts his brother's welfare
As sacred as his own,
And loves, forgives, and pities,
He serveth me alone.
'I note each gracious purpose,
Each kindly word and deed;
Are ye not all my children?
Shall not the Father heed?
'No prayer for light and guidance
Is lost upon mine ear
The child's cry in the darkness
Shall not the Father hear?
'I loathe your wrangling councils,
I tread upon your creeds;
Who made ye mine avengers,
Or told ye of my needs;
'I bless men and ye curse them,
I love them and ye hate;
Ye bite and tear each other,
I suffer long and wait.
'Ye bow to ghastly symbols,
To cross and scourge and thorn;
Ye seek his Syrian manger
Who in the heart is born.
'For the dead Christ, not the living,
Ye watch His empty grave,
Whose life alone within you
Has power to bless and save.
'O blind ones, outward groping,
The idle quest forego;
Who listens to His inward voice
Alone of Him shall know.
'His love all love exceeding
The heart must needs recall,
Its self-surrendering freedom,
Its loss that gaineth all.
'Climb not the holy mountains,
Their eagles know not me;
Seek not the Blessed Islands,
I dwell not in the sea.
'Gone is the mount of Meru,
The triple gods are gone,
And, deaf to all the lama's prayers,
The Buddha slumbers on.
'No more from rocky Horeb
The smitten waters gush;
Fallen is Bethel's ladder,
Quenched is the burning bush.
'The jewels of the Urim
And Thurnmim all are dim;
The fire has left the altar,
The sign the teraphim.
'No more in ark or hill grove
The Holiest abides;
Not in the scroll's dead letter
The eternal secret hides.
'The eye shall fail that searches
For me the hollow sky;
The far is even as the near,
The low is as the high.
'What if the earth is hiding
Her old faiths, long outworn?
What is it to the changeless truth
That yours shall fail in turn?
'What if the o'erturned altar
Lays bare the ancient lie?
What if the dreams and legends
Of the world's childhood die?
'Have ye not still my witness
Within yourselves alway,
My hand that on the keys of life
For bliss or bale I lay?
'Still, in perpetual judgment,
I hold assize within,
With sure reward of holiness,
And dread rebuke of sin.
'A light, a guide, a warning,
A presence ever near,
Through the deep silence of the flesh
I reach the inward ear.
'My Gerizim and Ebal
Are in each human soul,
The still, small voice of blessing,
And Sinai's thunder-roll.
'The stern behest of duty,
The doom-book open thrown,
The heaven ye seek, the hell ye fear,
Are with yourselves alone.'
. . . . .
A gold and purple sunset
Flowed down the broad Moselle;
On hills of vine and meadow lands
The peace of twilight fell.
A slow, cool wind of evening
Blew over leaf and bloom;
And, faint and far, the Angelus
Rang from Saint Matthew's tomb.
Then up rose Master Echard,
And marvelled: 'Can it be
That here, in dream and vision,
The Lord hath talked with me?'
He went his way; behind him
The shrines of saintly dead,
The holy coat and nail of cross,
He left unvisited.
He sought the vale of Eltzbach
His burdened soul to free,
Where the foot-hills of the Eifel
Are glassed in Laachersee.
And, in his Order's kloster,
He sat, in night-long parle,
With Tauler of the Friends of God,
And Nicolas of Basle.
And lo! the twain made answer
'Yea, brother, even thus
The Voice above all voices
Hath spoken unto us.
'The world will have its idols,
And flesh and sense their sign
But the blinded eyes shall open,
And the gross ear be fine.
'What if the vision tarry?
God's time is always best;
The true Light shall be witnessed,
The Christ within confessed.
'In mercy or in judgment
He shall turn and overturn,
Till the heart shall be His temple
Where all of Him shall learn.'
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 Truce Of Piscataqua
Raze these long blocks of brick and stone,
These huge mill-monsters overgrown;
Blot out the humbler piles as well,
Where, moved like living shuttles, dwell
The weaving genii of the bell;
Tear from the wild Cocheco's track
The dams that hold its torrents back;
And let the loud-rejoicing fall
Plunge, roaring, down its rocky wall;
And let the Indian's paddle play
On the unbridged Piscataqua!
Wide over hill and valley spread
Once more the forest, dusk and dread,
With here and there a clearing cut
From the walled shadows round it shut;
Each with its farm-house builded rude,
By English yeoman squared and hewed,
And the grim, flankered block-house bound
With bristling palisades around.
So, haply shall before thine eyes
The dusty veil of centuries rise,
The old, strange scenery overlay
The tamer pictures of to-day,
While, like the actors in a play,
Pass in their ancient guise along
The figures of my border song
What time beside Cocheco's flood
The white man and the red man stood,
With words of peace and brotherhood;
When passed the sacred calumet
From lip to lip with fire-draught wet,
And, puffed in scorn, the peace-pipe's smoke
Through the gray beard of Waldron broke,
And Squando's voice, in suppliant plea
For mercy, struck the haughty key
Of one who held, in any fate,
His native pride inviolate!
'Let your ears be opened wide!
He who speaks has never lied.
Waldron of Piscataqua,
Hear what Squando has to say!
'Squando shuts his eyes and sees,
Far off, Saco's hemlock-trees.
In his wigwam, still as stone,
Sits a woman all alone,
'Wampum beads and birchen strands
Dropping from her careless hands,
Listening ever for the fleet
Patter of a dead child's feet!
'When the moon a year ago
Told the flowers the time to blow,
In that lonely wigwam smiled
Menewee, our little child.
'Ere that moon grew thin and old,
He was lying still and cold;
Sent before us, weak and small,
When the Master did not call!
'On his little grave I lay;
Three times went and came the day,
Thrice above me blazed the noon,
Thrice upon me wept the moon.
'In the third night-watch I heard,
Far and low, a spirit-bird;
Very mournful, very wild,
Sang the totem of my child.
''Menewee, poor Menewee,
Walks a path he cannot see
Let the white man's wigwam light
With its blaze his steps aright.
''All-uncalled, he dares not show
Empty hands to Manito
Better gifts he cannot bear
Than the scalps his slayers wear.'
'All the while the totem sang,
Lightning blazed and thunder rang;
And a black cloud, reaching high,
Pulled the white moon from the sky.
'I, the medicine-man, whose ear
All that spirits bear can hear,-
I, whose eyes are wide to see
All the things that are to be,-
'Well I knew the dreadful signs
In the whispers of the pines,
In the river roaring loud,
In the mutter of the cloud.
'At the breaking of the day,
From the grave I passed away;
Flowers bloomed round me, birds sang glad,
But my heart was hot and mad.
'There is rust on Squando's knife,
From the warm, red springs of life;
On the funeral hemlock-trees
Many a scalp the totem sees.
'Blood for blood! But evermore
Squando's heart is sad and sore;
And his poor squaw waits at home
For the feet that never come!
'Waldron of Cocheco, hear!
Squando speaks, who laughs at fear;
Take the captives he has ta'en;
Let the land have peace again!'
As the words died on his tongue,
Wide apart his warriors swung;
Parted, at the sign he gave,
Right and left, like Egypt's wave.
And, like Israel passing free
Through the prophet-charmed sea,
Captive mother, wife, and child
Through the dusky terror filed.
One alone, a little maid,
Middleway her steps delayed,
Glancing, with quick, troubled sight,
Round about from red to white.
Then his hand the Indian laid
On the little maiden's head,
Lightly from her forehead fair
Smoothing back her yellow hair.
'Gift or favor ask I none;
What I have is all my own
Never yet the birds have sung,
Squando hath a beggar's tongue.'
'Yet for her who waits at home,
For the dead who cannot come,
Let the little Gold-hair be
In the place of Menewee!
'Mishanock, my little star!
Come to Saco's pines afar;
Where the sad one waits at home,
Wequashim, my moonlight, come!'
'What!' quoth Waldron, 'leave a child
Christian-born to heathens wild?
As God lives, from Satan's hand
I will pluck her as a brand!'
'Hear me, white man!' Squando cried;
'Let the little one decide.
Wequashim, my moonlight, say,
Wilt thou go with me, or stay?'
Slowly, sadly, half afraid,
Half regretfully, the maid
Owned the ties of blood and race,-
Turned from Squando's pleading face.
Not a word the Indian spoke,
But his wampum chain he broke,
And the beaded wonder hung
On that neck so fair and young.
Silence-shod, as phantoms seem
In the marches of a dream,
Single-filed, the grim array
Through the pine-trees wound away.
Doubting, trembling, sore amazed,
Through her tears the young child gazed.
'God preserve her!' Waldron said;
'Satan hath bewitched the maid!'
Years went and came. At close of day
Singing came a child from play,
Tossing from her loose-locked head
Gold in sunshine, brown in shade.
Pride was in the mother's look,
But her head she gravely shook,
And with lips that fondly smiled
Feigned to chide her truant child.
Unabashed, the maid began
'Up and down the brook I ran,
Where, beneath the bank so steep,
Lie the spotted trout asleep.
''Chip!' went squirrel on the wall,
After me I heard him call,
And the cat-bird on the tree
Tried his best to mimic me.
'Where the hemlocks grew so dark
That I stopped to look and hark,
On a log, with feather-hat,
By the path, an Indian sat.
'Then I cried, and ran away;
But he called, and bade me stay;
And his voice was good and mild
As my mother's to her child.
'And he took my wampum chain,
Looked and looked it o'er again;
Gave me berries, and, beside,
On my neck a plaything tied.'
Straight the mother stooped to see
What the Indian's gift might be.
On the braid of wampum hung,
Lo! a cross of silver swung.
Well she knew its graven sign,
Squando's bird and totem pine;
And, a mirage of the brain,
Flowed her childhood back again.
Flashed the roof the sunshine through,
Into space the walls outgrew;
On the Indian's wigwam-mat,
Blossom-crowned, again she sat.
Cool she felt the west-wind blow,
In her ear the pines sang low,
And, like links from out a chain,
Dropped the years of care and pain.
From the outward toil and din,
From the griefs that gnaw within,
To the freedom of the woods
Called the birds, and winds, and floods.
Well, O painful minister!
Watch thy flock, but blame not her,
If her ear grew sharp to hear
All their voices whispering near.
Blame her not, as to her soul
All the desert's glamour stole,
That a tear for childhood's loss
Dropped upon the Indian's cross.
When, that night, the Book was read,
And she bowed her widowed head,
And a prayer for each loved name
Rose like incense from a flame,
With a hope the creeds forbid
In her pitying bosom hid,
To the listening ear of Heaven
Lo! the Indian's name was given.
The Witch Of Wenham
Along Crane River's sunny slopes
Blew warm the winds of May,
And over Naumkeag's ancient oaks
The green outgrew the gray.
The grass was green on Rial-side,
The early birds at will
Waked up the violet in its dell,
The wind-flower on its hill.
'Where go you, in your Sunday coat,
Son Andrew, tell me, pray.'
For striped perch in Wenham Lake
I go to fish to-day.'
'Unharmed of thee in Wenham Lake
The mottled perch shall be
A blue-eyed witch sits on the bank
And weaves her net for thee.
'She weaves her golden hair; she sings
Her spell-song low and faint;
The wickedest witch in Salem jail
Is to that girl a saint.'
'Nay, mother, hold thy cruel tongue;
God knows,' the young man cried,
'He never made a whiter soul
Than hers by Wenham side.
'She tends her mother sick and blind,
And every want supplies;
To her above the blessed Book
She lends her soft blue eyes.
'Her voice is glad with holy songs,
Her lips are sweet with prayer;
Go where you will, in ten miles round
Is none more good and fair.'
'Son Andrew, for the love of God
And of thy mother, stay!'
She clasped her hands, she wept aloud,
But Andrew rode away.
'O reverend sir, my Andrew's soul
The Wenham witch has caught;
She holds him with the curled gold
Whereof her snare is wrought.
'She charms him with her great blue eyes,
She binds him with her hair;
Oh, break the spell with holy words,
Unbind him with a prayer!'
'Take heart,' the painful preacher said,
'This mischief shall not be;
The witch shall perish in her sins
And Andrew shall go free.
'Our poor Ann Putnam testifies
She saw her weave a spell,
Bare-armed, loose-haired, at full of moon,
Around a dried-up well.
''Spring up, O well!' she softly sang
The Hebrew's old refrain
(For Satan uses Bible words),
Till water flowed a-main.
'And many a goodwife heard her speak
By Wenham water words
That made the buttercups take wings
And turn to yellow birds.
'They say that swarming wild bees seek
The hive at her command;
And fishes swim to take their food
From out her dainty hand.
'Meek as she sits in meeting-time,
The godly minister
Notes well the spell that doth compel
The young men's eyes to her.
'The mole upon her dimpled chin
Is Satan's seal and sign;
Her lips are red with evil bread
And stain of unblest wine.
'For Tituba, my Indian, saith
At Quasycung she took
The Black Man's godless sacrament
And signed his dreadful book.
'Last night my sore-afflicted child
Against the young witch cried.
To take her Marshal Herrick rides
Even now to Wenham side.'
The marshal in his saddle sat,
His daughter at his knee;
'I go to fetch that arrant witch,
Thy fair playmate,' quoth he.
'Her spectre walks the parsonage,
And haunts both hall and stair;
They know her by the great blue eyes
And floating gold of hair.'
'They lie, they lie, my father dear!
No foul old witch is she,
But sweet and good and crystal-pure
As Wenham waters be.'
'I tell thee, child, the Lord hath set
Before us good and ill,
And woe to all whose carnal loves
Oppose His righteous will.
'Between Him and the powers of hell
Choose thou, my child, to-day
No sparing hand, no pitying eye,
When God commands to slay!'
He went his way; the old wives shook
With fear as he drew nigh;
The children in the dooryards held
Their breath as he passed by.
Too well they knew the gaunt gray horse
The grim witch-hunter rode
The pale Apocalyptic beast
By grisly Death bestrode.
Oh, fair the face of Wenham Lake
Upon the young girl's shone,
Her tender mouth, her dreaming eyes,
Her yellow hair outblown.
By happy youth and love attuned
To natural harmonies,
The singing birds, the whispering wind,
She sat beneath the trees.
Sat shaping for her bridal dress
Her mother's wedding gown,
When lo! the marshal, writ in hand,
From Alford hill rode down.
His face was hard with cruel fear,
He grasped the maiden's hands
'Come with me unto Salem town,
For so the law commands!'
'Oh, let me to my mother say
Farewell before I go!'
He closer tied her little hands
Unto his saddle bow.
'Unhand me,' cried she piteously,
'For thy sweet daughter's sake.'
'I'll keep my daughter safe,' he said,
'From the witch of Wenham Lake.'
'Oh, leave me for my mother's sake,
She needs my eyes to see.'
'Those eyes, young witch, the crows shall peck
From off the gallows-tree.'
He bore her to a farm-house old,
And up its stairway long,
And closed on her the garret-door
With iron bolted strong.
The day died out, the night came down
Her evening prayer she said,
While, through the dark, strange faces seemed
To mock her as she prayed.
The present horror deepened all
The fears her childhood knew;
The awe wherewith the air was filled
With every breath she drew.
And could it be, she trembling asked,
Some secret thought or sin
Had shut good angels from her heart
And let the bad ones in?
Had she in some forgotten dream
Let go her hold on Heaven,
And sold herself unwittingly
To spirits unforgiven?
Oh, weird and still the dark hours passed;
No human sound she heard,
But up and down the chimney stack
The swallows moaned and stirred.
And o'er her, with a dread surmise
Of evil sight and sound,
The blind bats on their leathern wings
Went wheeling round and round.
Low hanging in the midnight sky
Looked in a half-faced moon.
Was it a dream, or did she hear
Her lover's whistled tune?
She forced the oaken scuttle back;
A whisper reached her ear
'Slide down the roof to me,' it said,
'So softly none may hear.'
She slid along the sloping roof
Till from its eaves she hung,
And felt the loosened shingles yield
To which her fingers clung.
Below, her lover stretched his hands
And touched her feet so small;
'Drop down to me, dear heart,' he said,
'My arms shall break the fall.'
He set her on his pillion soft,
Her arms about him twined;
And, noiseless as if velvet-shod,
They left the house behind.
But when they reached the open way,
Full free the rein he cast;
Oh, never through the mirk midnight
Rode man and maid more fast.
Along the wild wood-paths they sped,
The bridgeless streams they swam;
At set of moon they passed the Bass,
At sunrise Agawam.
At high noon on the Merrimac
The ancient ferryman
Forgot, at times, his idle oars,
So fair a freight to scan.
And when from off his grounded boat
He saw them mount and ride,
'God keep her from the evil eye,
And harm of witch!' he cried.
The maiden laughed, as youth will laugh
At all its fears gone by;
'He does not know,' she whispered low,
'A little witch am I.'
All day he urged his weary horse,
And, in the red sundown,
Drew rein before a friendly door
In distant Berwick town.
A fellow-feeling for the wronged
The Quaker people felt;
And safe beside their kindly hearths
The hunted maiden dwelt,
Until from off its breast the land
The haunting horror threw,
And hatred, born of ghastly dreams,
To shame and pity grew.
Sad were the year's spring morns, and sad
Its golden summer day,
But blithe and glad its withered fields,
And skies of ashen gray;
For spell and charm had power no more,
The spectres ceased to roam,
And scattered households knelt again
Around the hearths of home.
And when once more by Beaver Dam
The meadow-lark outsang,
And once again on all the hills
The early violets sprang,
And all the windy pasture slopes
Lay green within the arms
Of creeks that bore the salted sea
To pleasant inland farms,
The smith filed off the chains he forged,
The jail-bolts backward fell;
And youth and hoary age came forth
Like souls escaped from hell.
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.'
The World’s Convention Of The Friends Of Emancipation, Held In London In 1840
YES, let them gather! Summon forth
The pledged philanthropy of Earth.
From every land, whose hills have heard
The bugle blast of Freedom waking;
Or shrieking of her symbol-bird
From out his cloudy eyrie breaking:
Where Justice hath one worshipper,
Or truth one altar built to her;
Where'er a human eye is weeping
O'er wrongs which Earth's sad children know;
Where'er a single heart is keeping
Its prayerful watch with human woe:
Thence let them come, and greet each other,
And know in each a friend and brother!
Yes, let them come! from each green vale
Where England's old baronial halls
Still bear upon their storied walls
The grim crusader's rusted mail,
Battered by Paynim spear and brand
On Malta's rock or Syria's sand.!
And mouldering pennon-staves once set
Within the soil of Palestine,
By Jordan and Gennesaret;
Or, borne with England's battle line,
O'er Acre's shattered turrets stooping,
Or, midst the camp their banners drooping,
With dews from hallowed Hermon wet,
A holier summons now is given
Than that gray herinit's voice of old,
Which unto all the winds of heaven
The banners of the Cross unrolled!
Not for the long-deserted shrine;
Not for the dull unconscious sod,
Which tells not by one lingering sign
That there the hope of Israel trod;
But for that truth, for which alone
In pilgrim eyes are sanctified
The garden moss, the mountain stone,
Whereon His holy sandals pressed, —
The fountain which His lip hath blessed, —
Whate'er hath touched His garment's hem
At Bethany or Bethlehem,
Or Jordan's river-side.
For Freedom in the name of Him
Who came to raise Earth's drooping poor,
To break the chain from every limb,
The bolt from every prison door!
For these, o'er all the earth hath passed
An ever-deepening trumpet blast,
As if an angel's breath had lent
Its vigor to the instrument.
And Wales, from Snowrich's mountain wall,
Shall startle at that thrilling call,
As if she heard her bards again;
And Erin's 'harp on Tara's wall'
Give out its ancient strain,
Mirthful and sweet, yet sad withal, —
The melody which Erin loves,
When o'er that harp, 'mid bursts of gladness
And slogan cries and lyke-wake sadness,
The hand of her O'Connell moves!
Scotland, from lake and tarn and rill,
And mountain hold, and heathery hill,
Shall catch and echo back the note,
As if she heard upon the air
Once more her Cameronian's prayer.
And song of Freedom float.
And cheering echoes shall reply
From each remote dependency,
Where Britain's mighty sway is known,
In tropic sea or frozen zone;
Where'er her sunset flag is furling,
Or morning gun-fire's smoke is curling;
From Indian Bengal's groves of palm
And rosy fields and gales of balm,
Where Eastern pomp and power are rolled
Through regal Ava's gates of gold;
And from the lakes and ancient woods
And dim Canadian solitudes,
Whence, sternly from her rocky throne,
Queen of the North, Quebec looks down;
And from those bright and ransomed Isles
Where all unwonted Freedom smiles,
And the dark laborer still retains
The scar of slavery's broken chains!
From the hoar Alps, which sentinel
The gateways of the land of Tell,
Where morning's keen and earliest glance
On Jura's rocky wall is thrown,
And from the olive bowers of France
And vine groves garlanding the Rhone, —
'Friends of the Blacks,' as true and tried
As those who stood by Oge's side,
And heard the Haytien's tale of wrong,
Shall gather at that summons strong;
Broglie, Passy, and he whose song
Breathed over Syria's holy sod,
And in the paths which Jesus trod,
And murmured midst the hills which hem
Crownless and sad Jerusalem,
Hath echoes whereso'er the tone
Of Israel's prophey-lyre is known.
Still let them come; from Quito's walls,
And from the Orinoco's tide,
From Lima's Inca-haunted halls,
From Santa Fe and Yucatan, —
Men who by swart Guerrero's side
Proclaimed the deathless rights of man,
Broke every bond and fetter off,
And hailed in every sable serf
A free and brother Mexican!
Chiefs who across the Andes' chain
Have followed Freedom's flowing pennon,
And seen on Junin's fearful plain,
Glare o'er the broken ranks of Spain
The fire-burst of Bolivar's cannon!
And Hayti, from her mountain land,
Shall send the sons of those who hurled
Defiance from her blazing strand,
The war-gage from her Petition's hand,
Alone against a hostile world.
Nor all unmindful, thou, the while,
Land of the dark and mystic Nile!
Thy Moslem mercy yet may shame
All tyrants of a Christian name,
When in the shade of Gizeh's pile,
Or, where, from Abyssinian hills
El Gerek's upper fountain fills,
Or where from Mountains of the Moon
El Abiad bears his watery boon,
Where'er thy lotus blossoms swim
Within their ancient hallowed waters;
Where'er is heard the Coptic hymn,
Or song of Nubia's sable daughters;
The curse of slavery and the crime,
Thy bequest from remotest time,
At thy dark Mehemet's decree
Forevermore shall pass from thee;
And chains forsake each captive's limb
Of all those tribes, whose hills around
Have echoed back the cymbal sound
And victor horn of Ibrahim.
And thou whose glory and whose crime
To earth's remotest bound and clime,
In mingled tones of awe and scorn,
The echoes of a world have borne,
My country! glorious at thy birth,
A day-star flashing brightly forth,
The herald-sign of Freedom's dawn!
Oh, who could dream that saw thee then,
And watched thy rising from afar,
That vapors from oppression's fen
Would cloud the upward tending star?
Or, that earth's tyrant powers, which heard,
Awe-struck, the shout which hailed thy dawning,
Would rise so soon, prince, peer, and king,
To mock thee with their welcoming,
Like Hades when her thrones were stirred
To greet the down-east Star of Morning!
'Aha! and art thou fallen thus?
Art thou become as one of us?'
Land of my fathers! there will stand,
Amidst that world-assembled band,
Those owning thy maternal claim
Unweakened by thy crime and shame;
The sad reprovers of thy wrong;
The children thou hast spurned so long.
Still with affection's fondest yearning
To their unnatural mother turning.
No traitors they! but tried and leal,
Whose own is but thy general weal,
Still blending with the patriot's zeal
The Christian's love for human kind,
To caste and climate unconfined.
A holy gathering! peaceful all:
No threat of war, no savage call
For vengeance on an erring brother!
But in their stead the godlike plan
To teach the brotherhood of man
To love and reverence one another,
As sharers of a common blood,
The children of a common God!
Yet, even at its lightest word,
Shall Slavery's darkest depths be stirred:
Spain, watching from her Moro's keep
Her slave-ships traversing the deep,
And Rio, in her strength and pride,
Lifting, along her mountain-side,
Her snowy battlements and towers,
Her lemon-groves and tropic bowers,
With bitter hate and sullen fear
Its freedom-giving voice shall hear;
And where my country's flag is flowing,
On breezes from Mount Vernon blowing,
Above the Nation's council halls,
Where Freedom's praise is loud and long,
While close beneath the outward walls
The driver plies his reeking thong;
The hammer of the man-thief falls,
O'er hypocritic cheek and brow
The crimson flush of shame shall glow
And all who for their native land
Are pledging life and heart and hand,
Worn watchers o'er her changing weal,
Who for her tarnished honor feel,
Through cottage door and council-hall
Shall thunder an awakening call.
The pen along its page shall burn
With all intolerable scorn;
An eloquent rebuke shall go
On all the winds that Southward blow;
From priestly lips, now sealed and dumb,
Warning and dread appeal shall come,
Like those which Israel heard from him,
The Prophet of the Cherubim;
Or those which sad Esaias hurled
Against a sin-accursed world!
Its wizard leaves the Press shall fling
Unceasing from its iron wing,
With characters inscribed thereon,
As fearful in the despot's hall
As to the pomp of Babylon
The fire-sign on the palace wall!
And, from her dark iniquities,
Methinks I see my country rise:
Not challenging the nations round
To note her tardy justice done;
Her captives from their chains unbound,
Her prisons opening to the sun:
But tearfully her arms extending
Over the poor and unoffending;
Her regal emblem now no longer
A bird of prey with talons reeking,
Above the dying captive shrieking,
But, spreading out her ample wing,
A broad, impartial covering,
The weaker sheltered by the stronger!
Oh, then to Faith's anointed eyes
The promised token shall be given;
And on a nation's sacrifice,
Atoning for the sin of years,
And wet with penitential tears,
The fire shall fall from Heaven!