An Artist Of The Beautiful
Haunted of Beauty, like the marvellous youth
Who sang Saint Agnes' Eve! How passing fair
Her shapes took color in thy homestead air!
How on thy canvas even her dreams were truth!
Magician! who from commonest elements
Called up divine ideals, clothed upon
By mystic lights soft blending into one
Womanly grace and child-like innocence.
Teacher I thy lesson was not given in vain.
Beauty is goodness; ugliness is sin;
Art's place is sacred: nothing foul therein
May crawl or tread with bestial feet profane.
If rightly choosing is the painter's test,
Thy choice, O master, ever was the best.
Still sits the school-house by the road,
A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are creeping.
Within, the master's desk is seen,
Deep-scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
The jack-knife's carved initial;
The charcoal frescoes on its wall;
Its door's worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing!
Long years ago a winter sun
Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
And low eaves' icy fretting.
It touched the tangled golden curls,
And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
When all the school were leaving.
For near it stood the little boy
Her childish favor singled;
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
Pushing with restless feet the snow
To right and left, he lingered;---
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.
He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
The soft hand's light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
As if a fault confessing.
"I'm sorry that I spelt the word:
I hate to go above you,
Because,"---the brown eyes lower fell,---
"Because, you see, I love you!"
Still memory to a gray-haired man
That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
Have forty years been growing!
He lives to learn, in life's hard school,
How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
Like her, because they love him.
The Vaudois Teacher
'O Lady fair, these silks of mine
are beautiful and rare,-
The richest web of the Indian loom, which beauty's
queen might wear;
And my pearls are pure as thy own fair neck, with whose
radiant light they vie;
I have brought them with me a weary way,-will my
gentle lady buy?'
The lady smiled on the worn old man through the
dark and clustering curls
Which veiled her brow, as she bent to view his
silks and glittering pearls;
And she placed their price in the old man's hand
and lightly turned away,
But she paused at the wanderer's earnest call,-
'My gentle lady, stay!
'O lady fair, I have yet a gem which a purer
Than the diamond flash of the jewelled crown on
the lofty brow of kings;
A wonderful pearl of exceeding price, whose virtue
shall not decay,
Whose light shall be as a spell to thee and a
blessing on thy way!'
The lady glanced at the mirroring steel where her
form of grace was seen,
Where her eye shone clear, and her dark locks
waved their clasping pearls between;
'Bring forth thy pearl of exceeding worth, thou
traveller gray and old,
And name the price of thy precious gem, and my
page shall count thy gold.'
The cloud went off from the pilgrim's brow, as a
small and meagre book,
Unchased with gold or gem of cost, from his
folding robe he took!
'Here, lady fair, is the pearl of price, may it prove
as such to thee
Nay, keep thy gold-I ask it not, for the word of
God is free!'
The hoary traveller went his way, but the gift he
Hath had its pure and perfect work on that high-
born maiden's mind,
And she hath turned from the pride of sin to the
lowliness of truth,
And given her human heart to God in its beautiful
hour of youth
And she hath left the gray old halls, where an evil
faith had power,
The courtly knights of her father's train, and the
maidens of her bower;
And she hath gone to the Vaudois vales by lordly
Where the poor and needy of earth are rich in the
perfect love of God!
The Christian Slave
A CHRISTIAN! going, gone!
Who bids for God's own image? for his grace,
Which that poor victim of the market-place
Hath in her suffering won?
My God! can such things be?
Hast Thou not said that whatsoe'er is done
Unto Thy weakest and Thy humblest one
Is even done to Thee?
In that sad victim, then,
Child of Thy pitying love, I see Thee stand;
Once more the jest-word of a mocking band,
Bound, sold, and scourged again!
A Christian up for sale!
Wet with her blood your whips, o'ertask her frame,
Make her life loathsome with your wrong and shame, Her patience shall not fail!
A heathen hand might deal
Back on your heads the gathered wrong of years:
But her low, broken prayer and nightly tears,
Ye neither heed nor feel.
Con well thy lesson o'er,
Thou prudent teacher, tell the toiling slave
No dangerous tale of Him who came to save
The outcast and the poor.
But wisely shut the ray
Of God's free Gospel from her simple heart,
And to her darkened mind alone impart
One stern command, Obey!3
So shalt thou deftly raise
The market price of human flesh; and while
On thee, their pampered guest, the planters smile,
Thy church shall praise.
Grave, reverend men shall tell
From Northern pulpits how thy work was blest,
While in that vile South Sodom first and best,
Thy poor disciples. sell.
Oh, shame! the Moslem thrall,
Who, with his master, to the Prophet kneels,
While turning to the sacred Kebla feels
His fetters break and fall.
Cheers for the turbaned Bey
Of robber-peopled Tunis! he hath torn
The dark slave-dungeons open, and hath borne
Their inmates into day:
But our poor slave in vain.
Turns to the Christian shrine his aching eyes;
Its rites will only swell his market price,
And rivet on his chain.
God of all right! how long
Shall priestly robbers at Thine altar stand,
Lifting in prayer to Thee, the bloody hand
And haughty brow of wrong?
Oh, from the fields of cane,
From the low rice-swamp, from the trader's cell;
From the black slave-ship's foul and loathsome hell,
And coffle's weary chain;
Hoarse, horrible, and strong,
Rises to Heaven that agonizing cry,
Filling the arches of the hollow sky,
How long, O God, how long?
BOWDOIN STREET, BOSTON, 1877.
The end has come, as come it must
To all things; in these sweet June days
The teacher and the scholar trust
Their parting feet to separate ways.
They part: but in the years to be
Shall pleasant memories cling to each,
As shells bear inland from the sea
The murmur of the rhythmic beach.
One knew the joy the sculptor knows
When, plastic to his lightest touch,
His clay-wrought model slowly grows
To that fine grace desired so much.
So daily grew before her eyes
The living shapes whereon she wrought,
Strong, tender, innocently wise,
The child's heart with the woman's thought.
And one shall never quite forget
The voice that called from dream and play,
The firm but kindly hand that set
Her feet in learning's pleasant way,--
The joy of Undine soul-possessed,
The wakening sense, the strange delight
That swelled the fabled statue's breast
And filled its clouded eyes with sight.
O Youth and Beauty, loved of all!
Ye pass from girlhood's gate of dreams;
In broader ways your footsteps fall,
Ye test the truth of all that seams.
Her little realm the teacher leaves,
She breaks her wand of power apart,
While, for your love and trust, she gives
The warm thanks of a grateful heart.
Hers is the sober summer noon
Contrasted with your morn of spring,
The waning with the waxing moon,
The folded with the outspread wing.
Across the distance of the years
She sends her God-speed back to you;
She has no thought of doubts or fears
Be but yourselves, be pure, be true,
And prompt in duty; heed the deep,
Low voice of conscience; through the ill
And discord round about you, keep
Your faith in human nature still.
Be gentle: unto griefs and needs,
Be pitiful as woman should,
And, spite of all the lies of creeds,
Hold fast the truth that God is good.
Give and receive; go forth and bless
The world that needs the hand and heart
Of Martha's helpful carefulness
No less than Mary's better part.
So shall the stream of time flow by
And leave each year a richer good,
And matron loveliness outvie
The nameless charm of maidenhood.
And, when the world shall link your names
With gracious lives and manners fine,
The teacher shall assert her claims,
And proudly whisper, 'These were mine!'
A beautiful and happy girl,
With step as light as summer air,
Eyes glad with smiles, and brow of pearl,
Shadowed by many a careless curl
Of unconfined and flowing hair;
A seeming child in everything,
Save thoughtful brow and ripening charms,
As Nature wears the smile of Spring
When sinking into Summer's arms.
A mind rejoicing in the light
Which melted through its graceful bower,
Leaf after leaf, dew-moist and bright,
And stainless in its holy white,
Unfolding like a morning flower
A heart, which, like a fine-toned lute,
With every breath of feeling woke,
And, even when the tongue was mute,
From eye and lip in music spoke.
How thrills once more the lengthening chain
Of memory, at the thought of thee!
Old hopes which long in dust have lain
Old dreams, come thronging back again,
And boyhood lives again in me;
I feel its glow upon my cheek,
Its fulness of the heart is mine,
As when I leaned to hear thee speak,
Or raised my doubtful eye to thine.
I hear again thy low replies,
I feel thy arm within my own,
And timidly again uprise
The fringed lids of hazel eyes,
With soft brown tresses overblown.
Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
And smiles and tones more dear than they!
Ere this, thy quiet eye hath smiled
My picture of thy youth to see,
When, half a woman, half a child,
Thy very artlessness beguiled,
And folly's self seemed wise in thee;
I too can smile, when o'er that hour
The lights of memory backward stream,
Yet feel the while that manhood's power
Is vainer than my boyhood's dream.
Years have passed on, and left their trace,
Of graver care and deeper thought;
And unto me the calm, cold face
Of manhood, and to thee the grace
Of woman's pensive beauty brought.
More wide, perchance, for blame than praise,
The school-boy's humble name has flown;
Thine, in the green and quiet ways
Of unobtrusive goodness known.
And wider yet in thought and deed
Diverge our pathways, one in youth;
Thine the Genevan's sternest creed,
While answers to my spirit's need
The Derby dalesman's simple truth.
For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
And holy day, and solemn psalm;
For me, the silent reverence where
My brethren gather, slow and calm.
Yet hath thy spirit left on me
An impress Time has worn not out,
And something of myself in thee,
A shadow from the past, I see,
Lingering, even yet, thy way about;
Not wholly can the heart unlearn
That lesson of its better hours,
Not yet has Time's dull footstep worn
To common dust that path of flowers.
Thus, while at times before our eyes
The shadows melt, and fall apart,
And, smiling through them, round us lies
The warm light of our morning skies,--
The Indian Summer of the heart!
In secret sympathies of mind,
In founts of feeling which retain
Their pure, fresh flow, we yet may find
Our early dreams not wholly vain
ALL grim and soiled and brown with tan,
I saw a Strong One, in his wrath,
Smiting the godless shrines of man
Along his path.
The Church, beneath her trembling dome,
Essayed in vain her ghostly charm:
Wealth shook within his gilded home
With strange alarm.
Fraud from his secret chambers fled
Before the sunlight bursting in:
Sloth drew her pillow o'er her head
To drown the din.
'Spare,' Art implored, 'yon holy pile;
That grand, old, time-worn turret spare;'
Meek Reverence, kneeling in the aisle,
Cried out, 'Forbear!'
Gray-bearded Use, who, deaf and blind,
Groped for his old accustomed stone,
Leaned on his staff, and wept to find
His seat o'erthrown.
Young Romance raised his dreamy eyes,
O'erhung with paly locks of gold, —
'Why smite,' he asked in sad surprise,
'The fair, the old?'
Yet louder rang the Strong One's stroke,
Yet nearer flashed his axe's gleam;
Shuddering and sick of heart I woke,
As from a dream.
I looked: aside the dust-cloud rolled,
The Waster seemed the Builder too;
Upspringing from the ruined Old
I saw the New.
'T was but the ruin of the bad, —
The wasting of the wrong and ill;
Whate'er of good the old time had
Was living still.
Calm grew the brows of him I feared;
The frown which awed me passed away,
And left behind a smile which cheered
Like breaking day.
The grain grew green on battle-plains,
O'er swarded war-mounds grazed the cow;
The slave stood forging from his chains
The spade and plough.
Where frowned the fort, pavilions gay
And cottage windows, flower-entwined,
Looked out upon the peaceful bay
And hills behind.
Through vine-wreathed cups with wine once red,
The lights on brimming crystal fell,
Drawn, sparkling, from the rivulet head
And mossy well.
Through prison walls, like Heaven-sent hope,
Fresh breezes blew, and sunbeams strayed,
And with the idle gallows-rope
The young child played.
Where the doomed victim in his cell
Had counted o'er the weary hours,
Glad school-girls, answering to the bell,
Came crowed with flowers.
Grown wiser for the lesson given,
I fear no longer, for I know
That, where the share is deepest driven,
The best fruits grow.
The outworn rite, the old abuse,
The pious fraud transparent grown,
The good held captive in the use
Of wrong alone, —
These wait their doom, from that great law
Which makes the past time serve to-day;
And fresher life the world shall draw
From their decay.
Oh, backward-looking son of time!
The new is old, the old is new,
The cycle of a change sublime
Still sweeping through.
So wisely taught the Indian seer;
Destroying Seva, forming Brahm,
Who wake by turns Earth's love and fear,
Are one, the same.
Idly as thou, in that old day
Thou mournest, did thy sire repine;
So, in his time, thy child grown gray
Shall sigh for thine.
But life shall on and upward go;
Th' eternal step of Progress beats
To that great anthem, calm and slow,
Which God repeats.
Take heart! the Waster builds again, —
A charmëd life old Goodness hath;
The tares may perish, but the grain
Is not for death.
God works in all things; all obey
His first propulsion from the night:
Wake thou and watch! the world is gray
With morning light!
A Sabbath Scene
SCARCE had the solemn Sabbath-bell
Ceased quivering in the steeple,
Scarce had the parson to his desk
Walked stately through his people,
When down the summer-shaded street
A wasted female figure,
With dusky brow and naked feet,
Came rushing wild and eager.
She saw the white spire through the trees,
She heard the sweet hymn swelling:
O pitying Christ! a refuge give
The poor one in Thy dwelling!
Like a scared fawn before the hounds,
Right up the aisle she glided,
While close behind her, whip in hand,
A lank-haired hunter strided.
She raised a keen and bitter cry,
To Heaven. and Earth appealing;
Were manhood's generous pulses dead?
Had woman's heart no feeling?
A score of stout hands rose between
The hunter and the flying:
Age clenched his staff, and maiden eyes
Flashed tearful, yet defying.
'Who dares profane this house and day?'
Cried out the angry pastor.
'Why, bless your soul, the wench's a slave,
And I'm her lord and master!
'I've law and gospel on my side,
And who shall dare refuse me?'
Down came the parson, bowing low,
'My good sir, pray excuse me!
'Of course I know your right divine
To own and work and whip her;
Quick, deacon, throw that Polyglott
Before the wench, and trip her!'
Plump dropped the holy tome, and o'er
Its sacred pages stumbling,
Bound hand and foot, a slave once more,
The hapless wretch lay trembling.
I saw the parson tie the knots,
The while his flock addressing,
The Scriptural claims of slavery
With text on text impressing.
'Although,' said he, 'on Sabbath day
All secular occupations
Are deadly sins, we must fulfil
Our moral obligations:
'And this commends itself as one
To every conscience tender;
As Paul sent back Onesimus,
My Christian friends, we send her!'
Shriek rose on shriek, — the Sabbath air
Her wild cries tore asunder;
I listened, with hushed breath, to hear
God answering with his thunder!
All still! the very altar's cloth
Had smothered down her shrieking,
And, dumb, she turned from face to face,
For human pity seeking!
I saw her dragged along the aisle,
Her shackles harshly clanking;
I heard the parson, over all,
The Lord devoutly thanking!
My brain took fire: 'Is this,' I cried,
'The end of prayer and preaching?
Then down with pulpit, down with priest,
And give us Nature's teaching!
'Foul shame and scorn be on ye all
Who turn the good to evil,
And steal the Bible from the Lord,
To give it to the Devil!
'Than garbled text or parchment law
I own a statute higher;
And God is true, though every book
And every man's a liar!'
Just then I felt the deacon's hand
In wrath my coat-tail seize on;
I heard the priest cry, 'Infidel!'
The lawyer mutter, 'Treason!'
I started up, — where now were church,
Slave, master, priest, and people?
I only heard the supper-bell,
Instead of clanging steeple.
But, on the open window's sill,
O'er which the white blooms drifted,
The pages of a good old Book
The wind of summer lifted,
And flower and vine, like angel wings
Around the Holy Mother,
Waved softly there, as if God's truth
And Mercy kissed each other.
And freely from the cherry-bough
Above the casement swinging,
With golden bosom to the sun,
The oriole was singing.
As bird and flower made plain of old
The lesson of the Teacher,
So now I heard the written Word
Interpreted by Nature!
For to my ear methought the breeze
Bore Freedom's blessed word on;
Thus saith the Lord: Break every yoke,
Undo the heavy burden!
WE give thy natal day to hope,
O Country of our love and prayer!
Thy way is down no fatal slope,
But up to freer sun and air.
Tried as by furnace-fires, and yet
By God's grace only stronger made,
In future tasks before thee set
Thou shalt not lack the old-time aid.
The fathers sleep, but men remain
As wise, as true, and brave as they;
Why count the loss and not the gain?
The best is that we have to-day.
Whate'er of folly, shame, or crime,
Withhin thy mighty bounds transpires,
With speed defying space and time
Comes to us on the accusing wires;
While of thy wealth of noble deeds,
Thy homes of peace, thy votes unsold,
The love that pleads for human needs,
The wrong redressed, but half is told!
We read each felon's chronicle,
His acts, his words, his gallows-mood;
We know the single sinner well
And not the nine and ninety good.
Yet if, on daily scandals fed,
We seem at times to doubt thy worth,
We know thee still, when all is said,
The best and dearest spot on earth.
From the warm Mexic Gulf, or where
Belted with flowers Los Angeles
Basks in the semi-tropic air,
To where Katahdin's cedar trees
Are dwarfed and bent by Northern winds,
Thy plenty's horn is yearly filled;
Alone, the rounding century finds
Thy liberal soil by free hands tilled.
A refuge for the wronged and poor,
Thy generous heart has borne the blame
That, with them, through thy open door,
The old world's evil outcasts came.
But, with thy just and equal rule,
And labor's need and breadth of lands,
Free press and rostrum, church and school,
Thy sure, if slow, transforming hands
Shall mould even them to thy design,
Making a blessing of the ban;
And Freedom's chemistry combine
The alien elements of man.
The power that broke their prison bar
And set the dusky millions free,
And welded in the flame of war
The Union fast to Liberty,
Shall if not deal with other ills,
Redress the red man's grievance, break
The Circean cup which shames and kills
And Labor full requital make?
Alone to such as fitly bear
Thy civic honors bid them fall?
And call thy daughters forth to share
The rights and duties pledged to all?
Give every child his right of school,
Merge private greed in public good,
And spare a treasury overfull
The tax upon a poor man's food?
No lack was in thy primal stock,
No weakling founders builded here;
Thine were the men of Plymouth Rock,
The Huguenot and Cavalier;
And they whose firm endurance gained
The freedom of the souls of men,
Whose hands, unstained with blood, maintained
The swordless commonwealth of Penn.
And thine shall be the power of all
To do the work which duty bids,
And make the people's council hall
As lasting as the Pyramids!
Well have thy later years made good
Thy brave-said word a century back,
The pledge of human brotherhood,
The equal claim of white and black.
That word still echoes round the world,
And all who hear it turn to thee,
And read upon thy flag unfurled
The prophecies of destiny.
Thy great world-lesson all shall learn,
The nations in thy school shall sit,
Earth's farthest mountain-tops shall burn
With watch-fires from thy own uplit.
Great without seeking to be great
By fraud or conquest, rich in gold,
But richer in the large estate
Of virtue which thy children hold,
With peace that comes of purity
And strength to simple justice due,
So runs our loyal dream of thee;
God of our fathers! make it true.
O Land of lands! to thee we give
Our prayers, our hopes, our service free;
For thee thy sons shall nobly live,
And at thy need shall die for thee!
WITH A COPY OF WOOLMAN'S JOURNAL.
Maiden! with the fair brown tresses
Shading o'er thy dreamy eye,
Floating on thy thoughtful forehead
Cloud wreaths of its sky.
Youthful years and maiden beauty,
Joy with them should still abide,--
Instinct take the place of Duty,
Love, not Reason, guide.
Ever in the New rejoicing,
Kindly beckoning back the Old,
Turning, with the gift of Midas,
All things into gold.
And the passing shades of sadness
Wearing even a welcome guise,
As, when some bright lake lies open
To the sunny skies,
Every wing of bird above it,
Every light cloud floating on,
Glitters like that flashing mirror
In the self-same sun.
But upon thy youthful forehead
Something like a shadow lies;
And a serious soul is looking
From thy earnest eyes.
With an early introversion,
Through the forms of outward things,
Seeking for the subtle essence,
And the bidden springs.
Deeper than the gilded surface
Hath thy wakeful vision seen,
Farther than the narrow present
Have thy journeyings been.
Thou hast midst Life's empty noises
Heard the solemn steps of Time,
And the low mysterious voices
Of another clime.
All the mystery of Being
Hath upon thy spirit pressed,--
Thoughts which, like the Deluge wanderer,
Find no place of rest:
That which mystic Plato pondered,
That which Zeno heard with awe,
And the star-rapt Zoroaster
In his night-watch saw.
From the doubt and darkness springing
Of the dim, uncertain Past,
Moving to the dark still shadows
O'er the Future cast,
Early hath Life's mighty question
Thrilled within thy heart of youth,
With a deep and strong beseeching
What and where is Truth?
Hollow creed and ceremonial,
Whence the ancient life hath fled,
Idle faith unknown to action,
Dull and cold and dead.
Oracles, whose wire-worked meanings
Only wake a quiet scorn,--
Not from these thy seeking spirit
Hath its answer drawn.
But, like some tired child at even,
On thy mother Nature's breast,
Thou, methinks, art vainly seeking
Truth, and peace, and rest.
O'er that mother's rugged features
Thou art throwing Fancy's veil,
Light and soft as woven moonbeams,
Beautiful and frail
O'er the rough chart of Existence,
Rocks of sin and wastes of woe,
Soft airs breathe, and green leaves tremble,
And cool fountains flow.
And to thee an answer cometh
From the earth and from the sky,
And to thee the hills and waters
And the stars reply.
But a soul-sufficing answer
Hath no outward origin;
More than Nature's many voices
May be heard within.
Even as the great Augustine
Questioned earth and sea and sky,
And the dusty tomes of learning
And old poesy.
But his earnest spirit needed
More than outward Nature taught;
More than blest the poet's vision
Or the sage's thought.
Only in the gathered silence
Of a calm and waiting frame,
Light and wisdom as from Heaven
To the seeker came.
Not to ease and aimless quiet
Doth that inward answer tend,
But to works of love and duty
As our being's end;
Not to idle dreams and trances,
Length of face, and solemn tone,
But to Faith, in daily striving
And performance shown.
Earnest toil and strong endeavor
Of a spirit which within
Wrestles with familiar evil
And besetting sin;
And without, with tireless vigor,
Steady heart, and weapon strong,
In the power of truth assailing
Every form of wrong.
Guided thus, how passing lovely
Is the track of Woolman's feet!
And his brief and simple record
How serenely sweet!
O'er life's humblest duties throwing
Light the earthling never knew,
Freshening all its dark waste places
As with Hermon's dew.
All which glows in Pascal's pages,
All which sainted Guion sought,
Or the blue-eyed German Rahel
Beauty, such as Goethe pictured,
Such as Shelley dreamed of, shed
Living warmth and starry brightness
Round that poor man's head.
Not a vain and cold ideal,
Not a poet's dream alone,
But a presence warm and real,
Seen and felt and known.
When the red right-hand of slaughter
Moulders with the steel it swung,
When the name of seer and poet
Dies on Memory's tongue,
All bright thoughts and pure shall gather
Round that meek and suffering one,--
Glorious, like the seer-seen angel
Standing in the sun!
Take the good man's book and ponder
What its pages say to thee;
Blessed as the hand of healing
May its lesson be.
If it only serves to strengthen
Yearnings for a higher good,
For the fount of living waters
And diviner food;
If the pride of human reason
Feels its meek and still rebuke,
Quailing like the eye of Peter
From the Just One's look!
If with readier ear thou heedest
What the Inward Teacher saith,
Listening with a willing spirit
And a childlike faith,--
Thou mayst live to bless the giver,
Who, himself but frail and weak,
Would at least the highest welfare
Of another seek;
And his gift, though poor and lowly
It may seem to other eyes,
Yet may prove an angel holy
In a pilgrim's guise.
To My Old Schoolmaster
AN EPISTLE NOT AFTER THE MANNER OF HORACE
Old friend, kind friend! lightly down
Drop time's snow-flakes on thy crown!
Never be thy shadow less,
Never fail thy cheerfulness;
Care, that kills the cat, may, plough
Wrinkles in the miser's brow,
Deepen envy's spiteful frown,
Draw the mouths of bigots down,
Plague ambition's dream, and sit
Heavy on the hypocrite,
Haunt the rich man's door, and ride
In the gilded coach of pride;--
Let the fiend pass!--what can he
Find to do with such as thee?
Seldom comes that evil guest
Where the conscience lies at rest,
And brown health and quiet wit
Smiling on the threshold sit.
I, the urchin unto whom,
In that smoked and dingy room,
Where the district gave thee rule
O'er its ragged winter school,
Thou didst teach the mysteries
Of those weary A B C's,--
Where, to fill the every pause
Of thy wise and learned saws,
Through the cracked and crazy wall
Came the cradle-rock and squall,
And the goodman's voice, at strife
With his shrill and tipsy wife,
Luring us by stories old,
With a comic unction told,
More than by the eloquence
Of terse birchen arguments
(Doubtful gain, I fear), to look
With complacence on a book!--
Where the genial pedagogue
Half forgot his rogues to flog,
Citing tale or apologue,
Wise and merry in its drift
As was Phaedrus' twofold gift,
Had the little rebels known it,
Risum et prudentiam monet!
I,--the man of middle years,
In whose sable locks appears
Many a warning fleck of gray,--
Looking back to that far day,
And thy primal lessons, feel
Grateful smiles my lips unseal,
As, remembering thee, I blend
Olden teacher, present friend,
Wise with antiquarian search,
In the scrolls of State and Church
Named on history's title-page,
Parish-clerk and justice sage;
For the ferule's wholesome awe
Wielding now the sword of law.
Threshing Time's neglected sheaves,
Gathering up the scattered leaves
Which the wrinkled sibyl cast
Careless from her as she passed,--
Twofold citizen art thou,
Freeman of the past and now.
He who bore thy name of old
Midway in the heavens did hold
Over Gibeon moon and sun;
Thou hast bidden them backward run;
Of to-day the present ray
Flinging over yesterday!
Let the busy ones deride
What I deem of right thy pride
Let the fools their treadmills grind,
Look not forward nor behind,
Shuffle in and wriggle out,
Veer with every breeze about,
Turning like a windmill sail,
Or a dog that seeks his tail;
Let them laugh to see thee fast
Tabernacled in the Past,
Working out with eye and lip,
Riddles of old penmanship,
Patient as Belzoni there
Sorting out, with loving care,
Mummies of dead questions stripped
From their sevenfold manuscript.
Dabbling, in their noisy way,
In the puddles of to-day,
Little know they of that vast
Solemn ocean of the past,
On whose margin, wreck-bespread,
Thou art walking with the dead,
Questioning the stranded years,
Waking smiles, by turns, and tears,
As thou callest up again
Shapes the dust has long o'erlain,--
Fair-haired woman, bearded man,
Cavalier and Puritan;
In an age whose eager view
Seeks but present things, and new,
Mad for party, sect and gold,
Teaching reverence for the old.
On that shore, with fowler's tact,
Coolly bagging fact on fact,
Naught amiss to thee can float,
Tale, or song, or anecdote;
Village gossip, centuries old,
Scandals by our grandams told,
What the pilgrim's table spread,
Where he lived, and whom he wed,
Long-drawn bill of wine and beer
For his ordination cheer,
Or the flip that wellnigh made
Glad his funeral cavalcade;
Weary prose, and poet's lines,
Flavored by their age, like wines,
Eulogistic of some quaint,
Doubtful, puritanic saint;
Lays that quickened husking jigs,
Jests that shook grave periwigs,
When the parson had his jokes
And his glass, like other folks;
Sermons that, for mortal hours,
Taxed our fathers' vital powers,
As the long nineteenthlies poured
Downward from the sounding-board,
And, for fire of Pentecost,
Touched their beards December's frost.
Time is hastening on, and we
What our fathers are shall be,--
Shadow-shapes of memory!
Joined to that vast multitude
Where the great are but the good,
And the mind of strength shall prove
Weaker than the heart of love;
Pride of graybeard wisdom less
Than the infant's guilelessness,
And his song of sorrow more
Than the crown the Psalmist wore
Who shall then, with pious zeal,
At our moss-grown thresholds kneel,
From a stained and stony page
Reading to a careless age,
With a patient eye like thine,
Prosing tale and limping line,
Names and words the hoary rime
Of the Past has made sublime?
Who shall work for us as well
The antiquarian's miracle?
Who to seeming life recall
Teacher grave and pupil small?
Who shall give to thee and me
Freeholds in futurity?
Well, whatever lot be mine,
Long and happy days be thine,
Ere thy full and honored age
Dates of time its latest page!
Squire for master, State for school,
Wisely lenient, live and rule;
Over grown-up knave and rogue
Play the watchful pedagogue;
Or, while pleasure smiles on duty,
At the call of youth and beauty,
Speak for them the spell of law
Which shall bar and bolt withdraw,
And the flaming sword remove
From the Paradise of Love.
Still, with undimmed eyesight, pore
Ancient tome and record o'er;
Still thy week-day lyrics croon,
Pitch in church the Sunday tune,
Showing something, in thy part,
Of the old Puritanic art,
Singer after Sternhold's heart
In thy pew, for many a year,
Homilies from Oldbug hear,
Who to wit like that of South,
And the Syrian's golden mouth,
Doth the homely pathos add
Which the pilgrim preachers had;
Breaking, like a child at play,
Gilded idols of the day,
Cant of knave and pomp of fool
Tossing with his ridicule,
Yet, in earnest or in jest,
Ever keeping truth abreast.
And, when thou art called, at last,
To thy townsmen of the past,
Not as stranger shalt thou come;
Thou shalt find thyself at home
With the little and the big,
Woollen cap and periwig,
Madam in her high-laced ruff,
Goody in her home-made stuff,--
Wise and simple, rich and poor,
Thou hast known them all before!
The Grave By The Lake
Where the Great Lake's sunny smiles
Dimple round its hundred isles,
And the mountain's granite ledge
Cleaves the water like a wedge,
Ringed about with smooth, gray stones,
Rest the giant's mighty bones.
Close beside, in shade and gleam,
Laughs and ripples Melvin stream;
Melvin water, mountain-born,
All fair flowers its banks adorn;
All the woodland's voices meet,
Mingling with its murmurs sweet.
Over lowlands forest-grown,
Over waters island-strown,
Over silver-sanded beach,
Leaf-locked bay and misty reach,
Melvin stream and burial-heap,
Watch and ward the mountains keep.
Who that Titan cromlech fills?
Forest-kaiser, lord o' the hills?
Knight who on the birchen tree
Carved his savage heraldry?
Priest o' the pine-wood temples dim,
Prophet, sage, or wizard grim?
Rugged type of primal man,
Loving woods for hunt and prowl,
Lake and hill for fish and fowl,
As the brown bear blind and dull
To the grand and beautiful:
Not for him the lesson drawn
From the mountains smit with dawn,
Star-rise, moon-rise, flowers of May,
Sunset's purple bloom of day,--
Took his life no hue from thence,
Poor amid such affluence?
Haply unto hill and tree
All too near akin was he
Unto him who stands afar
Nature's marvels greatest are;
Who the mountain purple seeks
Must not climb the higher peaks.
Yet who knows in winter tramp,
Or the midnight of the camp,
What revealings faint and far,
Stealing down from moon and star,
Kindled in that human clod
Thought of destiny and God?
Stateliest forest patriarch,
Grand in robes of skin and bark,
What sepulchral mysteries,
What weird funeral-rites, were his?
What sharp wail, what drear lament,
Back scared wolf and eagle sent?
Now, whate'er he may have been,
Low he lies as other men;
On his mound the partridge drums,
There the noisy blue-jay comes;
Rank nor name nor pomp has he
In the grave's democracy.
Part thy blue lips, Northern lake!
Moss-grown rocks, your silence break!
Tell the tale, thou ancient tree!
Thou, too, slide-worn Ossipee!
Speak, and tell us how and when
Lived and died this king of men!
Wordless moans the ancient pine;
Lake and mountain give no sign;
Vain to trace this ring of stones;
Vain the search of crumbling bones
Deepest of all mysteries,
And the saddest, silence is.
Nameless, noteless, clay with clay
Mingles slowly day by day;
But somewhere, for good or ill,
That dark soul is living still;
Somewhere yet that atom's force
Moves the light-poised universe.
Strange that on his burial-sod
Harebells bloom, and golden-rod,
While the soul's dark horoscope
Holds no starry sign of hope!
Is the Unseen with sight at odds?
Nature's pity more than God's?
Thus I mused by Melvin's side,
While the summer eventide
Made the woods and inland sea
And the mountains mystery;
And the hush of earth and air
Seemed the pause before a prayer,--
Prayer for him, for all who rest,
Mother Earth, upon thy breast,--
Lapped on Christian turf, or hid
In rock-cave or pyramid
All who sleep, as all who live,
Well may need the prayer, 'Forgive!'
Knee-deep dust that once was man,
Battle-trenches ghastly piled,
Ocean-floors with white bones tiled,
Crowded tomb and mounded sod,
Dumbly crave that prayer to God.
Oh, the generations old
Over whom no church-bells tolled,
Christless, lifting up blind eyes
To the silence of the skies!
For the innumerable dead
Is my soul disquieted.
Where be now these silent hosts?
Where the camping-ground of ghosts?
Where the spectral conscripts led
To the white tents of the dead?
What strange shore or chartless sea
Holds the awful mystery?
Then the warm sky stooped to make
Double sunset in the lake;
While above I saw with it,
Range on range, the mountains lit;
And the calm and splendor stole
Like an answer to my soul.
Hear'st thou, O of little faith,
What to thee the mountain saith,
What is whispered by the trees?
Cast on God thy care for these;
Trust Him, if thy sight be dim
Doubt for them is doubt of Him.
'Blind must be their close-shut eyes
Where like night the sunshine lies,
Fiery-linked the self-forged chain
Binding ever sin to pain,
Strong their prison-house of will,
But without He waiteth still.
'Not with hatred's undertow
Doth the Love Eternal flow;
Every chain that spirits wear
Crumbles in the breath of prayer;
And the penitent's desire
Opens every gate of fire.
'Still Thy love, O Christ arisen,
Yearns to reach these souls in prison!
Through all depths of sin and loss
Drops the plummet of Thy cross!
Never yet abyss was found
Deeper than that cross could sound!'
Therefore well may Nature keep
Equal faith with all who sleep,
Set her watch of hills around
Christian grave and heathen mound,
And to cairn and kirkyard send
Summer's flowery dividend.
Keep, O pleasant Melvin stream,
Thy sweet laugh in shade and gleam
On the Indian's grassy tomb
Swing, O flowers, your bells of bloom!
Deep below, as high above,
Sweeps the circle of God's love.
. . . . .
He paused and questioned with his eye
The hearers' verdict on his song.
A low voice asked: Is 't well to pry
Into the secrets which belong
Only to God?--The life to be
Is still the unguessed mystery
Unsealed, unpierced the cloudy walls remain,
We beat with dream and wish the soundless doors in vain.
'But faith beyond our sight may go.'
He said: 'The gracious Fatherhood
Can only know above, below,
Eternal purposes of good.
From our free heritage of will,
The bitter springs of pain and ill
Flow only in all worlds. The perfect day
Of God is shadowless, and love is love alway.'
'I know,' she said, 'the letter kills;
That on our arid fields of strife
And heat of clashing texts distils
The clew of spirit and of life.
But, searching still the written Word,
I fain would find, Thus saith the Lord,
A voucher for the hope I also feel
That sin can give no wound beyond love's power to heal.'
'Pray,' said the Man of Books, 'give o'er
A theme too vast for time and place.
Go on, Sir Poet, ride once more
Your hobby at his old free pace.
But let him keep, with step discreet,
The solid earth beneath his feet.
In the great mystery which around us lies,
The wisest is a fool, the fool Heaven-helped is wise.'
The Traveller said: 'If songs have creeds,
Their choice of them let singers make;
But Art no other sanction needs
Than beauty for its own fair sake.
It grinds not in the mill of use,
Nor asks for leave, nor begs excuse;
It makes the flexile laws it deigns to own,
And gives its atmosphere its color and its tone.
'Confess, old friend, your austere school
Has left your fancy little chance;
You square to reason's rigid rule
The flowing outlines of romance.
With conscience keen from exercise,
And chronic fear of compromise,
You check the free play of your rhymes, to clap
A moral underneath, and spring it like a trap.'
The sweet voice answered: 'Better so
Than bolder flights that know no check;
Better to use the bit, than throw
The reins all loose on fancy's neck.
The liberal range of Art should be
The breadth of Christian liberty,
Restrained alone by challenge and alarm
Where its charmed footsteps tread the border land of harm.
'Beyond the poet's sweet dream lives
The eternal epic of the man.
He wisest is who only gives,
True to himself, the best he can;
Who, drifting in the winds of praise,
The inward monitor obeys;
And, with the boldness that confesses fear,
Takes in the crowded sail, and lets his conscience steer.
'Thanks for the fitting word he speaks,
Nor less for doubtful word unspoken;
For the false model that he breaks,
As for the moulded grace unbroken;
For what is missed and what remains,
For losses which are truest gains,
For reverence conscious of the Eternal eye,
And truth too fair to need the garnish of a lie.'
Laughing, the Critic bowed. 'I yield
The point without another word;
Who ever yet a case appealed
Where beauty's judgment had been heard?
And you, my good friend, owe to me
Your warmest thanks for such a plea,
As true withal as sweet. For my offence
Of cavil, let her words be ample recompense.'
Across the sea one lighthouse star,
With crimson ray that came and went,
Revolving on its tower afar,
Looked through the doorway of the tent.
While outward, over sand-slopes wet,
The lamp flashed down its yellow jet
On the long wash of waves, with red and green
Tangles of weltering weed through the white foam-wreaths seen.
'Sing while we may,--another day
May bring enough of sorrow;'--thus
Our Traveller in his own sweet lay,
His Crimean camp-song, hints to us,'
The lady said. 'So let it be;
Sing us a song,' exclaimed all three.
She smiled: 'I can but marvel at your choice
To hear our poet's words through my poor borrowed voice.'
. . . . .
Her window opens to the bay,
On glistening light or misty gray,
And there at dawn and set of day
In prayer she kneels.
'Dear Lord!' she saith, 'to many a borne
From wind and wave the wanderers come;
I only see the tossing foam
Of stranger keels.
'Blown out and in by summer gales,
The stately ships, with crowded sails,
And sailors leaning o'er their rails,
Before me glide;
They come, they go, but nevermore,
Spice-laden from the Indian shore,
I see his swift-winged Isidore
The waves divide.
'O Thou! with whom the night is day
And one the near and far away,
Look out on yon gray waste, and say
Where lingers he.
Alive, perchance, on some lone beach
Or thirsty isle beyond the reach
Of man, he hears the mocking speech
Of wind and sea.
'O dread and cruel deep, reveal
The secret which thy waves conceal,
And, ye wild sea-birds, hither wheel
And tell your tale.
Let winds that tossed his raven hair
A message from my lost one bear,--
Some thought of me, a last fond prayer
Or dying wail!
'Come, with your dreariest truth shut out
The fears that haunt me round about;
O God! I cannot bear this doubt
That stifles breath.
The worst is better than the dread;
Give me but leave to mourn my dead
Asleep in trust and hope, instead
Of life in death!'
It might have been the evening breeze
That whispered in the garden trees,
It might have been the sound of seas
That rose and fell;
But, with her heart, if not her ear,
The old loved voice she seemed to hear
'I wait to meet thee: be of cheer,
For all is well!'
. . . . .
The sweet voice into silence went,
A silence which was almost pain
As through it rolled the long lament,
The cadence of the mournful main.
Glancing his written pages o'er,
The Reader tried his part once more;
Leaving the land of hackmatack and pine
For Tuscan valleys glad with olive and with vine.
One Sabbath day my friend and I
After the meeting, quietly
Passed from the crowded village lanes,
White with dry dust for lack of rains,
And climbed the neighboring slope, with feet
Slackened and heavy from the heat,
Although the day was wellnigh done,
And the low angle of the sun
Along the naked hillside cast
Our shadows as of giants vast.
We reached, at length, the topmost swell,
Whence, either way, the green turf fell
In terraces of nature down
To fruit-hung orchards, and the town
With white, pretenceless houses, tall
Church-steeples, and, o'ershadowing all,
Huge mills whose windows had the look
Of eager eyes that ill could brook
The Sabbath rest. We traced the track
Of the sea-seeking river back,
Glistening for miles above its mouth,
Through the long valley to the south,
And, looking eastward, cool to view,
Stretched the illimitable blue
Of ocean, from its curved coast-line;
Sombred and still, the warm sunshine
Filled with pale gold-dust all the reach
Of slumberous woods from hill to beach,-
Slanted on walls of thronged retreats
From city toil and dusty streets,
On grassy bluff, and dune of sand,
And rocky islands miles from land;
Touched the far-glancing sails, and showed
White lines of foam where long waves flowed
Dumb in the distance. In the north,
Dim through their misty hair, looked forth
The space-dwarfed mountains to the sea,
From mystery to mystery!
So, sitting on that green hill-slope,
We talked of human life, its hope
And fear, and unsolved doubts, and what
It might have been, and yet was not.
And, when at last the evening air
Grew sweeter for the bells of prayer
Ringing in steeples far below,
We watched the people churchward go,
Each to his place, as if thereon
The true shekinah only shone;
And my friend queried how it came
To pass that they who owned the same
Great Master still could not agree
To worship Him in company.
Then, broadening in his thought, he ran
Over the whole vast field of man,-
The varying forms of faith and creed
That somehow served the holders' need;
In which, unquestioned, undenied,
Uncounted millions lived and died;
The bibles of the ancient folk,
Through which the heart of nations spoke;
The old moralities which lent
To home its sweetness and content,
And rendered possible to bear
The life of peoples everywhere
And asked if we, who boast of light,
Claim not a too exclusive right
To truths which must for all be meant,
Like rain and sunshine freely sent.
In bondage to the letter still,
We give it power to cramp and kill,-
To tax God's fulness with a scheme
Narrower than Peter's house-top dream,
His wisdom and his love with plans
Poor and inadequate as man's.
It must be that He witnesses
Somehow to all men that He is
That something of His saving grace
Reaches the lowest of the race,
Who, through strange creed and rite, may draw
The hints of a diviner law.
We walk in clearer light;-but then,
Is He not God?-are they not men?
Are His responsibilities
For us alone and not for these?
And I made answer: 'Truth is one;
And, in all lands beneath the sun,
Whoso hath eyes to see may see
The tokens of its unity.
No scroll of creed its fulness wraps,
We trace it not by school-boy maps,
Free as the sun and air it is
Of latitudes and boundaries.
In Vedic verse, in dull Koran,
Are messages of good to man;
The angels to our Aryan sires
Talked by the earliest household fires;
The prophets of the elder day,
The slant-eyed sages of Cathay,
Read not the riddle all amiss
Of higher life evolved from this.
'Nor doth it lessen what He taught,
Or make the gospel Jesus brought
Less precious, that His lips retold
Some portion of that truth of old;
Denying not the proven seers,
The tested wisdom of the years;
Confirming with his own impress
The common law of righteousness.
We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
From all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read,
And all our treasure of old thought
In His harmonious fulness wrought
Who gathers in one sheaf complete
The scattered blades of God's sown wheat,
The common growth that maketh good
His all-embracing Fatherhood.
'Wherever through the ages rise
The altars of self-sacrifice,
Where love its arms has opened wide,
Or man for man has calmly died,
I see the same white wings outspread
That hovered o'er the Master's head!
Up from undated time they come,
The martyr souls of heathendom,
And to His cross and passion bring
Their fellowship of suffering.
I trace His presence in the blind
Pathetic gropings of my kind,-
In prayers from sin and sorrow wrung,
In cradle-hymns of life they sung,
Each, in its measure, but a part
Of the unmeasured Over-Heart;
And with a stronger faith confess
The greater that it owns the less.
Good cause it is for thankfulness
That the world-blessing of His life
With the long past is not at strife;
That the great marvel of His death
To the one order witnesseth,
No doubt of changeless goodness wakes,
No link of cause and sequence breaks,
But, one with nature, rooted is
In the eternal verities;
Whereby, while differing in degree
As finite from infinity,
The pain and loss for others borne,
Love's crown of suffering meekly worn,
The life man giveth for his friend
Become vicarious in the end;
Their healing place in nature take,
And make life sweeter for their sake.
'So welcome I from every source
The tokens of that primal Force,
Older than heaven itself, yet new
As the young heart it reaches to,
Beneath whose steady impulse rolls
The tidal wave of human souls;
Guide, comforter, and inward word,
The eternal spirit of the Lord
Nor fear I aught that science brings
From searching through material things;
Content to let its glasses prove,
Not by the letter's oldness move,
The myriad worlds on worlds that course
The spaces of the universe;
Since everywhere the Spirit walks
The garden of the heart, and talks
With man, as under Eden's trees,
In all his varied languages.
Why mourn above some hopeless flaw
In the stone tables of the law,
When scripture every day afresh
Is traced on tablets of the flesh?
By inward sense, by outward signs,
God's presence still the heart divines;
Through deepest joy of Him we learn,
In sorest grief to Him we turn,
And reason stoops its pride to share
The child-like instinct of a prayer.'
And then, as is my wont, I told
A story of the days of old,
Not found in printed books,-in sooth,
A fancy, with slight hint of truth,
Showing how differing faiths agree
In one sweet law of charity.
Meanwhile the sky had golden grown,
Our faces in its glory shone;
But shadows down the valley swept,
And gray below the ocean slept,
As time and space I wandered o'er
To tread the Mogul's marble floor,
And see a fairer sunset fall
On Jumna's wave and Agra's wall.
The good Shah Akbar (peace be his alway!)
Came forth from the Divan at close of day
Bowed with the burden of his many cares,
Worn with the hearing of unnumbered prayers,-
Wild cries for justice, the importunate
Appeals of greed and jealousy and hate,
And all the strife of sect and creed and rite,
Santon and Gouroo waging holy fight
For the wise monarch, claiming not to be
Allah's avenger, left his people free,
With a faint hope, his Book scarce justified,
That all the paths of faith, though severed wide,
O'er which the feet of prayerful reverence passed,
Met at the gate of Paradise at last.
He sought an alcove of his cool hareem,
Where, far beneath, he heard the Jumna's stream
Lapse soft and low along his palace wall,
And all about the cool sound of the fall
Of fountains, and of water circling free
Through marble ducts along the balcony;
The voice of women in the distance sweet,
And, sweeter still, of one who, at his feet,
Soothed his tired ear with songs of a far land
Where Tagus shatters on the salt sea-sand
The mirror of its cork-grown hills of drouth
And vales of vine, at Lisbon's harbor-mouth.
The date-palms rustled not; the peepul laid
Its topmost boughs against the balustrade,
Motionless as the mimic leaves and vines
That, light and graceful as the shawl-designs
Of Delhi or Umritsir, twined in stone;
And the tired monarch, who aside had thrown
The day's hard burden, sat from care apart,
And let the quiet steal into his heart
From the still hour. Below him Agra slept,
By the long light of sunset overswept
The river flowing through a level land,
By mango-groves and banks of yellow sand,
Skirted with lime and orange, gay kiosks,
Fountains at play, tall minarets of mosques,
Fair pleasure-gardens, with their flowering trees
Relieved against the mournful cypresses;
And, air-poised lightly as the blown sea-foam,
The marble wonder of some holy dome
Hung a white moonrise over the still wood,
Glassing its beauty in a stiller flood.
Silent the monarch gazed, until the night
Swift-falling hid the city from his sight;
Then to the woman at his feet he said
'Tell me, O Miriam, something thou hast read
In childhood of the Master of thy faith,
Whom Islam also owns. Our Prophet saith
'He was a true apostle, yea, a Word
And Spirit sent before me from the Lord.'
Thus the Book witnesseth; and well I know
By what thou art, O dearest, it is so.
As the lute's tone the maker's hand betrays,
The sweet disciple speaks her Master's praise.'
Then Miriam, glad of heart, (for in some sort
She cherished in the Moslem's liberal court
The sweet traditions of a Christian child;
And, through her life of sense, the undefiled
And chaste ideal of the sinless One
Gazed on her with an eye she might not shun,-
The sad, reproachful look of pity, born
Of love that hath no part in wrath or scorn,)
Began, with low voice and moist eyes, to tell
Of the all-loving Christ, and what befell
When the fierce zealots, thirsting for her blood,
Dragged to his feet a shame of womanhood.
How, when his searching answer pierced within
Each heart, and touched the secret of its sin,
And her accusers fled his face before,
He bade the poor one go and sin no more.
And Akbar said, after a moment's thought,
'Wise is the lesson by thy prophet taught;
Woe unto him who judges and forgets
What hidden evil his own heart besets!
Something of this large charity I find
In all the sects that sever human kind;
I would to Allah that their lives agreed
More nearly with the lesson of their creed!
Those yellow Lamas who at Meerut pray
By wind and water power, and love to say
'He who forgiveth not shall, unforgiven,
Fail of the rest of Buddha,' and who even
Spare the black gnat that stings them, vex my ears
With the poor hates and jealousies and fears
Nursed in their human hives. That lean, fierce priest
Of thy own people, (be his heart increased
By Allah's love!) his black robes smelling yet
Of Goa's roasted Jews, have I not met
Meek-faced, barefooted, crying in the street
The saying of his prophet true and sweet,-
'He who is merciful shall mercy meet!''
But, next day, so it chanced, as night began
To fall, a murmur through the hareem ran
That one, recalling in her dusky face
The full-lipped, mild-eyed beauty of a race
Known as the blameless Ethiops of Greek song,
Plotting to do her royal master wrong,
Watching, reproachful of the lingering light,
The evening shadows deepen for her flight,
Love-guided, to her home in a far land,
Now waited death at the great Shah's command.
Shapely as that dark princess for whose smile
A world was bartered, daughter of the Nile
Herself, and veiling in her large, soft eyes
The passion and the languor of her skies,
The Abyssinian knelt low at the feet
Of her stern lord: 'O king, if it be meet,
And for thy honor's sake,' she said, 'that I,
Who am the humblest of thy slaves, should die,
I will not tax thy mercy to forgive.
Easier it is to die than to outlive
All that life gave me,-him whose wrong of thee
Was but the outcome of his love for me,
Cherished from childhood, when, beneath the shade
Of templed Axum, side by side we played.
Stolen from his arms, my lover followed me
Through weary seasons over land and sea;
And two days since, sitting disconsolate
Within the shadow of the hareem gate,
Suddenly, as if dropping from the sky,
Down from the lattice of the balcony
Fell the sweet song by Tigre's cowherds sung
In the old music of his native tongue.
He knew my voice, for love is quick of ear,
Answering in song.
This night he waited near
To fly with me. The fault was mine alone
He knew thee not, he did but seek his own;
Who, in the very shadow of thy throne,
Sharing thy bounty, knowing all thou art,
Greatest and best of men, and in her heart
Grateful to tears for favor undeserved,
Turned ever homeward, nor one moment swerved
From her young love. He looked into my eyes,
He heard my voice, and could not otherwise
Than he hath done; yet, save one wild embrace
When first we stood together face to face,
And all that fate had done since last we met
Seemed but a dream that left us children yet,
He hath not wronged thee nor thy royal bed;
Spare him, O king! and slay me in his stead!'
But over Akbar's brows the frown hung black,
And, turning to the eunuch at his back,
'Take them,' he said, 'and let the Jumna's waves
Hide both my shame and these accursed slaves!'
His loathly length the unsexed bondman bowed
'On my head be it!'
Straightway from a cloud
Of dainty shawls and veils of woven mist
The Christian Miriam rose, and, stooping, kissed
The monarch's hand. Loose down her shoulders bare
Swept all the rippled darkness of her hair,
Veiling the bosom that, with high, quick swell
Of fear and pity, through it rose and fell.
'Alas!' she cried, 'hast thou forgotten quite
The words of Him we spake of yesternight?
Or thy own prophet's, 'Whoso doth endure
And pardon, of eternal life is sure'?
O great and good! be thy revenge alone
Felt in thy mercy to the erring shown;
Let thwarted love and youth their pardon plead,
Who sinned but in intent, and not in deed!'
One moment the strong frame of Akbar shook
With the great storm of passion. Then his look
Softened to her uplifted face, that still
Pleaded more strongly than all words, until
Its pride and anger seemed like overblown,
Spent clouds of thunder left to tell alone
Of strife and overcoming. With bowed head,
And smiting on his bosom: 'God,' he said,
'Alone is great, and let His holy name
Be honored, even to His servant's shame!
Well spake thy prophet, Miriam,-he alone
Who hath not sinned is meet to cast a stone
At such as these, who here their doom await,
Held like myself in the strong grasp of fate.
They sinned through love, as I through love forgive;
Take them beyond my realm, but let them live!'
And, like a chorus to the words of grace,
The ancient Fakir, sitting in his place,
Motionless as an idol and as grim,
In the pavilion Akbar built for him
Under the court-yard trees, (for he was wise,
Knew Menu's laws, and through his close-shut eyes
Saw things far off, and as an open book
Into the thoughts of other men could look,)
Began, half chant, half howling, to rehearse
The fragment of a holy Vedic verse;
And thus it ran: 'He who all things forgives
Conquers himself and all things else, and lives
Above the reach of wrong or hate or fear,
Calm as the gods, to whom he is most dear.'
Two leagues from Agra still the traveller sees
The tomb of Akbar through its cypress-trees;
And, near at hand, the marble walls that hide
The Christian Begum sleeping at his side.
And o'er her vault of burial (who shall tell
If it be chance alone or miracle?)
The Mission press with tireless hand unrolls
The words of Jesus on its lettered scrolls,-
Tells, in all tongues, the tale of mercy o'er,
And bids the guilty, 'Go and sin no more!'
It now was dew-fall; very still
The night lay on the lonely hill,
Down which our homeward steps we bent,
And, silent, through great silence went,
Save that the tireless crickets played
Their long, monotonous serenade.
A young moon, at its narrowest,
Curved sharp against the darkening west;
And, momently, the beacon's star,
Slow wheeling o'er its rock afar,
From out the level darkness shot
One instant and again was not.
And then my friend spake quietly
The thought of both: 'Yon crescent see!
Like Islam's symbol-moon it gives
Hints of the light whereby it lives
Somewhat of goodness, something true
From sun and spirit shining through
All faiths, all worlds, as through the dark
Of ocean shines the lighthouse spark,
Attests the presence everywhere
Of love and providential care.
The faith the old Norse heart confessed
In one dear name,-the hopefulest
And tenderest heard from mortal lips
In pangs of birth or death, from ships
Ice-bitten in the winter sea,
Or lisped beside a mother's knee,-
The wiser world hath not outgrown,
And the All-Father is our own!'
Among The Hills
ALONG the roadside, like the flowers of gold
That tawny Incas for their gardens wrought,
Heavy with sunshine droops the golden-rod,
And the red pennons of the cardinal-flowers
Hang motionless upon their upright staves.
The sky is hot and hazy, and the wind,
Vying-weary with its long flight from the south,
Unfelt; yet, closely scanned, yon maple leaf
With faintest motion, as one stirs in dreams,
Confesses it. The locust by the wall
Stabs the noon-silence with his sharp alarm.
A single hay-cart down the dusty road
Creaks slowly, with its driver fast asleep
On the load’s top. Against the neighboring hill,
Huddled along the stone wall’s shady side,
The sheep show white, as if a snowdrift still
Defied the dog-star. Through the open door
A drowsy smell of flowers-gray heliotrope,
And white sweet clover, and shy mignonette—
Comes faintly in, and silent chorus lends
To the pervading symphony of peace.
No time is this for hands long over-worn
To task their strength; and (unto Him be praise
Who giveth quietness!) the stress and strain
Of years that did the work of centuries
Have ceased, and we can draw our breath once more
Freely and full. So, as yon harvesters
Make glad their nooning underneath the elms
With tale and riddle and old snatch of song,
I lay aside grave themes, and idly turn
The leaves of memory’s sketch-book, dreaming o’er
Old summer pictures of the quiet hills,
And human life, as quiet, at their feet.
And yet not idly all. A farmer’s son,
Proud of field-lore and harvest craft, and feeling
All their fine possibilities, how rich
And restful even poverty and toil
Become when beauty, harmony, and love
Sit at their humble hearth as angels sat
At evening in the patriarch’s tent, when man
Makes labor noble, and his farmer’s frock
The symbol of a Christian chivalry
Tender and just and generous to her
Who clothes with grace all duty; still, I know
Too well the picture has another side,—
How wearily the grind of toil goes on
Where love is wanting, how the eye and ear
And heart are starved amidst the plenitude
Of nature, and how hard and colorless
Is life without an atmosphere. I look
Across the lapse of half a century,
And call to mind old homesteads, where no flower
Told that the spring had come, but evil weeds,
Nightshade and rough-leaved burdock in the place
Of the sweet doorway greeting of the rose
And honeysuckle, where the house walls seemed
Blistering in sun, without a tree or vine
To cast the tremulous shadow of its leaves
Across the curtainless windows, from whose panes
Fluttered the signal rags of shiftlessness.
Within, the cluttered kitchen-floor, unwashed
(Broom-clean I think they called it); the best room
Stifling with cellar damp, shut from the air
In hot midsummer, bookless, pictureless,
Save the inevitable sampler hung
Over the fireplace, or a mourning piece,
A green-haired woman, peony-cheeked, beneath
Impossible willows; the wide-throated hearth
Bristling with faded pine-boughs half concealing
The piled-up rubbish at the chimney’s back;
And, in sad keeping with all things about them,
Shrill, querulous-women, sour and sullen men,
Untidy, loveless, old before their time,
With scarce a human interest save their own
Monotonous round of small economies,
Or the poor scandal of the neighborhood;
Blind to the beauty everywhere revealed,
Treading the May-flowers with regardless feet;
For them the song-sparrow and the bobolink
Sang not, nor winds made music in the leaves;
For them in vain October’s holocaust
Burned, gold and crimson, over all the hills,
The sacramental mystery of the woods.
Church-goers, fearful of the unseen Powers,
But grumbling over pulpit-tax and pew-rent,
Saving, as shrewd economists, their souls
And winter pork with the least possible outlay
Of salt and sanctity; in daily life
Showing as little actual comprehension
Of Christian charity and love and duty,
As if the Sermon on the Mount had been
Outdated like a last year’s almanac
Rich in broad woodlands and in half-tilled fields,
And yet so pinched and bare and comfortless,
The veriest straggler limping on his rounds,
The sun and air his sole inheritance,
Laughed at a poverty that paid its taxes,
And hugged his rags in self-complacency!
Not such should be the homesteads of a land
Where whoso wisely wills and acts may dwell
As king and lawgiver, in broad-acred state,
With beauty, art, taste, culture, books, to make
His hour of leisure richer than a life
Of fourscore to the barons of old time,
Our yeoman should be equal to his home
Set in the fair, green valleys, purple walled,
A man to match his mountains, not to creep
Dwarfed and abased below them. I would fain
In this light way (of which I needs must own
With the knife-grinder of whom Canning sings,
“Story, God bless you! I have none to tell you!”)
Invite the eye to see and heart to feel
The beauty and the joy within their reach,—
Home, and home loves, and the beatitudes
Of nature free to all. Haply in years
That wait to take the places of our own,
Heard where some breezy balcony looks down
On happy homes, or where the lake in the moon
Sleeps dreaming of the mountains, fair as Ruth,
In the old Hebrew pastoral, at the feet
Of Boaz, even this simple lay of mine
May seem the burden of a prophecy,
Finding its late fulfilment in a change
Slow as the oak’s growth, lifting manhood up
Through broader culture, finer manners, love,
And reverence, to the level of the hills.
O Golden Age, whose light is of the dawn,
And not of sunset, forward, not behind,
Flood the new heavens and earth, and with thee bring
All the old virtues, whatsoever things
Are pure and honest and of good repute,
But add thereto whatever bard has sung
Or seer has told of when in trance and dream
They saw the Happy Isles of prophecy
Let Justice hold her scale, and Truth divide
Between the right and wrong; but give the heart
The freedom of its fair inheritance;
Let the poor prisoner, cramped and starved so long,
At Nature’s table feast his ear and eye
With joy and wonder; let all harmonies
Of sound, form, color, motion, wait upon
The princely guest, whether in soft attire
Of leisure clad, or the coarse frock of toil,
And, lending life to the dead form of faith,
Give human nature reverence for the sake
Of One who bore it, making it divine
With the ineffable tenderness of God;
Let common need, the brotherhood of prayer,
The heirship of an unknown destiny,
The unsolved mystery round about us, make
A man more precious than the gold of Ophir.
Sacred, inviolate, unto whom all things
Should minister, as outward types and signs
Of the eternal beauty which fulfils
The one great purpose of creation, Love,
The sole necessity of Earth and Heaven!
. . . . .
For weeks the clouds had raked the hills
And vexed the vales with raining,
And all the woods were sad with mist,
And all the brooks complaining.
At last, a sudden night-storm tore
The mountain veils asunder,
And swept the valleys clean before
The bosom of the thunder.
Through Sandwich notch the west-wind sang
Good morrow to the cotter;
And once again Chocorua’s horn
Of shadow pierced the water.
Above his broad lake Ossipee,
Once more the sunshine wearing,
Stooped, tracing on that silver shield
His grim armorial bearing.
Clear drawn against the hard blue sky,
The peaks had winter’s keenness;
And, close on autumn’s frost, the vales
Had more than June’s fresh greenness.
Again the sodden forest floors
With golden lights were checkered,
Once more rejoicing leaves in wind
And sunshine danced and flickered.
It was as if the summer’s late
Atoning for it’s sadness
Had borrowed every season’s charm
To end its days in gladness.
I call to mind those banded vales
Of shadow and of shining,
Through which, my hostess at my side,
I drove in day’s declining.
We held our sideling way above
The river’s whitening shallows,
By homesteads old, with wide-flung barns
Swept through and through by swallows,—
By maple orchards, belts of pine
And larches climbing darkly
The mountain slopes, and, over all,
The great peaks rising starkly.
You should have seen that long hill-range
With gaps of brightness riven,—
How through each pass and hollow streamed
The purpling lights of heaven,—
Rivers of gold-mist flowing down
From far celestial fountains,—
The great sun flaming through the rifts
Beyond the wall of mountains.
We paused at last where home-bound cows
Brought down the pasture’s treasure,
And in the barn the rhythmic flails
Beat out a harvest measure.
We heard the night-hawk’s sullen plunge,
The crow his tree-mates calling:
The shadows lengthening down the slopes
About our feet were falling.
And through them smote the level sun
In broken lines of splendor,
Touched the gray rocks and made the green
Of the shorn grass more tender.
The maples bending o’er the gate,
Their arch of leaves just tinted
With yellow warmth, the golden glow
Of coming autumn hinted.
Keen white between the farm-house showed,
And smiled on porch and trellis,
The fair democracy of flowers
That equals cot and palace.
And weaving garlands for her dog,
’Twixt chidings and caresses,
A human flower of childhood shook
The sunshine from her tresses.
On either hand we saw the signs
Of fancy and of shrewdness,
Where taste had wound its arms of vines
Round thrift’s uncomely rudeness.
The sun-brown farmer in his frock
Shook hands, and called to Mary
Bare-armed, as Juno might, she came,
White-aproned from her dairy.
Her air, her smile, her motions, told
Of womanly completeness;
A music as of household songs
Was in her voice of sweetness.
Not fair alone in curve and line,
But something more and better,
The secret charm eluding art,
Its spirit, not its letter;—
An inborn grace that nothing lacked
Of culture or appliance,
The warmth of genial courtesy,
The calm of self-reliance.
Before her queenly womanhood
How dared our hostess utter
The paltry errand of her need
To buy her fresh-churned butter?
She led the way with housewife pride,
Her goodly store disclosing,
Full tenderly the golden balls
With practised hands disposing.
Then, while along the western hills
We watched the changeful glory
Of sunset, on our homeward way,
I heard her simple story.
The early crickets sang; the stream
Plashed through my friend’s narration:
Her rustic patois of the hills
Lost in my free-translation.
“More wise,” she said, “than those who swarm
Our hills in middle summer,
She came, when June’s first roses blow,
To greet the early comer.
“From school and ball and rout she came,
The city’s fair, pale daughter,
To drink the wine of mountain air
Beside the Bearcamp Water.
“Her step grew firmer on the hills
That watch our homesteads over;
On cheek and lip, from summer fields,
She caught the bloom of clover.
“For health comes sparkling in the streams
From cool Chocorua stealing:
There’s iron in our Northern winds;
Our pines are trees of healing.
“She sat beneath the broad-armed elms
That skirt the mowing-meadow,
And watched the gentle west-wind weave
The grass with shine and shadow.
“Beside her, from the summer heat
To share her grateful screening,
With forehead bared, the farmer stood,
Upon his pitchfork leaning.
“Framed in its damp, dark locks, his face
Had nothing mean or common,—
Strong, manly, true, the tenderness
And pride beloved of woman.
“She looked up, glowing with the health
The country air had brought her,
And, laughing, said: ‘You lack a wife,
Your mother lacks a daughter.
“‘To mend your frock and bake your bread
You do not need a lady:
Be sure among these brown old homes
Is some one waiting ready,—
“‘Some fair, sweet girl with skilful hand
And cheerful heart for treasure,
Who never played with ivory keys,
Or danced the polka’s measure.’
“He bent his black brows to a frown,
He set his white teeth tightly.
‘’T is well,’ he said, ‘for one like you
To choose for me so lightly.
“You think, because my life is rude
I take no note of sweetness:
I tell you love has naught to do
With meetness or unmeetness.
“‘Itself its best excuse, it asks
No leave of pride or fashion
When silken zone or homespun frock
It stirs with throbs of passion.
“‘You think me deaf and blind: you bring
Your winning graces hither
As free as if from cradle-time
We two had played together.
“‘You tempt me with your laughing eyes,
Your cheek of sundown’s blushes,
A motion as of waving grain,
A music as of thrushes.
“‘The plaything of your summer sport,
The spells you weave around me
You cannot at your will undo,
Nor leave me as you found me.
“‘You go as lightly as you came,
Your life is well without me;
What care you that these hills will close
Like prison-walls about me?
“‘No mood is mine to seek a wife,
Or daughter for my mother
Who loves you loses in that love
All power to love another!
“‘I dare your pity or your scorn,
With pride your own exceeding;
I fling my heart into your lap
Without a word of pleading.’
“She looked up in his face of pain
So archly, yet so tender
‘And if I lend you mine,’ she said,
‘Will you forgive the lender?
“‘Nor frock nor tan can hide the man;
And see you not, my farmer,
How weak and fond a woman waits
Behind this silken armor?
“‘I love you: on that love alone,
And not my worth, presuming,
Will you not trust for summer fruit
The tree in May-day blooming?’
“Alone the hangbird overhead,
His hair-swung cradle straining,
Looked down to see love’s miracle,—
The giving that is gaining.
“And so the farmer found a wife,
His mother found a daughter
There looks no happier home than hers
On pleasant Bearcamp Water.
“Flowers spring to blossom where she walks
The careful ways of duty;
Our hard, stiff lines of life with her
Are flowing curves of beauty.
“Our homes are cheerier for her sake,
Our door-yards brighter blooming,
And all about the social air
Is sweeter for her coming.
“Unspoken homilies of peace
Her daily life is preaching;
The still refreshment of the dew
Is her unconscious teaching.
“And never tenderer hand than hers
Unknits the brow of ailing;
Her garments to the sick man’s ear
Have music in their trailing.
“And when, in pleasant harvest moons,
The youthful huskers gather,
Or sleigh-drives on the mountain ways
Defy the winter weather,—
“In sugar-camps, when south and warm
The winds of March are blowing,
And sweetly from its thawing veins
The maple’s blood is flowing,—
“In summer, where some lilied pond
Its virgin zone is baring,
Or where the ruddy autumn fire
Lights up the apple-paring,—
“The coarseness of a ruder time
Her finer mirth displaces,
A subtler sense of pleasure fills
Each rustic sport she graces.
“Her presence lends its warmth and health
To all who come before it.
If woman lost us Eden, such
As she alone restore it.
“For larger life and wiser aims
The farmer is her debtor;
Who holds to his another’s heart
Must needs be worse or better.
“Through her his civic service shows
A purer-toned ambition;
No double consciousness divides
The man and politician.
“In party’s doubtful ways he trusts
Her instincts to determine;
At the loud polls, the thought of her
Recalls Christ’s Mountain Sermon.
“He owns her logic of the heart,
And wisdom of unreason,
Supplying, while he doubts and weighs,
The needed word in season.
“He sees with pride her richer thought,
Her fancy’s freer ranges;
And love thus deepened to respect
Is proof against all changes.
“And if she walks at ease in ways
His feet are slow to travel,
And if she reads with cultured eyes
What his may scarce unravel,
“Still clearer, for her keener sight
Of beauty and of wonder,
He learns the meaning of the hills
He dwelt from childhood under.
“And higher, warmed with summer lights,
Or winter-crowned and hoary,
The ridged horizon lifts for him
Its inner veils of glory.
“He has his own free, bookless lore,
The lessons nature taught him,
The wisdom which the woods and hills
And toiling men have brought him:
“The steady force of will whereby
Her flexile grace seems sweeter;
The sturdy counterpoise which makes
Her woman’s life completer.
“A latent fire of soul which lacks
No breath of love to fan it;
And wit, that, like his native brooks,
Plays over solid granite.
“How dwarfed against his manliness
She sees the poor pretension,
The wants, the aims, the follies, born
Of fashion and convention.
“How life behind its accidents
Stands strong and self-sustaining,
The human fact transcending all
The losing and the gaining.
“And so in grateful interchange
Of teacher and of hearer,
Their lives their true distinctness keep
While daily drawing nearer.
“And if the husband or the wife
In home’s strong light discovers
Such slight defaults as failed to meet
The blinded eyes of lovers,
“Why need we care to ask?—who dreams
Without their thorns of roses,
Or wonders that the truest steel
The readiest spark discloses?
“For still in mutual sufferance lies
The secret of true living;
Love scarce is love that never knows
The sweetness of forgiving.
“We send the Squire to General Court,
He takes his young wife thither;
No prouder man election day
Rides through the sweet June weather.
“He sees with eyes of manly trust
All hearts to her inclining;
Not less for him his household light
That others share its shining.”
Thus, while my hostess spake, there grew
Before me, warmer tinted
And outlined with a tenderer grace,
The picture that she hinted.
The sunset smouldered as we drove
Beneath the deep hill-shadows.
Below us wreaths of white fog walked
Like ghosts the haunted meadows.
Sounding the summer night, the stars
Dropped down their golden plummets;
The pale arc of the Northern lights
Rose o’er the mountain summits,—
Until, at last, beneath its bridge,
We heard the Bearcamp flowing,
And saw across the mapled lawn
The welcome home lights glowing;—
And, musing on the tale I heard,
’T were well, thought I, if often
To rugged farm-life came the gift
To harmonize and soften;—
If more and more we found the troth
Of fact and fancy plighted,
And culture’s charm and labor’s strength
In rural homes united,—
The simple life, the homely hearth,
With beauty’s sphere surrounding,
And blessing toil where toil abounds
With graces more abounding.
The Pennsylvania Pilgrim
I sing the Pilgrim of a softer clime
And milder speech than those brave men's who brought
To the ice and iron of our winter time
A will as firm, a creed as stern, and wrought
With one mailed hand, and with the other fought.
Simply, as fits my theme, in homely rhyme
I sing the blue-eyed German Spener taught,
Through whose veiled, mystic faith the Inward Light,
Steady and still, an easy brightness, shone,
Transfiguring all things in its radiance white.
The garland which his meekness never sought
I bring him; over fields of harvest sown
With seeds of blessing, now to ripeness grown,
I bid the sower pass before the reapers' sight.
The Pennsylvania Pilgrim
Never in tenderer quiet lapsed the day
From Pennsylvania's vales of spring away,
Where, forest-walled, the scattered hamlets lay
Along the wedded rivers. One long bar
Of purple cloud, on which the evening star
Shone like a jewel on a scimitar,
Held the sky's golden gateway. Through the deep
Hush of the woods a murmur seemed to creep,
The Schuylkill whispering in a voice of sleep.
All else was still. The oxen from their ploughs
Rested at last, and from their long day's browse
Came the dun files of Krisheim's home-bound cows.
And the young city, round whose virgin zone
The rivers like two mighty arms were thrown,
Marked by the smoke of evening fires alone,
Lay in the distance, lovely even then
With its fair women and its stately men
Gracing the forest court of William Penn,
Urban yet sylvan; in its rough-hewn frames
Of oak and pine the dryads held their claims,
And lent its streets their pleasant woodland names.
Anna Pastorius down the leafy lane
Looked city-ward, then stooped to prune again
Her vines and simples, with a sigh of pain.
For fast the streaks of ruddy sunset paled
In the oak clearing, and, as daylight failed,
Slow, overhead, the dusky night-birds sailed.
Again she looked: between green walls of shade,
With low-bent head as if with sorrow weighed,
Daniel Pastorius slowly came and said,
'God's peace be with thee, Anna!' Then he stood
Silent before her, wrestling with the mood
Of one who sees the evil and not good.
'What is it, my Pastorius?' As she spoke,
A slow, faint smile across his features broke,
Sadder than tears. 'Dear heart,' he said, 'our folk
'Are even as others. Yea, our goodliest Friends
Are frail; our elders have their selfish ends,
And few dare trust the Lord to make amends
'For duty's loss. So even our feeble word
For the dumb slaves the startled meeting heard
As if a stone its quiet waters stirred;
'And, as the clerk ceased reading, there began
A ripple of dissent which downward ran
In widening circles, as from man to man.
'Somewhat was said of running before sent,
Of tender fear that some their guide outwent,
Troublers of Israel. I was scarce intent
'On hearing, for behind the reverend row
Of gallery Friends, in dumb and piteous show,
I saw, methought, dark faces full of woe.
'And, in the spirit, I was taken where
They toiled and suffered; I was made aware
Of shame and wrath and anguish and despair!
'And while the meeting smothered our poor plea
With cautious phrase, a Voice there seemed to be,
As ye have done to these ye do to me!'
'So it all passed; and the old tithe went on
Of anise, mint, and cumin, till the sun
Set, leaving still the weightier work undone.
'Help, for the good man faileth! Who is strong,
If these be weak? Who shall rebuke the wrong,
If these consent? How long, O Lord! how long!'
He ceased; and, bound in spirit with the bound,
With folded arms, and eyes that sought the ground,
Walked musingly his little garden round.
About him, beaded with the falling dew,
Rare plants of power and herbs of healing grew,
Such as Van Helmont and Agrippa knew.
For, by the lore of Gorlitz' gentle sage,
With the mild mystics of his dreamy age
He read the herbal signs of nature's page,
As once he heard in sweet Von Merlau's' bowers
Fair as herself, in boyhood's happy hours,
The pious Spener read his creed in flowers.
'The dear Lord give us patience!' said his wife,
Touching with finger-tip an aloe, rife
With leaves sharp-pointed like an Aztec knife
Or Carib spear, a gift to William Penn
From the rare gardens of John Evelyn,
Brought from the Spanish Main by merchantmen.
'See this strange plant its steady purpose hold,
And, year by year, its patient leaves unfold,
Till the young eyes that watched it first are old.
'But some time, thou hast told me, there shall come
A sudden beauty, brightness, and perfume,
The century-moulded bud shall burst in bloom.
'So may the seed which hath been sown to-day
Grow with the years, and, after long delay,
Break into bloom, and God's eternal Yea!
'Answer at last the patient prayers of them
Who now, by faith alone, behold its stem
Crowned with the flowers of Freedom's diadem.
'Meanwhile, to feel and suffer, work and wait,
Remains for us. The wrong indeed is great,
But love and patience conquer soon or late.'
'Well hast thou said, my Anna!' Tenderer
Than youth's caress upon the head of her
Pastorius laid his hand. 'Shall we demur
'Because the vision tarrieth? In an hour
We dream not of, the slow-grown bud may flower,
And what was sown in weakness rise in power!'
Then through the vine-draped door whose legend read,
'Procul este profani!' Anna led
To where their child upon his little bed
Looked up and smiled. 'Dear heart,' she said, 'if we
Must bearers of a heavy burden be,
Our boy, God willing, yet the day shall see
'When from the gallery to the farthest seat,
Slave and slave-owner shall no longer meet,
But all sit equal at the Master's feet.'
On the stone hearth the blazing walnut block
Set the low walls a-glimmer, showed the cock
Rebuking Peter on the Van Wyck clock,
Shone on old tomes of law and physic, side
By side with Fox and Belimen, played at hide
And seek with Anna, midst her household pride
Of flaxen webs, and on the table, bare
Of costly cloth or silver cup, but where,
Tasting the fat shads of the Delaware,
The courtly Penn had praised the goodwife's cheer,
And quoted Horace o'er her home brewed beer,
Till even grave Pastorius smiled to hear.
In such a home, beside the Schuylkill's wave,
He dwelt in peace with God and man, and gave
Food to the poor and shelter to the slave.
For all too soon the New World's scandal shamed
The righteous code by Penn and Sidney framed,
And men withheld the human rights they claimed.
And slowly wealth and station sanction lent,
And hardened avarice, on its gains intent,
Stifled the inward whisper of dissent.
Yet all the while the burden rested sore
On tender hearts. At last Pastorius bore
Their warning message to the Church's door
In God's name; and the leaven of the word
Wrought ever after in the souls who heard,
And a dead conscience in its grave-clothes stirred
To troubled life, and urged the vain excuse
Of Hebrew custom, patriarchal use,
Good in itself if evil in abuse.
Gravely Pastorius listened, not the less
Discerning through the decent fig-leaf dress
Of the poor plea its shame of selfishness.
One Scripture rule, at least, was unforgot;
He hid the outcast, and betrayed him not;
And, when his prey the human hunter sought,
He scrupled not, while Anna's wise delay
And proffered cheer prolonged the master's stay,
To speed the black guest safely on his way.
Yet, who shall guess his bitter grief who lends
His life to some great cause, and finds his friends
Shame or betray it for their private ends?
How felt the Master when his chosen strove
In childish folly for their seats above;
And that fond mother, blinded by her love,
Besought him that her sons, beside his throne,
Might sit on either hand? Amidst his own
A stranger oft, companionless and lone,
God's priest and prophet stands. The martyr's pain
Is not alone from scourge and cell and chain;
Sharper the pang when, shouting in his train,
His weak disciples by their lives deny
The loud hosannas of their daily cry,
And make their echo of his truth a lie.
His forest home no hermit's cell he found,
Guests, motley-minded, drew his hearth around,
And held armed truce upon its neutral ground.
There Indian chiefs with battle-bows unstrung,
Strong, hero-limbed, like those whom Homer sung,
Pastorius fancied, when the world was young,
Came with their tawny women, lithe and tall,
Like bronzes in his friend Von Rodeck's hall,
Comely, if black, and not unpleasing all.
There hungry folk in homespun drab and gray
Drew round his board on Monthly Meeting day,
Genial, half merry in their friendly way.
Or, haply, pilgrims from the Fatherland,
Weak, timid, homesick, slow to understand
The New World's promise, sought his helping hand.
Or painful Kelpius from his hermit den
By Wissahickon, maddest of good men,
Dreamed o'er the Chiliast dreams of Petersen.
Deep in the woods, where the small river slid
Snake-like in shade, the Helmstadt Mystic hid,
Weird as a wizard, over arts forbid,
Reading the books of Daniel and of John,
And Behmen's Morning-Redness, through the Stone
Of Wisdom, vouchsafed to his eyes alone,
Whereby he read what man ne'er read before,
And saw the visions man shall see no more,
Till the great angel, striding sea and shore,
Shall bid all flesh await, on land or ships,
The warning trump of the Apocalypse,
Shattering the heavens before the dread eclipse.
Or meek-eyed Mennonist his bearded chin
Leaned o'er the gate; or Ranter, pure within,
Aired his perfection in a world of sin.
Or, talking of old home scenes, Op der Graaf
Teased the low back-log with his shodden staff,
Till the red embers broke into a laugh
And dance of flame, as if they fain would cheer
The rugged face, half tender, half austere,
Touched with the pathos of a homesick tear!
Or Sluyter, saintly familist, whose word
As law the Brethren of the Manor heard,
Announced the speedy terrors of the Lord,
And turned, like Lot at Sodom, from his race,
Above a wrecked world with complacent face
Riding secure upon his plank of grace!
Haply, from Finland's birchen groves exiled,
Manly in thought, in simple ways a child,
His white hair floating round his visage mild,
The Swedish pastor sought the Quaker's door,
Pleased from his neighbor's lips to hear once more
His long-disused and half-forgotten lore.
For both could baffle Babel's lingual curse,
And speak in Bion's Doric, and rehearse
Cleanthes' hymn or Virgil's sounding verse.
And oft Pastorius and the meek old man
Argued as Quaker and as Lutheran,
Ending in Christian love, as they began.
With lettered Lloyd on pleasant morns he strayed
Where Sommerhausen over vales of shade
Looked miles away, by every flower delayed,
Or song of bird, happy and free with one
Who loved, like him, to let his memory run
Over old fields of learning, and to sun
Himself in Plato's wise philosophies,
And dream with Philo over mysteries
Whereof the dreamer never finds the keys;
To touch all themes of thought, nor weakly stop
For doubt of truth, but let the buckets drop
Deep down and bring the hidden waters up
For there was freedom in that wakening time
Of tender souls; to differ was not crime;
The varying bells made up the perfect chime.
On lips unlike was laid the altar's coal,
The white, clear light, tradition-colored, stole
Through the stained oriel of each human soul.
Gathered from many sects, the Quaker brought
His old beliefs, adjusting to the thought
That moved his soul the creed his fathers taught.
One faith alone, so broad that all mankind
Within themselves its secret witness find,
The soul's communion with the Eternal Mind,
The Spirit's law, the Inward Rule and Guide,
Scholar and peasant, lord and serf, allied,
The polished Penn and Cromwell's Ironside.
As still in Hemskerck's Quaker Meeting, face
By face in Flemish detail, we may trace
How loose-mouthed boor and fine ancestral grace
Sat in close contrast,-the clipt-headed churl,
Broad market-dame, and simple serving-girl
By skirt of silk and periwig in curl
For soul touched soul; the spiritual treasure-trove
Made all men equal, none could rise above
Nor sink below that level of God's love.
So, with his rustic neighbors sitting down,
The homespun frock beside the scholar's gown,
Pastorius to the manners of the town
Added the freedom of the woods, and sought
The bookless wisdom by experience taught,
And learned to love his new-found home, while not
Forgetful of the old; the seasons went
Their rounds, and somewhat to his spirit lent
Of their own calm and measureless content.
Glad even to tears, he heard the robin sing
His song of welcome to the Western spring,
And bluebird borrowing from the sky his wing.
And when the miracle of autumn came,
And all the woods with many-colored flame
Of splendor, making summer's greenness tame,
Burned, unconsumed, a voice without a sound
Spake to him from each kindled bush around,
And made the strange, new landscape holy ground
And when the bitter north-wind, keen and swift,
Swept the white street and piled the dooryard drift,
He exercised, as Friends might say, his gift
Of verse, Dutch, English, Latin, like the hash
Of corn and beans in Indian succotash;
Dull, doubtless, but with here and there a flash
Of wit and fine conceit,-the good man's play
Of quiet fancies, meet to while away
The slow hours measuring off an idle day.
At evening, while his wife put on her look
Of love's endurance, from its niche he took
The written pages of his ponderous book.
And read, in half the languages of man,
His 'Rusca Apium,' which with bees began,
And through the gamut of creation ran.
Or, now and then, the missive of some friend
In gray Altorf or storied Nurnberg penned
Dropped in upon him like a guest to spend
The night beneath his roof-tree. Mystical
The fair Von Merlau spake as waters fall
And voices sound in dreams, and yet withal
Human and sweet, as if each far, low tone,
Over the roses of her gardens blown
Brought the warm sense of beauty all her own.
Wise Spener questioned what his friend could trace
Of spiritual influx or of saving grace
In the wild natures of the Indian race.
And learned Schurmberg, fain, at times, to look
From Talmud, Koran, Veds, and Pentateuch,
Sought out his pupil in his far-off nook,
To query with him of climatic change,
Of bird, beast, reptile, in his forest range,
Of flowers and fruits and simples new and strange.
And thus the Old and New World reached their hands
Across the water, and the friendly lands
Talked with each other from their severed strands.
Pastorius answered all: while seed and root
Sent from his new home grew to flower and fruit
Along the Rhine and at the Spessart's foot;
And, in return, the flowers his boyhood knew
Smiled at his door, the same in form and hue,
And on his vines the Rhenish clusters grew.
No idler he; whoever else might shirk,
He set his hand to every honest work,-
Farmer and teacher, court and meeting clerk.
Still on the town seal his device is found,
Grapes, flax, and thread-spool on a trefoil ground,
With 'Vinum, Linum et Textrinum' wound.
One house sufficed for gospel and for law,
Where Paul and Grotius, Scripture text and saw,
Assured the good, and held the rest in awe.
Whatever legal maze he wandered through,
He kept the Sermon on the Mount in view,
And justice always into mercy grew.
No whipping-post he needed, stocks, nor jail,
Nor ducking-stool; the orchard-thief grew pale
At his rebuke, the vixen ceased to rail,
The usurer's grasp released the forfeit land;
The slanderer faltered at the witness-stand,
And all men took his counsel for command.
Was it caressing air, the brooding love
Of tenderer skies than German land knew of,
Green calm below, blue quietness above,
Still flow of water, deep repose of wood
That, with a sense of loving Fatherhood
And childlike trust in the Eternal Good,
Softened all hearts, and dulled the edge of hate,
Hushed strife, and taught impatient zeal to wait
The slow assurance of the better state?
Who knows what goadings in their sterner way
O'er jagged ice, relieved by granite gray,
Blew round the men of Massachusetts Bay?
What hate of heresy the east-wind woke?
What hints of pitiless power and terror spoke
In waves that on their iron coast-line broke?
Be it as it may: within the Land of Penn
The sectary yielded to the citizen,
And peaceful dwelt the many-creeded men.
Peace brooded over all. No trumpet stung
The air to madness, and no steeple flung
Alarums down from bells at midnight rung.
The land slept well. The Indian from his face
Washed all his war-paint off, and in the place
Of battle-marches sped the peaceful chase,
Or wrought for wages at the white man's side,-
Giving to kindness what his native pride
And lazy freedom to all else denied.
And well the curious scholar loved the old
Traditions that his swarthy neighbors told
By wigwam-fires when nights were growing cold,
Discerned the fact round which their fancy drew
Its dreams, and held their childish faith more true
To God and man than half the creeds he knew.
The desert blossomed round him; wheat-fields rolled
Beneath the warm wind waves of green and gold;
The planted ear returned its hundred-fold.
Great clusters ripened in a warmer sun
Than that which by the Rhine stream shines upon
The purpling hillsides with low vines o'errun.
About each rustic porch the humming-bird
Tried with light bill, that scarce a petal stirred,
The Old World flowers to virgin soil transferred;
And the first-fruits of pear and apple, bending
The young boughs down, their gold and russet blending,
Made glad his heart, familiar odors lending
To the fresh fragrance of the birch and pine,
Life-everlasting, bay, and eglantine,
And all the subtle scents the woods combine.
Fair First-Day mornings, steeped in summer calm,
Warm, tender, restful, sweet with woodland balm,
Came to him, like some mother-hallowed psalm
To the tired grinder at the noisy wheel
Of labor, winding off from memory's reel
A golden thread of music. With no peal
Of bells to call them to the house of praise,
The scattered settlers through green forest-ways
Walked meeting-ward. In reverent amaze
The Indian trapper saw them, from the dim
Shade of the alders on the rivulet's rim,
Seek the Great Spirit's house to talk with Him.
There, through the gathered stillness multiplied
And made intense by sympathy, outside
The sparrows sang, and the gold-robin cried,
A-swing upon his elm. A faint perfume
Breathed through the open windows of the room
From locust-trees, heavy with clustered bloom.
Thither, perchance, sore-tried confessors came,
Whose fervor jail nor pillory could tame,
Proud of the cropped ears meant to be their shame,
Men who had eaten slavery's bitter bread
In Indian isles; pale women who had bled
Under the hangman's lash, and bravely said
God's message through their prison's iron bars;
And gray old soldier-converts, seamed with scars
From every stricken field of England's wars.
Lowly before the Unseen Presence knelt
Each waiting heart, till haply some one felt
On his moved lips the seal of silence melt.
Or, without spoken words, low breathings stole
Of a diviner life from soul to soul,
Baptizing in one tender thought the whole.
When shaken hands announced the meeting o'er,
The friendly group still lingered at the door,
Greeting, inquiring, sharing all the store
Of weekly tidings. Meanwhile youth and maid
Down the green vistas of the woodland strayed,
Whispered and smiled and oft their feet delayed.
Did the boy's whistle answer back the thrushes?
Did light girl laughter ripple through the bushes,
As brooks make merry over roots and rushes?
Unvexed the sweet air seemed. Without a wound
The ear of silence heard, and every sound
Its place in nature's fine accordance found.
And solemn meeting, summer sky and wood,
Old kindly faces, youth and maidenhood
Seemed, like God's new creation, very good!
And, greeting all with quiet smile and word,
Pastorius went his way. The unscared bird
Sang at his side; scarcely the squirrel stirred
At his hushed footstep on the mossy sod;
And, wheresoe'er the good man looked or trod,
He felt the peace of nature and of God.
His social life wore no ascetic form,
He loved all beauty, without fear of harm,
And in his veins his Teuton blood ran warm.
Strict to himself, of other men no spy,
He made his own no circuit-judge to try
The freer conscience of his neighbors by.
With love rebuking, by his life alone,
Gracious and sweet, the better way was shown,
The joy of one, who, seeking not his own,
And faithful to all scruples, finds at last
The thorns and shards of duty overpast,
And daily life, beyond his hope's forecast,
Pleasant and beautiful with sight and sound,
And flowers upspringing in its narrow round,
And all his days with quiet gladness crowned.
He sang not; but, if sometimes tempted strong,
He hummed what seemed like Altorf's Burschen-song;
His good wife smiled, and did not count it wrong.
For well he loved his boyhood's brother band;
His Memory, while he trod the New World's strand,
A double-ganger walked the Fatherland
If, when on frosty Christmas eves the light
Shone on his quiet hearth, he missed the sight
Of Yule-log, Tree, and Christ-child all in white;
And closed his eyes, and listened to the sweet
Old wait-songs sounding down his native street,
And watched again the dancers' mingling feet;
Yet not the less, when once the vision passed,
He held the plain and sober maxims fast
Of the dear Friends with whom his lot was cast.
Still all attuned to nature's melodies,
He loved the bird's song in his dooryard trees,
And the low hum of home-returning bees;
The blossomed flax, the tulip-trees in bloom
Down the long street, the beauty and perfume
Of apple-boughs, the mingling light and gloom
Of Sommerhausen's woodlands, woven through
With sun-threads; and the music the wind drew,
Mournful and sweet, from leaves it overblew.
And evermore, beneath this outward sense,
And through the common sequence of events,
He felt the guiding hand of Providence
Reach out of space. A Voice spake in his ear,
And to all other voices far and near
Died at that whisper, full of meanings clear.
The Light of Life shone round him; one by one
The wandering lights, that all-misleading run,
Went out like candles paling in the sun.
That Light he followed, step by step, where'er
It led, as in the vision of the seer
The wheels moved as the spirit in the clear
And terrible crystal moved, with all their eyes
Watching the living splendor sink or rise,
Its will their will, knowing no otherwise.
Within himself he found the law of right,
He walked by faith and not the letter's sight,
And read his Bible by the Inward Light.
And if sometimes the slaves of form and rule,
Frozen in their creeds like fish in winter's pool,
Tried the large tolerance of his liberal school,
His door was free to men of every name,
He welcomed all the seeking souls who came,
And no man's faith he made a cause of blame.
But best he loved in leisure hours to see
His own dear Friends sit by him knee to knee,
In social converse, genial, frank, and free.
There sometimes silence (it were hard to tell
Who owned it first) upon the circle fell,
Hushed Anna's busy wheel, and laid its spell
On the black boy who grimaced by the hearth,
To solemnize his shining face of mirth;
Only the old clock ticked amidst the dearth
Of sound; nor eye was raised nor hand was stirred
In that soul-sabbath, till at last some word
Of tender counsel or low prayer was heard.
Then guests, who lingered but farewell to say
And take love's message, went their homeward way;
So passed in peace the guileless Quaker's day.
His was the Christian's unsung Age of Gold,
A truer idyl than the bards have told
Of Arno's banks or Arcady of old.
Where still the Friends their place of burial keep,
And century-rooted mosses o'er it creep,
The Nurnberg scholar and his helpmeet sleep.
And Anna's aloe? If it flowered at last
In Bartram's garden, did John Woolman cast
A glance upon it as he meekly passed?
And did a secret sympathy possess
That tender soul, and for the slave's redress
Lend hope, strength, patience? It were vain to guess.
Nay, were the plant itself but mythical,
Set in the fresco of tradition's wall
Like Jotham's bramble, mattereth not at all.
Enough to know that, through the winter's frost
And summer's heat, no seed of truth is lost,
And every duty pays at last its cost.
For, ere Pastorius left the sun and air,
God sent the answer to his life-long prayer;
The child was born beside the Delaware,
Who, in the power a holy purpose lends,
Guided his people unto nobler ends,
And left them worthier of the name of Friends.
And to! the fulness of the time has come,
And over all the exile's Western home,
From sea to sea the flowers of freedom bloom!
And joy-bells ring, and silver trumpets blow;
But not for thee, Pastorius! Even so
The world forgets, but the wise angels know.