Father, I wait thy word. The sun doth stand
Beneath the mingling line of night and day,
A listening servant, waiting thy command
To roll rejoicing on its silent way;
The tongue of time abides the appointed hour,
Till on our ear its silent warnings fall;
The heavy cloud withholds the pelting shower,
Then every drop speeds onward at thy call;
The bird reposes on the yielding bough,
With breast unswollen by the tide of song;
So does my spirit wait thy presence now
To pour thy praise in quickening life along,
Chiding with voice divine man’s lengthened sleep,
While round the Unuttered Word and Love their vigils keep.

Thy Beauty Fades

Thy beauty fades and with it too my love,
For 'twas the self-same stalk that bore its flower;
Soft fell the rain, and breaking from above
The sun looked out upon our nuptial hour;
And I had thought forever by thy side
With bursting buds of hope in youth to dwell,
But one by one Time strewed thy petals wide,
And every hope's wan look a grief can tell:
For I had thoughtless lived beneath his sway,
Who like a tyrant dealeth with us all,
Crowning each rose, though rooted on decay,
With charms that shall the spirit's love enthral,
And for a season turn the soul's pure eyes
From virtue's changeless bloom that time and death defies.

He was not armed like those of eastern clime,
Whose heavy axes felled their heathen foe;
Nor was he clad like those of later time,
Whose breast-worn cross betrayed no cross below;
Nor was he of the tribe of Levi born,
Whose pompous rites proclaim how vain their prayer;
Whose chilling words are heard at night and morn,
Who rend their robes but still their hearts would spare;
But he nor steel nor sacred robe had on,
Yet went he forth in God's almighty power;
He spoke the word whose will is ever done
From day's first dawn till earth's remotest hour;
And mountains melted from his presence down,
And hell affrighted fled before his frown.

There is no moment but whose flight doth bring
Bright clouds and fluttering leaves to deck my bower;
And I within like some sweet bird must sing
To tell the story of the passing hour;
For time has secrets that no bird has sung,
Nor changing leaf with changing season told;
They wait the utterance of some nobler tongue
Like that which spoke in prophet tones of old;
Then day and night, and month and year shall tell
The tale that speaks but faint from bird and bough;
In spirit-songs their praise shall upward swell
Nor longer pass heaven's gate unheard as now,
But cause e'en angels' ears to catch the strain,
And send it back to earth in joy again.

I see them crowd on crowd they walk the earth
Dry, leafless trees no Autumn wind laid bare,
And in their nakedness find cause for mirth,
And all unclad would winter's rudeness dare;
No sap doth through their clattering branches flow,
Whence springing leaves and blossoms bright appear;
Their hearts the living God have ceased to know,
Who gives the spring time to th'expectant year;
They mimic life, as if from him to steal
His glow of health to paint the livid cheek;
They borrow words for thoughts they cannot feel,
That with a seeming heart their tongue may speak;
And in their show of life more dead they live
Than those that to the earth with many tears they give.

THE ROAD is left that once was trod
By man and heavy-laden beast;
And new ways opened, iron-shod,
That bind the land from west to east.

I asked of Him who all things knows
Why none who lived now passed that way:
Where rose the dust the grass now grows?
A still, low voice was heard to say,—

“Thou knowest not why I change the course
Of him who travels: learn to go,
Obey the Spirit’s gentle force,
Nor ask thou where the stream may flow.

“Man shall not walk in his own ways,
For he is blind and cannot see;
But let him trust, and lengthened days
Shall lead his feet to heaven and Me.

Then shall the grass the path grow o’er,
That his own wilfulness has trod;
And man nor beast shall pass it more,
But he shall walk with Me, his God.”

To The Painted Columbine

Bright image of the early years
When glowed my cheek as red as thou,
And life's dark throng of cares and fears
Were swift-winged shadows o'er my sunny brow!

Thou blushest from the painter's page,
Robed in the mimic tints of art;
But Nature's hand in youth's green age
With fairer hues first traced thee on my heart.

The morning's blush, she made it thine,
The morn's sweet breath, she gave it thee,
And in thy look, my Columbine!
Each fond-remembered spot she bade me see.

I see the hill's far-gazing head,
Where gay thou noddest in the gale;
I hear light-bounding footsteps tread
The grassy path that winds along the vale.

I hear the voice of woodland song
Break from each bush and well-known tree,
And on light pinions borne along,
Comes back the laugh from childhood's heart of glee.

O'er the dark rock the dashing brook,
With look of anger, leaps again,
And, hastening to each flowery nook,
Its distant voice is heard far down the glen.

Fair child of art! thy charms decay,
Touched by the withered hand of Time;
And hushed the music of that day,
When my voice mingled with the streamlet's chime;

But on my heart thy cheek of bloom
Shall live when Nature's smile has fled;
And, rich with memory's sweet perfume,
Shall o'er her grave thy tribute incense shed.

There shalt thou live and wake the glee
That echoed on thy native hill;
And when, loved flower! I think of thee,
My infant feet will seem to seek thee still.

To The Fossil Flower

Dark fossil flower! I see thy leaves unrolled,
With all thy lines of beauty freshly marked,
As when the eye of Morn beamed on thee first,
And thou first turn'dst to meet its welcome smile.
And sometimes in the coals' bright rain-bow hues,
I dream I see the colors of thy prime,
And for a moment robe thy form again
In splendor not its own. Flower of the past!
Now as I look on thee, life's echoing tread
Falls noiseless on my ear; the present dies;
And o'er my soul the thoughts of distant time,
In silent waves, like billows from the sea,
Come roling on and on, with ceaseless flow,
Innumerable. Thou may'st have sprung unsown
Into thy noon of life, when first earth heard
Its Maker's sovereign voice; and laughing flowers
Waved o'er the meadows, hung on mountain crags,
And nodded in the breeze on every hill.
Thou may'st have bloomed unseen, save by the stars
That sang together o'er thy rosy birth,
And came at eve to watch thy folded rest.
None may have sought thee on thy flagrant home,
Save light-voiced winds that round thy dwelling played,
Or seemed to sigh, as oft their winged haste
Compelled their feet to roam. Thou may'st have lived
Beneath the light of later days, when man
With feet free-roving as the homeless wind,
Sealed the thick-mantled height, coursed plains unshorn,
Breaking the solitude of nature's haunt
With voice that seemed to blend, in one sweet strain,
The mingled music of the elements.
And when against his infant frame they rose,
Uncurbed, unawed by his yet feeble hand,
And when the muttering storm, and shouting wave,
And rattling thunder, mated, round him raged,
And seemed at times like dæmon foes to gird,
Thou may'st have won with gentle look his heart,
And stirred the first warm prayer of gratitude,
And been his first, his simplest altar-gift.
For thee, dark flower! the kindling sun can bring
No more the colors that it gave, nor morn,
With kindly kiss, restore thy breathing sweets:
Yet may the mind's mysterious touch recall
The bloom and fragrance of thy early prime:
For HE who to the lowly lily gave
A glory richer than to proudest king,
He painted not those darkly-shining leaves,
With blushes like the dawn, in vain; nor gave
To thee its sweetly-scented breath, to waste
Upon the barren air. E'en though thou stood
Alone in nature's forest-home untrod,
The first-love of the stars and sighing winds,
The mineral holds with faithful trust thy form,
To wake in human hearts sweet thoughts of love,
Now the dark past hangs round thy memory.