Hymn Of Trust
O Love Divine, that stooped to share
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,
On Thee we cast each earth-born care,
We smile at pain while Thou art near!
Though long the weary way we tread,
And sorrow crown each lingering year,
No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Our hearts still whispering, Thou art near!
When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
And trembling faith is changed to fear,
The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf,
Shall softly tell us, Thou art near!
On Thee we fling our burdening woe,
O Love Divine, forever dear,
Content to suffer while we know,
Living and dying, Thou art near!
Hymn At The Funeral Services Of Charles Sumner
APRIL 29, 1874
SUNG BY MALE VOICES TO A NATIONAL AIR OF HOLLAND
ONCE more, ye sacred towers,
Your solemn dirges sound;
Strew, loving hands, the April flowers,
Once more to deck his mound.
A nation mourns its dead,
Its sorrowing voices one,
As Israel's monarch bowed his head
And cried, 'My son! My son!'
Why mourn for him?--For him
The welcome angel came
Ere yet his eye with age was dim
Or bent his stately frame;
His weapon still was bright,
His shield was lifted high
To slay the wrong, to save the right,--
What happier hour to die?
Thou orderest all things well;
Thy servant's work was done;
He lived to hear Oppression's knell,
The shouts for Freedom won.
Hark!! from the opening skies
The anthem's echoing swell,--
'O mourning Land, lift up thine eyes!
God reigneth. All is well!'
The Poet’s Lot
WHAT is a poet's love?--
To write a girl a sonnet,
To get a ring, or some such thing,
And fustianize upon it.
What is a poet's fame?--
Sad hints about his reason,
And sadder praise from garreteers,
To be returned in season.
Where go the poet's lines?--
Answer, ye evening tapers!
Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls,
Speak from your folded papers!
Child of the ploughshare, smile;
Boy of the counter, grieve not,
Though muses round thy trundle-bed
Their broidered tissue weave not.
The poet's future holds
No civic wreath above him;
Nor slated roof, nor varnished chaise,
Nor wife nor child to love him.
Maid of the village inn,
Who workest woe on satin,
(The grass in black, the graves in green,
The epitaph in Latin,)
Trust not to them who say,
In stanzas, they adore thee;
Oh rather sleep in churchyard clay,
With urn and cherub o'er thee!
WHY linger round the sunken wrecks
Where old Armadas found their graves?
Why slumber on the sleepy decks
While foam and clash the angry waves?
Up! when the storm-blast rends the clouds,
And winged with ruin sweeps the gale,
Young feet must climb the quivering shrouds,
Young hands must reef the bursting sail!
Leave us to fight the tyrant creeds
Who felt their shackles, feel their scars;
The cheerful sunlight little heeds
The brutes that prowled beneath the stars;
The dawn is here, the day star shows
The spoils of many a battle won,
But sin and sorrow still are foes
That face us in the morning sun.
Who sleeps beneath yon bannered mound
The proudly sorrowing mourner seeks,
The garland-bearing crowd surrounds?
A light-haired boy with beardless cheeks!
'T is time this 'fallen world' should rise;
Let youth the sacred work begin!
What nobler task, what fairer prize
Than earth to save and Heaven to win?
Lines By A Clerk
OH! I did love her dearly,
And gave her toys and rings,
And I thought she meant sincerely,
When she took my pretty things.
But her heart has grown as icy
As a fountain in the fall,
And her love, that was so spicy,
It did not last at all.
I gave her once a locket,
It was filled with my own hair,
And she put it in her pocket
With very special care.
But a jeweller has got it,--
He offered it to me,--
And another that is not it
Around her neck I see.
For my cooings and my billings
I do not now complain,
But my dollars and my shillings
Will never come again;
They were earned with toil and sorrow,
But I never told her that,
And now I have to borrow,
And want another hat.
Think, think, thou cruel Emma,
When thou shalt hear my woe,
And know my sad dilemma,
That thou hast made it so.
See, see my beaver rusty,
Look, look upon this hole,
This coat is dim and dusty;
Oh let it rend thy soul!
Before the gates of fashion
I daily bent my knee,
But I sought the shrine of passion,
And found my idol,--thee.
Though never love intenser
Had bowed a soul before it,
Thine eye was on the censer,
And not the hand that bore it.
The Last Look
W. W. SWAIN
BEHOLD--not him we knew!
This was the prison which his soul looked through,
Tender, and brave, and true.
His voice no more is heard;
And his dead name--that dear familiar word--
Lies on our lips unstirred.
He spake with poet's tongue;
Living, for him the minstrel's lyre was strung:
He shall not die unsung.
Grief tried his love, and pain;
And the long bondage of his martyr-chain
Vexed his sweet soul,--in vain!
It felt life's surges break,
As, girt with stormy seas, his island lake,
Smiling while tempests wake.
How can we sorrow more?
Grieve not for him whose heart had gone before
To that untrodden shore!
Lo, through its leafy screen,
A gleam of sunlight on a ring of green,
Untrodden, half unseen!
Here let his body rest,
Where the calm shadows that his soul loved best
May slide above his breast.
Smooth his uncurtained bed;
And if some natural tears are softly shed,
It is not for the dead.
Fold the green turf aright
For the long hours before the morning's light,
And say the last Good Night!
And plant a clear white stone
Close by those mounds which hold his loved, his own,--
Lonely, but not alone.
Here let him sleeping lie,
Till Heaven's bright watchers slumber in the sky
And Death himself shall die!
In Memory Of Charles Wentworth Upham, Jr.
HE was all sunshine; in his face
The very soul of sweetness shone;
Fairest and gentlest of his race;
None like him we can call our own.
Something there was of one that died
In her fresh spring-time long ago,
Our first dear Mary, angel-eyed,
Whose smile it was a bliss to know.
Something of her whose love imparts
Such radiance to her day's decline,
We feel its twilight in our hearts
Bright as the earliest morning-shine.
Yet richer strains our eye could trace
That made our plainer mould more fair,
That curved the lip with happier grace,
That waved the soft and silken hair.
Dust unto dust! the lips are still
That only spoke to cheer and bless;
The folded hands lie white and chill
Unclasped from sorrow's last caress.
Leave him in peace; he will not heed
These idle tears we vainly pour,
Give back to earth the fading weed
Of mortal shape his spirit wore.
'Shall I not weep my heartstrings torn,
My flower of love that falls half blown,
My youth uncrowned, my life forlorn,
A thorny path to walk alone?'
O Mary! one who bore thy name,
Whose Friend and Master was divine,
Sat waiting silent till He came,
Bowed down in speechless grief like thine.
'Where have ye laid him?' 'Come,' they say,
Pointing to where the loved one slept;
Weeping, the sister led the way,--
And, seeing Mary, 'Jesus wept.'
He weeps with thee, with all that mourn,
And He shall wipe thy streaming eyes
Who knew all sorrows, woman-born,--
Trust in his word; thy dead shall rise!
To A Blank Sheet Of Paper
WAN-VISAGED thing! thy virgin leaf
To me looks more than deadly pale,
Unknowing what may stain thee yet,--
A poem or a tale.
Who can thy unborn meaning scan?
Can Seer or Sibyl read thee now?
No,--seek to trace the fate of man
Writ on his infant brow.
Love may light on thy snowy cheek,
And shake his Eden-breathing plumes;
Then shalt thou tell how Lelia smiles,
Or Angelina blooms.
Satire may lift his bearded lance,
Forestalling Time's slow-moving scythe,
And, scattered on thy little field,
Disjointed bards may writhe.
Perchance a vision of the night,
Some grizzled spectre, gaunt and thin,
Or sheeted corpse, may stalk along,
Or skeleton may grin.
If it should be in pensive hour
Some sorrow-moving theme I try,
Ah, maiden, how thy tears will fall,
For all I doom to die!
But if in merry mood I touch
Thy leaves, then shall the sight of thee
Sow smiles as thick on rosy lips
As ripples on the sea.
The Weekly press shall gladly stoop
To bind thee up among its sheaves;
The Daily steal thy shining ore,
To gild its leaden leaves.
Thou hast no tongue, yet thou canst speak,
Till distant shores shall hear the sound;
Thou hast no life, yet thou canst breathe
Fresh life on all around.
Thou art the arena of the wise,
The noiseless battle-ground of fame;
The sky where halos may be wreathed
Around the humblest name.
Take, then, this treasure to thy trust,
To win some idle reader's smile,
Then fade and moulder in the dust,
Or swell some bonfire's pile.
The Opening Of The Piano
IN the little southern parlor of tbe house you may have seen
With the gambrel-roof, and the gable looking westward to the green,
At the side toward the sunset, with the window on its right,
Stood the London-made piano I am dreaming of to-night!
Ah me! how I remember the evening when it came!
What a cry of eager voices, what a group of cheeks in flame,
When the wondrous box was opened that had come from over seas,
With its smell of mastic-varnish and its flash of ivory keys!
Then the children all grew fretful in the restlessness of joy,
For the boy would push his sister, and the sister crowd the boy,
Till the father asked for quiet in his grave paternal way,
But the mother hushed the tumult with the words, "Now, Mary, play."
For the dear soul knew that music was a very sovereign balm;
She had sprinkled it over Sorrow and seen its brow grow calm,
In the days of slender harpsichords with tapping tinkling quills,
Or carolling to her spinet with its thin metallic thrills.
So Mary, the household minstrel, who always loved to please,
Sat down to the new "Clementi," and struck the glittering keys.
Hushed were the children's voices, and every eye grew dim,
As, floating from lip and finger, arose the "Vesper Hymn."
Catharine, child of a neighbor, curly and rosy-red,
(Wedded since, and a widow,-- something like ten years dead,)
Hearing a gush of music such as none before,
Steals from her mother's chamber and peeps at the open door.
Just as the "Jubilate" in threaded whisper dies,
"Open it! open it, lady!" the little maiden cries,
(For she thought 't was a singing creature caged in a box she heard,)
"Open it! open it, lady! and let me see the bird!"
In Memory Of John And Robert Ware
No mystic charm, no mortal art,
Can bid our loved companions stay;
The bands that clasp them to our heart
Snap in death's frost and fall apart;
Like shadows fading with the day,
They pass away.
The young are stricken in their pride,
The old, long tottering, faint and fall;
Master and scholar, side by side,
Through the dark portals silent glide,
That open in life's mouldering wall
And close on all.
Our friend's, our teacher's task was done,
When Mercy called him from on high;
A little cloud had dimmed the sun,
The saddening hours had just begun,
And darker days were drawing nigh:
'T was time to die.
A whiter soul, a fairer mind,
A life with purer course and aim,
A gentler eye, a voice more kind,
We may not look on earth to find.
The love that lingers o'er his name
Is more than fame.
These blood-red summers ripen fast;
The sons are older than the sires;
Ere yet the tree to earth is cast,
The sapling falls before the blast;
Life's ashes keep their covered fires,--
Its flame expires.
Struck by the noiseless, viewless foe,
Whose deadlier breath than shot or shell
Has laid the best and bravest low,
His boy, all bright in morning's glow,
That high-souled youth he loved so well,
Yet still he wore his placid smile,
And, trustful in the cheering creed
That strives all sorrow to beguile,
Walked calmly on his way awhile
Ah, breast that leans on breaking reed
Must ever bleed!
So they both left us, sire and son,
With opening leaf, with laden bough
The youth whose race was just begun,
The wearied man whose course was run,
Its record written on his brow,
Are brothers now.
Brothers!--The music of the sound
Breathes softly through my closing strain;
The floor we tread is holy ground,
Those gentle spirits hovering round,
While our fair circle joins again
Its broken chain.
James Russell Lowell
THOU shouldst have sung the swan-song for the choir
That filled our groves with music till the day
Lit the last hilltop with its reddening fire,
And evening listened for thy lingering lay.
But thou hast found thy voice in realms afar
Where strains celestial blend their notes with thine;
Some cloudless sphere beneath a happier star
Welcomes the bright-winged spirit we resign.
How Nature mourns thee in the still retreat
Where passed in peace thy love-enchanted hours!
Where shall she find an eye like thine to greet
Spring's earliest footprints on her opening flowers?
Have the pale wayside weeds no fond regret
For him who read the secrets they enfold?
Shall the proud spangles of the field forget
The verse that lent new glory to their gold?
And ye whose carols wooed his infant ear,
Whose chants with answering woodnotes he repaid,
Have ye no song his spirit still may hear
From Elmwood's vaults of overarching shade?
Friends of his studious hours, who thronged to teach
The deep-read scholar all your varied lore,
Shall he no longer seek your shelves to reach
The treasure missing from his world-wide store?
This singer whom we long have held so dear
Was Nature's darling, shapely, strong, and fair;
Of keenest wit, of judgment crystal-clear,
Easy of converse, courteous, debonair,
Fit for the loftiest or the lowliest lot,
Self-poised, imperial, yet of simplest ways;
At home alike in castle or in cot,
True to his aim, let others blame or praise.
Freedom he found an heirloom from his sires;
Song, letters, statecraft, shared his years in turn;
All went to feed the nation's altar-fires
Whose mourning children wreathe his funeral urn.
He loved New England,--people, language, soil,
Unweaned by exile from her arid breast.
Farewell awhile, white-handed son of toil,
Go with her brown-armed laborers to thy rest.
Peace to thy slumber in the forest shade!
Poet and patriot, every gift was thine;
Thy name shall live while summers bloom and fade,
And grateful Memory guard thy leafy shrine!
Brother Jonathan's Lament
SHE has gone,-- she has left us in passion and pride,--
Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side!
She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow,
And turned on her brother the face of a foe!
Oh, Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
We can never forget that our hearts have been one,--
Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name,
From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!
You were always too ready to fire at a touch;
But we said, "She is hasty,-- she does not mean much."
We have scowled, when you uttered some turbulent threat;
But Friendship still whispered, "Forgive and forget!"
Has our love all died out? Have its altars grown cold?
Has the curse come at last which the fathers foretold?
Then Nature must teach us the strength of the chain
That her petulant children would sever in vain.
They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil,
Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil,
Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their caves,
And the shark tracks the pirate, the lord of the waves:
In vain is the strife! When its fury is past,
Their fortunes must flow in one channel at last,
As the torrents that rush from the mountains of snow
Roll mingled in peace through the valleys below.
Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky:
Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die!
Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel,
The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!
Oh, Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
There are battles with Fate that can never be won!
The star-flowering banner must never be furled,
For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!
Go, then, our rash sister! afar and aloof,
Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof;
But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore,
Remember the pathway that leads to our door!
The Parting Word
I must leave thee, lady sweet
Months shall waste before we meet;
Winds are fair and sails are spread,
Anchors leave their ocean bed;
Ere this shining day grow dark,
Skies shall gird my shoreless bark.
Through thy tears, O lady mine,
Read thy loverâ€™s parting line.
When the first sad sun shall set,
Thou shalt tear thy locks of jet;
When the morning star shall rise,
Thou shalt wake with weeping eyes;
When the second sun goes down,
Thou more tranquil shalt be grown,
Taught too well that wild despair
Dims thine eyes and spoils thy hair.
All the first unquiet week
Thou shalt wear a smileless cheek;
In the first monthâ€™s second half
Thou shalt once attempt to laugh;
Then in Pickwick thou shalt dip,
Slightly puckering round the lip,
Till at last, in sorrowâ€™s spite,
Samuel makes thee laugh outright.
While the first seven mornings last,
Round thy chamber bolted fast
Many a youth shall fume and pout,
â€œHang the girl, sheâ€™s always out!â€
While the second week goes round,
Vainly shall they ring and pound;
When the third week shall begin,
â€œMartha, let the creature in.â€
Now once more the flattering throng
Round thee flock with smile and song,
But thy lips, unweaned as yet,
Lisp, â€œOh, how can I forget!â€
Men and devils both contrive
Traps for catching girls alive;
Eve was duped, and Helen kissed,â€”Â
How, oh how can you resist?
First be careful of your fan,
Trust it not to youth or man;
Love has filled a pirateâ€™s sail
Often with its perfumed gale.
Mind your kerchief most of all,
Fingers touch when kerchiefs fall;
Shorter ell than mercers clip
Is the space from hand to lip.
Trust not such as talk in tropes,
Full of pistols, daggers, ropes;
All the hemp that Russia bears
Scarce would answer loversâ€™ prayers;
Never thread was spun so fine,
Never spider stretched the line,
Would not hold the lovers true
That would really swing for you.
Fiercely some shall storm and swear,
Beating breasts in black despair;
Others murmur with a sigh,
You must melt, or they will die:
Painted words on empty lies,
Grubs with wings like butterflies;
Let them die, and welcome, too;
Pray what better could they do?
Fare thee well: if years efface
From thy heart loveâ€™s burning trace,
Keep, oh keep that hallowed seat
From the tread of vulgar feet;
If the blue lips of the sea
Wait with icy kiss for me,
Let not thine forget the vow,
Sealed how often, Love, as now.
I MAY not rightly call thy name,â€”Â
Alas! thy forehead never knew
The kiss that happier children claim,
Nor glistened with baptismal dew.
Daughter of want and wrong and woe,
I saw thee with thy sister-band,
Snatched from the whirlpoolâ€™s narrowing flow
By Mercyâ€™s strong yet trembling hand.
â€œAvis!â€â€”ÂWith Saxon eye and cheek,
At once a woman and a child,
The saint uncrowned I came to seek
Drew near to greet us,â€”Âspoke, and smiled.
God gave that sweet sad smile she wore
All wrong to shame, all souls to win,â€”Â
A heavenly sunbeam sent before
Her footsteps through a world of sin.
â€œAnd who is Avis?â€â€”ÂHear the tale
The calm-voiced matrons gravely tell,â€”Â
The story known through all the vale
Where Avis and her sisters dwell.
With the lost children running wild,
Strayed from the hand of human care,
They find one little refuse child
Left helpless in its poisoned lair.
The primal mark is on her face,â€”Â
The chattel-stamp,â€”Âthe pariah-stain
That follows still her hunted race,â€”Â
The curse without the crime of Cain.
How shall our smooth-turned phrase relate
The little suffering outcastâ€™s ail?
Not Lazarus at the rich manâ€™s gate
So turned the rose-wreathed revellers pale.
Ah, veil the living death from sight
That wounds our beauty-loving eye!
The children turn in selfish fright,
The white-lipped nurses hurry by.
Take her, dread Angel! Break in love
This bruised reed and make it thine!â€”Â
No voice descended from above,
But Avis answered, â€œShe is mine.â€
The task that dainty menials spurn
The fair young girl has made her own;
Her heart shall teach, her hand shall learn
The toils, the duties yet unknown.
So Love and Death in lingering strife
Stand face to face from day to day,
Still battling for the spoil of Life
While the slow seasons creep away.
Love conquers Death; the prize is won;
See to her joyous bosom pressed
The dusky daughter of the sun,â€”Â
The bronze against the marble breast!
Her task is done; no voice divine
Has crowned her deeds with saintly fame.
No eye can see the aureole shine
That rings her brow with heavenly flame.
Yet what has holy page more sweet,
Or what had womanâ€™s love more fair,
When Mary clasped her Saviourâ€™s feet
With flowing eyes and streaming hair?
Meek child of sorrow, walk unknown,
The Angel of that earthly throng,
And let thine image live alone
To hallow this unstudied song!
OLD TIME, in whose bank we deposit our notes,
Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
He keeps all his customers still in arrears
By lending them minutes and charging them years.
The twelvemonth rolls round and we never forget
On the counter before us to pay him our debt.
We reckon the marks he has chalked on the door,
Pay up and shake hands and begin a new score.
How long he will lend us, how much we may owe,
No angel will tell us, no mortal may know.
At fivescore, at fourscore, at threescore and ten,
He may close the account with a stroke of his pen.
This only we know,--amid sorrows and joys
Old Time has been easy and kind with 'The Boys.'
Though he must have and will have and does have his pay,
We have found him good-natured enough in his way.
He never forgets us, as others will do,--
I am sure he knows me, and I think he knows you,
For I see on your foreheads a mark that he lends
As a sign he remembers to visit his friends.
In the shape of a classmate (a wig on his crown,--
His day-book and ledger laid carefully down)
He has welcomed us yearly, a glass in his hand,
And pledged the good health of our brotherly band.
He 's a thief, we must own, but how many there be
That rob us less gently and fairly than he
He has stripped the green leaves that were over us all,
But they let in the sunshine as fast as they fall.
Young beauties may ravish the world with a glance
As they languish in song, as they float in the dance,--
They are grandmothers now we remember as girls,
And the comely white cap takes the place of the curls.
But the sighing and moaning and groaning are o'er,
We are pining and moping and sleepless no more,
And the hearts that were thumping like ships on the rocks
Beat as quiet and steady as meeting-house clocks.
The trump of ambition, loud sounding and shrill,
May blow its long blast, but the echoes are still,
The spring-tides are past, but no billow may reach
The spoils they have landed far up on the beach.
We see that Time robs us, we know that he cheats,
But we still find a charm in his pleasant deceits,
While he leaves the remembrance of all that was best,
Love, friendship, and hope, and the promise of rest.
Sweet shadows of twilight! how calm their repose,
While the dewdrops fall soft in the breast of the rose!
How blest to the toiler his hour of release
When the vesper is heard with its whisper of peace!
Then here's to the wrinkled old miser, our friend;
May he send us his bills to the century's end,
And lend us the moments no sorrow alloys,
Till he squares his account with the last of 'The Boys.'
The Meeting Of The Dryads
IT was not many centuries since,
When, gathered on the moonlit green,
Beneath the Tree of Liberty,
A ring of weeping sprites was seen.
The freshman's lamp had long been dim,
The voice of busy day was mute,
And tortured Melody had ceased
Her sufferings on the evening flute.
They met not as they once had met,
To laugh o'er many a jocund tale
But every pulse was beating low,
And every cheek was cold and pale.
There rose a fair but faded one,
Who oft had cheered them with her song;
She waved a mutilated arm,
And silence held the listening throng.
'Sweet friends,' the gentle nymph began,
'From opening bud to withering leaf,
One common lot has bound us all,
In every change of joy and grief.
'While all around has felt decay,
We rose in ever-living prime,
With broader shade and fresher green,
Beneath the crumbling step of Time.
'When often by our feet has past
Some biped, Nature's walking whim,
Say, have we trimmed one awkward shape,
Or lopped away one crooked limb?
'Go on, fair Science; soon to thee
Shall. Nature yield her idle boast;
Her vulgar fingers formed a tree,
But thou halt trained it to a post.
'Go, paint the birch's silver rind,
And quilt the peach with softer down;
Up with the willow's trailing threads,
Off with the sunflower's radiant crown!
'Go, plant the lily on the shore,
And set the rose among the waves,
And bid the tropic bud unbind
Its silken zone in arctic caves;
'Bring bellows for the panting winds,
Hang up a lantern by the moon,
And give the nightingale a fife,
And lend the eagle a balloon!
'I cannot smile,--the tide of scorn,
That rolled through every bleeding vein,
Comes kindling fiercer as it flows
Back to its burning source again.
'Again in every quivering leaf
That moment's agony I feel,
When limbs, that spurned the northern blast,
Shrunk from the sacrilegious steel.
'A curse upon the wretch who dared
To crop us with his felon saw!
May every fruit his lip shall taste
Lie like a bullet in his maw.
'In every julep that he drinks,
May gout, and bile, and headache be;
And when he strives to calm his pain,
May colic mingle with his tea.
'May nightshade cluster round his path,
And thistles shoot, and brambles cling;
May blistering ivy scorch his veins,
And dogwood burn, and nettles sting.
'On him may never shadow fall,
When fever racks his throbbing brow,
And his last shilling buy a rope
To hang him on my highest bough!'
She spoke;--the morning's herald beam
Sprang from the bosom of the sea,
And every mangled sprite returned
In sadness to her wounded tree.
How long will this harp which you once loved to hear
Cheat your lips of a smile or your eyes of a tear?
How long stir the echoes it wakened of old,
While its strings were unbroken, untarnished its gold?
Dear friends of my boyhood, my words do you wrong;
The heart, the heart only, shall throb in my song;
It reads the kind answer that looks from your eyes,--
'We will bid our old harper play on till he dies.'
Though Youth, the fair angel that looked o'er the strings,
Has lost the bright glory that gleamed on his wings,
Though the freshness of morning has passed from its tone
It is still the old harp that was always your own.
I claim not its music,--each note it affords
I strike from your heart-strings, that lend me its chords;
I know you will listen and love to the last,
For it trembles and thrills with the voice of your past.
Ah, brothers! dear brothers! the harp that I hold
No craftsman could string and no artisan mould;
He shaped it, He strung it, who fashioned the lyres
That ring with the hymns of the seraphim choirs.
Not mine are the visions of beauty it brings,
Not mine the faint fragrance around it that clings;
Those shapes are the phantoms of years that are fled,
Those sweets breathe from roses your summers have shed.
Each hour of the past lends its tribute to this,
Till it blooms like a bower in the Garden of Bliss;
The thorn and the thistle may grow as they will,
Where Friendship unfolds there is Paradise still.
The bird wanders careless while summer is green,
The leaf-hidden cradle that rocked him unseen;
When Autumn's rude fingers the woods have undressed,
The boughs may look bare, but they show him his nest.
Too precious these moments! the lustre they fling
Is the light of our year, is the gem of its ring,
So brimming with sunshine, we almost forget
The rays it has lost, and its border of jet.
While round us the many-hued halo is shed,
How dear are the living, how near are the dead!
One circle, scarce broken, these waiting below,
Those walking the shores where the asphodels blow!
Not life shall enlarge it nor death shall divide,--
No brother new-born finds his place at my side;
No titles shall freeze us, no grandeurs infest,
His Honor, His Worship, are boys like the rest.
Some won the world's homage, their names we hold dear,--
But Friendship, not Fame, is the countersign here;
Make room by the conqueror crowned in the strife
For the comrade that limps from the battle of life!
What tongue talks of battle? Too long we have heard
In sorrow, in anguish, that terrible word;
It reddened the sunshine, it crimsoned the wave,
It sprinkled our doors with the blood of our brave.
Peace, Peace comes at last, with her garland of white;
Peace broods in all hearts as we gather to-night;
The blazon of Union spreads full in the sun;
We echo its words,--We are one! We are one!
A Memorial Tribute
READ AT THE MEETING HELD AT MUSIC HALL,
FEBRUARY 8, 1876, IN MEMORY OF DR. SAMUEL G. HOWE
LEADER of armies, Israel's God,
Thy soldier's fight is won!
Master, whose lowly path he trod,
Thy servant's work is done!
No voice is heard from Sinai's steep
Our wandering feet to guide;
From Horeb's rock no waters leap;
No Jordan's waves divide;
No prophet cleaves our western sky
On wheels of whirling fire;
No shepherds hear the song on high
Of heaven's angelic choir.
Yet here as to the patriarch's tent
God's angel comes a guest;
He comes on heaven's high errand sent,
In earth's poor raiment drest.
We see no halo round his brow
Till love its own recalls,
And, like a leaf that quits the bough,
The mortal vesture falls.
In autumn's chill declining day,
Ere winter's killing frost,
The message came; so passed away
The friend our earth has lost.
Still, Father, in thy love we trust;
Forgive us if we mourn
The saddening hour that laid in dust
His robe of flesh outworn.
How long the wreck-strewn journey seems
To reach the far-off past
That woke his youth from peaceful dreams
With Freedom's trumpet-blast.
Along her classic hillsides rung
The Paynim's battle-cry,
And like a red-cross knight he sprung
For her to live or die.
No trustier service claimed the wreath
For Sparta's bravest son;
No truer soldier sleeps beneath
The mound of Marathon;
Yet not for him the warrior's grave
In front of angry foes;
To lift, to shield, to help, to save,
The holier task he chose.
He touched the eyelids of the blind,
And lo! the veil withdrawn,
As o'er the midnight of the mind
He led the light of dawn.
He asked not whence the fountains roll
No traveller's foot has found,
But mapped the desert of the soul
Untracked by sight or sound.
What prayers have reached the sapphire throne,
By silent fingers spelt,
For him who first through depths unknown
His doubtful pathway felt,
Who sought the slumbering sense that lay
Close shut with bolt and bar,
And showed awakening thought the ray
Of reason's morning star.
Where'er he moved, his shadowy form
The sightless orbs would seek,
And smiles of welcome light and warm
The lips that could not speak.
No labored line, no sculptor's art,
Such hallowed memory needs;
His tablet is the human heart,
His record loving deeds.
The rest that earth denied is thine,--
Ah, is it rest? we ask,
Or, traced by knowledge more divine,
Some larger, nobler task?
Had but those boundless fields of blue
One darkened sphere like this;
But what has heaven for thee to do
In realms of perfect bliss?
No cloud to lift, no mind to clear,
No rugged path to smooth,
No struggling soul to help and cheer,
No mortal grief to soothe!
Enough; is there a world of love,
No more we ask to know;
The hand will guide thy ways above
That shaped thy task below.
On The Death Of President Garfield
FALLEN with autumn's falling leaf
Ere yet his summer's noon was past,
Our friend, our guide, our trusted chief,--
What words can match a woe so vast!
And whose the chartered claim to speak
The sacred grief where all have part,
Where sorrow saddens every cheek
And broods in every aching heart?
Yet Nature prompts the burning phrase
That thrills the hushed and shrouded hall,
The loud lament, the sorrowing praise,
The silent tear that love lets fall.
In loftiest verse, in lowliest rhyme,
Shall strive unblamed the minstrel choir,---
The singers of the new-born time,
And trembling age with outworn lyre.
No room for pride, no place for blame,--
We fling our blossoms on the grave,
Pale,--scentless,--faded,--all we claim,
This only,--what we had we gave.
Ah, could the grief of all who mourn
Blend in one voice its bitter cry,
The wail to heaven's high arches borne
Would echo through the caverned sky.
O happiest land, whose peaceful choice
Fills with a breath its empty throne!
God, speaking through thy people's voice,
Has made that voice for once His own.
No angry passion shakes the state
Whose weary servant seeks for rest;
And who could fear that scowling hate
Would strike at that unguarded breast?
He stands, unconscious of his doom,
In manly strength, erect, serene;
Around him Summer spreads her bloom;
He falls,--what horror clothes the scene!
How swift the sudden flash of woe
Where all was bright as childhood's dream!
As if from heaven's ethereal bow
Had leaped the lightning's arrowy gleam.
Blot the foul deed from history's page;
Let not the all-betraying sun
Blush for the day that stains an age
When murder's blackest wreath was won.
Pale on his couch the sufferer lies,
The weary battle-ground of pain
Love tends his pillow; Science tries
Her every art, alas! in vain.
The strife endures how long! how long!
Life, death, seem balanced in the scale,
While round his bed a viewless throng
Await each morrow's changing tale.
In realms the desert ocean parts
What myriads watch with tear-filled eyes,
His pulse-beats echoing in their hearts,
His breathings counted with their sighs!
Slowly the stores of life are spent,
Yet hope still battles with despair;
Will Heaven not yield when knees are bent?
Answer, O thou that hearest prayer.
But silent is the brazen sky;
On sweeps the meteor's threatening train,
Unswerving Nature's mute reply,
Bound in her adamantine chain.
Not ours the verdict to decide
Whom death shall claim or skill shall save;
The hero's life though Heaven denied,
It gave our land a martyr's grave.
Nor count the teaching vainly sent
How human hearts their griefs may share,--
The lesson woman's love has lent,
What hope may do, what faith can bear!
Farewell! the leaf-strown earth enfolds
Our stay, our pride, our hopes, our fears,
And autumn's golden sun beholds
A nation bowed, a world in tears.
Epilogue To The Breakfast-Table Series
AT A BOOKSTORE
Anno Domini 1972
A CRAZY bookcase, placed before
A low-price dealer's open door;
Therein arrayed in broken rows
A ragged crew of rhyme and prose,
The homeless vagrants, waifs, and strays
Whose low estate this line betrays
(Set forth the lesser birds to lime)
YOUR CHOICE AMONG THESE BOORS 1 DIME!
Ho! dealer; for its motto's sake
This scarecrow from the shelf I take;
Three starveling volumes bound in one,
Its covers warping in the sun.
Methinks it hath a musty smell,
I like its flavor none too well,
But Yorick's brain was far from dull,
Though Hamlet pah!'d, and dropped his skull.
Why, here comes rain! The sky grows dark,--
Was that the roll of thunder? Hark!
The shop affords a safe retreat,
A chair extends its welcome seat,
The tradesman has a civil look
(I 've paid, impromptu, for my book),
The clouds portend a sudden shower,--
I 'll read my purchase for an hour.
What have I rescued from the shelf?
A Boswell, writing out himself!
For though he changes dress and name,
The man beneath is still the same,
Laughing or sad, by fits and starts,
One actor in a dozen parts,
And whatsoe'er the mask may be,
The voice assures us, This is he.
I say not this to cry him down;
I find my Shakespeare in his clown,
His rogues the selfsame parent own;
Nay! Satan talks in Milton's tone!
Where'er the ocean inlet strays,
The salt sea wave its source betrays;
Where'er the queen of summer blows,
She tells the zephyr, 'I'm the rose!'
And his is not the playwright's page;
His table does not ape the stage;
What matter if the figures seen
Are only shadows on a screen,
He finds in them his lurking thought,
And on their lips the words he sought,
Like one who sits before the keys
And plays a tune himself to please.
And was he noted in his day?
Read, flattered, honored? Who shall say?
Poor wreck of time the wave has cast
To find a peaceful shore at last,
Once glorying in thy gilded name
And freighted deep with hopes of fame,
Thy leaf is moistened with a tear,
The first for many a long, long year.
For be it more or less of art
That veils the lowliest human heart
Where passion throbs, where friendship glows,
Where pity's tender tribute flows,
Where love has lit its fragrant fire,
And sorrow quenched its vain desire,
For me the altar is divine,
Its flame, its ashes,--all are mine!
And thou, my brother, as I look
And see thee pictured in thy book,
Thy years on every page confessed
In shadows lengthening from the west,
Thy glance that wanders, as it sought
Some freshly opening flower of thought,
Thy hopeful nature, light and free,
I start to find myself in thee!
. . . . . . . . . . .
Come, vagrant, outcast, wretch forlorn
In leather jerkin stained and torn,
Whose talk has filled my idle hour
And made me half forget the shower,
I'll do at least as much for you,
Your coat I'll patch, your gilt renew,
Read you--perhaps--some other time.
Not bad, my bargain! Price one dime!
For Class Meeting
IT is a pity and a shame--alas! alas! I know it is,
To tread the trodden grapes again, but so it has been,
so it is;
The purple vintage long is past, with ripened
clusters bursting so
They filled the wine-vats to the brim,-'t is strange
you will be thirsting so!
Too well our faithful memory tells what might be
rhymed or sung about,
For all have sighed and some have wept since last
year's snows were flung about;
The beacon flame that fired the sky, the modest
ray that gladdened us,
A little breath has quenched their light, and
deepening shades have saddened us.
No more our brother's life is ours for cheering or
for grieving us,
One only sadness they bequeathed, the sorrow of
their leaving us;
Farewell! Farewell!--I turn the leaf I read my
chiming measure in;
Who knows but something still is there a friend
may find a pleasure in?
For who can tell by what he likes what other
people's fancies are?
How all men think the best of wives their own
particular Nancies are?
If what I sing you brings a smile, you will not stop
Nor read Bceotia's lumbering line with nicely
scanning Attic eyes.
Perhaps the alabaster box that Mary broke so
While Judas looked so sternly on, the Master so
Was not so fairly wrought as those that Pilate's
wife and daughters had,
Or many a dame of Judah's line that drank of
Jordan's waters had.
Perhaps the balm that cost so dear, as some
The precious nard that filled the room with
fragrance so deliciously,
So oft recalled in storied page and sung in verse
The dancing girl had thought too cheap,--that
daughter of Herodias.
Where now are all the mighty deeds that Herod
boasted loudest of?
Where now the flashing jewelry the tetrarch's wife
was proudest of?
Yet still to hear how Mary loved, all tribes of men
And still the sinful woman's tears like stars
heaven are glistening.
'T is not the gift our hands have brought, the love
it is we bring with it,--
The minstrel's lips may shape the song, his heart
in tune must sing with it;
And so we love the simple lays, and wish we might
have more of them,
Our poet brothers sing for us,--there must be half
a score of them.
It may be that of fame and name our voices once
With deeper thoughts, with tenderer throbs their
softening tones are tremulous;
The dead seem listening as of old, ere friendship
was bereft of them;
The living wear a kinder smile, the remnant that
is left of them.
Though on the once unfurrowed brows the harrow-
teeth of Time may show,
Though all the strain of crippling years the halting
feet of rhyme may show,
We look and hear with melting hearts, for what
we all remember is
The morn of Spring, nor heed how chill the sky of
gray November is.
Thanks to the gracious powers above from all mankind
that singled us,
And dropped the pearl of friendship in the cup they
kindly mingled us,
And bound us in a wreath of flowers with hoops of
steel knit under it;--
Nor time, nor space, nor chance, nor change, nor
death himself shall sunder it!
'OUR FIRST CITIZEN'
WINTER'S cold drift lies glistening o'er his breast;
For him no spring shall bid the leaf unfold
What Love could speak, by sudden grief oppressed,
What swiftly summoned Memory tell, is told.
Even as the bells, in one consenting chime,
Filled with their sweet vibrations all the air,
So joined all voices, in that mournful time,
His genius, wisdom, virtues, to declare.
What place is left for words of measured praise,
Till calm-eyed History, with her iron pen,
Grooves in the unchanging rock the final phrase
That shapes his image in the souls of men?
Yet while the echoes still repeat his name,
While countless tongues his full-orbed life rehearse,
Love, by his beating pulses taught, will claim
The breath of song, the tuneful throb of verse,--
Verse that, in ever-changing ebb and flow,
Moves, like the laboring heart, with rush and rest,
Or swings in solemn cadence, sad and slow,
Like the tired heaving of a grief-worn breast.
This was a mind so rounded, so complete,
No partial gift of Nature in excess,
That, like a single stream where many meet,
Each separate talent counted something less.
A little hillock, if it lonely stand,
Holds o'er the fields an undisputed reign;
While the broad summit of the table-land
Seems with its belt of clouds a level plain.
Servant of all his powers, that faithful slave,
Unsleeping Memory, strengthening with his toils,
To every ruder task his shoulder gave,
And loaded every day with golden spoils.
Order, the law of Heaven, was throned supreme
O'er action, instinct, impulse, feeling, thought;
True as the dial's shadow to the beam,
Each hour was equal to the charge it brought.
Too large his compass for the nicer skill
That weighs the world of science grain by grain;
All realms of knowledge owned the mastering will
That claimed the franchise of its whole domain.
Earth, air, sea, sky, the elemental fire,
Art, history, song,--what meanings lie in each
Found in his cunning hand a stringless lyre,
And poured their mingling music through his speech.
Thence flowed those anthems of our festal days,
Whose ravishing division held apart
The lips of listening throngs in sweet amaze,
Moved in all breasts the selfsame human heart.
Subdued his accents, as of one who tries
To press some care, some haunting sadness down;
His smile half shadow; and to stranger eyes
The kingly forehead wore an iron crown.
He was not armed to wrestle with the storm,
To fight for homely truth with vulgar power;
Grace looked from every feature, shaped his form,
The rose of Academe,--the perfect flower!
Such was the stately scholar whom we knew
In those ill days of soul-enslaving calm,
Before the blast of Northern vengeance blew
Her snow-wreathed pine against the Southern palm.
Ah, God forgive us! did we hold too cheap
The heart we might have known, but would not see,
And look to find the nation's friend asleep
Through the dread hour of her Gethsemane?
That wrong is past; we gave him up to Death
With all a hero's honors round his name;
As martyrs coin their blood, he coined his breath,
And dimmed the scholar's in the patriot's fame.
So shall we blazon on the shaft we raise,--
Telling our grief, our pride, to unborn years,--
'He who had lived the mark of all men's praise
Died with the tribute of a Nation's tears.'
GRANDMOTHER's mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.
On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view,--
Look! there's a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century's fringe of dust,--
That was a Red-Coat's rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy's daughter's daughter, told.
Who the painter was none may tell,--
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Fist as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.
Look not on her with eyes of scorn,--
Dorothy Q. was a lady born!
Ay! since the galloping Normans came,
England's annals have known her name;
And still to the three-hilled rebel town
Dear is that ancient name's renown,
For many a civic wreath they won,
The youthful sire and the gray-haired son.
O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.!
Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
Such a gift as never a king
Save to daughter or son might bring,--
All my tenure of heart and hand,
All my title to house and land;
Mother and sister and child and wife
And joy and sorrow and death and life!
What if a hundred years ago
Those close-shut lips had answered NO,
When forth the tremulous question came
That cost the maiden her Norman name,
And under the folds that look so still
The bodice swelled with the bosom's thrill?
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another, to nine tenths me?
Soft is the breath of a maiden's YES:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.
O lady and lover, how faint and far
Your images hover,-- and here we are,
Solid and stirring in flesh and bone,--
Edward's and Dorothy's-- all their own,--
A goodly record for Time to show
Of a syllable spoken so long ago!--
Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive
For the tender whisper that bade me live?
It shall be a blessing, my little maid!
I will heal the stab of the Red-Coat's blade,
And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,
And gild with a rhyme your household name;
So you shall smile on us brave and bright
As first you greeted the morning's light,
And live untroubled by woes and fears
Through a second youth of a hundred years.
The Smiling Listener
PRECISELY. I see it. You all want to say
That a tear is too sad and a laugh is too gay;
You could stand a faint smile, you could manage a sigh,
But you value your ribs, and you don't want to cry.
And why at our feast of the clasping of hands
Need we turn on the stream of our lachrymal glands?
Though we see the white breakers of age on our bow,
Let us take a good pull in the jolly-boat now!
It's hard if a fellow cannot feel content
When a banquet like this does n't cost him a cent,
When his goblet and plate he may empty at will,
And our kind Class Committee will settle the bill.
And here's your old friend, the identical bard
Who has rhymed and recited you verse by the yard
Since the days of the empire of Andrew the First
Till you 're full to the brim and feel ready to burst.
It's awful to think of,--how year after year
With his piece in his pocket he waits for you here;
No matter who's missing, there always is one
To lug out his manuscript, sure as a gun.
'Why won't he stop writing?' Humanity cries
The answer is briefly, 'He can't if he tries;
He has played with his foolish old feather so long,
That the goose-quill in spite of him cackles in song.'
You have watched him with patience from morning to dusk
Since the tassel was bright o'er the green of the husk,
And now--it 's too bad--it 's a pitiful job--
He has shelled the ripe ear till he's come to the cob.
I see one face beaming--it listens so well
There must be some music yet left in my shell--
The wine of my soul is not thick on the lees;
One string is unbroken, one friend I can please!
Dear comrade, the sunshine of seasons gone by
Looks out from your tender and tear-moistened eye,
A pharos of love on an ice-girdled coast,--
Kind soul!--Don't you hear me?--He's deaf as a post!
Can it be one of Nature's benevolent tricks
That you grow hard of hearing as I grow prolix?
And that look of delight which would angels beguile
Is the deaf man's prolonged unintelligent smile?
Ah! the ear may grow dull, and the eye may wax dim,
But they still know a classmate--they can't mistake him;
There is something to tell us, 'That's one of our band,'
Though we groped in the dark for a touch of his hand.
Well, Time with his snuffers is prowling about
And his shaky old fingers will soon snuff us out;
There's a hint for us all in each pendulum tick,
For we're low in the tallow and long in the wick.
You remember Rossini--you 've been at the play?
How his overture-endings keep crashing away
Till you think, 'It 's all over--it can't but stop now--
That 's the screech and the bang of the final bow-wow.'
And you find you 're mistaken; there 's lots more to come,
More banging, more screeching of fiddle and drum,
Till when the last ending is finished and done,
You feel like a horse when the winning-post 's won.
So I, who have sung to you, merry or sad,
Since the days when they called me a promising lad,
Though I 've made you more rhymes than a tutor could scan,
Have a few more still left, like the razor-strop man.
Now pray don't be frightened--I 'm ready to stop
My galloping anapests' clatter and pop--
In fact, if you say so, retire from to-day
To the garret I left, on a poet's half-pay.
And yet--I can't help it--perhaps--who can tell?
You might miss the poor singer you treated so well,
And confess you could stand him five minutes or so,
'It was so like old times we remember, you know.'
'T is not that the music can signify much,
But then there are chords that awake with a touch,--
And our hearts can find echoes of sorrow and joy
To the winch of the minstrel who hails from Savoy.
So this hand-organ tune that I cheerfully grind
May bring the old places and faces to mind,
And seen in the light of the past we recall
The flowers that have faded bloom fairest of all!
For The Commemoration Services
CAMBRIDGE, JULY 21, 1865
FOUR summers coined their golden light in leaves,
Four wasteful autumns flung them to the gale,
Four winters wore the shroud the tempest weaves,
The fourth wan April weeps o'er hill and vale;
And still the war-clouds scowl on sea and land,
With the red gleams of battle staining through,
When lo! as parted by an angel's hand,
They open, and the heavens again are blue!
Which is the dream, the present or the past?
The night of anguish or the joyous morn?
The long, long years with horrors overcast,
Or the sweet promise of the day new-born?
Tell us, O father, as thine arms infold
Thy belted first-born in their fast embrace,
Murmuring the prayer the patriarch breathed of old,--
'Now let me die, for I have seen thy face!'
Tell us, O mother,--nay, thou canst not speak,
But thy fond eyes shall answer, brimmed with joy,--
Press thy mute lips against the sunbrowned cheek,
Is this a phantom,--thy returning boy?
Tell us, O maiden,--ah, what canst thou tell
That Nature's record is not first to teach,--
The open volume all can read so well,
With its twin rose-hued pages full of speech?
And ye who mourn your dead,--how sternly true
The crushing hour that wrenched their lives away,
Shadowed with sorrow's midnight veil for you,
For them the dawning of immortal day!
Dream-like these years of conflict, not a dream!
Death, ruin, ashes tell the awful tale,
Read by the flaming war-track's lurid gleam
No dream, but truth that turns the nations pale.
For on the pillar raised by martyr hands
Burns the rekindled beacon of the right,
Sowing its seeds of fire o'er all the lands,--
Thrones look a century older in its light!
Rome had her triumphs; round the conqueror's car
The ensigns waved, the brazen clarions blew,
And o'er the reeking spoils of bandit war
With outspread wings the cruel eagles flew;
Arms, treasures, captives, kings in clanking chains
Urged on by trampling cohorts bronzed and scarred,
And wild-eyed wonders snared on Lybian plains,
Lion and ostrich and camelopard.
Vain all that praetors clutched, that consuls brought
When Rome's returning legions crowned their lord;
Less than the least brave deed these hands have wrought,
We clasp, unclinching from the bloody sword.
Theirs was the mighty work that seers foretold;
They know not half their glorious toil has won,
For this is Heaven's same battle,-joined of old
When Athens fought for us at Marathon!
Behold a vision none hath understood!
The breaking of the Apocalyptic seal;
Twice rings the summons.--Hail and fire and blood!
Then the third angel blows his trumpet-peal.
Loud wail the dwellers on the myrtled coasts,
The green savannas swell the maddened cry,
And with a yell from all the demon hosts
Falls the great star called Wormwood from the sky!
Bitter it mingles with the poisoned flow
Of the warm rivers winding to the shore,
Thousands must drink the waves of death and woe,
But the star Wormwood stains the heavens no more!
Peace smiles at last; the Nation calls her sons
To sheathe the sword; her battle-flag she furls,
Speaks in glad thunders from unspotted guns,
No terror shrouded in the smoke-wreath's curls.
O ye that fought for Freedom, living, dead,
One sacred host of God's anointed Queen,
For every holy, drop your veins have shed
We breathe a welcome to our bowers of green!
Welcome, ye living! from the foeman's gripe
Your country's banner it was yours to wrest,--
Ah, many a forehead shows the banner-stripe,
And stars, once crimson, hallow many a breast.
And ye, pale heroes, who from glory's bed
Mark when your old battalions form in line,
Move in their marching ranks with noiseless tread,
And shape unheard the evening countersign,
Come with your comrades, the returning brave;
Shoulder to shoulder they await you here;
These lent the life their martyr-brothers gave,--
Living and dead alike forever dear!
Homesick In Heaven
THE DIVINE VOICE
Go seek thine earth-born sisters,--thus the Voice
That all obey,--the sad and silent three;
These only, while the hosts of Heaven rejoice,
Smile never; ask them what their sorrows be;
And when the secret of their griefs they tell,
Look on them with thy mild, half-human eyes;
Say what thou wast on earth; thou knowest well;
So shall they cease from unavailing sighs.
Why thus, apart,--the swift-winged herald spake,--
Sit ye with silent lips and unstrung lyres
While the trisagion's blending chords awake
In shouts of joy from all the heavenly choirs?
Chide not thy sisters,--thus the answer came;--
Children of earth, our half-weaned nature clings
To earth's fond memories, and her whispered name
Untunes our quivering lips, our saddened strings;
For there we loved, and where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts,
Though o'er us shine the jasper-lighted dome:--
The chain may lengthen, but it never parts!
Sometimes a sunlit sphere comes rolling by,
And then we softly whisper,--can it be?
And leaning toward the silvery orb, we try
To hear the music of its murmuring sea;
To catch, perchance, some flashing glimpse of green,
Or breathe some wild-wood fragrance, wafted through
The opening gates of pearl, that fold between
The blinding splendors and the changeless blue.
Nay, sister, nay! a single healing leaf
Plucked from the bough of yon twelve-fruited tree
Would soothe such anguish,--deeper stabbing grief
Has pierced thy throbbing heart--
THE FIRST SPIRIT
Ah, woe is me! I from my clinging babe was rudely torn;
His tender lips a loveless bosom pressed;
Can I forget him in my life new born?
Oh that my darling lay upon my breast!
THE SECOND SPIRIT
I was a fair and youthful bride,
The kiss of love still burns upon my cheek,
He whom I worshipped, ever at my side,--
Him through the spirit realm in vain I seek.
Sweet faces turn their beaming eyes on mine;
Ah! not in these the wished-for look I read;
Still for that one dear human smile I pine;
_Thou and none other!_--is the lover's creed.
And whence thy sadness in a world of bliss
Where never parting comes, nor mourner's tear?
Art thou, too, dreaming of a mortal's kiss
Amid the seraphs of the heavenly sphere?
THE THIRD SPIRIT
Nay, tax not me with passion's wasting fire;
When the swift message set my spirit free,
Blind, helpless, lone, I left my gray-haired sire;
My friends were many, he had none save me.
I left him, orphaned, in the starless night;
Alas, for him no cheerful morning's dawn
I wear the ransomed spirit's robe of white,
Yet still I hear him moaning, _She is gone!_
Ye know me not, sweet sisters?--All in vain
Ye seek your lost ones in the shapes they wore;
The flower once opened may not bud again,
The fruit once fallen finds the stem no more.
Child, lover, sire,--yea, all things loved below,--
Fair pictures damasked on a vapor's fold,--
Fade like the roseate flush, the golden glow,
When the bright curtain of the day is rolled.
I was the babe that slumbered on thy breast.
And, sister, mine the lips that called thee bride.
Mine were the silvered locks thy hand caressed,
That faithful hand, my faltering footstep's guide!
Each changing form, frail vesture of decay,
The soul unclad forgets it once hath worn,
Stained with the travel of the weary day,
And shamed with rents from every wayside
To lie, an infant, in thy fond embrace,--
To come with love's warm kisses back to thee,--
To show thine eyes thy gray-haired father's face,
Not Heaven itself could grant; this may not be!
Then spread your folded wings, and leave to earth
The dust once breathing ye have mourned so long,
Till Love, new risen, owns his heavenly birth,
And sorrow's discords sweeten into song!
The Last Survivor
YES! the vacant chairs tell sadly we are going, going fast,
And the thought comes strangely o'er me, who will live to be the last?
When the twentieth century's sunbeams climb the far-off eastern hill,
With his ninety winters burdened, will he greet the morning still?
Will he stand with Harvard's nurslings when they hear their mother's call
And the old and young are gathered in the many alcoved hall?
Will he answer to the summons when they range themselves in line
And the young mustachioed marshal calls out 'Class of '29 '?
Methinks I see the column as its lengthened ranks appear
In the sunshine of the morrow of the nineteen hundredth year;
Through the yard 't is creeping, winding, by the walls of dusky red,--
What shape is that which totters at the long procession's head?
Who knows this ancient graduate of fourscore years and ten,--
What place he held, what name he bore among the sons of men?
So speeds the curious question; its answer travels slow;
''T is the last of sixty classmates of seventy years ago.'
His figure shows but dimly, his face I scarce can see,--
There's something that reminds me,--it looks like--is it he?
He? Who? No voice may whisper what wrinkled brow shall claim
The wreath of stars that circles our last survivor's name.
Will he be some veteran minstrel, left to pipe in feeble rhyme
All the stories and the glories of our gay and golden time?
Or some quiet, voiceless brother in whose lonely,loving breast
Fond memory broods in silence, like a dove upon her nest?
Will it be some old Emeritus, who taught so long ago
The boys that heard him lecture have heads as white as snow?
Or a pious, painful preacher, holding forth from year to year
Till his colleague got a colleague whom the young folks flocked to hear?
Will it be a rich old merchant in a square-tied white cravat,
Or select-man of a village in a pre-historic hat?
Will his dwelling be a mansion in a marble-fronted row,
Or a homestead by a hillside where the huckleberries grow?
I can see our one survivor, sitting lonely by himself,--
All his college text-books round him, ranged in order on their shelf;
There are classic 'interliners' filled with learning's choicest pith,
Each _cum notis variorum, quas recensuit doctus_ Smith;
Physics, metaphysics, logic, mathematics--all the lot
Every wisdom--crammed octavo he has mastered and forgot,
With the ghosts of dead professors standing guard beside them all;
And the room is fall of shadows which their lettered backs recall.
How the past spreads out in vision with its far receding train,
Like a long embroidered arras in the chambers of the brain,
From opening manhood's morning when first we learned to grieve
To the fond regretful moments of our sorrow-saddened eve!
What early shadows darkened our idle summer's joy
When death snatched roughly from us that lovely bright-eyed boy!
The years move swiftly onwards; the deadly shafts fall fast,--
Till all have dropped around him--lo, there he stands,--the last!
Their faces flit before him, some rosy-hued and fair,
Some strong in iron manhood, some worn with toil and care;
Their smiles no more shall greet him on cheeks with pleasure flushed!
The friendly hands are folded, the pleasant voices hushed!
My picture sets me dreaming; alas! and can it be
Those two familiar faces we never more may see?
In every entering footfall I think them drawing near,
With every door that opens I say, 'At last they 're here!'
The willow bends unbroken when angry tempests blow,
The stately oak is levelled and all its strength laid low;
So fell that tower of manhood, undaunted, patient, strong,
White with the gathering snowflakes, who faced the storm so long.
And he,--what subtle phrases their varying light must blend
To paint as each remembers our many-featured friend!
His wit a flash auroral that laughed in every look,
His talk a sunbeam broken on the ripples of a brook,
Or, fed from thousand sources, a fountain's glittering jet,
Or careless handfuls scattered of diamond sparks unset;
Ah, sketch him, paint him, mould him in every shape you will,
He was himself--the only--the one unpictured still!
Farewell! our skies are darkened and--yet the stars will shine,
We 'll close our ranks together and still fall into line
Till one is left, one only, to mourn for all the rest;
And Heaven bequeath their memories to him who loves us best!
The Iron Gate
WHERE is this patriarch you are kindly greeting?
Not unfamiliar to my ear his name,
Nor yet unknown to many a joyous meeting
In days long vanished,-- is he still the same,
Or changed by years, forgotten and forgetting,
Dull-eared, dim-sighted, slow of speech and thought,
Still o'er the sad, degenerate present fretting,
Where all goes wrong, and nothing as it ought?
Old age, the graybeard! Well, indeed, I know him,--
Shrunk, tottering, bent, of aches and ills the prey;
In sermon, story, fable, picture, poem,
Oft have I met him from my earliest day:
In my old Aesop, toiling with his bundle,--
His load of sticks,-- politely asking Death,
Who comes when called for,-- would he lug or trundle
His fagot for him?-- he was scant of breath.
And sad "Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher,"--
Has he not stamped tbe image on my soul,
In that last chapter, where the worn-out Teacher
Sighs o'er the loosened cord, the broken bowl?
Yes, long, indeed, I 've known him at a distance,
And now my lifted door-latch shows him here;
I take his shrivelled hand without resistance,
And find him smiling as his step draws near.
What though of gilded baubles he bereaves us,
Dear to the heart of youth, to manhood's prime;
Think of the calm he brings, the wealth he leaves us,
The hoarded spoils, the legacies of time!
Altars once flaming, still with incense fragrant,
Passion's uneasy nurslings rocked asleep,
Hope's anchor faster, wild desire less vagrant,
Life's flow less noisy, but the stream how deep!
Still as the silver cord gets worn and slender,
Its lightened task-work tugs with lessening strain,
Hands get more helpful, voices, grown more tender,
Soothe with their softened tones the slumberous brain.
Youth longs and manhood strives, but age remembers,
Sits by the raked-up ashes of the past,
Spreads its thin hands above the whitening embers
That warm its creeping life-blood till the last.
Dear to its heart is every loving token
That comes unbidden era its pulse grows cold,
Ere the last lingering ties of life are broken,
Its labors ended and its story told.
Ah, while around us rosy youth rejoices,
For us the sorrow-laden breezes sigh,
And through the chorus of its jocund voices
Throbs the sharp note of misery's hopeless cry.
As on the gauzy wings of fancy flying
From some far orb I track our watery sphere,
Home of the struggling, suffering, doubting, dying,
The silvered globule seems a glistening tear.
But Nature lends her mirror of illusion
To win from saddening scenes our age-dimmed eyes,
And misty day-dreams blend in sweet confusion
The wintry landscape and the summer skies.
So when the iron portal shuts behind us,
And life forgets us in its noise and whirl,
Visions that shunned the glaring noonday find us,
And glimmering starlight shows the gates of pearl.
I come not here your morning hour to sadden,
A limping pilgrim, leaning on his staff,--
I, who have never deemed it sin to gladden
This vale of sorrows with a wholesome laugh.
If word of mine another's gloom has brightened,
Through my dumb lips the heaven-sent message came;
If hand of mine another's task has lightened,
It felt the guidance that it dares not claim.
But, O my gentle sisters, O my brothers,
These thick-sown snow-flakes hint of toil's release;
These feebler pulses bid me leave to others
The tasks once welcome; evening asks for peace.
Time claims his tribute; silence now golden;
Let me not vex the too long suffering lyre;
Though to your love untiring still beholden,
The curfew tells me-- cover up the fire.
And now with grateful smile and accents cheerful,
And warmer heart than look or word can tell,
In simplest phrase-- these traitorous eyes are tearful--
Thanks, Brothers, Sisters,-- Children,-- and farewell!
A Poem. Dedication Of The Pittsfield Cemetery
ANGEL of Death! extend thy silent reign!
Stretch thy dark sceptre oâ€™er this new domain
No sable car along the winding road
Has borne to earth its unresisting load;
No sudden mound has risen yet to show
Where the pale slumberer folds his arms below;
No marble gleams to bid his memory live
In the brief lines that hurrying Time can give;
Yet, O Destroyer! from thy shrouded throne
Look on our gift; this realm is all thine own!
Fair is the scene; its sweetness oft beguiled
From their dim paths the children of the wild;
The dark-haired maiden loved its grassy dells,
The feathered warrior claimed its wooded swells,
Still on its slopes the ploughmanâ€™s ridges show
The pointed flints that left his fatal bow,
Chipped with rough art and slow barbarian toil,â€”Â
Last of his wrecks that strews the alien soil!
Here spread the fields that heaped their ripened store
Till the brown arms of Labor held no more;
The scytheâ€™s broad meadow with its dusky blush;
The sickleâ€™s harvest with its velvet flush;
The green-haired maize, her silken tresses laid,
In soft luxuriance, on her harsh brocade;
The gourd that swells beneath her tossing plume;
The coarser wheat that rolls in lakes of bloom,â€”Â
Its coral stems and milk-white flowers alive
With the wide murmurs of the scattered hive;
Here glowed the apple with the pencilled streak
Of morning painted on its southern cheek;
The pearâ€™s long necklace strung with golden drops,
Arched, like the banian, oâ€™er its pillared props;
Here crept the growths that paid the laborerâ€™s care
With the cheap luxuries wealth consents to spare;
Here sprang the healing herbs which could not save
The hand that reared them from the neighboring grave.
Yet all its varied charms, forever free
From task and tribute, Labor yields to thee
No more, when April sheds her fitful rain,
The sowerâ€™s hand shall cast its flying grain;
No more, when Autumn strews the flaming leaves,
The reaperâ€™s band shall gird its yellow sheaves;
For thee alike the circling seasons flow
Till the first blossoms heave the latest snow.
In the stiff clod below the whirling drifts,
In the loose soil the springing herbage lifts,
In the hot dust beneath the parching weeds,
Lifeâ€™s withering flower shall drop its shrivelled seeds;
Its germ entranced in thy unbreathing sleep
Till what thou sowest mightier angels reap!
Spirit of Beauty! let thy graces blend
With loveliest Nature all that Art can lend.
Come from the bowers where Summerâ€™s life-blood flows
Through the red lips of Juneâ€™s half-open rose,
Dressed in bright hues, the loving sunshineâ€™s dower;
For tranquil Nature owns no mourning flower.
Come from the forest where the beechâ€™s screen
Bars the fierce moonbeam with its flakes of green;
Stay the rude axe that bares the shadowy plains,
Stanch the deep wound That dries the mapleâ€™s veins.
Come with the stream whose silver-braided rills
Fling their unclasping bracelets from the hills,
Till in one gleam, beneath the forestâ€™s wings,
Melts the white glitter of a hundred springs.
Come from the steeps where look majestic forth
From their twin thrones the Giants of the North
On the huge shapes, that, crouching at their knees,
Stretch their broad shoulders, rough with shaggy trees.
Through the wide waste of ether, not in vain,
Their softened gaze shall reach our distant plain;
There, while the mourner turns his aching eyes
On the blue mounds that print the bluer skies,
Nature shall whisper that the fading view
Of mightiest grief may wear a heavenly hue.
Cherub of Wisdom! let thy marble page
Leave its sad lesson, new to every age;
Teach us to live, not grudging every breath
To the chill winds that waft us on to death,
But ruling calmly every pulse it warms,
And tempering gently every word it forms.
Seraph of Love! in heavenâ€™s adoring zone,
Nearest of all around the central throne,
While with soft hands the pillowed turf we spread
That soon shall hold us in its dreamless bed,
With the low whisper,â€”ÂWho shall first be laid
In the dark chamberâ€™s yet unbroken shade?â€”Â
Let thy sweet radiance shine rekindled here,
And all we cherish grow more truly dear.
Here in the gates of Deathâ€™s oâ€™erhanging vault,
Oh, teach us kindness for our brotherâ€™s fault
Lay all our wrongs beneath this peaceful sod,
And lead our hearts to Mercy and its God.
FATHER of all! in Deathâ€™s relentless claim
We read thy mercy by its sterner name;
In the bright flower that decks the solemn bier,
We see thy glory in its narrowed sphere;
In the deep lessons that affliction draws,
We trace the curves of thy encircling laws;
In the long sigh that sets our spirits free,
We own the love that calls us back to Thee!
Through the hushed street, along the silent plain,
The spectral future leads its mourning train,
Dark with the shadows of uncounted bands,
Where manâ€™s white lips and womanâ€™s wringing hands
Track the still burden, rolling slow before,
That love and kindness can protect no more;
The smiling babe that, called to mortal strife,
Shuts its meek eyes and drops its little life;
The drooping child who prays in vain to live,
And pleads for help its parent cannot give;
The pride of beauty stricken in its flower;
The strength of manhood broken in an hour;
Age in its weakness, bowed by toil and care,
Traced in sad lines beneath its silvered hair.
The sun shall set, and heavenâ€™s resplendent spheres
Gild the smooth turf unhallowed yet by tears,
But ah! how soon the evening stars will shed
Their sleepless light around the slumbering dead!
Take them, O Father, in immortal trust!
Ashes to ashes, dust to kindred dust,
Till the last angel rolls the stone away,
And a new morning brings eternal day!
Grandmother's Story Of Bunker Hill Battle (As She Saw It From The Belfry)
'Tis like stirring living embers when, at eighty, one remembers
All the achings and the quakings of 'the times that tried men's souls';
When I talk of Whig and Tory, when I tell the Rebel story,
To you the words are ashes, but to me they're burning coals.
I had heard the muskets' rattle of the April running battle;
Lord Percy's hunted soldiers, I can see their red coats still;
But a deadly chill comes o'er me, as the day looms up before me,
When a thousand men lay bleeding on the slopes of Bunker's Hill.
'Twas a peaceful summer's morning, when the first thing gave us warning
Was the booming of the cannon from the river and the shore:
'Child,' says grandma, 'what's the matter, what is all this noise and clatter?
Have those scalping Indian devils come to murder us once more?'
Poor old soul! my sides were shaking in the midst of all my quaking
To hear her talk of Indians when the guns began to roar:
She had seen the burning village, and the slaughter and the pillage,
When the Mohawks killed her father, with their bullets through his door.
Then I said, 'Now, dear old granny, don't you fret and worry any,
For I'll soon come back and tell you whether this is work or play;
There can't be mischief in it, so I won't be gone a minute'—
For a minute then I started. I was gone the livelong day.
No time for bodice-lacing or for looking-glass grimacing;
Down my hair went as I hurried, tumbling half-way to my heels;
God forbid your ever knowing, when there's blood around her flowing,
How the lonely, helpless daughter of a quiet household feels!
In the street I heard a thumping; and I knew it was the stumping
Of the Corporal, our old neighbor, on that wooden leg he wore,
With a knot of women round him,—it was lucky I had found him,—
So I followed with the others, and the Corporal marched before.
They were making for the steeple,—the old soldier and his people;
The pigeons circled round us as we climbed the creaking stair,
Just across the narrow river—O, so close it made me shiver!—
Stood a fortress on the hilltop that but yesterday was bare.
Not slow our eyes to find it; well we knew who stood behind it,
Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the stubborn walls were dumb:
Here were sister, wife, and mother, looking wild upon each other,
And their lips were white with terror as they said, THE HOUR HAS COME!
The morning slowly wasted, not a morsel had we tasted,
And our heads were almost splitting with the cannons' deafening thrill,
When a figure tall and stately round the rampart strode sedately;
It was PRESCOTT, one since told me; he commanded on the hill.
Every woman's heart grew bigger when we saw his manly figure,
With the banyan buckled round it, standing up so straight and tall;
Like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out for pleasure,
Through the storm of shells and cannon-shot he walked around the wall.
At eleven the streets were swarming, for the red-coats' ranks were forming;
At noon in marching order they were moving to the piers;
How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we looked far down and listened
To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted grenadiers!
At length the men have started, with a cheer (it seemed faint-hearted),
In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsacks on their backs,
And the reddening, rippling water, as after a sea-fight's slaughter,
Round the barges gliding onward blushed like blood along their tracks.
So they crossed to the other border, and again they formed in order;
And the boats came back for soldiers, came for soldiers, soldiers still:
The time seemed everlasting to us women faint and fasting,—
At last they're moving, marching, marching proudly up the hill.
We can see the bright steel glancing all along the lines advancing—
Now the front rank fires a volley—they have thrown away their shot;
Far behind the earthwork lying, all the balls above them flying,
Our people need not hurry; so they wait and answer not.
Then the Corporal, our old cripple (he would swear sometimes and tipple),—
He had heard the bullets whistle (in the old French war) before,—
Calls out in words of jeering, just as if they all were hearing,—
And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty belfry floor:—
'Oh! fire away, ye villains, and earn King George's shillin's,
But ye'll waste a ton of powder afore a 'rebel' falls;
You may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as safe as Dan'l Malcolm
Ten foot beneath the gravestone that you've splintered with your balls!'
In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepidation
Of the dread approaching moment, we are well-nigh breathless all;
Though the rotten bars are failing on the rickety belfry railing,
We are crowding up against them like the waves against a wall.
Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,—nearer,— nearer,
When a flash—a curling smoke-wreath—then a crash—the steeple shakes—
The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud is rended;
Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder-cloud it breaks!
O the sight our eyes discover as the blue-black smoke blows over!
The red-coats stretched in windrows as a mower rakes his hay;
Here a scarlet heap is lying, there a headlong crowd is flying
Like a billow that has broken and is shivered into spray.
Then we cried, 'The troops are routed! they are beat—it can't be doubted!
God be thanked, the fight is over!'—Ah! the grim old soldier's smile!
'Tell us, tell us why you look so?' (we could hardly speak, we shook so),—
'Are they beaten? Are they beaten? ARE they beaten?'— 'Wait a while.'
O the trembling and the terror! for too soon we saw our error:
They are baffled, not defeated; we have driven them back in vain;
And the columns that were scattered, round the colors that were tattered,
Toward the sullen silent fortress turn their belted breasts again.
All at once, as we are gazing, lo the roofs of Charlestown blazing!
They have fired the harmless village; in an hour it will be down!
The Lord in heaven confound them, rain his fire and brimstone round them,—
The robbing, murdering red-coats, that would burn a peaceful town!
They are marching, stern and solemn; we can see each massive column
As they near the naked earth-mound with the slanting walls so steep.
Have our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noiseless haste departed?
Are they panic-struck and helpless? Are they palsied or asleep?
Now! the walls they're almost under! scarce a rod the foes asunder!
Not a firelock flashed against them! up the earthwork they will swarm!
But the words have scarce been spoken, when the ominous calm is broken,
And a bellowing crash has emptied all the vengeance of the storm!
So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted backward to the water,
Fly Pigot's running heroes and the frightened braves of Howe;
And we shout, 'At last they're done for, it's their barges they have run for:
They are beaten, beaten, beaten; and the battle's over now!'
And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough old soldier's features,
Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we would ask:
'Not sure,' he said; 'keep quiet,—once more, I guess, they'll try it—
Here's damnation to the cut-throats!' then he handed me his flask,
Saying, 'Gal, you're looking shaky; have a drop of old Jamaiky:
I'm afraid there'll be more trouble afore this job is done;'
So I took one scorching swallow; dreadful faint I felt and hollow,
Standing there from early morning when the firing was begun.
All through those hours of trial I had watched a calm clock dial,
As the hands kept creeping, creeping,—they were creeping round to four,
When the old man said, 'They're forming with their bayonets fixed for storming:
It's the death grip that's a coming,—they will try the works once more.'
With brazen trumpets blaring, the flames behind them glaring,
The deadly wall before them, in close array they come;
Still onward, upward toiling, like a dragon's fold uncoiling—
Like the rattlesnake's shrill warning the reverberating drum!
Over heaps all torn and gory—shall I tell the fearful story,
How they surged above the breastwork, as a sea breaks over a deck;
How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men retreated,
With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swimmers from a wreck?
It has all been told and painted; as for me, they say I fainted,
And the wooden-legged old Corporal stumped with me down the stair:
When I woke from dreams affrighted the evening lamps were lighted,—
On the floor a youth was lying; his bleeding breast was bare.
And I heard through all the flurry, 'Send for WARREN! hurry! hurry!
Tell him here's a soldier bleeding, and he'll come and dress his wound!'
Ah, we knew not till the morrow told its tale of death and sorrow,
How the starlight found him stiffened on the dark and bloody ground.
Who the youth was, what his name was, where the place from which he came was,
Who had brought him from the battle, and had left him at our door,
He could not speak to tell us; but 'twas one of our brave fellows,
As the homespun plainly showed us which the dying soldier wore.
For they all thought he was dying, as they gathered 'round him crying,—
And they said, 'O, how they'll miss him!' and, 'What will his mother do?'
Then, his eyelids just unclosing like a child's that has been dozing,
He faintly murmured, 'Mother!'—and—I saw his eyes were blue.
—'Why, grandma, how you're winking!'—Ah, my child, it sets me thinking
Of a story not like this one. Well, he somehow lived along;
So we came to know each other, and I nursed him like a—mother,
Till at last he stood before me, tall, and rosy-cheeked, and strong.
And we sometimes walked together in the pleasant summer weather;
—'Please to tell us what his name was?'—Just your own, my little dear,—
There's his picture Copley painted: we became so well acquainted,
That—in short, that's why I'm grandma, and you children all are here!
The Banker’s Secret
THE Banker's dinner is the stateliest feast
The town has heard of for a year, at least;
The sparry lustres shed their broadest blaze,
Damask and silver catch and spread the rays;
The florist's triumphs crown the daintier spoil
Won from the sea, the forest, or the soil;
The steaming hot-house yields its largest pines,
The sunless vaults unearth their oldest wines;
With one admiring look the scene survey,
And turn a moment from the bright display.
Of all the joys of earthly pride or power,
What gives most life, worth living, in an hour?
When Victory settles on the doubtful fight
And the last foeman wheels in panting flight,
No thrill like this is felt beneath the sun;
Life's sovereign moment is a battle won.
But say what next? To shape a Senate's choice,
By the strong magic of the master's voice;
To ride the stormy tempest of debate
That whirls the wavering fortunes of the state.
Third in the list, the happy lover's prize
Is won by honeyed words from women's eyes.
If some would have it first instead of third,
So let it be,--I answer not a word.
The fourth,--sweet readers, let the thoughtless half
Have its small shrug and inoffensive laugh;
Let the grave quarter wear its virtuous frown,
The stern half-quarter try to scowl us down;
But the last eighth, the choice and sifted few,
Will hear my words, and, pleased, confess them true.
Among the great whom Heaven has made to shine,
How few have learned the art of arts,--to dine!
Nature, indulgent to our daily need,
Kind-hearted mother! taught us all to feed;
But the chief art,--how rarely Nature flings
This choicest gift among her social kings
Say, man of truth, has life a brighter hour
Than waits the chosen guest who knows his power?
He moves with ease, itself an angel charm,--
Lifts with light touch my lady's jewelled arm,
Slides to his seat, half leading and half led,
Smiling but quiet till the grace is said,
Then gently kindles, while by slow degrees
Creep softly out the little arts that please;
Bright looks, the cheerful language of the eye,
The neat, crisp question and the gay reply,--
Talk light and airy, such as well may pass
Between the rested fork and lifted glass;--
With play like this the earlier evening flies,
Till rustling silks proclaim the ladies rise.
His hour has come,--he looks along the chairs,
As the Great Duke surveyed his iron squares.
That's the young traveller,--is n't much to show,--
Fast on the road, but at the table slow.
Next him,--you see the author in his look,--
His forehead lined with wrinkles like a book,--
Wrote the great history of the ancient Huns,--
Holds back to fire among the heavy guns.
Oh, there's our poet seated at his side,
Beloved of ladies, soft, cerulean-eyed.
Poets are prosy in their common talk,
As the fast trotters, for the most part, walk.
And there's our well-dressed gentleman, who sits,
By right divine, no doubt, among the wits,
Who airs his tailor's patterns when he walks,
The man that often speaks, but never talks.
Why should he talk, whose presence lends a grace
To every table where he shows his face?
He knows the manual of the silver fork,
Can name his claret--if he sees the cork,--
Remark that 'White-top' was considered fine,
But swear the 'Juno' is the better wine;--
Is not this talking? Ask Quintilian's rules;
If they say No, the town has many fools.
Pause for a moment,--for our eyes behold
The plain unsceptred king, the man of gold,
The thrice illustrious threefold millionnaire;
Mark his slow-creeping, dead, metallic stare;
His eyes, dull glimmering, like the balance-pan
That weighs its guinea as he weighs his man.
Who's next? An artist in a satin tie
Whose ample folds defeat the curious eye.
And there 's the cousin,--must be asked, you know,--
Looks like a spinster at a baby-show.
Hope he is cool,--they set him next the door,--
And likes his place, between the gap and bore.
Next comes a Congressman, distinguished guest
We don't count him,--they asked him with the rest;
And then some white cravats, with well-shaped ties,
And heads above them which their owners prize.
Of all that cluster round the genial board,
Not one so radiant as the banquet's lord.
Some say they fancy, but they know not why,
A shade of trouble brooding in his eye,
Nothing, perhaps,--the rooms are overhot,--
Yet see his cheek,--the dull-red burning spot,--
Taste the brown sherry which he does not pass,--
Ha! That is brandy; see him fill his glass!
But not forgetful of his feasting friends,
To each in turn some lively word he sends;
See how he throws his baited lines about,
And plays his men as anglers play their trout.
A question drops among the listening crew
And hits the traveller, pat on Timbuctoo.
We're on the Niger, somewhere near its source,--
Not the least hurry, take the river's course
Through Kissi, Foota, Kankan, Bammakoo,
Bambarra, Sego, so to Timbuctoo,
Thence down to Youri;--stop him if we can,
We can't fare worse,--wake up the Congressman!
The Congressman, once on his talking legs,
Stirs up his knowledge to its thickest dregs;
Tremendous draught for dining men to quaff!
Nothing will choke him but a purpling laugh.
A word,--a shout,--a mighty roar,--'t is done;
Extinguished; lassoed by a treacherous pun.
A laugh is priming to the loaded soul;
The scattering shots become a steady roll,
Broke by sharp cracks that run along the line,
The light artillery of the talker's wine.
The kindling goblets flame with golden dews,
The hoarded flasks their tawny fire diffuse,
And the Rhine's breast-milk gushes cold and bright,
Pale as the moon and maddening as her light;
With crimson juice the thirsty southern sky
Sucks from the hills where buried armies lie,
So that the dreamy passion it imparts
Is drawn from heroes' bones and lovers' hearts.
But lulls will come; the flashing soul transmits
Its gleams of light in alternating fits.
The shower of talk that rattled down amain
Ends in small patterings like an April's rain;
With the dry sticks all bonfires are begun;
Bring the first fagot, proser number one
The voices halt; the game is at a stand;
Now for a solo from the master-hand
'T is but a story,--quite a simple thing,--
An aria touched upon a single string,
But every accent comes with such a grace
The stupid servants listen in their place,
Each with his waiter in his lifted hands,
Still as a well-bred pointer when he stands.
A query checks him: 'Is he quite exact?'
(This from a grizzled, square-jawed man of fact.)
The sparkling story leaves him to his fate,
Crushed by a witness, smothered with a date,
As a swift river, sown with many a star,
Runs brighter, rippling on a shallow bar.
The smooth divine suggests a graver doubt;
A neat quotation bowls the parson out;
Then, sliding gayly from his own display,
He laughs the learned dulness all away.
So, with the merry tale and jovial song,
The jocund evening whirls itself along,
Till the last chorus shrieks its loud encore,
And the white neckcloths vanish through the door.
One savage word!--The menials know its tone,
And slink away; the master stands alone.
'Well played, by ---'; breathe not what were best unheard;
His goblet shivers while he speaks the word,--
'If wine tells truth,--and so have said the wise,--
It makes me laugh to think how brandy lies!
Bankrupt to-morrow,--millionnaire to-day,--
The farce is over,--now begins the play!'
The spring he touches lets a panel glide;
An iron closet harks beneath the slide,
Bright with such treasures as a search might bring
From the deep pockets of a truant king.
Two diamonds, eyeballs of a god of bronze,
Bought from his faithful priest, a pious bonze;
A string of brilliants; rubies, three or four;
Bags of old coin and bars of virgin ore;
A jewelled poniard and a Turkish knife,
Noiseless and useful if we come to strife.
Gone! As a pirate flies before the wind,
And not one tear for all he leaves behind
From all the love his better years have known
Fled like a felon,--ah! but not alone!
The chariot flashes through a lantern's glare,--
Oh the wild eyes! the storm of sable hair!
Still to his side the broken heart will cling,--
The bride of shame, the wife without the ring
Hark, the deep oath,--the wail of frenzied woe,--
Lost! lost to hope of Heaven and peace below!
He kept his secret; but the seed of crime
Bursts of itself in God's appointed time.
The lives he wrecked were scattered far and wide;
One never blamed nor wept,--she only died.
None knew his lot, though idle tongues would say
He sought a lonely refuge far away,
And there, with borrowed name and altered mien,
He died unheeded, as he lived unseen.
The moral market had the usual chills
Of Virtue suffering from protested bills;
The White Cravats, to friendship's memory true,
Sighed for the past, surveyed the future too;
Their sorrow breathed in one expressive line,--
'Gave pleasant dinners; who has got his wine?'
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The reader paused,--the Teacups knew his ways,--
He, like the rest, was not averse to praise.
Voices and hands united; every one
Joined in approval: 'Number Three, well done!'
'Now for the Exile's story; if my wits
Are not at fault, his curious record fits
Neatly as sequel to the tale we've heard;
Not wholly wild the fancy, nor absurd
That this our island hermit well might be
That story's hero, fled from over sea.
Come, Number Seven, we would not have you strain
The fertile powers of that inventive brain.
Read us 'The Exile's Secret'; there's enough
Of dream-like fiction and fantastic stuff
In the strange web of mystery that invests
The lonely isle where sea birds build their nests.'
'Lies! naught but lies!' so Number Seven began,--
No harm was known of that secluded man.
He lived alone,--who would n't if he might,
And leave the rogues and idiots out of sight?
A foolish story,--still, I'll do my best,--
The house was real,--don't believe the rest.
How could a ruined dwelling last so long
Without its legends shaped in tale and song?
Who was this man of whom they tell the lies?
Perhaps--why not?--NAPOLEON! in disguise,--
So some said, kidnapped from his ocean coop,
Brought to this island in a coasting sloop,--
Meanwhile a sham Napoleon in his place
Played Nap. and saved Sir Hudson from disgrace.
Such was one story; others used to say,
'No,--not Napoleon,--it was Marshal Ney.'
'Shot?' Yes, no doubt, but not with balls of lead,
But balls of pith that never shoot folks dead.
He wandered round, lived South for many a year,
At last came North and fixed his dwelling here.
Choose which you will of all the tales that pile
Their mingling fables on the tree-crowned isle.
Who wrote this modest version I suppose
That truthful Teacup, our Dictator, knows;
Made up of various legends, it would seem,
The sailor's yarn, the crazy poet's dream.
Such tales as this, by simple souls received,
At first are stared at and at last believed;
From threads like this the grave historians try
To weave their webs, and never know they lie.
Hear, then, the fables that have gathered round
The lonely home an exiled stranger found.
Poem For The Two Hundred And Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Founding Of Harvard College
TWICE had the mellowing sun of autumn crowned
The hundredth circle of his yearly round,
When, as we meet to-day, our fathers met:
That joyous gathering who can e'er forget,
When Harvard's nurslings, scattered far and wide,
Through mart and village, lake's and ocean's side,
Came, with one impulse, one fraternal throng,
And crowned the hours with banquet, speech, and song?
Once more revived in fancy's magic glass,
I see in state the long procession pass
Tall, courtly, leader as by right divine,
Winthrop, our Winthrop, rules the marshalled line,
Still seen in front, as on that far-off day
His ribboned baton showed the column's way.
Not all are gone who marched in manly pride
And waved their truncheons at their leader's side;
Gray, Lowell, Dixwell, who his empire shared,
These to be with us envious Time has spared.
Few are the faces, so familiar then,
Our eyes still meet amid the haunts of men;
Scarce one of all the living gathered there,
Whose unthinned locks betrayed a silver hair,
Greets us to-day, and yet we seem the same
As our own sires and grandsires, save in name.
There are the patriarchs, looking vaguely round
For classmates' faces, hardly known if found;
See the cold brow that rules the busy mart;
Close at its side the pallid son of art,
Whose purchased skill with borrowed meaning clothes,
And stolen hues, the smirking face he loathes.
Here is the patient scholar; in his looks
You read the titles of his learned books;
What classic lore those spidery crow's-feet speak!
What problems figure on that wrinkled cheek!
For never thought but left its stiffened trace,
Its fossil footprint, on the plastic face,
As the swift record of a raindrop stands,
Fixed on the tablet of the hardening sands.
On every face as on the written page
Each year renews the autograph of age;
One trait alone may wasting years defy,--
The fire still lingering in the poet's eye,
While Hope, the siren, sings her sweetest strain,--
_Non omnis moriar_ is its proud refrain.
Sadly we gaze upon the vacant chair;
He who should claim its honors is not there,--
Otis, whose lips the listening crowd enthrall
That press and pack the floor of Boston's hall.
But Kirkland smiles, released from toil and care
Since the silk mantle younger shoulders wear,--
Quincy's, whose spirit breathes the selfsame fire
That filled the bosom of his youthful sire,
Who for the altar bore the kindled torch
To freedom's temple, dying in its porch.
Three grave professions in their sons appear,
Whose words well studied all well pleased will hear
Palfrey, ordained in varied walks to shine,
Statesman, historian, critic, and divine;
Solid and square behold majestic Shaw,
A mass of wisdom and a mine of law;
Warren, whose arm the doughtiest warriors fear,
Asks of the startled crowd to lend its ear,--
Proud of his calling, him the world loves best,
Not as the coming, but the parting guest.
Look on that form,--with eye dilating scan
The stately mould of nature's kingliest man!
Tower-like he stands in life's unfaded prime;
Ask you his name? None asks a second time
He from the land his outward semblance takes,
Where storm-swept mountains watch o'er slumbering lakes.
See in the impress which the body wears
How its imperial might the soul declares
The forehead's large expansion, lofty, wide,
That locks unsilvered vainly strive to hide;
The lines of thought that plough the sober cheek;
Lips that betray their wisdom ere they speak
In tones like answers from Dodona's grove;
An eye like Juno's when she frowns on Jove.
I look and wonder; will he be content--
This man, this monarch, for the purple meant--
The meaner duties of his tribe to share,
Clad in the garb that common mortals wear?
Ah, wild Ambition, spread thy restless wings,
Beneath whose plumes the hidden cestrum stings;
Thou whose bold flight would leave earth's vulgar crowds,
And like the eagle soar above the clouds,
Must feel the pang that fallen angels know
When the red lightning strikes thee from below!
Less bronze, more silver, mingles in the mould
Of him whom next my roving eyes behold;
His, more the scholar's than the statesman's face,
Proclaims him born of academic race.
Weary his look, as if an aching brain
Left on his brow the frozen prints of pain;
His voice far-reaching, grave, sonorous, owns
A shade of sadness in its plaintive tones,
Yet when its breath some loftier thought inspires
Glows with a heat that every bosom fires.
Such Everett seems; no chance-sown wild flower knows
The full-blown charms of culture's double rose,--
Alas, how soon, by death's unsparing frost,
Its bloom is faded and its fragrance lost!
Two voices, only two, to earth belong,
Of all whose accents met the listening throng:
Winthrop, alike for speech and guidance framed,
On that proud day a twofold duty claimed;
One other yet,--remembered or forgot,--
Forgive my silence if I name him not.
Can I believe it? I, whose youthful voice
Claimed a brief gamut,--notes not over choice,
Stood undismayed before the solemn throng,
And _propria voce_ sung that saucy song
Which even in memory turns my soul aghast,--
_Felix audacia_ was the verdict cast.
What were the glory of these festal days
Shorn of their grand illumination's blaze?
Night comes at last with all her starry train
To find a light in every glittering pane.
From 'Harvard's' windows see the sudden flash,--
Old 'Massachusetts' glares through every sash;
From wall to wall the kindling splendors run
Till all is glorious as the noonday sun.
How to the scholar's mind each object brings
What some historian tells, some poet sings!
The good gray teacher whom we all revered--
Loved, honored, laughed at, and by freshmen feared,
As from old 'Harvard,' where its light began,
From hall to hall the clustering splendors ran--
Took down his well-worn Eschylus and read,
Lit by the rays a thousand tapers shed,
How the swift herald crossed the leagues between
Mycenae's monarch and his faithless queen;
And thus he read,--my verse but ill displays
The Attic picture, clad in modern phrase.
On Ida's summit flames the kindling pile,
And Lemnos answers from his rocky isle;
From Athos next it climbs the reddening skies,
Thence where the watch-towers of Macistus rise.
The sentries of Mesapius in their turn
Bid the dry heath in high piled masses burn,
Cithoeron's crag the crimson billows stain,
Far AEgiplanctus joins the fiery train.
Thus the swift courier through the pathless night
Has gained at length the Arachnoean height,
Whence the glad tidings, borne on wings offlame,
'Ilium has fallen!' reach the royal dame.
So ends the day; before the midnight stroke
The lights expiring cloud the air with smoke;
While these the toil of younger hands employ,
The slumbering Grecian dreams of smouldering Troy.
As to that hour with backward steps I turn,
Midway I pause; behold a funeral urn!
Ah, sad memorial! known but all too well
The tale which thus its golden letters tell:
This dust, once breathing, changed its joyous life
For toil and hunger, wounds and mortal strife;
Love, friendship, learning's all prevailing charms,
For the cold bivouac and the clash of arms.
The cause of freedom won, a race enslaved
Called back to manhood, and a nation saved,
These sons of Harvard, falling ere their prime,
Leave their proud memory to the coming time.
While in their still retreats our scholars turn
The mildewed pages of the past, to learn
With endless labor of the sleepless brain
What once has been and ne'er shall be again,
We reap the harvest of their ceaseless toil
And find a fragrance in their midnight oil.
But let a purblind mortal dare the task
The embryo future of itself to ask,
The world reminds him, with a scornful laugh,
That times have changed since Prospero broke his staff.
Could all the wisdom of the schools foretell
The dismal hour when Lisbon shook and fell,
Or name the shuddering night that toppled down
Our sister's pride, beneath whose mural crown
Scarce had the scowl forgot its angry lines,
When earth's blind prisoners fired their fatal mines?
New realms, new worlds, exulting Science claims,
Still the dim future unexplored remains;
Her trembling scales the far-off planet weigh,
Her torturing prisms its elements betray,--
We know what ores the fires of Sirius melt,
What vaporous metals gild Orion's belt;
Angels, archangels, may have yet to learn
Those hidden truths our heaven-taught eyes discern;
Yet vain is Knowledge, with her mystic wand,
To pierce the cloudy screen and read beyond;
Once to the silent stars the fates were known,
To us they tell no secrets but their own.
At Israel's altar still we humbly bow,
But where, oh where, are Israel's prophets now?
Where is the sibyl with her hoarded leaves?
Where is the charm the weird enchantress weaves?
No croaking raven turns the auspex pale,
No reeking altars tell the morrow's tale;
The measured footsteps of the Fates are dumb,
Unseen, unheard, unheralded, they come,
Prophet and priest and all their following fail.
Who then is left to rend the future's veil?
Who but the poet, he whose nicer sense
No film can baffle with its slight defence,
Whose finer vision marks the waves that stray,
Felt, but unseen, beyond the violet ray?--
Who, while the storm-wind waits its darkening shroud,
Foretells the tempest ere he sees the cloud,--
Stays not for time his secrets to reveal,
But reads his message ere he breaks the seal.
So Mantua's bard foretold the coming day
Ere Bethlehem's infant in the manger lay;
The promise trusted to a mortal tongue
Found listening ears before the angels sung.
So while his load the creeping pack-horse galled,
While inch by inch the dull canal-boat crawled,
Darwin beheld a Titan from 'afar
Drag the slow barge or drive the rapid car,'
That panting giant fed by air and flame,
The mightiest forges task their strength to tame.
Happy the poet! him no tyrant fact
Holds in its clutches to be chained and racked;
Him shall no mouldy document convict,
No stern statistics gravely contradict;
No rival sceptre threats his airy throne;
He rules o'er shadows, but he reigns alone.
Shall I the poet's broad dominion claim
Because you bid me wear his sacred name
For these few moments? Shall I boldly clash
My flint and steel, and by the sudden flash
Read the fair vision which my soul descries
Through the wide pupils of its wondering eyes?
List then awhile; the fifty years have sped;
The third full century's opened scroll is spread,
Blank to all eyes save his who dimly sees
The shadowy future told in words like these.
How strange the prospect to my sight appears,
Changed by the busy hands of fifty years!
Full well I know our ocean-salted Charles,
Filling and emptying through the sands and marls
That wall his restless stream on either bank,
Not all unlovely when the sedges rank
Lend their coarse veil the sable ooze to hide
That bares its blackness with the ebbing tide.
In other shapes to my illumined eyes
Those ragged margins of our stream arise
Through walls of stone the sparkling waters flow,
In clearer depths the golden sunsets glow,
On purer waves the lamps of midnight gleam,
That silver o'er the unpolluted stream.
Along his shores what stately temples rise,
What spires, what turrets, print the shadowed skies!
Our smiling Mother sees her broad domain
Spread its tall roofs along the western plain;
Those blazoned windows' blushing glories tell
Of grateful hearts that loved her long and well;
Yon gilded dome that glitters in the sun
Was Dives' gift,--alas, his only one!
These buttressed walls enshrine a banker's name,
That hallowed chapel hides a miser's shame;
Their wealth they left,--their memory cannot fade
Though age shall crumble every stone they laid.
Great lord of millions,--let me call thee great,
Since countless servants at thy bidding wait,--
Richesse oblige: no mortal must be blind
To all but self, or look at human kind
Laboring and suffering,--all its want and woe,--
Through sheets of crystal, as a pleasing show
That makes life happier for the chosen few
Duty for whom is something not to do.
When thy last page of life at length is filled,
What shall thine heirs to keep thy memory build?
Will piles of stone in Auburn's mournful shade
Save from neglect the spot where thou art laid?
Nay, deem not thus; the sauntering stranger's eye
Will pass unmoved thy columned tombstone by,
No memory wakened, not a teardrop shed,
Thy name uncared for and thy date unread.
But if thy record thou indeed dost prize,
Bid from the soil some stately temple rise,--
Some hall of learning, some memorial shrine,
With names long honored to associate thine:
So shall thy fame outlive thy shattered bust
When all around thee slumber in the dust.
Thus England's Henry lives in Eton's towers,
Saved from the spoil oblivion's gulf devours;
Our later records with as fair a fame
Have wreathed each uncrowned benefactor's name;
The walls they reared the memories still retain
That churchyard marbles try to keep in vain.
In vain the delving antiquary tries
To find the tomb where generous Harvard lies
Here, here, his lasting monument is found,
Where every spot is consecrated ground!
O'er Stoughton's dust the crumbling stone decays,
Fast fade its lines of lapidary praise;
There the wild bramble weaves its ragged nets,
There the dry lichen spreads its gray rosettes;
Still in yon walls his memory lives unspent,
Nor asks a braver, nobler monument.
Thus Hollis lives, and Holden, honored, praised,
And good Sir Matthew, in the halls they raised;
Thus live the worthies of these later times,
Who shine in deeds, less brilliant, grouped in rhymes.
Say, shall the Muse with faltering steps retreat,
Or dare these names in rhythmic form repeat?
Why not as boldly as from Homer's lips
The long array, of Argive battle-ships?
When o'er our graves a thousand years have past
(If to such date our threatened globe shall last)
These classic precincts, myriad feet have pressed,
Will show on high, in beauteous garlands dressed,
Those honored names that grace our later day,--
Weld, Matthews, Sever, Thayer, Austin, Gray,
Sears, Phillips, Lawrence, Hemenway,--to the list
Add Sanders, Sibley,--all the Muse has missed.
Once more I turn to read the pictured page
Bright with the promise of the coming age.
Ye unborn sons of children yet unborn,
Whose youthful eyes shall greet that far-off morn,
Blest are those eyes that all undimmed behold
The sights so longed for by the wise of old.
From high-arched alcoves, through resounding halls,
Clad in full robes majestic Science calls,
Tireless, unsleeping, still at Nature's feet,
Whate'er she utters fearless to repeat,
Her lips at last from every cramp released
That Israel's prophet caught from Egypt's priest.
I see the statesman, firm, sagacious, bold,
For life's long conflict cast in amplest mould;
Not his to clamor with the senseless throng
That shouts unshamed, 'Our party, right or wrong,'
But in the patriot's never-ending fight
To side with Truth, who changes wrong to right.
I see the scholar; in that wondrous time
Men, women, children, all can write in rhyme.
These four brief lines addressed to youth inclined
To idle rhyming in his notes I find:
Who writes in verse that should have writ in prose
Is like a traveller walking on his toes;
Happy the rhymester who in time has found
The heels he lifts were made to touch the ground.
I see gray teachers,--on their work intent,
Their lavished lives, in endless labor spent,
Had closed at last in age and penury wrecked,
Martyrs, not burned, but frozen in neglect,
Save for the generous hands that stretched in aid
Of worn-out servants left to die half paid.
Ah, many a year will pass, I thought, ere we
Such kindly forethought shall rejoice to see,--
Monarchs are mindful of the sacred debt
That cold republics hasten to forget.
I see the priest,--if such a name he bears
Who without pride his sacred vestment wears;
And while the symbols of his tribe I seek
Thus my first impulse bids me think and speak:
Let not the mitre England's prelate wears
Next to the crown whose regal pomp it shares,
Though low before it courtly Christians bow,
Leave its red mark on Younger England's brow.
We love, we honor, the maternal dame,
But let her priesthood wear a modest name,
While through the waters of the Pilgrim's bay
A new-born Mayflower shows her keels the way.
Too old grew Britain for her mother's beads,--
Must we be necklaced with her children's creeds?
Welcome alike in surplice or in gown
The loyal lieges of the Heavenly Crown!
We greet with cheerful, not submissive, mien
A sister church, but not a mitred Queen!
A few brief flutters, and the unwilling Muse,
Who feared the flight she hated to refuse,
Shall fold the wings whose gayer plumes are shed,
Here where at first her half-fledged pinions spread.
Well I remember in the long ago
How in the forest shades of Fontainebleau,
Strained through a fissure in a rocky cell,
One crystal drop with measured cadence fell.
Still, as of old, forever bright and clear,
The fissured cavern drops its wonted tear,
And wondrous virtue, simple folk aver,
Lies in that teardrop of la roche qui pleure.
Of old I wandered by the river's side
Between whose banks the mighty waters glide,
Where vast Niagara, hurrying to its fall,
Builds and unbuilds its ever-tumbling wall;
Oft in my dreams I hear the rush and roar
Of battling floods, and feel the trembling shore,
As the huge torrent, girded for its leap,
With bellowing thunders plunges down the steep.
Not less distinct, from memory's pictured urn,
The gray old rock, the leafy woods, return;
Robed in their pride the lofty oaks appear,
And once again with quickened sense I hear,
Through the low murmur of the leaves that stir,
The tinkling teardrop of _la roche qui pleure_.
So when the third ripe century stands complete,
As once again the sons of Harvard meet,
Rejoicing, numerous as the seashore sands,
Drawn from all quarters,--farthest distant lands,
Where through the reeds the scaly saurian steals,
Where cold Alaska feeds her floundering seals,
Where Plymouth, glorying, wears her iron crown,
Where Sacramento sees the suns go down;
Nay, from the cloisters whence the refluent tide
Wafts their pale students to our Mother's side,--
Mid all the tumult that the day shall bring,
While all the echoes shout, and roar, and ring,
These tinkling lines, oblivion's easy prey,
Once more emerging to the light of day,
Not all unpleasing to the listening ear
Shall wake the memories of this bygone year,
Heard as I hear the measured drops that flow
From the gray rock of wooded Fontainebleau.
Yet, ere I leave, one loving word for all
Those fresh young lives that wait our Mother's call:
One gift is yours, kind Nature's richest dower,--
Youth, the fair bud that holds life's opening flower,
Full of high hopes no coward doubts enchain,
With all the future throbbing in its brain,
And mightiest instincts which the beating heart
Fills with the fire its burning waves impart.
O joyous youth, whose glory is to dare,--
Thy foot firm planted on the lowest stair,
Thine eye uplifted to the loftiest height
Where Fame stands beckoning in the rosy light,
Thanks for thy flattering tales, thy fond deceits,
Thy loving lies, thy cheerful smiling cheats
Nature's rash promise every day is broke,--
A thousand acorns breed a single oak,
The myriad blooms that make the orchard gay
In barren beauty throw their lives away;
Yet shall we quarrel with the sap that yields
The painted blossoms which adorn the fields,
When the fair orchard wears its May-day suit
Of pink-white petals, for its scanty fruit?
Thrice happy hours, in hope's illusion dressed,
In fancy's cradle nurtured and caressed,
Though rich the spoils that ripening years may bring,
To thee the dewdrops of the Orient cling,--
Not all the dye-stuffs from the vats of truth
Can match the rainbow on the robes of youth!
Dear unborn children, to our Mother's trust
We leave you, fearless, when we lie in dust:
While o'er these walls the Christian banner waves
From hallowed lips shall flow the truth that saves;
While o'er those portals Veritas you read
No church shall bind you with its human creed.
Take from the past the best its toil has won,
But learn betimes its slavish ruts to shun.
Pass the old tree whose withered leaves are shed,
Quit the old paths that error loved to tread,
And a new wreath of living blossoms seek,
A narrower pathway up a loftier peak;
Lose not your reverence, but unmanly fear
Leave far behind you, all who enter here!
As once of old from Ida's lofty height
The flaming signal flashed across the night,
So Harvard's beacon sheds its unspent rays
Till every watch-tower shows its kindling blaze.
Caught from a spark and fanned by every gale,
A brighter radiance gilds the roofs of Yale;
Amherst and Williams bid their flambeaus shine,
And Bowdoin answers through her groves of pine;
O'er Princeton's sands the far reflections steal,
Where mighty Edwards stamped his iron heel;
Nay, on the hill where old beliefs were bound
Fast as if Styx had girt them nine times round,
Bursts such a light that trembling souls inquire
If the whole church of Calvin is on fire!
Well may they ask, for what so brightly burns
As a dry creed that nothing ever learns?
Thus link by link is knit the flaming chain
Lit by the torch of Harvard's hallowed plain.
Thy son, thy servant, dearest Mother mine,
Lays this poor offering on thy holy shrine,
An autumn leaflet to the wild winds tost,
Touched by the finger of November's frost,
With sweet, sad memories of that earlier day,
And all that listened to my first-born lay.
With grateful heart this glorious morn I see,--
Would that my tribute worthier were of thee!
A Rhymed Lesson (Urania)
Yes, dear Enchantress,â€”Âwandering far and long,
In realms unperfumed by the breath of song,
Where flowers ill-flavored shed their sweets around,
And bitterest roots invade the ungenial ground,
Whose gems are crystals from the Epsom mine,
Whose vineyards flow with antimonial wine,
Whose gates admit no mirthful feature in,
Save one gaunt mocker, the Sardonic grin,
Whose pangs are real, not the woes of rhyme
That blue-eyed misses warble out of time;â€”Â
Truant, not recreant to thy sacred claim,
Older by reckoning, but in heart the same,
Freed for a moment from the chains of toil,
I tread once more thy consecrated soil;
Here at thy feet my old allegiance own,
Thy subject still, and loyal to thy throne!
My dazzled glance explores the crowded hall;
Alas, how vain to hope the smiles of all!
I know my audience. All the gay and young
Love the light antics of a playful tongue;
And these, remembering some expansive line
My lips let loose among the nuts and wine,
Are all impatience till the opening pun
Proclaims the witty shamfight is begun.
Two fifths at least, if not the total half,
Have come infuriate for an earthquake laugh;
I know full well what alderman has tied
His red bandanna tight about his side;
I see the mother, who, aware that boys
Perform their laughter with superfluous noise,
Beside her kerchief brought an extra one
To stop the explosions of her bursting son;
I know a tailor, once a friend of mine,
Expects great doings in the button line,â€”Â
For mirthâ€™s concussions rip the outward case,
And plant the stitches in a tenderer place.
I know my audience,â€”Âthese shall have their due;
A smile awaits them ere my song is through!
I know myself. Not servile for applause,
My Muse permits no deprecating clause;
Modest or vain, she will not be denied
One bold confession due to honest pride;
And well she knows the drooping veil of song
Shall save her boldness from the cavillerâ€™s wrong.
Her sweeter voice the Heavenly Maid imparts
To tell the secrets of our aching hearts
For this, a suppliant, captive, prostrate, bound,
She kneels imploring at the feet of sound;
For this, convulsed in thoughtâ€™s maternal pains,
She loads her arms with rhymeâ€™s resounding chains;
Faint though the music of her fetters be,
It lends one charm,â€”Âher lips are ever free!
Think not I come, in manhoodâ€™s fiery noon,
To steal his laurels from the stage buffoon;
His sword of lath the harlequin may wield;
Behold the star upon my lifted shield
Though the just critic pass my humble name,
And sweeter lips have drained the cup of fame,
While my gay stanza pleased the banquetâ€™s lords,
The soul within was tuned to deeper chords!
Say, shall my arms, in other conflicts taught
To swing aloft the ponderous mace of thought,
Lift, in obedience to a school-girlâ€™s law,
Mirthâ€™s tinsel wand or laughterâ€™s tickling straw?
Say, shall I wound with satireâ€™s rankling spear
The pure, warm hearts that bid me welcome here?
No! while I wander through the land of dreams,
To strive with great and play with trifling themes,
Let some kind meaning fill the varied line.
You have your judgment; will you trust to mine?
Between two breaths what crowded mysteries lie,â€”Â
The first short gasp, the last and long-drawn sigh!
Like phantoms painted on the magic slide,
Forth from the darkness of the past we glide,
As living shadows for a moment seen
In airy pageant on the eternal screen,
Traced by a ray from one unchanging flame,
Then seek the dust and stillness whence we came.
But whence and why, our trembling souls inquire,
Caught these dim visions their awakening fire?
Oh, who forgets when first the piercing thought
Through childhoodâ€™s musings found its way unsought?
I am;â€”ÂI live. The mystery and the fear
When the dread question, what has brought me here?
Burst through lifeâ€™s twilight, as before the sun
Roll the deep thunders of the morning gun!
Are angel faces, silent and serene,
Bent on the conflicts of this little scene,
Whose dream-like efforts, whose unreal strife,
Are but the preludes to a larger life?
Or does lifeâ€™s summer see the end of all,
These leaves of being mouldering as they fall,
As the old poet vaguely used to deem,
As WESLEY questioned in his youthful dream?
Oh, could such mockery reach our souls indeed,
Give back the Pharaohsâ€™ or the Athenianâ€™s creed;
Better than this a Heaven of manâ€™s device,â€”Â
The Indianâ€™s sports, the Moslemâ€™s paradise!
Or is our beingâ€™s only end and aim
To add new glories to our Makerâ€™s name,
As the poor insect, shrivelling in the blaze,
Lends a faint sparkle to its streaming rays?
Does earth send upward to the Eternalâ€™s ear
The mingled discords of her jarring sphere
To swell his anthem, while creation rings
With notes of anguish from its shattered strings?
Is it for this the immortal Artist means
These conscious, throbbing, agonized machines?
Dark is the soul whose sullen creed can bind
In chains like these the all-embracing Mind;
No! two-faced bigot, thou dost ill reprove
The sensual, selfish, yet benignant Jove,
And praise a tyrant throned in lonely pride,
Who loves himself, and cares for naught beside;
Who gave thee, summoned from primeval night,
A thousand laws, and not a single right,â€”Â
A heart to feel, and quivering nerves to thrill,
The sense of wrong, the death-defying will;
Who girt thy senses with this goodly frame,
Its earthly glories and its orbs of flame,
Not for thyself, unworthy of a thought,
Poor helpless victim of a life unsought,
But all for him, unchanging and supreme,
The heartless centre of thy frozen scheme.
Trust not the teacher with his lying scroll,
Who tears the charter of thy shuddering soul;
The God of love, who gave the breath that warms
All living dust in all its varied forms,
Asks not the tribute of a world like this
To fill the measure of his perfect bliss.
Though winged with life through all its radiant shores,
Creation flowed with unexhausted stores
Cherub and seraph had not yet enjoyed;
For this he called thee from the quickening void!
Nor this alone; a larger gift was thine,
A mightier purpose swelled his vast design
Thought,â€”Âconscience,â€”Âwill,â€”Â to make them all thine own,
He rent a pillar from the eternal throne!
Made in his image, thou must nobly dare
The thorny crown of sovereignty to share.
With eye uplifted, it is thine to view,
From thine own centre, Heavenâ€™s oâ€™erarching blue;
So round thy heart a beaming circle lies
No fiend can blot, no hypocrite disguise;
From all its orbs one cheering voice is heard,
Full to thine ear it bears the Fatherâ€™s word,
Now, as in Eden where his first-born trod
â€œSeek thine own welfare, true to man and God!â€
Think not too meanly of thy low estate;
Thou hast a choice; to choose is to create!
Remember whose the sacred lips that tell,
Angels approve thee when thy choice is well;
Remember, One, a judge of righteous men,
Swore to spare Sodom if she held but ten!
Use well the freedom which thy Master gave,
(Thinkâ€™st thou that Heaven can tolerate a slave?)
And He who made thee to be just and true
Will bless thee, love thee,â€”Âay, respect thee too!
Nature has placed thee on a changeful tide,
To breast its waves, but not without a guide;
Yet, as the needle will forget its aim,
Jarred by the fury of the electric flame,
As the true current it will falsely feel,
Warped from its axis by a freight of steel;
So will thy conscience lose its balanced truth
If passionâ€™s lightning fall upon thy youth,
So the pure effluence quit its sacred hold
Girt round too deeply with magnetic gold.
Go to yon tower, where busy science plies
Her vast antennae, feeling through the skies
That little vernier on whose slender lines
The midnight taper trembles as it shines,
A silent index, tracks the planetsâ€™ march
In all their wanderings through the ethereal arch;
Tells through the mist where dazzled Mercury burns,
And marks the spot where Uranus returns.
So, till by wrong or negligence effaced,
The living index which thy Maker traced
Repeats the line each starry Virtue draws
Through the wide circuit of creationâ€™s laws;
Still tracks unchanged the everlasting ray
Where the dark shadows of temptation stray,
But, once defaced, forgets the orbs of light,
And leaves thee wandering oâ€™er the expanse of night.
â€œWhat is thy creed?â€ a hundred lips inquire;
â€œThou seekest God beneath what Christian spire?â€
Nor ask they idly, for uncounted lies
Float upward on the smoke of sacrifice;
When manâ€™s first incense rose above the plain,
Of earthâ€™s two altars one was built by Cain!
Uncursed by doubt, our earliest creed we take;
We love the precepts for the teacherâ€™s sake;
The simple lessons which the nursery taught
Fell soft and stainless on the buds of thought,
And the full blossom owes its fairest hue
To those sweet tear-drops of affectionâ€™s dew.
Too oft the light that led our earlier hours
Fades with the perfume of our cradle flowers;
The clear, cold question chills to frozen doubt;
Tired of beliefs, we dread to live without
Oh then, if Reason waver at thy side,
Let humbler Memory be thy gentle guide;
Go to thy birthplace, and, if faith was there,
Repeat thy fatherâ€™s creed, thy motherâ€™s prayer!
Faith loves to lean on Timeâ€™s destroying arm,
And age, like distance, lends a double charm;
In dim cathedrals, dark with vaulted gloom,
What holy awe invests the saintly tomb!
There pride will bow, and anxious care expand,
And creeping avarice come with open hand;
The gay can weep, the impious can adore,
From mornâ€™s first glimmerings on the chancel floor
Till dying sunset sheds his crimson stains
Through the faint halos of the irised panes.
Yet there are graves, whose rudely-shapen sod
Bears the fresh footprints where the sexton trod;
Graves where the verdure has not dared to shoot,
Where the chance wild-flower has not fixed its root,
Whose slumbering tenants, dead without a name,
The eternal record shall at length proclaim
Pure as the holiest in the long array
Of hooded, mitred, or tiaraed clay!
Come, seek the air; some pictures we may gain
Whose passing shadows shall not be in vain;
Not from the scenes that crowd the strangerâ€™s soil,
Not from our own amidst the stir of toil,
But when the Sabbath brings its kind release,
And Care lies slumbering on the lap of Peace.
The air is hushed, the street is holy ground;
Hark! The sweet bells renew their welcome sound
As one by one awakes each silent tongue,
It tells the turret whence its voice is flung.
The Chapel, last of sublunary things
That stirs our echoes with the name of Kings,
Whose bell, just glistening from the font and forge,
Rolled its proud requiem for the second George,
Solemn and swelling, as of old it rang,
Flings to the wind its deep, sonorous clang;
The simpler pile, that, mindful of the hour
When Howeâ€™s artillery shook its half-built tower,
Wears on its bosom, as a bride might do,
The iron breastpin which the â€œRebelsâ€ threw,
Wakes the sharp echoes with the quivering thrill
Of keen vibrations, tremulous and shrill;
Aloft, suspended in the morningâ€™s fire,
Crash the vast cymbals from the Southern spire;
The Giant, standing by the elm-clad green,
His white lance lifted oâ€™er the silent scene,
Whirling in air his brazen goblet round,
Swings from its brim the swollen floods of sound;
While, sad with memories of the olden time,
Throbs from his tower the Northern Minstrelâ€™s chime,â€”Â
Faint, single tones, that spell their ancient song,
But tears still follow as they breathe along.
Child of the soil, whom fortune sends to range
Where man and nature, faith and customs change,
Borne in thy memory, each familiar tone
Mourns on the winds that sigh in every zone.
When Ceylon sweeps thee with her perfumed breeze
Through the warm billows of the Indian seas;
Whenâ€”Âship and shadow blended both in oneâ€”Â
Flames oâ€™er thy mast the equatorial sun,
From sparkling midnight to refulgent noon
Thy canvas swelling with the still monsoon;
When through thy shrouds the wild tornado sings,
And thy poor sea-bird folds her tattered wings,â€”Â
Oft will delusion oâ€™er thy senses steal,
And airy echoes ring the Sabbath peal
Then, dim with grateful tears, in long array
Rise the fair town, the island-studded bay,
Home, with its smiling board, its cheering fire,
The half-choked welcome of the expecting sire,
The motherâ€™s kiss, and, still if aught remain,
Our whispering hearts shall aid the silent strain.
Ah, let the dreamer oâ€™er the taffrail lean
To muse unheeded, and to weep unseen;
Fear not the tropicâ€™s dews, the eveningâ€™s chills,
His heart lies warm among his triple hills!
Turned from her path by this deceitful gleam,
My wayward fancy half forgets her theme.
See through the streets that slumbered in repose
The living current of devotion flows,
Its varied forms in one harmonious band
Age leading childhood by its dimpled hand;
Want, in the robe whose faded edges fall
To tell of rags beneath the tartan shawl;
And wealth, in silks that, fluttering to appear,
Lift the deep borders of the proud cashmere.
See, but glance briefly, sorrow-worn and pale,
Those sunken cheeks beneath the widowâ€™s veil;
Alone she wanders where with him she trod,
No arm to stay her, but she leans on God.
While other doublets deviate here and there,
What secret handcuff binds that pretty pair?
Compactest couple! pressing side to side,â€”Â
Ah, the white bonnet that reveals the bride!
By the white neckcloth, with its straitened tie,
The sober hat, the Sabbath-speaking eye,
Severe and smileless, he that runs may read
The stern disciple of Genevaâ€™s creed
Decent and slow, behold his solemn march;
Silent he enters through yon crowded arch.
A livelier bearing of the outward man,
The light-hued gloves, the undevout rattan,
Now smartly raised or half profanely twirled,â€”Â
A bright, fresh twinkle from the week-day world,â€”Â
Tell their plain story; yes, thine eyes behold
A cheerful Christian from the liberal fold.
Down the chill street that curves in gloomiest shade
What marks betray yon solitary maid?
The cheekâ€™s red rose that speaks of balmier air,
The Celtic hue that shades her braided hair,
The gilded missal in her kerchief tied,â€”Â
Poor Nora, exile from Killarneyâ€™s side!
Sister in toil, though blanched by colder skies,
That left their azure in her downcast eyes,
See pallid Margaret, Laborâ€™s patient child,
Scarce weaned from home, the nursling of the wild,
Where white Katahdin oâ€™er the horizon shines,
And broad Penobscot dashes through the pines.
Still, as she hastes, her careful fingers hold
The unfailing hymn-book in its cambric fold.
Six days at drudgeryâ€™s heavy wheel she stands,
The seventh sweet morning folds her weary hands.
Yes, child of suffering, thou mayst well be sure
He who ordained the Sabbath loves the poor!
This weekly picture faithful Memory draws,
Nor claims the noisy tribute of applause;
Faint is the glow such barren hopes can lend,
And frail the line that asks no loftier end.
Trust me, kind listener, I will yet beguile
Thy saddened features of the promised smile.
This magic mantle thou must well divide,
It has its sable and its ermine side;
Yet, ere the lining of the robe appears,
Take thou in silence what I give in tears.
Dear listening soul, this transitory scene
Of murmuring stillness, busily serene,â€”Â
This solemn pause, the breathing-space of man,
The halt of toilâ€™s exhausted caravan,â€”Â
Comes sweet with music to thy wearied ear;
Rise with its anthems to a holier sphere!
Deal meekly, gently, with the hopes that guide
The lowliest brother straying from thy side
If right, they bid thee tremble for thine own;
If wrong, the verdict is for God alone.
What though the champions of thy faith esteem
The sprinkled fountain or baptismal stream;
Shall jealous passions in unseemly strife
Cross their dark weapons oâ€™er the waves of life?
Let my free soul, expanding as it can,
Leave to his scheme the thoughtful Puritan;
But Calvinâ€™s dogma shall my lips deride?
In that stern faith my angel Mary died;
Or ask if mercyâ€™s milder creed can save,
Sweet sister, risen from thy new-made grave?
True, the harsh founders of thy church reviled
That ancient faith, the trust of Erinâ€™s child;
Must thou be raking in the crumbled past
For racks and fagots in her teeth to cast?
See from the ashes of Helvetiaâ€™s pile
The whitened skull of old Servetus smile!
Round her young heart thy â€œRomish Upasâ€ threw
Its firm, deep fibres, strengthening as she grew;
Thy sneering voice may call them â€œPopish tricks,â€
Her Latin prayers, her dangling crucifix,
But De Profundis blessed her fatherâ€™s grave,
That â€œidolâ€ cross her dying mother gave!
What if some angel looks with equal eyes
On her and thee, the simple and the wise,
Writes each dark fault against thy brighter creed,
And drops a tear with every foolish bead!
Grieve, as thou must, oâ€™er historyâ€™s reeking page;
Blush for the wrongs that stain thy happier age;
Strive with the wanderer from the better path,
Bearing thy message meekly, not in wrath;
Weep for the frail that err, the weak that fall,
Have thine own faith,â€”Âbut hope and pray for all!
Faith; Conscience; Love. A meaner task remains,
And humbler thoughts must creep in lowlier strains.
Shalt thou be honest? Ask the worldly schools,
And all will tell thee knaves are busier fools;
Prudent? Industrious? Let not modern pens
Instruct â€œPoor Richardâ€™sâ€ fellow-citizens.
Be firm! One constant element in luck
Is genuine solid old Teutonic pluck.
See yon tall shaft; it felt the earthquakeâ€™s thrill,
Clung to its base, and greets the sunrise still.
Stick to your aim: the mongrelâ€™s hold will slip,
But only crowbars loose the bulldogâ€™s grip;
Small as he looks, the jaw that never yields
Drags down the bellowing monarch of the fields!
Yet in opinions look not always back,â€”Â
Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track;
Leave what youâ€™ve done for what you have to do;
Donâ€™t be â€œconsistent,â€ but be simply true.
Donâ€™t catch the fidgets; you have found your place
Just in the focus of a nervous race,
Fretful to change and rabid to discuss,
Full of excitements, always in a fuss.
Think of the patriarchs; then compare as men
These lean-cheeked maniacs of the tongue and pen!
Run, if you like, but try to keep your breath;
Work like a man, but donâ€™t be worked to death;
And with new notions,â€”Âlet me change the rule,â€”Â
Donâ€™t strike the iron till it â€™s slightly cool.
Choose well your set; our feeble nature seeks
The aid of clubs, the countenance of cliques;
And with this object settle first of all
Your weight of metal and your size of ball.
Track not the steps of such as hold you cheap,
Too mean to prize, though good enough to keep;
The â€œreal, genuine, no-mistake Tom Thumbsâ€
Are little people fed on great menâ€™s crumbs.
Yet keep no followers of that hateful brood
That basely mingles with its wholesome food
The tumid reptile, which, the poet said,
Doth wear a precious jewel in his head.
If the wild filly, â€œProgress,â€ thou wouldst ride,
Have young companions ever at thy side;
But wouldst thou stride the stanch old mare, â€œSuccess,â€
Go with thine elders, though they please thee less.
Shun such as lounge through afternoons and eves,
And on thy dial write, â€œBeware of thieves!â€
Felon of minutes, never taught to feel
The worth of treasures which thy fingers steal,
Pick my left pocket of its silver dime,
But spare the right,â€”Âit holds my golden time!
Does praise delight thee? Choose some ultra side,â€”Â
A sure old recipe, and often tried;
Be its apostle, congressman, or bard,
Spokesman or jokesman, only drive it hard;
But know the forfeit which thy choice abides,
For on two wheels the poor reformer rides,â€”Â
One black with epithets the anti throws,
One white with flattery painted by the pros.
Though books on MANNERS are not out of print,
An honest tongue may drop a harmless hint.
Stop not, unthinking, every friend you meet,
To spin your wordy fabric in the street;
While you are emptying your colloquial pack,
The fiend Lumbago jumps upon his back.
Nor cloud his features with the unwelcome tale
Of how he looks, if haply thin and pale;
Health is a subject for his child, his wife,
And the rude office that insures his life.
Look in his face, to meet thy neighborâ€™s soul,
Not on his garments, to detect a hole;
â€œHow to observeâ€ is what thy pages show,
Pride of thy sex, Miss Harriet Martineau!
Oh, what a precious book the one would be
That taught observers what they â€™re not to see!
I tell in verseâ€”Ââ€™t were better done in proseâ€”Â
One curious trick that everybody knows;
Once form this habit, and itâ€™s very strange
How long it sticks, how hard it is to change.
Two friendly people, both disposed to smile,
Who meet, like others, every little while,
Instead of passing with a pleasant bow,
And â€œHow dâ€™ ye do?â€ or â€œHow â€™s your uncle now?â€
Impelled by feelings in their nature kind,
But slightly weak and somewhat undefined,
Rush at each other, make a sudden stand,
Begin to talk, expatiate, and expand;
Each looks quite radiant, seems extremely struck,
Their meeting so was such a piece of luck;
Each thinks the other thinks he â€™s greatly pleased
To screw the vice in which they both are squeezed;
So there they talk, in dust, or mud, or snow,
Both bored to death, and both afraid to go!
Your hat once lifted, do not hang your fire,
Nor, like slow Ajax, fighting still, retire;
When your old castor on your crown you clap,
Go off; youâ€™ve mounted your percussion cap.
Some words on language may be well applied,
And take them kindly, though they touch your pride.
Words lead to things; a scale is more precise,â€”Â
Coarse speech, bad grammar, swearing, drinking, vice.
Our cold Northeasterâ€™s icy fetter clips
The native freedom of the Saxon lips;
See the brown peasant of the plastic South,
How all his passions play about his mouth!
With us, the feature that transmits the soul,
A frozen, passive, palsied breathing-hole.
The crampy shackles of the ploughboyâ€™s walk
Tie the small muscles when he strives to talk;
Not all the pumice of the polished town
Can smooth this roughness of the barnyard down;
Rich, honored, titled, he betrays his race
By this one mark,â€”Âheâ€™s awkward in the face;â€”Â
Natureâ€™s rude impress, long before he knew
The sunny street that holds the sifted few.
It canâ€™t be helped, though, if weâ€™re taken young,
We gain some freedom of the lips and tongue;
But school and college often try in vain
To break the padlock of our boyhoodâ€™s chain
One stubborn word will prove this axiom true,â€”Â
No quondam rustic can enunciate view.
A few brief stanzas may be well employed
To speak of errors we can all avoid.
Learning condemns beyond the reach of hope
The careless lips that speak of soâ€™ap for soap;
Her edict exiles from her fair abode
The clownish voice that utters roâ€™ad for road
Less stern to him who calls his coat a coâ€™at,
And steers his boat, believing it a boâ€™at,
She pardoned one, our classic cityâ€™s boast,
Who said at Cambridge moâ€™st instead of most,
But knit her brows and stamped her angry foot
To hear a Teacher call a root a roâ€™ot.
Once more: speak clearly, if you speak at all;
Carve every word before you let it fall;
Donâ€™t, like a lecturer or dramatic star,
Try over-hard to roll the British R;
Do put your accents in the proper spot;
Donâ€™t,â€”Âlet me beg you,â€”Âdonâ€™t say â€œHow?â€ for â€œWhat?â€
And when you stick on conversationâ€™s burs,
Donâ€™t strew your pathway with those dreadful urs.
From little matters let us pass to less,
And lightly touch the mysteries of dress;
The outward forms the inner man reveal,â€”Â
We guess the pulp before we cut the peel.
I leave the broadcloth,â€”Âcoats and all the rest,â€”Â
The dangerous waistcoat, called by cockneys â€œvest,â€
The things named â€œpantsâ€ in certain documents,
A word not made for gentlemen, but â€œgents;â€
One single precept might the whole condense
Be sure your tailor is a man of sense;
But add a little care, a decent pride,
And always err upon the sober side.
Three pairs of boots one pair of feet demands,
If polished daily by the ownerâ€™s hands;
If the dark menialâ€™s visit save from this,
Have twice the number,â€”Âfor he â€™ll sometimes miss.
One pair for critics of the nicer sex,
Close in the instepâ€™s clinging circumflex,
Long, narrow, light; the Gallic boot of love,
A kind of cross between a boot and glove.
Compact, but easy, strong, substantial, square,
Let native art compile the medium pair.
The third remains, and let your tasteful skill
Here show some relics of affection still;
Let no stiff cowhide, reeking from the tan,
No rough caoutchoue, no deformed brogan,
Disgrace the tapering outline of your feet,
Though yellow torrents gurgle through the street.
Wear seemly gloves; not black, nor yet too light,
And least of all the pair that once was white;
Let the dead party where you told your loves
Bury in peace its dead bouquets and gloves;
Shave like the goat, if so your fancy bids,
But be a parent,â€”Âdonâ€™t neglect your kids.
Have a good hat; the secret of your looks
Lives with the beaver in Canadian brooks;
Virtue may flourish in an old cravat,
But man and nature scorn the shocking hat.
Does beauty slight you from her gay abodes?
Like bright Apollo, you must take to Rhoades,â€”Â
Mount the new castor,â€”Âice itself will melt;
Boots, gloves, may fail; the hat is always felt.
Be shy of breastpins; plain, well-ironed white,
With small pearl buttons,â€”Âtwo of them in sight,â€”Â
Is always genuine, while your gems may pass,
Though real diamonds, for ignoble glass.
But spurn those paltry Cisatlantic lies
That round his breast the shabby rustic ties;
Breathe not the name profaned to hallow things
The indignant laundress blushes when she brings!
Our freeborn race, averse to every check,
Has tossed the yoke of Europe from its neck;
From the green prairie to the sea-girt town,
The whole wide nation turns its collars down.
The stately neck is manhoodâ€™s manliest part;
It takes the life-blood freshest from the heart.
With short, curled ringlets close around it spread,
How light and strong it lifts the Grecian head!
Thine, fair Erechtheus of Minervaâ€™s wall;
Or thine, young athlete of the Louvreâ€™s hall,
Smooth as the pillar flashing in the sun
That filled the arena where thy wreaths were won,
Firm as the band that clasps the antlered spoil
Strained in the winding anacondaâ€™s coil
I spare the contrast; it were only kind
To be a little, nay, intensely blind.
Choose for yourself: I know it cuts your ear;
I know the points will sometimes interfere;
I know that often, like the filial John,
Whom sleep surprised with half his drapery on,
You show your features to the astonished town
With one side standing and the other down;â€”Â
But, O, my friend! my favorite fellow-man!
If Nature made you on her modern plan,
Sooner than wander with your windpipe bare,â€”Â
The fruit of Eden ripening in the air,â€”Â
With that lean head-stalk, that protruding chin,
Wear standing collars, were they made of tin!
And have a neckclothâ€”Âby the throat of Jove!â€”Â
Cut from the funnel of a rusty stove!
The long-drawn lesson narrows to its close,
Chill, slender, slow, the dwindled current flows;
Tired of the ripples on its feeble springs,
Once more the Muse unfolds her upward wings.
Land of my birth, with this unhallowed tongue,
Thy hopes, thy dangers, I perchance had sung;
But who shall sing, in brutal disregard
Of all the essentials of the â€œnative bardâ€?
Lake, sea, shore, prairie, forest, mountain, fall,
His eye omnivorous must devour them all;
The tallest summits and the broadest tides
His foot must compass with its giant strides,
Where Ocean thunders, where Missouri rolls,
And tread at once the tropics and the poles;
His food all forms of earth, fire, water, air,
His home all space, his birthplace everywhere.
Some grave compatriot, having seen perhaps
The pictured page that goes in Worcesterâ€™s Maps,
And, read in earnest what was said in jest,
â€œWho drives fat oxenâ€â€”Âplease to add the rest,â€”Â
Sprung the odd notion that the poetâ€™s dreams
Grow in the ratio of his hills and streams;
And hence insisted that the aforesaid â€œbard,â€
Pink of the future, fancyâ€™s pattern-card,
The babe of nature in the â€œgiant West,â€
Must be of course her biggest and her best.
Oh! when at length the expected bard shall come,
Land of our pride, to strike thine echoes dumb,
(And many a voice exclaims in prose and rhyme,
Itâ€™s getting late, and heâ€™s behind his time,)
When all thy mountains clap their hands in joy,
And all thy cataracts thunder, â€œThat â€™s the boy,â€â€”Â
Say if with him the reign of song shall end,
And Heaven declare its final dividend!
Becalm, dear brother! whose impassioned strain
Comes from an alley watered by a drain;
The little Mincio, dribbling to the Po,
Beats all the epics of the Hoang Ho;
If loved in earnest by the tuneful maid,
Donâ€™t mind their nonsense,â€”Ânever be afraid!
The nurse of poets feeds her winged brood
By common firesides, on familiar food;
In a low hamlet, by a narrow stream,
Where bovine rustics used to doze and dream,
She filled young Williamâ€™s fiery fancy full,
While old John Shakespeare talked of beeves and wool!
No Alpine needle, with its climbing spire,
Brings down for mortals the Promethean fire,
If careless nature have forgot to frame
An altar worthy of the sacred flame.
Unblest by any save the goatherdâ€™s lines,
Mont Blanc rose soaring through his â€œsea of pines;â€
In vain the rivers from their ice-caves flash;
No hymn salutes them but the Ranz des Vaches,
Till lazy Coleridge, by the morningâ€™s light,
Gazed for a moment on the fields of white,
And lo! the glaciers found at length a tongue,
Mont Blanc was vocal, and Chamouni sung!
Children of wealth or want, to each is given
One spot of green, and all the blue of heaven!
Enough if these their outward shows impart;
The rest is thine,â€”Âthe scenery of the heart.
If passionâ€™s hectic in thy stanzas glow,
Thy heartâ€™s best life-blood ebbing as they flow;
If with thy verse thy strength and bloom distil,
Drained by the pulses of the fevered thrill;
If soundâ€™s sweet effluence polarize thy brain,
And thoughts turn crystals in thy fluid strain,â€”Â
Nor rolling ocean, nor the prairieâ€™s bloom,
Nor streaming cliffs, nor rayless cavernâ€™s gloom,
Needâ€™st thou, young poet, to inform thy line;
Thy own broad signet stamps thy song divine!
Let others gaze where silvery streams are rolled,
And chase the rainbow for its cup of gold;
To thee all landscapes wear a heavenly dye,
Changed in the glance of thy prismatic eye;
Nature evoked thee in sublimer throes,
For thee her inmost Arethusa flows,â€”Â
The mighty motherâ€™s living depths are stirred,â€”Â
Thou art the starred Osiris of the herd!
A few brief lines; they touch on solemn chords,
And hearts may leap to hear their honest words;
Yet, ere the jarring bugle-blast is blown,
The softer lyre shall breathe its soothing tone.
New England! proudly may thy children claim
Their honored birthright by its humblest name
Cold are thy skies, but, ever fresh and clear,
No rank malaria stains thine atmosphere;
No fungous weeds invade thy scanty soil,
Scarred by the ploughshares of unslumbering toil.
Long may the doctrines by thy sages taught,
Raised from the quarries where their sires have wrought,
Be like the granite of thy rock-ribbed land,â€”Â
As slow to rear, as obdurate to stand;
And as the ice that leaves thy crystal mine
Chills the fierce alcohol in the Creoleâ€™s wine,
So may the doctrines of thy sober school
Keep the hot theories of thy neighbors cool!
If ever, trampling on her ancient path,
Cankered by treachery or inflamed by wrath,
With smooth â€œResolvesâ€ or with discordant cries,
The mad Briareus of disunion rise,
Chiefs of New England! by your siresâ€™ renown,
Dash the red torches of the rebel down!
Flood his black hearthstone till its flames expire,
Though your old Sachem fanned his council-fire!
But if at last, her fading cycle run,
The tongue must forfeit what the arm has won,
Then rise, wild Ocean! roll thy surging shock
Full on old Plymouthâ€™s desecrated rock!
Scale the proud shaft degenerate hands have hewn,
Where bleeding Valor stained the flowers of June!
Sweep in one tide her spires and turrets down,
And howl her dirge above Monadnockâ€™s crown!
List not the tale; the Pilgrimâ€™s hallowed shore,
Though strewn with weeds, is granite at the core;
Oh, rather trust that He who made her free
Will keep her true as long as faith shall be!
Farewell! yet lingering through the destined hour,
Leave, sweet Enchantress, one memorial flower!
An Angel, floating oâ€™er the waste of snow
That clad our Western desert, long ago,
(The same fair spirit who, unseen by day,
Shone as a star along the Mayflowerâ€™s way,)â€”Â
Sent, the first herald of the Heavenly plan,
To choose on earth a resting-place for man,â€”Â
Tired with his flight along the unvaried field,
Turned to soar upwards, when his glance revealed
A calm, bright bay enclosed in rocky bounds,
And at its entrance stood three sister mounds.
The Angel spake: â€œThis threefold hill shall be
The home of Arts, the nurse of Liberty!
One stately summit from its shaft shall pour
Its deep-red blaze along the darkened shore;
Emblem of thoughts that, kindling far and wide,
In dangerâ€™s night shall be a nationâ€™s guide.
One swelling crest the citadel shall crown,
Its slanted bastions black with battleâ€™s frown,
And bid the sons that tread its scowling heights
Bare their strong arms for man and all his rights!
One silent steep along the northern wave
Shall hold the patriarchâ€™s and the heroâ€™s grave;
When fades the torch, when oâ€™er the peaceful scene
The embattled fortress smiles in living green,
The cross of Faith, the anchor staff of Hope,
Shall stand eternal on its grassy slope;
There through all time shall faithful Memory tell,
â€™Here Virtue toiled, and Patriot Valor fell;
Thy free, proud fathers slumber at thy side;
Live as they lived, or perish as they died!â€™â€