Call Him Not Old, Whose Visionary Brain
Call him not old, whose visionary brain
Holds o'er the past its undivided reign.
For him in vain the envious seasons roll
Who bears eternal summer in his soul.
If yet the minstrel's song, the poet's lay,
Spring with her birds, or children with their play,
Or maiden's smile, or heavenly dream of art
Stir the few life-drops creeping round his heart,—
Turn to the record where his years are told,—
Count his gray hairs,—they cannot make him old!
Thoughtful in youth, but not austere in age;
Calm, but not cold, and cheerful though a sage;
Too true to flatter and too kind to sneer,
And only just when seemingly severe;
So gently blending courtesy and art
That wisdomâ€™s lips seemed borrowing friendshipâ€™s heart.
Taught by the sorrows that his age had known
In othersâ€™ trials to forget his own,
As hour by hour his lengthened day declined,
A sweeter radiance lingered oâ€™er his mind.
Cold were the lips that spoke his early praise,
And hushed the voices of his morning days,
Yet the same accents dwelt on every tongue,
And love renewing kept him ever young.
CHANGELESS in beauty, rose-hues on her cheek,
Old walls, old trees, old memories all around
Lend her unfading youth their charm antique
And fill with mystic light her holy ground.
Here the lost dove her leaf of promise found
While the new morning showed its blushing streak
Far o'er the waters she had crossed to seek
The bleak, wild shore in billowy forests drowned.
Mother of scholars ! on thy rising throne
Thine elder sisters look benignant clown;
England's proud twins, and they whose cloisters own
The fame of Abelard, the scarlet gown
That laughing Kabelais wore, not yet outgrown
And on thy forehead place the New World's crown.
Rhymes Of A Life-Time
FROM the first gleam of morning to the gray
Of peaceful evening, lo, a life unrolled!
In woven pictures all its changes told,
Its lights, its shadows, every flitting ray,
Till the long curtain, falling, dims the day,
Steals from the dial's disk the sunlight's gold,
And all the graven hours grow dark and cold
Where late the glowing blaze of noontide lay.
Ah! the warm blood runs wild in youthful veins,--
Let me no longer play with painted fire;
New songs for new-born days! I would not tire
The listening ears that wait for fresher strains
In phrase new-moulded, new-forged rhythmic chains,
With plaintive measures from a worn-out lyre.
WE trust and fear, we question and believe,
From life's dark threads a trembling faith to weave,
Frail as the web that misty night has spun,
Whose dew-gemmed awnings glitter in the sun.
While the calm centuries spell their lessons out,
Each truth we conquer spreads the realm of doubt;
When Sinai's summit was Jehovah's throne,
The chosen Prophet knew his voice alone;
When Pilate's hall that awful question heard,
The Heavenly Captive answered not a word.
Eternal Truth! beyond our hopes and fears
Sweep the vast orbits of thy myriad spheres!
From age to age, while History carves sublime
On her waste rock the flaming curves of time,
How the wild swayings of our planet show
That worlds unseen surround the world we know.
The Gray Chief
FOR THE MEETING OF THE MASSACHUSETTS
MEDICAL SOCIETY, 1859
'T is sweet to fight our battles o'er,
And crown with honest praise
The gray old chief, who strikes no more
The blow of better days.
Before the true and trusted sage
With willing hearts we bend,
When years have touched with hallowing age
Our Master, Guide, and Friend.
For all his manhood's labor past,
For love and faith long tried,
His age is honored to the last,
Though strength and will have died.
But when, untamed by toil and strife,
Full in our front he stands,
The torch of light, the shield of life,
Still lifted in his hands,
No temple, though its walls resound
With bursts of ringing cheers,
Can hold the honors that surround
His manhood's twice-told years!
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!'
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar; --
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee; --
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!
Questions And Answers
WHERE, oh where are the visions of morning,
Fresh as the dews of our prime?
Gone, like tenants that quit without warning,
Down the back entry of time.
Where, oh where are life's lilies and roses,
Nursed in the golden dawn's smile?
Dead as the bulrushes round little Moses,
On the old banks of the Nile.
Where are the Marys, and Anns, and Elizas,
Loving and lovely of yore?
Look in the columns of old Advertisers,--
Married and dead by the score.
Where the gray colts and the ten-year-old fillies,
Saturday's triumph and joy?
Gone, like our friend (--Greek--) Achilles,
Homer's ferocious old boy.
Die-away dreams of ecstatic emotion,
Hopes like young eagles at play,
Vows of unheard-of and endless devotion,
How ye have faded away!
Yet, through the ebbing of Time's mighty river
Leave our young blossoms to die,
Let him roll smooth in his current forever,
Till the last pebble is dry.
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?
Hymn For The Dedication Of Memorial Hall At Cambridge, June 23, 1874
WHERE, girt around by savage foes,
Our nurturing Mother's shelter rose,
Behold, the lofty temple stands,
Reared by her children's grateful hands!
Firm are the pillars that defy
The volleyed thunders of the sky;
Sweet are the summer wreaths that twine
With bud and flower our martyrs' shrine.
The hues their tattered colors bore
Fall mingling on the sunlit floor
Till evening spreads her spangled pall,
And wraps in shade the storied hall.
Firm were their hearts in danger's hour,
Sweet was their manhood's morning flower,
Their hopes with rainbow hues were bright,--
How swiftly winged the sudden night!
O Mother! on thy marble page
Thy children read, from age to age,
The mighty word that upward leads
Through noble thought to nobler deeds.
TRUTH, heaven-born TRUTH, their fearless guide,
Thy saints have lived, thy heroes died;
Our love has reared their earthly shrine,
Their glory be forever thine!
Hymn For The Two Hundredth Anniversary Of King’s Chapel
SUNG BY THE CONGREGATION TO THE TUNE OF
TALLIS'S EVENING HYMN
O'ERSHADOWED by the walls that climb,
Piled up in air by living hands,
A rock amid the waves of time,
Our gray old house of worship stands.
High o'er the pillared aisles we love
The symbols of the past look down;
Unharmed, unharming, throned above,
Behold the mitre and the crown!
Let not our younger faith forget
The loyal souls that held them dear;
The prayers we read their tears have wet,
The hymns we sing they loved to hear.
The memory of their earthly throne
Still to our holy temple clings,
But here the kneeling suppliants own
One only Lord, the King of kings.
Hark! while our hymn of grateful praise
The solemn echoing vaults prolong,
The far-off voice of earlier days
Blends with our own in hallowed song:
To Him who ever lives and reigns,
Whom all the hosts of heaven adore,
Who lent the life His breath sustains,
Be glory now and evermore!
To An English Friend
THE seed that wasteful autumn cast
To waver on its stormy blast,
Long o'er the wintry desert tost,
Its living germ has never lost.
Dropped by the weary tempest's wing,
It feels the kindling ray of spring,
And, starting from its dream of death,
Pours on the air its perfumed breath.
So, parted by the rolling flood,
The love that springs from common blood
Needs but a single sunlit hour
Of mingling smiles to bud and flower;
Unharmed its slumbering life has flown,
From shore to shore, from zone to zone,
Where summer's falling roses stain
The tepid waves of Pontchartrain,
Or where the lichen creeps below
Katahdin's wreaths of whirling snow.
Though fiery sun and stiffening cold
May change the fair ancestral mould,
No winter chills, no summer drains
The life-blood drawn from English veins,
Still bearing wheresoe'er it flows
The love that with its fountain rose,
Unchanged by space, unwronged by time,
From age to age, from clime to clime!
The Old Tune
THIS shred of song you bid me bring
Is snatched from fancy's embers;
Ah, when the lips forget to sing,
The faithful heart remembers!
Too swift the wings of envious Time
To wait for dallying phrases,
Or woven strands of labored rhyme
To thread their cunning mazes.
A word, a sigh, and lo, how plain
Its magic breath discloses
Our life's long vista through a lane
Of threescore summers' roses!
One language years alone can teach
Its roots are young affections
That feel their way to simplest speech
Through silent recollections.
That tongue is ours. How few the words
We need to know a brother!
As simple are the notes of birds,
Yet well they know each other.
This freezing month of ice and snow
That brings our lives together
Lends to our year a living glow
That warms its wintry weather.
So let us meet as eve draws nigh,
And life matures and mellows,
Till Nature whispers with a sigh,
'Good-night, my dear old fellows!'
SEXTON! Martha's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
Her weary hands their labor cease;
Good night, poor Martha,-- sleep in peace!
Toll the bell!
Sexton! Martha 's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
For many a year has Martha said,
"I'm old and poor,-- would I were dead!"
Toll the bell!
Sexton! Martha's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
She'll bring no more, by day or night,
Her basket full of linen white.
Toll the bell!
Sexton! Martha's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
'Tis fitting she should lie below
A pure white sheet of drifted snow.
Toll the bell!
Sexton! Martha's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
Sleep, Martha, sleep, to wake in light,
Where all the robes are stainless white.
Toll the bell!
TIME is a thief who leaves his tools behind him;
He comes by night, he vanishes at dawn;
We track his footsteps, but we never find him
Strong locks are broken, massive bolts are drawn,
And all around are left the bars and borers,
The splitting wedges and the prying keys,
Such aids as serve the soft-shod vault-explorers
To crack, wrench open, rifle as they please.
Ah, these are tools which Heaven in mercy lends us
When gathering rust has clenched our shackles fast,
Time is the angel-thief that Nature sends us
To break the cramping fetters of our past.
Mourn as we may for treasures he has taken,
Poor as we feel of hoarded wealth bereft,
More precious are those implements forsaken,
Found in the wreck his ruthless hands have left.
Some lever that a casket's hinge has broken
Pries off a bolt, and lo! our souls are free;
Each year some Open Sesame is spoken,
And every decade drops its master-key.
So as from year to year we count our treasure,
Our loss seems less, and larger look our gains;
Time's wrongs repaid in more than even measure,--
We lose our jewels, but we break our chains.
What I Have Come For
I HAVE come with my verses--I think I may claim
It is not the first time I have tried on the same.
They were puckered in rhyme, they were wrinkled in wit;
But your hearts were so large that they made them a fit.
I have come--not to tease you with more of my rhyme,
But to feel as I did in the blessed old time;
I want to hear him with the Brobdingnag laugh--
We count him at least as three men and a half.
I have come to meet judges so wise and so grand
That I shake in my shoes while they're shaking my hand;
And the prince among merchants who put back the crown
When they tried to enthrone him the King of the Town.
I have come to see George--Yes, I think there are four,
If they all were like these I could wish there were more.
I have come to see one whom we used to call 'Jim,'
I want to see--oh, don't I want to see him?
I have come to grow young--on my word I declare
I have thought I detected a change in my hair!
One hour with 'The Boys' will restore it to brown--
And a wrinkle or two I expect to rub down.
Yes, that's what I've come for, as all of us come;
When I meet the dear Boys I could wish I were dumb.
You asked me, you know, but it's spoiling the fun;
I have told what I came for; my ditty is done.
From The Iron Gate
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 is 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.
No Time Like The Old Time
THERE is no time like the old time, when you and I were young,
When the buds of April blossomed, and the birds of spring-time sung!
The garden's brightest glories by summer suns are nursed,
But oh, the sweet, sweet violets, the flowers that opened first!
There is no place like the old place, where you and I were born,
Where we lifted first our eyelids on the splendors of the morn
From the milk-white breast that warmed us, from the clinging arms that
Where the dear eyes glistened o'er us that will look on us no more!
There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our morning days,
No greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise
Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold;
But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.
There is no love like the old love, that we courted in our pride;
Though our leaves are falling, falling, and we're fading side by side,
There are blossoms all around us with the colors of our dawn,
And we live in borrowed sunshine when the day-star is withdrawn.
There are no times like the old times,--they shall never be forgot!
There is no place like the old place,--keep green the dear old spot!
There are no friends like our old friends,--may Heaven prolong their
There are no loves like our old loves,--God bless our loving wives!
The Last Leaf
I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane.
They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.
But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
"They are gone!"
The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said--
Poor old lady, she is dead
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;
But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.
I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.
I 'm ashamed,--that 's the fact,--it 's a pitiful case,--
Won't any kind classmate get up in my place?
Just remember how often I've risen before,--
I blush as I straighten my legs on the floor!
There are stories, once pleasing, too many times told,--
There are beauties once charming, too fearfully old,--
There are voices we've heard till we know them so well,
Though they talked for an hour they'd have nothing to tell.
Yet, Classmates! Friends! Brothers! Dear blessed old boys!
Made one by a lifetime of sorrows and joys,
What lips have such sounds as the poorest of these,
Though honeyed, like Plato's, by musical bees?
What voice is so sweet and what greeting so dear
As the simple, warm welcome that waits for us here?
The love of our boyhood still breathes in its tone,
And our hearts throb the answer, 'He's one of our own!'
Nay! count not our numbers; some sixty we know,
But these are above, and those under the snow;
And thoughts are still mingled wherever we meet
For those we remember with those that we greet.
We have rolled on life's journey,--how fast and how far!
One round of humanity's many-wheeled car,
But up-hill and down-hill, through rattle and rub,
Old, true Twenty-niners! we've stuck to our hub!
While a brain lives to think, or a bosom to feel,
We will cling to it still like the spokes of a wheel!
And age, as it chills us, shall fasten the tire
That youth fitted round in his circle of fire!
What We All Think
THAT age was older once than now,
In spite of locks untimely shed,
Or silvered on the youthful brow;
That babes make love and children wed.
That sunshine had a heavenly glow,
Which faded with those 'good old days'
When winters came with deeper snow,
And autumns with a softer haze.
That--mother, sister, wife, or child--
The 'best of women' each has known.
Were school-boys ever half so wild?
How young the grandpapas have grown!
That but for this our souls were free,
And but for that our lives were blest;
That in some season yet to be
Our cares will leave us time to rest.
Whene'er we groan with ache or pain,--
Some common ailment of the race,--
Though doctors think the matter plain,--
That ours is 'a peculiar case.'
That when like babes with fingers burned
We count one bitter maxim more,
Our lesson all the world has learned,
And men are wiser than before.
That when we sob o'er fancied woes,
The angels hovering overhead
Count every pitying drop that flows,
And love us for the tears we shed.
That when we stand with tearless eye
And turn the beggar from our door,
They still approve us when we sigh,
'Ah, had I but one thousand more!'
Though temples crowd the crumbled brink
O'erhanging truth's eternal flow,
Their tablets bold with what we think,
Their echoes dumb to what we know;
That one unquestioned text we read,
All doubt beyond, all fear above,
Nor crackling pile nor cursing creed
Can burn or blot it: GOD IS LOVE!
A Loving-Cup Song
COME, heap the fagots! Ere we go
Again the cheerful hearth shall glow;
We 'll have another blaze, my boys!
When clouds are black and snows are white,
Then Christmas logs lend ruddy light
They stole from summer days, my boys,
They stole from summer days.
And let the Loving-Cup go round,
The Cup with blessed memories crowned,
That flows whene'er we meet, my boys;
No draught will hold a drop of sin
If love is only well stirred in
To keep it sound and sweet, my boys,
To keep it sound and sweet.
Give me, to pin upon my breast,
The blossoms twain I love the best,
A rosebud and a pink, my boys;
Their leaves shall nestle next my heart,
Their perfumed breath shall own its part
In every health we drink, my boys,
In every health we drink.
The breathing blossoms stir my blood,
Methinks I see the lilacs bud
And hear the bluebirds sing, my boys;
Why not? Yon lusty oak has seen
Full tenscore years, yet leaflets green
Peep out with every spring, my boys,
Peep out with every spring.
Old Time his rusty scythe may whet,
The unmowed grass is glowing yet
Beneath the sheltering snow, my boys;
And if the crazy dotard ask,
Is love worn out? Is life a task?
We'll bravely answer No! my boys,
We 'll bravely answer No!
For life's bright taper is the same
Love tipped of old with rosy flame
That heaven's own altar lent, my boys,
To glow in every cup we fill
Till lips are mute and hearts are still,
Till life and love are spent, my boys,
Till life and love are spent.
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!
THE YOUNG GIRL'S POEM
WHATEVER I do, and whatever I say,
Aunt Tabitha tells me that is n't the way;
When she was a girl (forty summers ago)
Aunt Tabitha tells me they never did so.
Dear aunt! If I only would take her advice!
But I like my own way, and I find it so nice
And besides, I forget half the things I am told;
But they all will come back to me--when I am old.
If a youth passes by, it may happen, no doubt,
He may chance to look in as I chance to look out;
She would never endure an impertinent stare,--
It is horrid, she says, and I must n't sit there.
A walk in the moonlight has pleasures, I own,
But it is n't quite safe to be walking alone;
So I take a lad's arm,--just for safety, you know,--
But Aunt Tabitha tells me they did n't do so.
How wicked we are, and how good they were then!
They kept at arm's length those detestable men;
What an era of virtue she lived in!--But stay--
Were the men all such rogues in Aunt Tabitha's day?
If the men were so wicked, I 'll ask my papa
How he dared to propose to my darling mamma;
Was he like the rest of them? Goodness! Who knows?
And what shall I say, if a wretch should propose?
I am thinking if Aunt knew so little of sin,
What a wonder Aunt Tabitha's aunt must have been!
And her grand-aunt--it scares me--how shockingly sad
That we girls of to-day are so frightfully bad!
A martyr will save us, and nothing else can;
Let me perish--to rescue some wretched young man!
Though when to the altar a victim I go,
Aunt Tabitha 'll tell me she never did so.
After A Lecture On Moore
SHINE soft, ye trembling tears of light
That strew the mourning skies;
Hushed in the silent dews of night
The harp of Erin lies.
What though her thousand years have past
Of poets, saints, and kings,--
Her echoes only hear the last
That swept those golden strings.
Fling o'er his mound, ye star-lit bowers,
The balmiest wreaths ye wear,
Whose breath has lent your earth-born flowers
Heaven's own ambrosial air.
Breathe, bird of night, thy softest tone,
By shadowy grove and rill;
Thy song will soothe us while we own
That his was sweeter still.
Stay, pitying Time, thy foot for him
Who gave thee swifter wings,
Nor let thine envious shadow dim
The light his glory flings.
If in his cheek unholy blood
Burned for one youthful hour,
'T was but the flushing of the bud
That blooms a milk-white flower.
Take him, kind mother, to thy breast,
Who loved thy smiles so well,
And spread thy mantle o'er his rest
Of rose and asphodel.
The bark has sailed the midnight sea,
The sea without a shore,
That waved its parting sign to thee,--
'A health to thee, Tom Moore!'
And thine, long lingering on the strand,
Its bright-hued streamers furled,
Was loosed by age, with trembling hand,
To seek the silent world.
Not silent! no, the radiant stars
Still singing as they shine,
Unheard through earth's imprisoning bars,
Have voices sweet as thine.
Wake, then, in happier realms above,
The songs of bygone years,
Till angels learn those airs of love
That ravished mortal ears!
Never Or Now
LISTEN, young heroes! your country is calling!
Time strikes the hour for the brave and the true!
Now, while the foremost are fighting and falling,
Fill up the ranks that have opened for you!
You whom the fathers made free and defended,
Stain not the scroll that emblazons their fame
You whose fair heritage spotless descended,
Leave not your children a birthright of shame!
Stay not for questions while Freedom stands gasping!
Wait not till Honor lies wrapped in his pall!
Brief the lips' meeting be, swift the hands' clasping,--
'Off for the wars!' is enough for them all!
Break from the arms that would fondly caress you!
Hark! 't is the bugle-blast, sabres are drawn!
Mothers shall pray for you, fathers shall bless you,
Maidens shall weep for you when you are gone!
Never or now! cries the blood of a nation,
Poured on the turf where the red rose should bloom;
Now is the day and the hour of salvation,--
Never or now! peals the trumpet of doom!
Never or now! roars the hoarse-throated cannon
Through the black canopy blotting the skies;
Never or now! flaps the shell-blasted pennon
O'er the deep ooze where the Cumberland lies!
From the foul dens where our brothers are dying,
Aliens and foes in the land of their birth,--
From the rank swamps where our martyrs are lying
Pleading in vain for a handful of earth,--
From the hot plains where they perish outnumbered,
Furrowed and ridged by the battle-field's plough,
Comes the loud summons; too long you have slumbered,
Hear the last Angel-trump,--Never or Now!
At The Turn Of The Road
THE glory has passed from the goldenrod's plume,
The purple-hued asters still linger in bloom
The birch is bright yellow, the sumachs are red,
The maples like torches aflame overhead.
But what if the joy of the summer is past,
And winter's wild herald is blowing his blast?
For me dull November is sweeter than May,
For my love is its sunshine,--she meets me to-day!
Will she come? Will the ring-dove return to her nest?
Will the needle swing back from the east or the west?
At the stroke of the hour she will be at her gate;
A friend may prove laggard,--love never comes late.
Do I see her afar in the distance? Not yet.
Too early! Too early! She could not forget!
When I cross the old bridge where the brook overflowed,
She will flash full in sight at the turn of the road.
I pass the low wall where the ivy entwines;
I tread the brown pathway that leads through the pines;
I haste by the boulder that lies in the field,
Where her promise at parting was lovingly sealed.
Will she come by the hillside or round through the wood?
Will she wear her brown dress or her mantle and hood?
The minute draws near,--but her watch may go wrong;
My heart will be asking, What keeps her so long?
Why doubt for a moment? More shame if I do!
Why question? Why tremble? Are angels more true?
She would come to the lover who calls her his own
Though she trod in the track of a whirling cyclone!
I crossed the old bridge ere the minute had passed.
I looked: lo! my Love stood before me at last.
Her eyes, how they sparkled, her cheeks, how they glowed,
As we met, face to face, at the turn of the road!
Our Indian Summer
You 'll believe me, dear boys, 't is a pleasure to rise,
With a welcome like this in your darling old eyes;
To meet the same smiles and to hear the same tone
Which have greeted me oft in the years that have flown.
Were I gray as the grayest old rat in the wall,
My locks would turn brown at the sight of you all;
If my heart were as dry as the shell on the sand,
It would fill like the goblet I hold in my hand.
There are noontides of autumn when summer returns.
Though the leaves are all garnered and sealed in their urns,
And the bird on his perch, that was silent so long,
Believes the sweet sunshine and breaks into song.
We have caged the young birds of our beautiful June;
Their plumes are still bright and their voices in tune;
One moment of sunshine from faces like these
And they sing as they sung in the green-growing trees.
The voices of morning! how sweet is their thrill
When the shadows have turned, and the evening grows still!
The text of our lives may get wiser with age,
But the print was so fair on its twentieth page!
Look off from your goblet and up from your plate,
Come, take the last journal, and glance at its date:
Then think what we fellows should say and should do,
If the 6 were a 9 and the 5 were a 2.
Ah, no! for the shapes that would meet with as here,
From the far land of shadows, are ever too dear!
Though youth flung around us its pride and its charms,
We should see but the comrades we clasped in our arms.
A health to our future--a sigh for our past,
We love, we remember, we hope to the last;
And for all the base lies that the almanacs hold,
While we've youth in our hearts we can never grow old!
The Last Reader
I sometimes sit beneath a tree
And read my own sweet songs;
Though naught they may to others be,
Each humble line prolongs
A tone that might have passed away
But for that scarce remembered lay.
I keep them like a lock or leaf
That some dear girl has given;
Frail record of an hour, as brief
As sunset clouds in heaven,
But spreading purple twilight still
High over memoryâ€™s shadowed hill.
They lie upon my pathway bleak,
Those flowers that once ran wild,
As on a fatherâ€™s careworn cheek
The ringlets of his child;
The golden mingling with the gray,
And stealing half its snows away.
What care I though the dust is spread
Around these yellow leaves,
Or oâ€™er them his sarcastic thread
Oblivionâ€™s insect weaves
Though weeds are tangled on the stream,
It still reflects my morningâ€™s beam.
And therefore love I such as smile
On these neglected songs,
Nor deem that flatteryâ€™s needless wile
My opening bosom wrongs;
For who would trample, at my side,
A few pale buds, my gardenâ€™s pride?
It may be that my scanty ore
Long years have washed away,
And where were golden sands before
Is naught but common clay;
Still something sparkles in the sun
For memory to look back upon.
And when my name no more is heard,
My lyre no more is known,
Still let me, like a winterâ€™s bird,
In silence and alone,
Fold over them the weary wing
Once flashing through the dews of spring.
Yes, let my fancy fondly wrap
My youth in its decline,
And riot in the rosy lap
Of thoughts that once were mine,
And give the worm my little store
When the last reader reads no more!
Illustration Of A Picture
'A SPANISH GIRL IN REVERIE,'
SHE twirled the string of golden beads,
That round her neck was hung,---
My grandsire's gift; the good old man
Loved girls when he was young;
And, bending lightly o'er the cord,
And turning half away,
With something like a youthful sigh,
Thus spoke the maiden gray:--
'Well, one may trail her silken robe,
And bind her locks with pearls,
And one may wreathe the woodland rose
Among her floating curls;
And one may tread the dewy grass,
And one the marble floor,
Nor half-hid bosom heave the less,
Nor broidered corset more!
'Some years ago, a dark-eyed girl
Was sitting in the shade,--
There's something brings her to my mind
In that young dreaming maid,--
And in her hand she held a flower,
A flower, whose speaking hue
Said, in the language of the heart,
'Believe the giver true.'
'And, as she looked upon its leaves,
The maiden made a vow
To wear it when the bridal wreath
Was woven for her brow;
She watched the flower, as, day by day,
The leaflets curled and died;
But he who gave it never came
To claim her for his bride.
'Oh, many a summer's morning glow
Has lent the rose its ray,
And many a winter's drifting snow
Has swept its bloom away;
But she has kept that faithless pledge
To this, her winter hour,
And keeps it still, herself alone,
And wasted like the flower.'
Her pale lip quivered, and the light
Gleamed in her moistening eyes;--
I asked her how she liked the tints
In those Castilian skies?
'She thought them misty,--'t was perhaps
Because she stood too near;'
She turned away, and as she turned
I saw her wipe a tear.
At A Dinner To Admiral Farragut
JULY 6, 1865
Now, smiling friends and shipmates all,
Since half our battle 's won,
A broadside for our Admiral!
Load every crystal gun
Stand ready till I give the word,--
You won't have time to tire,--
And when that glorious name is heard,
Then hip! hurrah! and fire!
Bow foremost sinks the rebel craft,--
Our eyes not sadly turn
And see the pirates huddling aft
To drop their raft astern;
Soon o'er the sea-worm's destined prey
The lifted wave shall close,--
So perish from the face of day
All Freedom's banded foes!
But ah! what splendors fire the sky
What glories greet the morn!
The storm-tost banner streams on high,
Its heavenly hues new-born!
Its red fresh dyed in heroes' blood,
Its peaceful white more pure,
To float unstained o'er field and flood
While earth and seas endure!
All shapes before the driving blast
Must glide from mortal view;
Black roll the billows of the past
Behind the present's blue,
Fast, fast, are lessening in the light
The names of high renown,--
Van Tromp's proud besom fades from sight,
And Nelson's half hull down!
Scarce one tall frigate walks the sea
Or skirts the safer shores
Of all that bore to victory
Our stout old commodores;
Hull, Bainbridge, Porter,--where are they?
The waves their answer roll,
'Still bright in memory's sunset ray,--
God rest each gallant soul!'
A brighter name must dim their light
With more than noontide ray,
The Sea-King of the 'River Fight,'
The Conqueror of the Bay,--
Now then the broadside! cheer on cheer
To greet him safe on shore!
Health, peace, and many a bloodless year
To fight his battles o'er!
The Lyre Of Anacreon
THE minstrel of the classic lay
Of love and wine who sings
Still found the fingers run astray
That touched the rebel strings.
Of Cadmus he would fain have sung,
Of Atreus and his line;
But all the jocund echoes rung
With songs of love and wine.
Ah, brothers! I would fain have caught
Some fresher fancy's gleam;
My truant accents find, unsought,
The old familiar theme.
Love, Love! but not the sportive child
With shaft and twanging bow,
Whose random arrows drove us wild
Some threescore years ago;
Not Eros, with his joyous laugh,
The urchin blind and bare,
But Love, with spectacles and staff,
And scanty, silvered hair.
Our heads with frosted locks are white,
Our roofs are thatched with snow,
But red, in chilling winter's spite,
Our hearts and hearthstones glow.
Our old acquaintance, Time, drops in,
And while the running sands
Their golden thread unheeded spin,
He warms his frozen hands.
Stay, winged hours, too swift, too sweet,
And waft this message o'er
To all we miss, from all we meet
On life's fast-crumbling shore:
Say that, to old affection true,
We hug the narrowing chain
That binds our hearts,--alas, how few
The links that yet remain!
The fatal touch awaits them all
That turns the rocks to dust;
From year to year they break and fall,--
They break, but never rust.
Say if one note of happier strain
This worn-out harp afford,--
One throb that trembles, not in vain,--
Their memory lent its chord.
Say that when Fancy closed her wings
And Passion quenched his fire,
Love, Love, still echoed from the strings
As from Anacreon's lyre!
A Sentiment Offered At The Dinner To H. I. H. The Prince Napoleon
AT THE REVERE HOUSE,
THE land of sunshine and of song!
Her name your hearts divine;
To her the banquet's vows belong
Whose breasts have poured its wine;
Our trusty friend, our true ally
Through varied change and chance
So, fill your flashing goblets high,--
I give you, VIVE LA FRANCE!
Above our hosts in triple folds
The selfsame colors spread,
Where Valor's faithful arm upholds
The blue, the white, the red;
Alike each nation's glittering crest
Reflects the morning's glance,--
Twin eagles, soaring east and west
Once more, then, VIVE LA FRANCE!
Sister in trial! who shall count
Thy generous friendship's claim,
Whose blood ran mingling in the fount
That gave our land its name,
Till Yorktown saw in blended line
Our conquering arms advance,
And victory's double garlands twine
Our banners? VIVE LA FRANCE!
O land of heroes! in our need
One gift from Heaven we crave
To stanch these wounds that vainly bleed,--
The wise to lead the brave!
Call back one Captain of thy past
From glory's marble trance,
Whose name shall be a bugle-blast
To rouse us! VIVE LA FRANCE!
Pluck Conde's baton from the trench,
Wake up stout Charles Martel,
Or find some woman's hand to clench
The sword of La Pucelle!
Give us one hour of old Turenne,--
One lift of Bayard's lance,--
Nay, call Marengo's Chief again
To lead us! VIVE LA FRANCE!
Ah, hush! our welcome Guest shall hear
But sounds of peace and joy;
No angry echo vex thine ear,
Fair Daughter of Savoy
Once more! the land of arms and arts,
Of glory, grace, romance;
Her love lies warm in all our hearts
God bless her! VIVE LA FRANCE!
After The Curfew
THE Play is over. While the light
Yet lingers in the darkening hall,
I come to say a last Good-night
Before the final _Exeunt all_.
We gathered once, a joyous throng:
The jovial toasts went gayly round;
With jest, and laugh, and shout, and song,
We made the floors and walls resound.
We come with feeble steps and slow,
A little band of four or five,
Left from the wrecks of long ago,
Still pleased to find ourselves alive.
Alive! How living, too, are they
Whose memories it is ours to share!
Spread the long table's full array,--
There sits a ghost in every chair!
One breathing form no more, alas!
Amid our slender group we see;
With him we still remained 'The Class,'--
Without his presence what are we?
The hand we ever loved to clasp,--
That tireless hand which knew no rest,--
Loosed from affection's clinging grasp,
Lies nerveless on the peaceful breast.
The beaming eye, the cheering voice,
That lent to life a generous glow,
Whose every meaning said 'Rejoice,'
We see, we hear, no more below.
The air seems darkened by his loss,
Earth's shadowed features look less fair,
And heavier weighs the daily cross
His willing shoulders helped us bear.
Why mourn that we, the favored few
Whom grasping Time so long has spared
Life's sweet illusions to pursue,
The common lot of age have shared?
In every pulse of Friendship's heart
There breeds unfelt a throb of pain,--
One hour must rend its links apart,
Though years on years have forged the chain.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
So ends 'The Boys,'--a lifelong play.
We too must hear the Prompter's call
To fairer scenes and brighter day
Farewell! I let the curtain fall.
The Fountain Of Youth
READ AT THE MEETING OF THE HARVARD ALUMNI
ASSOCIATION, JUNE 25, 1873
THE fount the Spaniard sought in vain
Through all the land of flowers
Leaps glittering from the sandy plain
Our classic grove embowers;
Here youth, unchanging, blooms and smiles,
Here dwells eternal spring,
And warm from Hope's elysian isles
The winds their perfume bring.
Here every leaf is in the bud,
Each singing throat in tune,
And bright o'er evening's silver flood
Shines the young crescent moon.
What wonder Age forgets his staff
And lays his glasses down,
And gray-haired grandsires look and laugh
As when their locks were brown!
With ears grown dull and eyes grown dim
They greet the joyous day
That calls them to the fountain's brim
To wash their years away.
What change has clothed the ancient sire
In sudden youth? For, to!
The Judge, the Doctor, and the Squire
Are Jack and Bill and Joe!
And be his titles what they will,
In spite of manhood's claim
The graybeard is a school-boy still
And loves his school-boy name;
It calms the ruler's stormy breast
Whom hurrying care pursues,
And brings a sense of peace and rest,
Like slippers after shoes.--
And what are all the prizes won
To youth's enchanted view?
And what is all the man has done
To what the boy may do?
O blessed fount, whose waters flow
Alike for sire and son,
That melts our winter's frost and snow
And makes all ages one!
I pledge the sparkling fountain's tide,
That flings its golden shower
With age to fill and youth to guide,
Still fresh in morning flower
Flow on with ever-widening stream,
In ever-brightening morn,--
Our story's pride, our future's dream,
The hope of times unborn!
Ode For Washington’s Birthday
CELEBRATION OF THE MERCANTILE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION,
FEBRUARY 22, 1856
WELCOME to the day returning,
Dearer still as ages flow,
While the torch of Faith is burning,
Long as Freedom's altars glow!
See the hero whom it gave us
Slumbering on a mother's breast;
For the arm he stretched to save us,
Be its morn forever blest!
Hear the tale of youthful glory,
While of Britain's rescued band
Friend and foe repeat the story,
Spread his fame o'er sea and land,
Where the red cross, proudly streaming,
Flaps above the frigate's deck,
Where the golden lilies, gleaming,
Star the watch-towers of Quebec.
Look! The shadow on the dial
Marks the hour of deadlier strife;
Days of terror, years of trial,
Scourge a nation into life.
Lo, the youth, become her leader
All her baffled tyrants yield;
Through his arm the Lord hath freed her;
Crown him on the tented field!
Vain is Empire's mad temptation
Not for him an earthly crown
He whose sword hath freed a nation
Strikes the offered sceptre down.
See the throneless Conqueror seated,
Ruler by a people's choice;
See the Patriot's task completed;
Hear the Father's dying voice!
'By the name that you inherit,
By the sufferings you recall,
Cherish the fraternal spirit;
Love your country first of all!
Listen not to idle questions
If its bands maybe untied;
Doubt the patriot whose suggestions
Strive a nation to divide!'
Father! We, whose ears have tingled
With the discord-notes of shame,--
We, whose sires their blood have mingled
In the battle's thunder-flame,--
Gathering, while this holy morning
Lights the land from sea to sea,
Hear thy counsel, heed thy warning;
Trust us, while we honor thee!
The Strong Heroic Line
FRIENDS of the Muse, to you of right belong
The first staid footsteps of my square-toed song;
Full well I know the strong heroic line
Has lost its fashion since I made it mine;
But there are tricks old singers will not learn,
And this grave measure still must serve my turn.
So the old bird resumes the selfsame note
His first young summer wakened in his throat;
The selfsame tune the old canary sings,
And all unchanged the bobolink’s carol rings;
When the tired songsters of the day are still
The thrush repeats his long-remembered trill;
Age alters not the crow’s persistent caw,
The Yankee’s “Haow,” the stammering Briton’s “Haw;”
And so the hand that takes the lyre for you
Plays the old tune on strings that once were new.
Nor let the rhymester of the hour deride
The straight-backed measure with its stately stride:
It gave the mighty voice of Dryden scope;
It sheathed the steel-bright epigrams of Pope;
In Goldsmith’s verse it learned a sweeter strain;
Byron and Campbell wore its clanking chain;
I smile to listen while the critic’s scorn
Flouts the proud purple kings have nobly worn;
Bid each new rhymer try his dainty skill
And mould his frozen phrases as he will;
We thank the artist for his neat device;
The shape is pleasing, though the stuff is ice.
Fashions will change—the new costume allures,
Unfading still the better type endures;
While the slashed doublet of the cavalier
Gave the old knight the pomp of chanticleer,
Our last-hatched dandy with his glass and stick
Recalls the semblance of a new-born chick;
(To match the model he is aiming at
He ought to wear an eggshell for a hat).
He ought to wear an eggshell for a hat).
Which of these objects would a painter choose,
And which Velasquez or Van Dyck refuse?
To My Readers
NAY, blame me not; I might have spared
Your patience many a trivial verse,
Yet these my earlier welcome shared,
So, let the better shield the worse.
And some might say, 'Those ruder songs
Had freshness which the new have lost;
To spring the opening leaf belongs,
The chestnut-burs await the frost.'
When those I wrote, my locks were brown,
When these I write--ah, well a-day!
The autumn thistle's silvery down
Is not the purple bloom of May.
Go, little book, whose pages hold
Those garnered years in loving trust;
How long before your blue and gold
Shall fade and whiten in the dust?
O sexton of the alcoved tomb,
Where souls in leathern cerements lie,
Tell me each living poet's doom!
How long before his book shall die?
It matters little, soon or late,
A day, a month, a year, an age,--
I read oblivion in its date,
And Finis on its title-page.
Before we sighed, our griefs were told;
Before we smiled, our joys were sung;
And all our passions shaped of old
In accents lost to mortal tongue.
In vain a fresher mould we seek,--
Can all the varied phrases tell
That Babel's wandering children speak
How thrushes sing or lilacs smell?
Caged in the poet's lonely heart,
Love wastes unheard its tenderest tone;
The soul that sings must dwell apart,
Its inward melodies unknown.
Deal gently with us, ye who read
Our largest hope is unfulfilled,--
The promise still outruns the deed,--
The tower, but not the spire, we build.
Our whitest pearl we never find;
Our ripest fruit we never reach;
The flowering moments of the mind
Drop half their petals in our speech.
These are my blossoms; if they wear
One streak of morn or evening's glow,
Accept them; but to me more fair
The buds of song that never blow.
YES, lady! I can ne'er forget,
That once in other years we met;
Thy memory may perchance recall
A festal eve, a rose-wreathed hall,
Its tapers' blaze, its mirrors' glance,
Its melting song, its ringing glance;
Why, in thy dream of virgin joy,
Shouldst thou recall a pallid boy?
Thine eye had other forms to seek,
Why rest upon his bashful cheek?
With other tones thy heart was stirred,
Why waste on him a gentle word?
We parted, lady, all night long
Thine ear to thrill with dance and song,
And I to weep that I was born
A thing thou scarce wouldst deign to scorn.
And, lady! now that years have past,
My bark has reached the shore at last;
The gales that filled her ocean wing,
Have chilled and shrunk thy hasty spring,
And eye to eye, and brow to brow,
I stand before thy presence now;
Thy lip is smoothed, thy voice is sweet,
Thy warm hand offered when we meet.
Nay, lady! 't is not now for me
To droop the lid or bend the knee.
I seek thee, oh thou dost not shun;
I speak, thou listenest like a nun;
I ask thy smile, thy lip uncurls,
Too liberal of its flashing pearls ;
Thy tears, thy lashes sing again,
My Hebe turns to Magdalen !
O changing youth ! that evening hour
Looked down on ours, the bud the flower :
Thine faded in its virgin soil.
And mine was nursed in tears and toil;
Thy leaves were withering:, one by one,
While mine were opening to the sun.
Which now can meet the cold and storm,
With freshest leaf and hardiest form ?
Ay, lady ! that once haughty glance
Still wanders through the glittering dance,
She asks in vain from others' pride,
The charity thine own denied ;
And as thy fickle lips could learn
To smile and praise, that used to spurn,
So the last offering on thy shrine
Shall be this flattering lay of mine!