'A Little While I Fain Would Linger Yet.'
A LITTLE while (my life is almost set!)
I fain would pause along the downward way,
Musing an hour in this sad sunset-ray,
While, Sweet! our eyes with tender tears are wet;
A little hour I fain would linger yet.
A little while I fain would linger yet,
All for love's sake, for love that cannot tire;
Though fervid youth be dead, with youths desire,
And hope has faded to a vague regret,
A little while I fain would linger yet.
A little while I fain would linger here:
Behold! who knows what strange, mysterious bars
'Twixt souls that love, may rise in other stars?
Nor can love deem the face of death is fair;
A little while I still would linger here.
A little while I yearn to hold thee fast,
Hand locked in hand, and loyal heart to heart;
(O pitying Christ! those woeful words, 'We Part!')
So ere the darkness fall, the light be past,
A little while I fain would hold thee fast.
A little while, when night and twilight meet;
Behind, our broken years; before, the deep
Weird wonder of the last unfathomed sleep.
A little while I still would clasp thee, Sweet;
A little while, when night and twilight meet.
A little while I fain would linger here;
Behold! who knows what soul-dividing bars
Earth's faithful loves may part in other stars?
Nor call love deem the face of death is fair:
A little while I still would linger here.
It is a sweet tradition, with a soul
Of tenderest pathos! Hearken, love!—for all
The sacred undercurrents of the heart
Thrill to its cordial music:
Once a chief,
Philantus, king of Sparta, left the stern
And bleak defiles of his unfruitful land—
Girt by a band of eager colonists—
To seek new homes on fair Italian plains.
Apollo's oracle had darkly spoken:
'Where'er from cloudless skies a plenteous shower
Outpours, the Fates decree that ye should pause
And rear your household deities!'
Racked by doubt
Philantus traversed—with his faithful band
Full many a bounteous realm; but still defeat
Darkened his banners, and the strong-walled towns
His desperate sieges grimly laughed to scorn!
Weighed down by anxious thoughts, one sultry eve
The warrior—his rude helmet cast aside—
Rested his weary head upon the lap
Of his fair wife, who loved him tenderly;
And there he drank a generous draught of sleep.
She, gazing on his brow, all worn with toil,
And his dark locks, which pain had silvered over
With glistening touches of a frosty rime,
Wept on the sudden bitterly; her tears
Fell on his face, and, wondering, he woke.
'O blest art thou, my Aethra, my clear sky.'
He cried exultant, 'from whose pitying blue
A heart-rain falls to fertilize my fate:
Lo! the deep riddle's solved—the gods spake truth!'
So the next night he stormed Tarentum, took
The enemy's host at vantage, and o'erthrew
His mightiest captains. Thence with kindly sway
He ruled those pleasant regions he had won,—
But dearer even than his rich demesnes
The love of her whose gentle tears unlocked
The close-shut mystery of the Oracle!
Blanche And Nell
OH, Blanche is a city lady,
Bedecked in her silks and lace:
She walks with the mien of a stately queen,
And a queen's imperious grace.
But Nell is a country maiden,
Her dress from the farmstead loom:
Her step is free as a breeze at sea,
And her face is a rose in bloom.
The house of Blanche is a marvel
Of marble from base to dome;
It hath all things fair, and costly and rare,
But alas! it is not- home!
Nell lives in a lonely cottage
On the shores of a wave-washed isle;
And the life she leads with its loving deeds
The angels behold and smile.
Blanche finds her palace a prison,
And oft, through the dreary years,
In her burdened breast there is sad unrest,
And her eyes are dimmed with tears.
But to Nell her toils are pastime,
(Though never till night they cease):
And her soul's afloat like a buoyant boat
On the crystal tides of peace.
Ah! Blanche hath many a lover,
But she broodeth o'er old regret;
The shy, sweet red from her check is fled
For the star of her heart has set.
Fair Nell! but a single lover
Hath she in the wide, wide world;
Yet warmly apart in her glowing heart
Love bides, with his pinions furled.
To Blanche all life seems shadowed,
And she but a ghost therein;
Thro' the misty gray of her autumn day
Steal voices of grief and sin.
To Nell all life is sunshine,
All earth like a fairy sod,
Where the roses grow, and the violets blow,
In the softest breath of God.
What meaneth this mighty contrast
Of lives that we meet and mark?
One bright as the flowers from May-tide showers,
One rayless, sombre, and dark?
O, folly of mortal wisdom,
That neither will break nor bow,
That riddle hath vexed the thought perplexed
Of millions of souls ere now!
O, folly of mortal wisdom!
From your guesses what good can come?
We can learn no more than the wise of yore;
'Tis better to trust, and- be dumb!
Under The Pine
To the memory of Henry Timrod
The same majestic pine is lifted high
Against the twilight sky,
The same low, melancholy music grieves
Amid the topmost leaves,
As when I watched, and mused, and dreamed with him,
Beneath these shadows dim.
O Tree! hast thou no memory at thy core
Of one who comes no more?
No yearning memory of those scenes that were
So richly calm and fair,
When the last rays of sunset, shimmering down,
Flashed like a royal crown?
And he, with hand outstretched and eyes ablaze,
Looked forth with burning gaze,
And seemed to drink the sunset like strong wine,
Or, hushed in trance divine,
Hailed the first shy and timorous glance from far
Of evening's virgin star?
O Tree! against thy mighty trunk he laid
His weary head; thy shade
Stole o'er him like the first cool spell of sleep:
It brought a peace so deep
The unquiet passion died from out his eyes,
As lightning from stilled skies.
And in that calm he loved to rest, and hear
The soft wind-angels, clear
And sweet, among the uppermost branches sighing:
Voices he heard replying
(Or so he dreamed) far up the mystic height,
And pinions rustling light.
O Tree! have not his poet-touch, his dreams
So full of heavenly gleams,
Wrought through the folded dullness of thy bark,
And all thy nature dark
Stirred to slow throbbings, and the fluttering fire
Of faint, unknown desire?
At least to me there sweeps no rugged ring
That girds the forest king,
No immemorial stain, or awful rent
(The mark of tempest spent),
No delicate leaf, no lithe bough, vine-o'ergrown,
No distant, flickering cone,
But speaks of him, and seems to bring once more
The joy, the love of yore;
But most when breathed from out the sunset-land
The sunset airs are bland,
That blow between the twilight and the night,
Ere yet the stars are bright;
For then that quiet eve comes back to me,
When deeply, thrillingly,
He spake of lofty hopes which vanquish Death;
And on his mortal breath
A language of immortal meanings hung,
That fired his heart and tongue.
For then unearthly breezes stir and sigh,
Murmuring, 'Look up! 'tis I:
Thy friend is near thee! Ah, thou canst not see!'
And through the sacred tree
Passes what seems a wild and sentient thrill—
Passes, and all is still!—
Still as the grave which holds his tranquil form,
Hushed after many a storm,—
Still as the calm that crowns his marble brow,
No pain can wrinkle now,—
Still as the peace—pathetic peace of God—
That wraps the holy sod,
Where every flower from our dead minstrel's dust
Should bloom, a type of trust,—
That faith which waxed to wings of heavenward might
To bear his soul from night,—
That faith, dear Christ! whereby we pray to meet
His spirit at God's feet!