No Man Knoweth His Sepulchre
When he, who, from the scourge of wrong,
Aroused the Hebrew tribes to fly,
Saw the fair region, promised long,
And bowed him on the hills to die;
God made his grave, to men unknown,
Where Moab's rocks a vale infold,
And laid the aged seer alone
To slumber while the world grows old.
Thus still, whene'er the good and just
Close the dim eye on life and pain,
Heaven watches o'er their sleeping dust
Till the pure spirit comes again.
Though nameless, trampled, and forgot,
His servant's humble ashes lie,
Yet God has marked and sealed the spot,
To call its inmate to the sky.
Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine
Too brightly to shine long; another Spring
Shall deck her for men's eyes---but not for thine---
Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening.
The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf,
And the vexed ore no mineral of power;
And they who love thee wait in anxious grief
Till the slow plague shall bring the final hour.
Glide softly to thy rest then; Death should come
Gently, to one of gentle mould like thee,
As light winds wandering through groves of bloom
Detach the delicate blossom from the tree.
Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain;
And we will trust in God to see thee yet again.
FROM THE SPANISH.
Que lo gozas y andas todo, &c.
Airs, that wander and murmur round,
Bearing delight where'er ye blow!
Make in the elms a lulling sound,
While my lady sleeps in the shade below.
Lighten and lengthen her noonday rest,
Till the heat of the noonday sun is o'er.
Sweet be her slumbers! though in my breast
The pain she has waked may slumber no more.
Breathing soft from the blue profound,
Bearing delight where'er ye blow,
Make in the elms a lulling sound,
While my lady sleeps in the shade below.
Airs! that over the bending boughs,
And under the shade of pendent leaves,
Murmur soft, like my timid vows
Or the secret sighs my bosom heaves,--
Gently sweeping the grassy ground,
Bearing delight where'er ye blow,
Make in the elms a lulling sound,
While my lady sleeps in the shade below.
The Green Mountain Boys
Here we halt our march, and pitch our tent
On the rugged forest ground,
And light our fire with the branches rent
By winds from the beeches round.
Wild storms have torn this ancient wood,
But a wilder is at hand,
With hail of iron and rain of blood,
To sweep and waste the land.
How the dark wood rings with voices shrill,
That startle the sleeping bird;
To-morrow eve must the voice be still,
And the step must fall unheard.
The Briton lies by the blue Champlain,
In Ticonderoga's towers,
And ere the sun rise twice again,
The towers and the lake are ours.
Fill up the bowl from the brook that glides
Where the fireflies light the brake;
A ruddier juice the Briton hides
In his fortress by the lake.
Build high the fire, till the panther leap
From his lofty perch in flight,
And we'll strenghten our weary arms with sleep
For the deeds of to-morrow night.
A Song For New Year's Eve
Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.
The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.
The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.
Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day's rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.
Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.
Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.
The Disinterred Warrior
Gather him to his grave again,
And solemnly and softly lay,
Beneath the verdure of the plain,
The warrior's scattered bones away.
Pay the deep reverence, taught of old,
The homage of man's heart to death;
Nor dare to trifle with the mould
Once hallowed by the Almighty's breath.
The soul hath quickened every part--
That remnant of a martial brow,
Those ribs that held the mighty heart,
That strong arm--strong no longer now.
Spare them, each mouldering relic spare,
Of God's own image; let them rest,
Till not a trace shall speak of where
The awful likeness was impressed.
For he was fresher from the hand
That formed of earth the human face,
And to the elements did stand
In nearer kindred, than our race.
In many a flood to madness tossed,
In many a storm has been his path;
He hid him not from heat or frost,
But met them, and defied their wrath.
Then they were kind--the forests here,
Rivers, and stiller waters, paid
A tribute to the net and spear
Of the red ruler of the shade.
Fruits on the woodland branches lay,
Roots in the shaded soil below,
The stars looked forth to teach his way,
The still earth warned him of the foe.
A noble race! but they are gone,
With their old forests wide and deep,
And we have built our homes upon
Fields where their generations sleep.
Their fountains slake our thirst at noon,
Upon their fields our harvest waves,
Our lovers woo beneath their moon--
Then let us spare, at least, their graves!
The Evening Wind
Spirit that breathest through my lattice, thou
That cool'st the twilight of the sultry day,
Gratefully flows thy freshness round my brow:
Thou hast been out upon the deep at play,
Riding all day the wild blue waves till now,
Roughening their crests, and scattering high their spray
And swelling the white sail. I welcome thee
To the scorched land, thou wanderer of the sea!
Nor I alone--a thousand bosoms round
Inhale thee in the fulness of delight;
And languid forms rise up, and pulses bound
Livelier, at coming of the wind of night;
And, languishing to hear thy grateful sound,
Lies the vast inland stretched beyond the sight.
Go forth into the gathering shade; go forth,
God's blessing breathed upon the fainting earth!
Go, rock the little wood-bird in his nest,
Curl the still waters, bright with stars, and rouse
The wide old wood from his majestic rest,
Summoning from the innumerable boughs
The strange, deep harmonies that haunt his breast:
Pleasant shall be thy way where meekly bows
The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass,
And where the o'ershadowing branches sweep the grass.
The faint old man shall lean his silver head
To feel thee; thou shalt kiss the child asleep,
And dry the moistened curls that overspread
His temples, while his breathing grows more deep:
And they who stand about the sick man's bed,
Shall joy to listen to thy distant sweep,
And softly part his curtains to allow
Thy visit, grateful to his burning brow.
Go--but the circle of eternal change,
Which is the life of nature, shall restore,
With sounds and scents from all thy mighty range
Thee to thy birthplace of the deep once more;
Sweet odours in the sea-air, sweet and strange,
Shall tell the home-sick mariner of the shore;
And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem
He hears the rustling leaf and running stream.
The Return Of Youth
My friend, thou sorrowest for thy golden prime,
For thy fair youthful years too swift of flight;
Thou musest, with wet eyes, upon the time
Of cheerful hopes that filled the world with light,--
Years when thy heart was bold, thy hand was strong,
And quick the thought that moved thy tongue to speak,
And willing faith was thine, and scorn of wrong
Summoned the sudden crimson to thy cheek.
Thou lookest forward on the coming days,
Shuddering to feel their shadow o'er thee creep;
A path, thick-set with changes and decays,
Slopes downward to the place of common sleep;
And they who walked with thee in life's first stage,
Leave one by one thy side, and, waiting near,
Thou seest the sad companions of thy age--
Dull love of rest, and weariness and fear.
Yet grieve thou not, nor think thy youth is gone,
Nor deem that glorious season e'er could die.
Thy pleasant youth, a little while withdrawn,
Waits on the horizon of a brighter sky;
Waits, like the morn, that folds her wing and hides,
Till the slow stars bring back her dawning hour;
Waits, like the vanished spring, that slumbering bides
Her own sweet time to waken bud and flower.
There shall he welcome thee, when thou shalt stand
On his bright morning hills, with smiles more sweet
Than when at first he took thee by the hand,
Through the fair earth to lead thy tender feet.
He shall bring back, but brighter, broader still,
Life's early glory to thine eyes again,
Shall clothe thy spirit with new strength, and fill
Thy leaping heart with warmer love than then.
Hast thou not glimpses, in the twilight here,
Of mountains where immortal morn prevails?
Comes there not, through the silence, to thine ear
A gentle rustling of the morning gales;
A murmur, wafted from that glorious shore,
Of streams that water banks for ever fair,
And voices of the loved ones gone before,
More musical in that celestial air?
I gazed upon the glorious sky
And the green mountains round,
And thought that when I came to lie
At rest within the ground,
"Twere pleasant, that in flowery June,
When brooks send up a cheerful tune,
And groves a joyous sound,
The sexton's hand, my grave to make,
The rich, green mountain-turf should break.
A cell within the frozen mould,
A coffin borne through sleet,
And icy clods above it rolled,
While fierce the tempests beat--
Away!--I will not think of these--
Blue be the sky and soft the breeze,
Earth green beneath the feet,
And be the damp mould gently pressed
Into my narrow place of rest.
There through the long, long summer hours,
The golden light should lie,
And thick young herbs and groups of flowers
Stand in their beauty by.
The oriole should build and tell
His love-tale close beside my cell;
The idle butterfly
Should rest him there, and there be heard
The housewife bee and humming-bird.
And what if cheerful shouts at noon
Come, from the village sent,
Or songs of maids, beneath the moon
With fairy laughter blent?
And what if, in the evening light,
Betrothed lovers walk in sight
Of my low monument?
I would the lovely scene around
Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
I know that I no more should see
The season's glorious show,
Nor would its brightness shine for me,
Nor its wild music flow;
But if, around my place of sleep,
The friends I love should come to weep,
They might not haste to go.
Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom
Should keep them lingering by my tomb.
These to their softened hearts should bear
The thought of what has been,
And speak of one who cannot share
The gladness of the scene;
Whose part, in all the pomp that fills
The circuit of the summer hills,
Is that his grave is green;
And deeply would their hearts rejoice
To hear again his living voice.
The Indian Girl's Lament
An Indian girl was sitting where
Her lover, slain in battle, slept;
Her maiden veil, her own black hair,
Came down o'er eyes that wept;
And wildly, in her woodland tongue,
This sad and simple lay she sung:
'I've pulled away the shrubs that grew
Too close above thy sleeping head,
And broke the forest boughs that threw
Their shadows o'er thy bed,
That, shining from the sweet south-west,
The sunbeams might rejoice thy rest.
'It was a weary, weary road
That led thee to the pleasant coast,
Where thou, in his serene abode,
Hast met thy father's ghost:
Where everlasting autumn lies
On yellow woods and sunny skies.
'Twas I the broidered mocsen made,
That shod thee for that distant land;
'Twas I thy bow and arrows laid
Beside thy still cold hand;
Thy bow in many a battle bent,
Thy arrows never vainly sent.
'With wampum belts I crossed thy breast,
And wrapped thee in the bison's hide,
And laid the food that pleased thee best,
In plenty, by thy side,
And decked thee bravely, as became
A warrior of illustrious name.
'Thou'rt happy now, for thou hast passed
The long dark journey of the grave,
And in the land of light, at last,
Hast joined the good and brave;
Amid the flushed and balmy air,
The bravest and the loveliest there.
'Yet, oft to thine own Indian maid
Even there thy thoughts will earthward stray,--
To her who sits where thou wert laid,
And weeps the hours away,
Yet almost can her grief forget,
To think that thou dost love her yet.
'And thou, by one of those still lakes
That in a shining cluster lie,
On which the south wind scarcely breaks
The image of the sky,
A bower for thee and me hast made
Beneath the many-coloured shade.
'And thou dost wait and watch to meet
My spirit sent to join the blessed,
And, wondering what detains my feet
From the bright land of rest,
Dost seem, in every sound, to hear
The rustling of my footsteps near.'
My Autumn Walk
ON woodlands ruddy with autumn
The amber sunshine lies;
I look on the beauty round me,
And tears come into my eyes.
For the wind that sweeps the meadows
Blows out of the far Southwest,
Where our gallant men are fighting,
And the gallant dead are at rest.
The golden-rod is leaning,
And the purple aster waves,
In a breeze from the land of battles,
A breath from the land of graves.
Full fast the leaves are dropping
Before that wandering breath;
As fast, on the field of battle,
Our brethren fall in death.
Beautiful over my pathway
The forest spoils are shed;
They are spotting the grassy hillocks
With purple and gold and red.
Beautiful is the death-sleep
Of those who bravely fight
In their country’s holy quarrel,
And perish for the Right.
But who shall comfort the living,
The light of whose homes is gone:
The bride that, early widowed,
Lives broken-hearted on;
The matron whose sons are lying
In graves on a distant shore;
The maiden, whose promised husband
Comes back from the war no more?
I look on the peaceful dwellings
Whose windows glimmer in sight,
With croft and garden and orchard,
That bask in the mellow light;
And I know that, when our couriers
With news of victory come,
They will bring a bitter message
Of hopeless grief to some.
Again I turn to the woodlands,
And shudder as I see
The mock-grape’s blood-red banner
Hung out on the cedar-tree;
And I think of days of slaughter,
And the night-sky red with flames,
On the Chattahoochee’s meadows,
And the wasted banks of the James.
Oh, for the fresh spring-season,
When the groves are in their prime,
And far away in the future
Is the frosty autumn-time!
Oh, for that better season,
When the pride of the foe shall yield,
And the hosts of God and Freedom
March back from the well-won field;
And the matron shall clasp her first-born
With tears of joy and pride;
And the scarred and war-worn lover
Shall claim his promised bride!
The leaves are swept from the branches;
But the living buds are there,
With folded flower and foliage,
To sprout in a kinder air.
To The Apennines
Your peaks are beautiful, ye Apennines!
In the soft light of these serenest skies;
From the broad highland region, black with pines,
Fair as the hills of Paradise they rise,
Bathed in the tint Peruvian slaves behold
In rosy flushes on the virgin gold.
There, rooted to the aerial shelves that wear
The glory of a brighter world, might spring
Sweet flowers of heaven to scent the unbreathed air,
And heaven's fleet messengers might rest the wing,
To view the fair earth in its summer sleep,
Silent, and cradled by the glimmering deep.
Below you lie men's sepulchres, the old
Etrurian tombs, the graves of yesterday;
The herd's white bones lie mixed with human mould--
Yet up the radiant steeps that I survey
Death never climbed, nor life's soft breath, with pain,
Was yielded to the elements again.
Ages of war have filled these plains with fear;
How oft the hind has started at the clash
Of spears, and yell of meeting, armies here,
Or seen the lightning of the battle flash
From clouds, that rising with the thunder's sound,
Hung like an earth-born tempest o'er the ground!
Ah me! what armed nations--Asian horde,
And Libyan host--the Scythian and the Gaul,
Have swept your base and through your passes poured,
Like ocean-tides uprising at the call
Of tyrant winds--against your rocky side
The bloody billows dashed, and howled, and died.
How crashed the towers before beleaguering foes,
Sacked cities smoked and realms were rent in twain;
And commonwealths against their rivals rose,
Trode out their lives and earned the curse of Cain!
While in the noiseless air and light that flowed
Round your far brows, eternal Peace abode.
Here pealed the impious hymn, and altar flames
Rose to false gods, a dream-begotten throng,
Jove, Bacchus, Pan, and earlier, fouler names;
While, as the unheeding ages passed along,
Ye, from your station in the middle skies,
Proclaimed the essential Goodness, strong and wise.
In you the heart that sighs for freedom seeks
Her image; there the winds no barrier know,
Clouds come and rest and leave your fairy peaks;
While even the immaterial Mind, below,
And thought, her winged offspring, chained by power,
Pine silently for the redeeming hour.
The Child's Funeral
Fair is thy site, Sorrento, green thy shore,
Black crags behind thee pierce the clear blue skies;
The sea, whose borderers ruled the world of yore,
As clear and bluer still before thee lies.
Vesuvius smokes in sight, whose fount of fire,
Outgushing, drowned the cities on his steeps;
And murmuring Naples, spire o'ertopping spire,
Sits on the slope beyond where Virgil sleeps.
Here doth the earth, with flowers of every hue,
Heap her green breast when April suns are bright,
Flowers of the morning-red, or ocean-blue,
Or like the mountain frost of silvery white.
Currents of fragrance, from the orange tree,
And sward of violets, breathing to and fro,
Mingle, and wandering out upon the sea,
Refresh the idle boatsman where they blow.
Yet even here, as under harsher climes,
Tears for the loved and early lost are shed;
That soft air saddens with the funeral chimes,
Those shining flowers are gathered for the dead.
Here once a child, a smiling playful one,
All the day long caressing and caressed,
Died when its little tongue had just begun
To lisp the names of those it loved the best.
The father strove his struggling grief to quell,
The mother wept as mothers use to weep,
Two little sisters wearied them to tell
When their dear Carlo would awake from sleep.
Within an inner room his couch they spread,
His funeral couch; with mingled grief and love,
They laid a crown of roses on his head,
And murmured, 'Brighter is his crown above.'
They scattered round him, on the snowy sheet,
Laburnum's strings of sunny-coloured gems,
Sad hyacinths, and violets dim and sweet,
And orange blossoms on their dark green stems.
And now the hour is come, the priest is there;
Torches are lit and bells are tolled; they go,
With solemn rites of blessing and of prayer,
To lay the little corpse in earth below.
The door is opened; hark! that quick glad cry;
Carlo has waked, has waked, and is at play;
The little sisters laugh and leap, and try
To climb the bed on which the infant lay.
And there he sits alone, and gayly shakes
In his full hands, the blossoms red and white,
And smiles with winking eyes, like one who wakes
From long deep slumbers at the morning light.
A Summer Ramble
The quiet August noon has come,
A slumberous silence fills the sky,
The fields are still, the woods are dumb,
In glassy sleep the waters lie.
And mark yon soft white clouds that rest
Above our vale, a moveless throng;
The cattle on the mountain's breast
Enjoy the grateful shadow long.
Oh, how unlike those merry hours
In early June when Earth laughs out,
When the fresh winds make love to flowers,
And woodlands sing and waters shout.
When in the grass sweet voices talk,
And strains of tiny music swell
From every moss-cup of the rock,
From every nameless blossom's bell.
But now a joy too deep for sound,
A peace no other season knows,
Hushes the heavens and wraps the ground,
The blessing of supreme repose.
Away! I will not be, to-day,
The only slave of toil and care.
Away from desk and dust! away!
I'll be as idle as the air.
Beneath the open sky abroad,
Among the plants and breathing things,
The sinless, peaceful works of God,
I'll share the calm the season brings.
Come, thou, in whose soft eyes I see
The gentle meanings of thy heart,
One day amid the woods with me,
From men and all their cares apart.
And where, upon the meadow's breast,
The shadow of the thicket lies,
The blue wild flowers thou gatherest
Shall glow yet deeper near thine eyes.
Come, and when mid the calm profound,
I turn, those gentle eyes to seek,
They, like the lovely landscape round,
Of innocence and peace shall speak.
Rest here, beneath the unmoving shade,
And on the silent valleys gaze,
Winding and widening, till they fade
In yon soft ring of summer haze.
The village trees their summits rear
Still as its spire, and yonder flock
At rest in those calm fields appear
As chiselled from the lifeless rock.
One tranquil mount the scene o'erlooks--
There the hushed winds their sabbath keep
While a near hum from bees and brooks
Comes faintly like the breath of sleep.
Well may the gazer deem that when,
Worn with the struggle and the strife,
And heart-sick at the wrongs of men,
The good forsakes the scene of life;
Like this deep quiet that, awhile,
Lingers the lovely landscape o'er,
Shall be the peace whose holy smile
Welcomes him to a happier shore.
FROM AN UNFINISHED POEM.
'Tis noon. At noon the Hebrew bowed the knee
And worshipped, while the husbandmen withdrew
From the scorched field, and the wayfaring man
Grew faint, and turned aside by bubbling fount,
Or rested in the shadow of the palm.
I, too, amid the overflow of day,
Behold the power which wields and cherishes
The frame of Nature. From this brow of rock
That overlooks the Hudson's western marge,
I gaze upon the long array of groves,
The piles and gulfs of verdure drinking in
The grateful heats. They love the fiery sun;
Their broadening leaves grow glossier, and their sprays
Climb as he looks upon them. In the midst,
The swelling river, into his green gulfs,
Unshadowed save by passing sails above,
Takes the redundant glory, and enjoys
The summer in his chilly bed. Coy flowers,
That would not open in the early light,
Push back their plaited sheaths. The rivulet's pool,
That darkly quivered all the morning long
In the cool shade, now glimmers in the sun;
And o'er its surface shoots, and shoots again,
The glittering dragon-fly, and deep within
Run the brown water-beetles to and fro.
A silence, the brief sabbath of an hour,
Reigns o'er the fields; the laborer sits within
His dwelling; he has left his steers awhile,
Unyoked, to bite the herbage, and his dog
Sleeps stretched beside the door-stone in the shade.
Now the grey marmot, with uplifted paws,
No more sits listening by his den, but steals
Abroad, in safety, to the clover field,
And crops its juicy blossoms. All the while
A ceaseless murmur from the populous town
Swells o'er these solitudes: a mingled sound
Of jarring wheels, and iron hoofs that clash
Upon the stony ways, and hammer-clang,
And creak of engines lifting ponderous bulks,
And calls and cries, and tread of eager feet,
Innumerable, hurrying to and fro.
Noon, in that mighty mart of nations, brings
No pause to toil and care. With early day
Began the tumult, and shall only cease
When midnight, hushing one by one the sounds
Of bustle, gathers the tired brood to rest.
Thus, in this feverish time, when love of gain
And luxury possess the hearts of men,
Thus is it with the noon of human life.
We, in our fervid manhood, in our strength
Of reason, we, with hurry, noise, and care,
Plan, toil, and strife, and pause not to refresh
Our spirits with the calm and beautiful
Of God's harmonious universe, that won
Our youthful wonder; pause not to inquire
Why we are here; and what the reverence
Man owes to man, and what the mystery
That links us to the greater world, beside
Whose borders we but hover for a space.
The Strange Lady
The summer morn is bright and fresh, the birds are darting by,
As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool dear sky;
Young Albert, in the forest's edge, has heard a rustling sound
An arrow slightly strikes his hand and falls upon the ground.
A lovely woman from the wood comes suddenly in sight;
Her merry eye is full and black, her cheek is brown and bright;
She wears a tunic of the blue, her belt with beads is strung,
And yet she speaks in gentle tones, and in the English tongue.
"It was an idle bolt I sent, against the villain crow;
Fair sir, I fear it harmed thy hand; beshrew my erring bow!"
"Ah! would that bolt had not been spent, then, lady, might I wear
A lasting token on my hand of one so passing fair!"
"Thou art a flatterer like the rest, but wouldst thou take with me
A day of hunting in the wilds, beneath the greenwood tree,
I know where most the pheasants feed, and where the red-deer herd,
And thou shouldst chase the nobler game, and I bring down the bird."
Now Albert in her quiver lays the arrow in its place,
And wonders as he gazes on the beauty of her face:
`Those hunting-grounds are far away, and, lady, 'twere not meet
That night, amid the wilderness, should overtake thy feet."
"Heed not the night, a summer lodge amid the wild is mine,
'Tis shadowed by the tulip-tree, 'tis mantled by the vine;
The wild plum sheds its yellow fruit from fragrant thickets nigh,
And flowery prairies from the door stretch till they meet the sky.
"There in the boughs that hide the roof the mock-bird sits and sings,
And there the hang-bird's brood within its little hammock swings;
A pebbly brook, where rustling winds among the hopples sweep,
Shall lull thee till the morning sun looks in upon thy sleep."
Away, into the forest depths by pleasant paths they go,
He with his rifle on his arm, the lady with her bow,
Where cornels arch their cool dark boughs o'er beds of wintergreen,
And never at his father's door again was Albert seen.
That night upon the woods came down a furious hurricane,
With howl of winds and roar of streams and beating of the rain;
The mighty thunder broke and drowned the noises in its crash;
The old trees seemed to fight like fiends beneath the lightning-flash.
Next day, within a mossy glen, mid mouldering trunks were found
The fragments of a human form, upon the bloody ground;
White bones from which the flesh was torn, and locks of glossy hair;
They laid them in the place of graves, yet wist not whose they were.
And whether famished evening wolves had mangled Albert so,
Or that strange dame so gay and fair were some mysterious foe,
Or whether to that forest lodge, beyond the mountains blue,
He went to dwell with her, the friends who mourned him never knew.
The Antiquity Of Freedom
Here are old trees, tall oaks and gnarled pines,
That stream with gray-green mosses; here the ground
Was never trenched by spade, and flowers spring up
Unsown, and die ungathered. It is sweet
To linger here, among the flitting birds
And leaping squirrels, wandering brooks, and winds
That shake the leaves, and scatter, as they pass,
A fragrance from the cedars, thickly set
With pale blue berries. In these peaceful shades--
Peaceful, unpruned, immeasurably old--
My thoughts go up the long dim path of years,
Back to the earliest days of liberty.
Oh FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream,
A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs,
And wavy tresses gushing from the cap
With which the Roman master crowned his slave
When he took off the gyves. A bearded man,
Armed to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand
Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow,
Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred
With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs
Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched
His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee;
They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven.
Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep,
And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shivered, and the prison walls
Fall outward; terribly thou springest forth,
As springs the flame above a burning pile,
And shoutest to the nations, who return
Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.
Thy birthright was not given by human hands:
Thou wert twin-born with man. In pleasant fields,
While yet our race was few, thou sat'st with him,
To tend the quiet flock and watch the stars,
And teach the reed to utter simple airs.
Thou by his side, amid the tangled wood,
Didst war upon the panther and the wolf,
His only foes; and thou with him didst draw
The earliest furrows on the mountain side,
Soft with the deluge. Tyranny himself,
Thy enemy, although of reverend look,
Hoary with many years, and far obeyed,
Is later born than thou; and as he meets
The grave defiance of thine elder eye,
The usurper trembles in his fastnesses.
Thou shalt wax stronger with the lapse of years,
But he shall fade into a feebler age;
Feebler, yet subtler. He shall weave his snares,
And spring them on thy careless steps, and clap
His withered hands, and from their ambush call
His hordes to fall upon thee. He shall send
Quaint maskers, wearing fair and gallant forms,
To catch thy gaze, and uttering graceful words
To charm thy ear; while his sly imps, by stealth,
Twine round thee threads of steel, light thread on thread
That grow to fetters; or bind down thy arms
With chains concealed in chaplets. Oh! not yet
Mayst thou unbrace thy corslet, nor lay by
Thy sword; nor yet, O Freedom! close thy lids
In slumber; for thine enemy never sleeps,
And thou must watch and combat till the day
Of the new earth and heaven. But wouldst thou rest
Awhile from tumult and the frauds of men,
These old and friendly solitudes invite
Thy visit. They, while yet the forest trees
Were young upon the unviolated earth,
And yet the moss-stains on the rock were new,
Beheld thy glorious childhood, and rejoiced.
The Planting Of The Apple-Tree
Come, let us plant the apple-tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade;
Wide let its hollow bed be made;
There gently lay the roots, and there
Sift the dark mould with kindly care,
And press it o'er them tenderly,
As, round the sleeping infant's feet,
We softly fold the cradle sheet;
So plant we the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree?
Buds, which the breath of summer days
Shall lengthen into leafy sprays;
Boughs where the thrush, with crimson breast,
Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest;
We plant, upon the sunny lea,
A shadow for the noontide hour,
A shelter from the summer shower,
When we plant the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree?
Sweets for a hundred flowery springs
To load the May-wind's restless wings,
When, from the orchard row, he pours
Its fragrance through our open doors;
A world of blossoms for the bee,
Flowers for the sick girl's silent room,
For the glad infant sprigs of bloom,
We plant with the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree!
Fruits that shall swell in sunny June,
And redden in the August noon,
And drop, when gentle airs come by,
That fan the blue September sky,
While children come, with cries of glee,
And seek them where the fragrant grass
Betrays their bed to those who pass,
At the foot of the apple-tree.
And when, above this apple-tree,
The winter stars are quivering bright,
And winds go howling through the night,
Girls, whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth,
Shall peel its fruit by cottage-hearth,
And guests in prouder homes shall see,
Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine
And golden orange of the line,
The fruit of the apple-tree.
The fruitage of this apple-tree
Winds and our flag of stripe and star
Shall bear to coasts that lie afar,
Where men shall wonder at the view,
And ask in what fair groves they grew;
And sojourners beyond the sea
Shall think of childhood's careless day
And long, long hours of summer play,
In the shade of the apple-tree.
Each year shall give this apple-tree
A broader flush of roseate bloom,
A deeper maze of verdurous gloom,
And loosen, when the frost-clouds lower,
The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower;
The years shall come and pass, but we
Shall hear no longer, where we lie,
The summer's songs, the autumn's sigh,
In the boughs of the apple-tree.
And time shall waste this apple-tree.
Oh, when its aged branches throw
Thin shadows on the ground below,
Shall fraud and force and iron will
Oppress the weak and helpless still?
What shall the tasks of mercy be,
Amid the toils, the strifes, the tears
Of those who live when length of years
Is wasting this little apple-tree?
"Who planted this old apple-tree?"
The children of that distant day
Thus to some aged man shall say;
And, gazing on its mossy stem,
The gray-haired man shall answer them:
"A poet of the land was he,
Born in the rude but good old times;
‘T is said he made some quaint old rhymes
On planting the apple-tree."
To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice. Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world -- with kings,
The powerful of the earth -- the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun, -- the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods -- rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom. -- Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings -- yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep -- the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest -- and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men--
The youth in life's fresh spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn, shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they
hanged them in the hill before the Lord; and they fell all seven
together, and were put to death in the days of the harvest, in the
first days, in the beginning of barley-harvest.
And Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, took sackcloth, and spread it for
her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the water
dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the
air to rest upon them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
2 SAMUEL, xxi. 10.
Hear what the desolate Rizpah said,
As on Gibeah's rocks she watched the dead.
The sons of Michal before her lay,
And her own fair children, dearer than they:
By a death of shame they all had died,
And were stretched on the bare rock, side by side.
And Rizpah, once the loveliest of all
That bloomed and smiled in the court of Saul,
All wasted with watching and famine now,
And scorched by the sun her haggard brow,
Sat mournfully guarding their corpses there,
And murmured a strange and solemn air;
The low, heart-broken, and wailing strain
Of a mother that mourns her children slain:
'I have made the crags my home, and spread
On their desert backs my sackcloth bed;
I have eaten the bitter herb of the rocks,
And drunk the midnight dew in my locks;
I have wept till I could not weep, and the pain
Of my burning eyeballs went to my brain.
Seven blackened corpses before me lie,
In the blaze of the sun and the winds of the sky.
I have watched them through the burning day,
And driven the vulture and raven away;
And the cormorant wheeled in circles round,
Yet feared to alight on the guarded ground.
And when the shadows of twilight came,
I have seen the hyena's eyes of flame,
And heard at my side his stealthy tread,
But aye at my shout the savage fled:
And I threw the lighted brand to fright
The jackal and wolf that yelled in the night.
'Ye were foully murdered, my hapless sons,
By the hands of wicked and cruel ones;
Ye fell, in your fresh and blooming prime,
All innocent, for your father's crime.
He sinned--but he paid the price of his guilt
When his blood by a nameless hand was spilt;
When he strove with the heathen host in vain,
And fell with the flower of his people slain,
And the sceptre his children's hands should sway
From his injured lineage passed away.
'But I hoped that the cottage roof would be
A safe retreat for my sons and me;
And that while they ripened to manhood fast,
They should wean my thoughts from the woes of the past.
And my bosom swelled with a mother's pride,
As they stood in their beauty and strength by my side,
Tall like their sire, with the princely grace
Of his stately form, and the bloom of his face.
'Oh, what an hour for a mother's heart,
When the pitiless ruffians tore us apart!
When I clasped their knees and wept and prayed,
And struggled and shrieked to Heaven for aid,
And clung to my sons with desperate strength,
Till the murderers loosed my hold at length,
And bore me breathless and faint aside,
In their iron arms, while my children died.
They died--and the mother that gave them birth
Is forbid to cover their bones with earth.
'The barley-harvest was nodding white,
When my children died on the rocky height,
And the reapers were singing on hill and plain,
When I came to my task of sorrow and pain.
But now the season of rain is nigh,
The sun is dim in the thickening sky,
And the clouds in sullen darkness rest
Where he hides his light at the doors of the west.
I hear the howl of the wind that brings
The long drear storm on its heavy wings;
But the howling wind and the driving rain
Will beat on my houseless head in vain:
I shall stay, from my murdered sons to scare
The beasts of the desert, and fowls of air.'
A midnight black with clouds is in the sky;
I seem to feel, upon my limbs, the weight
Of its vast brooding shadow. All in vain
Turns the tired eye in search of form; no star
Pierces the pitchy veil; no ruddy blaze,
From dwellings lighted by the cheerful hearth,
Tinges the flowering summits of the grass.
No sound of life is heard, no village hum,
Nor measured tramp of footstep in the path,
Nor rush of wing, while, on the breast of Earth,
I lie and listen to her mighty voice:
A voice of many tones--sent up from streams
That wander through the gloom, from woods unseen,
Swayed by the sweeping of the tides of air,
From rocky chasms where darkness dwells all day,
And hollows of the great invisible hills,
And sands that edge the ocean, stretching far
Into the night--a melancholy sound!
O Earth! dost thou too sorrow for the past
Like man thy offspring? Do I hear thee mourn
Thy childhood's unreturning hours, thy springs
Gone with their genial airs and melodies,
The gentle generations of thy flowers,
And thy majestic groves of olden time,
Perished with all their dwellers? Dost thou wail
For that fair age of which the poets tell,
Ere the rude winds grew keen with frost, or fire
Fell with the rains, or spouted from the hills,
To blast thy greenness, while the virgin night
Was guiltless and salubrious as the day?
Or haply dost thou grieve for those that die--
For living things that trod thy paths awhile,
The love of thee and heaven--and now they sleep
Mixed with the shapeless dust on which thy herds
Trample and graze? I too must grieve with thee,
O'er loved ones lost. Their graves are far away
Upon thy mountains; yet, while I recline
Alone, in darkness, on thy naked soil,
The mighty nourisher and burial-place
Of man, I feel that I embrace their dust.
Ha! how the murmur deepens! I perceive
And tremble at its dreadful import. Earth
Uplifts a general cry for guilt and wrong,
And heaven is listening. The forgotten graves
Of the heart-broken utter forth their plaint.
The dust of her who loved and was betrayed,
And him who died neglected in his age;
The sepulchres of those who for mankind
Laboured, and earned the recompense of scorn;
Ashes of martyrs for the truth, and bones
Of those who, in the strife for liberty,
Were beaten down, their corses given to dogs,
Their names to infamy, all find a voice.
The nook in which the captive, overtoiled,
Lay down to rest at last, and that which holds
Childhood's sweet blossoms, crushed by cruel hands,
Send up a plaintive sound. From battle-fields,
Where heroes madly drave and dashed their hosts
Against each other, rises up a noise,
As if the armed multitudes of dead
Stirred in their heavy slumber. Mournful tones
Come from the green abysses of the sea--
story of the crimes the guilty sought
To hide beneath its waves. The glens, the groves,
Paths in the thicket, pools of running brook,
And banks and depths of lake, and streets and lanes
Of cities, now that living sounds are hushed,
Murmur of guilty force and treachery.
Here, where I rest, the vales of Italy
Are round me, populous from early time,
And field of the tremendous warfare waged
'Twixt good and evil. Who, alas, shall dare
Interpret to man's ear the mingled voice
That comes from her old dungeons yawning now
To the black air, her amphitheatres,
Where the dew gathers on the mouldering stones,
And fanes of banished gods, and open tombs,
And roofless palaces, and streets and hearths
Of cities dug from their volcanic graves?
I hear a sound of many languages,
The utterance of nations now no more,
Driven out by mightier, as the days of heaven
Chase one another from the sky. The blood
Of freemen shed by freemen, till strange lords
Came in the hour of weakness, and made fast
The yoke that yet is worn, cries out to Heaven.
What then shall cleanse thy bosom, gentle Earth
From all its painful memories of guilt?
The whelming flood, or the renewing fire,
Or the slow change of time? that so, at last,
The horrid tale of perjury and strife,
Murder and spoil, which men call history,
May seem a fable, like the inventions told
By poets of the gods of Greece. O thou,
Who sittest far beyond the Atlantic deep,
Among the sources of thy glorious streams,
My native Land of Groves! a newer page
In the great record of the world is thine;
Shall it be fairer? Fear, and friendly hope,
And envy, watch the issue, while the lines,
By which thou shalt be judged, are written down.
Midst greens and shades the Catterskill leaps,
From cliffs where the wood-flower clings;
All summer he moistens his verdant steeps
With the sweet light spray of the mountain springs;
And he shakes the woods on the mountain side,
When they drip with the rains of autumn-tide.
But when, in the forest bare and old,
The blast of December calls,
He builds, in the starlight clear and cold,
A palace of ice where his torrent falls,
With turret, and arch, and fretwork fair,
And pillars blue as the summer air.
For whom are those glorious chambers wrought,
In the cold and cloudless night?
Is there neither spirit nor motion of thought
In forms so lovely, and hues so bright?
Hear what the gray-haired woodmen tell
Of this wild stream and its rocky dell.
'Twas hither a youth of dreamy mood,
A hundred winters ago,
Had wandered over the mighty wood,
When the panther's track was fresh on the snow,
And keen were the winds that came to stir
The long dark boughs of the hemlock fir.
Too gentle of mien he seemed and fair,
For a child of those rugged steeps;
His home lay low in the valley where
The kingly Hudson rolls to the deeps;
But he wore the hunter's frock that day,
And a slender gun on his shoulder lay.
And here he paused, and against the trunk
Of a tall gray linden leant,
When the broad clear orb of the sun had sunk
From his path in the frosty firmament,
And over the round dark edge of the hill
A cold green light was quivering still.
And the crescent moon, high over the green,
From a sky of crimson shone,
On that icy palace, whose towers were seen
To sparkle as if with stars of their own;
While the water fell with a hollow sound,
'Twixt the glistening pillars ranged around.
Is that a being of life, that moves
Where the crystal battlements rise?
A maiden watching the moon she loves,
At the twilight hour, with pensive eyes?
Was that a garment which seemed to gleam
Betwixt the eye and the falling stream?
'Tis only the torrent tumbling o'er,
In the midst of those glassy walls,
Gushing, and plunging, and beating the floor
Of the rocky basin in which it falls.
'Tis only the torrent--but why that start?
Why gazes the youth with a throbbing heart?
He thinks no more of his home afar,
Where his sire and sister wait.
He heeds no longer how star after star
Looks forth on the night as the hour grows late.
He heeds not the snow-wreaths, lifted and cast
From a thousand boughs, by the rising blast.
His thoughts are alone of those who dwell
In the halls of frost and snow,
Who pass where the crystal domes upswell
From the alabaster floors below,
Where the frost-trees shoot with leaf and spray,
And frost-gems scatter a silvery day.
'And oh that those glorious haunts were mine!'
He speaks, and throughout the glen
Thin shadows swim in the faint moonshine,
And take a ghastly likeness of men,
As if the slain by the wintry storms
Came forth to the air in their earthly forms.
There pass the chasers of seal and whale,
With their weapons quaint and grim,
And bands of warriors in glittering mail,
And herdsmen and hunters huge of limb.
There are naked arms, with bow and spear,
And furry gauntlets the carbine rear.
There are mothers--and oh how sadly their eyes
On their children's white brows rest!
There are youthful lovers--the maiden lies,
In a seeming sleep, on the chosen breast;
There are fair wan women with moonstruck air,
The snow stars flecking their long loose hair.
They eye him not as they pass along,
But his hair stands up with dread,
When he feels that he moves with that phantom throng,
Till those icy turrets are over his head,
And the torrent's roar as they enter seems
Like a drowsy murmur heard in dreams.
The glittering threshold is scarcely passed,
When there gathers and wraps him round
A thick white twilight, sullen and vast,
In which there is neither form nor sound;
The phantoms, the glory, vanish all,
With the dying voice of the waterfall.
Slow passes the darkness of that trance,
And the youth now faintly sees
Huge shadows and gushes of light that dance
On a rugged ceiling of unhewn trees,
And walls where the skins of beasts are hung,
And rifles glitter on antlers strung.
On a couch of shaggy skins he lies;
As he strives to raise his head,
Hard-featured woodmen, with kindly eyes,
Come round him and smooth his furry bed
And bid him rest, for the evening star
Is scarcely set and the day is far.
They had found at eve the dreaming one
By the base of that icy steep,
When over his stiffening limbs begun
The deadly slumber of frost to creep,
And they cherished the pale and breathless form,
Till the stagnant blood ran free and warm.
Among The Trees
Oh ye who love to overhang the springs,
And stand by running waters, ye whose boughs
Make beautiful the rocks o'er which they play,
Who pile with foliage the great hills, and rear
A paradise upon the lonely plain,
Trees of the forest, and the open field!
Have ye no sense of being? Does the air,
The pure air, which I breathe with gladness, pass
In gushes o'er your delicate lungs, your leaves,
All unenjoyed? When on your winter's sleep
The sun shines warm, have ye no dreams of spring?
And when the glorious spring-time comes at last,
Have ye no joy of all your bursting buds,
And fragrant blooms, and melody of birds
To which your young leaves shiver? Do ye strive
And wrestle with the wind, yet know it not?
Feel ye no glory in your strength when he,
The exhausted Blusterer, flies beyond the hills,
And leaves you stronger yet? Or have ye not
A sense of loss when he has stripped your leaves,
Yet tender, and has splintered your fair boughs?
Does the loud bolt that smites you from the cloud
And rends you, fall unfelt? Do there not run
Strange shudderings through your fibres when the axe
Is raised against you, and the shining blade
Deals blow on blow, until, with all their boughs,
Your summits waver and ye fall to earth?
Know ye no sadness when the hurricane
Has swept the wood and snapped its sturdy stems
Asunder, or has wrenched, from out the soil,
The mightiest with their circles of strong roots,
And piled the ruin all along his path?
Nay, doubt we not that under the rough rind,
In the green veins of these fair growths of earth,
There dwells a nature that receives delight
From all the gentle processes of life,
And shrinks from loss of being. Dim and faint
May be the sense of pleasure and of pain,
As in our dreams; but, haply, real still.
Our sorrows touch you not. We watch beside
The beds of those who languish or who die,
And minister in sadness, while our hearts
Offer perpetual prayer for life and ease
And health to the belovèd sufferers.
But ye, while anxious fear and fainting hope
Are in our chambers, ye rejoice without.
The funeral goes forth; a silent train
Moves slowly from the desolate home; our hearts
Are breaking as we lay away the loved,
Whom we shall see no more, in their last rest,
Their little cells within the burial-place.
Ye have no part in this distress; for still
The February sunshine steeps your boughs
And tints the buds and swells the leaves within;
While the song-sparrow, warbling from her perch,
Tells you that spring is near. The wind of May
Is sweet with breath of orchards, in whose boughs
The bees and every insect of the air
Make a perpetual murmur of delight,
And by whose flowers the humming-bird hangs poised
In air, and draws their sweets and darts away.
The linden, in the fervors of July,
Hums with a louder concert. When the wind
Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,
As when some master-hand exulting sweeps
The keys of some great organ, ye give forth
The music of the woodland depths, a hymn
Of gladness and of thanks. The hermit-thrush
Pipes his sweet note to make your arches ring;
The faithful robin, from the wayside elm,
Carols all day to cheer his sitting mate;
And when the autumn comes, the kings of earth,
In all their majesty, are not arrayed
As ye are, clothing the broad mountain-side
And spotting the smooth vales with red and gold;
While, swaying to the sudden breeze, ye fling
Your nuts to earth, and the brisk squirrel comes
To gather them, and barks with childish glee,
And scampers with them to his hollow oak.
Thus, as the seasons pass, ye keep alive
The cheerfulness of Nature, till in time
The constant misery which wrings the heart
Relents, and we rejoice with you again,
And glory in your beauty; till once more
We look with pleasure on your varnished leaves,
That gayly glance in sunshine, and can hear,
Delighted, the soft answer which your boughs
Utter in whispers to the babbling brook.
Ye have no history. I cannot know
Who, when the hillside trees were hewn away,
Haply two centuries since, bade spare this oak,
Leaning to shade, with his irregular arms,
Low-bent and long, the fount that from his roots
Slips through a bed of cresses toward the bay-
I know not who, but thank him that he left
The tree to flourish where the acorn fell,
And join these later days to that far time
While yet the Indian hunter drew the bow
In the dim woods, and the white woodman first
Opened these fields to sunshine, turned the soil
And strewed the wheat. An unremembered Past
Broods, like a presence, mid the long gray boughs
Of this old tree, which has outlived so long
The flitting generations of mankind.
Ye have no history. I ask in vain
Who planted on the slope this lofty group
Of ancient pear-trees that with spring-time burst
Into such breadth of bloom. One bears a scar
Where the quick lightning scored its trunk, yet still
It feels the breath of Spring, and every May
Is white with blossoms. Who it was that laid
Their infant roots in earth, and tenderly
Cherished the delicate sprays, I ask in vain,
Yet bless the unknown hand to which I owe
This annual festival of bees, these songs
Of birds within their leafy screen, these shouts
Of joy from children gathering up the fruit
Shaken in August from the willing boughs.
Ye that my hands have planted, or have spared,
Beside the way, or in the orchard-ground,
Or in the open meadow, ye whose boughs
With every summer spread a wider shade,
Whose herd in coming years shall lie at rest
Beneath your noontide shelter? who shall pluck
Your ripened fruit? who grave, as was the wont
Of simple pastoral ages, on the rind
Of my smooth beeches some beloved name?
Idly I ask; yet may the eyes that look
Upon you, in your later, nobler growth,
Look also on a nobler age than ours;
An age when, in the eternal strife between
Evil and Good, the Power of Good shall win
A grander mastery; when kings no more
Shall summon millions from the plough to learn
The trade of slaughter, and of populous realms
Make camps of war; when in our younger land
The hand of ruffian Violence, that now
Is insolently raised to smite, shall fall
Unnerved before the calm rebuke of Law,
And Fraud, his sly confederate, shrink, in shame,
Back to his covert, and forego his prey.
The Flood Of Years
A MIGHTY Hand, from an exhaustless Urn,
Pours forth the never-ending Flood of Years,
Among the nations. How the rushing waves
Bear all before them! On their foremost edge,
And there alone, is Life. The Present there
Tosses and foams, and fills the air with roar
Of mingled noises. There are they who toil,
And they who strive, and they who feast, and they
Who hurry to and fro. The sturdy swain—
Woodman and delver with the spade—is there,
And busy artisan beside his bench,
And pallid student with his written roll.
A moment on the mounting billow seen,
The flood sweeps over them and they are gone.
There groups of revellers whose brows are twined
With roses, ride the topmost swell awhile,
And as they raise their flowing cups and touch
The clinking brim to brim, are whirled beneath
The waves and disappear. I hear the jar
Of beaten drums, and thunders that break forth
From cannon, where the advancing billow sends
Up to the sight long files of armëd men,
That hurry to the charge through flame and smoke.
The torrent bears them under, whelmed and hid,
Slayer and slain, in heaps of bloody foam.
Down go the steed and rider, the plumed chief
Sinks with his followers; the head that wears
The imperial diadem goes down beside
The felon’s with cropped ear and branded cheek.
A funeral-train—the torrent sweeps away
Bearers and bier and mourners. By the bed
Of one who dies men gather sorrowing,
And women weep aloud; the flood rolls on;
The wail is stifled and the sobbing group
Borne under. Hark to that shrill, sudden shout,
The cry of an applauding multitude,
Swayed by some loud-voiced orator who wields
The living mass as if he were its soul!
The waters choke the shout and all is still.
Lo! next a kneeling crowd, and one who spreads
The hands in prayer—the engulfing wave o’ertakes
And swallows them and him. A sculptor wields
The chisel, and the stricken marble grows
To beauty; at his easel, eager-eyed,
A painter stands, and sunshine at his touch
Gathers upon his canvas, and life glows;
A poet, as he paces to and fro,
Murmurs his sounding lines. A while they ride
The advancing billow, till its tossing crest
Strikes them and flings them under, while their tasks
Are yet unfinished. See a mother smile
On her young babe that smiles to her again;
The torrent wrests it from her arms; she shrieks
And weeps, and midst her tears is carried down.
A beam like that of moonlight turns the spray
To glistening pearls; two lovers, hand in hand,
Rise on the billowy swell and fondly look
Into each other’s eyes. The rushing flood
Flings them apart: the youth goes down; the maid
With hands outstretched in vain, and streaming eyes,
Waits for the next high wave to follow him.
An aged man succeeds; his bending form
Sinks slowly. Mingling with the sullen stream
Gleam the white locks, and then are seen no more.
Lo! wider grows the stream—a sea-like flood
Saps earth’s walled cities; massive palaces
Crumble before it; fortresses and towers
Dissolve in the swift waters; populous realms
Swept by the torrent see their ancient tribes
Engulfed and lost; their very languages
Stifled, and never to be uttered more.
I pause and turn my eyes, and looking back
Where that tumultuous flood has been, I see
The silent ocean of the Past, a waste
Of waters weltering over graves, its shores
Strewn with the wreck of fleets where mast and hull
Drop away piecemeal; battlemented walls
Frown idly, green with moss, and temples stand
Unroofed, forsaken by the worshipper.
There lie memorial stones, whence time has gnawed
The graven legends, thrones of kings o’er-turned,
The broken altars of forgotten gods,
Foundations of old cities and long streets
Where never fall of human foot is heard,
On all the desolate pavement. I behold
Dim glimmerings of lost jewels, far within
The sleeping waters, diamond, sardonyx,
Ruby and topaz, pearl and chrysolite,
Once glittering at the banquet on fair brows
That long ago were dust; and all around
Strewn on the surface of that silent sea
Are withering bridal wreaths, and glossy locks
Shorn from dear brows by loving hands, and scrolls
O’erwritten, haply with fond words of love
And vows of friendship, and fair pages flung
Fresh from the printer’s engine. There they lie
A moment, and then sink away from sight.
I look, and the quick tears are in my eyes,
For I behold in every one of these
A blighted hope, a separate history
Of human sorrows, telling of dear ties
Suddenly broken, dreams of happiness
Dissolved in air, and happy days too brief
That sorrowfully ended, and I think
How painfully must the poor heart have beat
In bosoms without number, as the blow
Was struck that slew their hope and broke their peace.
Sadly I turn and look before, where yet
The Flood must pass, and I behold a mist
Where swarm dissolving forms, the brood of Hope,
Divinely fair, that rest on banks of flowers,
Or wander among rainbows, fading soon
And reappearing, haply giving place
To forms of grisly aspect such as Fear
Shapes from the idle air—where serpents lift
The head to strike, and skeletons stretch forth
The bony arm in menace. Further on
A belt of darkness seems to bar the way
Long, low, and distant, where the Life to come
Touches the Life that is. The Flood of Years
Rolls toward it near and nearer. It must pass
That dismal barrier. What is there beyond?
Hear what the wise and good have said. Beyond
That belt of darkness, still the Years roll on
More gently, but with not less mighty sweep.
They gather up again and softly bear
All the sweet lives that late were over-whelmed
And lost to sight, all that in them was good,
Noble, and truly great, and worthy of love—
The lives of infants and ingenuous youths,
Sages and saintly women who have made
Their households happy; all are raised and borne
By that great current in its onward sweep,
Wandering and rippling with caressing waves
Around green islands with the breath
Of flowers that never wither. So they pass
From stage to stage along the shining course
Of that bright river, broadening like a sea.
As its smooth eddies curl along their way
They bring old friends together; hands are clasped
In joy unspeakable; the mother’s arms
Again are folded round the child she loved
And lost. Old sorrows are forgotten now,
Or but remembered to make sweet the hour
That overpays them; wounded hearts that bled
Or broke are healed forever. In the room
Of this grief-shadowed present, there shall be
A Present in whose reign no grief shall gnaw
The heart, and never shall a tender tie
Be broken; in whose reign the eternal Change
That waits on growth and action shall proceed
With everlasting Concord hand in hand.
Hymn To Death
Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heart
Might hear my song without a frown, nor deem
My voice unworthy of the theme it tries,--
I would take up the hymn to Death, and say
To the grim power, The world hath slandered thee
And mocked thee. On thy dim and shadowy brow
They place an iron crown, and call thee king
Of terrors, and the spoiler of the world,
Deadly assassin, that strik'st down the fair,
The loved, the good--that breath'st upon the lights
Of virtue set along the vale of life,
And they go out in darkness. I am come,
Not with reproaches, not with cries and prayers,
Such as have stormed thy stern insensible ear
From the beginning. I am come to speak
Thy praises. True it is, that I have wept
Thy conquests, and may weep them yet again:
And thou from some I love wilt take a life
Dear to me as my own. Yet while the spell
Is on my spirit, and I talk with thee
In sight of all thy trophies, face to face,
Meet is it that my voice should utter forth
Thy nobler triumphs: I will teach the world
To thank thee.--Who are thine accusers?--Who?
The living!--they who never felt thy power,
And know thee not. The curses of the wretch
Whose crimes are ripe, his sufferings when thy hand
Is on him, and the hour he dreads is come,
Are writ among thy praises. But the good--
Does he whom thy kind hand dismissed to peace,
Upbraid the gentle violence that took off
His fetters, and unbarred his prison cell?
Raise then the Hymn to Death. Deliverer!
God hath anointed thee to free the oppressed
And crush the oppressor. When the armed chief,
The conqueror of nations, walks the world,
And it is changed beneath his feet, and all
Its kingdoms melt into one mighty realm--
Thou, while his head is loftiest, and his heart
Blasphemes, imagining his own right hand
Almighty, sett'st upon him thy stern grasp,
And the strong links of that tremendous chain
That bound mankind are crumbled; thou dost break
Sceptre and crown, and beat his throne to dust.
Then the earth shouts with gladness, and her tribes
Gather within their ancient bounds again.
Else had the mighty of the olden time,
Nimrod, Sesostris, or the youth who feigned
His birth from Lybian Ammon, smote even now
The nations with a rod of iron, and driven
Their chariot o'er our necks. Thou dost avenge,
In thy good time, the wrongs of those who know
No other friend. Nor dost thou interpose
Only to lay the sufferer asleep,
Where he who made him wretched troubles not
His rest--thou dost strike down his tyrant too.
Oh, there is joy when hands that held the scourge
Drop lifeless, and the pitiless heart is cold.
Thou too dost purge from earth its horrible
And old idolatries; from the proud fanes
Each to his grave their priests go out, till none
Is left to teach their worship; then the fires
Of sacrifice are chilled, and the green moss
O'ercreeps their altars; the fallen images
Cumber the weedy courts, and for loud hymns,
Chanted by kneeling crowds, the chiding winds
Shriek in the solitary aisles. When he
Who gives his life to guilt, and laughs at all
The laws that God or man has made, and round
Hedges his seat with power, and shines in wealth,--
Lifts up his atheist front to scoff at Heaven,
And celebrates his shame in open day,
Thou, in the pride of all his crimes, cutt'st off
The horrible example. Touched by thine,
The extortioner's hard hand foregoes the gold
Wrong from the o'er-worn poor. The perjurer,
Whose tongue was lithe, e'en now, and voluble
Against his neighbour's life, and he who laughed
And leaped for joy to see a spotless fame
Blasted before his own foul calumnies,
Are smit with deadly silence. He, who sold
His conscience to preserve a worthless life,
Even while he hugs himself on his escape,
Trembles, as, doubly terrible, at length,
Thy steps o'ertake him, and there is no time
For parley--nor will bribes unclench thy grasp.
Oft, too, dost thou reform thy victim, long
Ere his last hour. And when the reveller,
Mad in the chase of pleasure, stretches on,
And strains each nerve, and clears the path of life
Like wind, thou point'st him to the dreadful goal,
And shak'st thy hour-glass in his reeling eye,
And check'st him in mid course. Thy skeleton hand
Shows to the faint of spirit the right path,
And he is warned, and fears to step aside.
Thou sett'st between the ruffian and his crime
Thy ghastly countenance, and his slack hand
Drops the drawn knife. But, oh, most fearfully
Dost thou show forth Heaven's justice, when thy shafts
Drink up the ebbing spirit--then the hard
Of heart and violent of hand restores
The treasure to the friendless wretch he wronged.
Then from the writhing bosom thou dost pluck
The guilty secret; lips, for ages sealed,
Are faithless to the dreadful trust at length,
And give it up; the felon's latest breath
Absolves the innocent man who bears his crime;
The slanderer, horror smitten, and in tears,
Recalls the deadly obloquy he forged
To work his brother's ruin. Thou dost make
Thy penitent victim utter to the air
The dark conspiracy that strikes at life,
And aims to whelm the laws; ere yet the hour
Is come, and the dread sign of murder given.
Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found
On virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee,
Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth
Had crushed the weak for ever. Schooled in guile
For ages, while each passing year had brought
Its baneful lesson, they had filled the world
With their abominations; while its tribes,
Trodden to earth, imbruted, and despoiled,
Had knelt to them in worship; sacrifice
Had smoked on many an altar, temple roofs
Had echoed with the blasphemous prayer and hymn:
But thou, the great reformer of the world,
Tak'st off the sons of violence and fraud
In their green pupilage, their lore half learned--
Ere guilt has quite o'errun the simple heart
God gave them at their birth, and blotted out
His image. Thou dost mark them, flushed with hope,
As on the threshold of their vast designs
Doubtful and loose they stand, and strik'st them down.
Alas, I little thought that the stern power
Whose fearful praise I sung, would try me thus
Before the strain was ended. It must cease--
For he is in his grave who taught my youth
The art of verse, and in the bud of life
Offered me to the muses. Oh, cut off
Untimely! when thy reason in its strength,
Ripened by years of toil and studious search
And watch of Nature's silent lessons, taught
Thy hand to practise best the lenient art
To which thou gavest thy laborious days.
And, last, thy life. And, therefore, when the earth
Received thee, tears were in unyielding eyes
And on hard cheeks, and they who deemed thy skill
Delayed their death-hour, shuddered and turned pale
When thou wert gone. This faltering verse, which thou
Shalt not, as wont, o'erlook, is all I have
To offer at thy grave--this--and the hope
To copy thy example, and to leave
A name of which the wretched shall not think
As of an enemy's, whom they forgive
As all forgive the dead. Rest, therefore, thou
Whose early guidance trained my infant steps--
Rest, in the bosom of God, till the brief sleep
Of death is over, and a happier life
Shall dawn to waken thine insensible dust.
Now thou art not--and yet the men whose guilt
Has wearied Heaven for vengeance--he who bears
False witness--he who takes the orphan's bread,
And robs the widow--he who spreads abroad
Polluted hands in mockery of prayer,
Are left to cumber earth. Shuddering I look
On what is written, yet I blot not out
The desultory numbers--let them stand.
The record of an idle revery.
When to the common rest that crowns our days,
Called in the noon of life, the good man goes,
Or full of years, and ripe in wisdom, lays
His silver temples in their last repose;
When, o'er the buds of youth, the death-wind blows,
And blights the fairest; when our bitter tears
Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,
We think on what they were, with many fears
Lest goodness die with them, and leave the coming years:
And therefore, to our hearts, the days gone by,--
When lived the honoured sage whose death we wept,
And the soft virtues beamed from many an eye,
And beat in many a heart that long has slept,--
Like spots of earth where angel-feet have stepped--
Are holy; and high-dreaming bards have told
Of times when worth was crowned, and faith was kept,
Ere friendship grew a snare, or love waxed cold--
Those pure and happy times--the golden days of old.
Peace to the just man's memory,--let it grow
Greener with years, and blossom through the flight
Of ages; let the mimic canvas show
His calm benevolent features; let the light
Stream on his deeds of love, that shunned the sight
Of all but heaven, and in the book of fame,
The glorious record of his virtues write,
And hold it up to men, and bid them claim
A palm like his, and catch from him the hallowed flame.
But oh, despair not of their fate who rise
To dwell upon the earth when we withdraw!
Lo! the same shaft by which the righteous dies,
Strikes through the wretch that scoffed at mercy's law,
And trode his brethren down, and felt no awe
Of Him who will avenge them. Stainless worth,
Such as the sternest age of virtue saw,
Ripens, meanwhile, till time shall call it forth
From the low modest shade, to light and bless the earth.
Has Nature, in her calm, majestic march
Faltered with age at last? does the bright sun
Grow dim in heaven? or, in their far blue arch,
Sparkle the crowd of stars, when day is done,
Less brightly? when the dew-lipped Spring comes on,
Breathes she with airs less soft, or scents the sky
With flowers less fair than when her reign begun?
Does prodigal Autumn, to our age, deny
The plenty that once swelled beneath his sober eye?
Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth
In her fair page; see, every season brings
New change, to her, of everlasting youth;
Still the green soil, with joyous living things,
Swarms, the wide air is full of joyous wings,
And myriads, still, are happy in the sleep
Of ocean's azure gulfs, and where he flings
The restless surge. Eternal Love doth keep
In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep.
Will then the merciful One, who stamped our race
With his own image, and who gave them sway
O'er earth, and the glad dwellers on her face,
Now that our swarming nations far away
Are spread, where'er the moist earth drinks the day,
Forget the ancient care that taught and nursed
His latest offspring? will he quench the ray
Infused by his own forming smile at first,
And leave a work so fair all blighted and accursed?
Oh, no! a thousand cheerful omens give
Hope of yet happier days, whose dawn is nigh.
He who has tamed the elements, shall not live
The slave of his own passions; he whose eye
Unwinds the eternal dances of the sky,
And in the abyss of brightness dares to span
The sun's broad circle, rising yet more high,
In God's magnificent works his will shall scan--
And love and peace shall make their paradise with man.
Sit at the feet of history--through the night
Of years the steps of virtue she shall trace,
And show the earlier ages, where her sight
Can pierce the eternal shadows o'er their face;--
When, from the genial cradle of our race,
Went forth the tribes of men, their pleasant lot
To choose, where palm-groves cooled their dwelling-place,
Or freshening rivers ran; and there forgot
The truth of heaven, and kneeled to gods that heard them not.
Then waited not the murderer for the night,
But smote his brother down in the bright day,
And he who felt the wrong, and had the might,
His own avenger, girt himself to slay;
Beside the path the unburied carcass lay;
The shepherd, by the fountains of the glen,
Fled, while the robber swept his flock away,
And slew his babes. The sick, untended then,
Languished in the damp shade, and died afar from men.
But misery brought in love--in passion's strife
Man gave his heart to mercy, pleading long,
And sought out gentle deeds to gladden life;
The weak, against the sons of spoil and wrong,
Banded, and watched their hamlets, and grew strong.
States rose, and, in the shadow of their might,
The timid rested. To the reverent throng,
Grave and time-wrinkled men, with locks all white,
Gave laws, and judged their strifes, and taught the way of right;
Till bolder spirits seized the rule, and nailed
On men the yoke that man should never bear,
And drove them forth to battle. Lo! unveiled
The scene of those stern ages! What is there!
A boundless sea of blood, and the wild air
Moans with the crimson surges that entomb
Cities and bannered armies; forms that wear
The kingly circlet rise, amid the gloom,
O'er the dark wave, and straight are swallowed in its womb.
Those ages have no memory--but they left
A record in the desert--columns strown
On the waste sands, and statues fallen and cleft,
Heaped like a host in battle overthrown;
Vast ruins, where the mountain's ribs of stone
Were hewn into a city; streets that spread
In the dark earth, where never breath has blown
Of heaven's sweet air, nor foot of man dares tread
The long and perilous ways--the Cities of the Dead:
And tombs of monarchs to the clouds up-piled--
They perished--but the eternal tombs remain--
And the black precipice, abrupt and wild,
Pierced by long toil and hollowed to a fane;--
Huge piers and frowning forms of gods sustain
The everlasting arches, dark and wide,
Like the night-heaven, when clouds are black with rain.
But idly skill was tasked, and strength was plied,
All was the work of slaves to swell a despot's pride.
And Virtue cannot dwell with slaves, nor reign
O'er those who cower to take a tyrant's yoke;
She left the down-trod nations in disdain,
And flew to Greece, when Liberty awoke,
New-born, amid those glorious vales, and broke
Sceptre and chain with her fair youthful hands:
As rocks are shivered in the thunder-stroke.
And lo! in full-grown strength, an empire stands
Of leagued and rival states, the wonder of the lands.
Oh, Greece! thy flourishing cities were a spoil
Unto each other; thy hard hand oppressed
And crushed the helpless; thou didst make thy soil
Drunk with the blood of those that loved thee best;
And thou didst drive, from thy unnatural breast,
Thy just and brave to die in distant climes;
Earth shuddered at thy deeds, and sighed for rest
From thine abominations; after times,
That yet shall read thy tale, will tremble at thy crimes.
Yet there was that within thee which has saved
Thy glory, and redeemed thy blotted name;
The story of thy better deeds, engraved
On fame's unmouldering pillar, puts to shame
Our chiller virtue; the high art to tame
The whirlwind of the passions was thine own;
And the pure ray, that from thy bosom came,
Far over many a land and age has shone,
And mingles with the light that beams from God's own throne;
And Rome--thy sterner, younger sister, she
Who awed the world with her imperial frown--
Rome drew the spirit of her race from thee,--
The rival of thy shame and thy renown.
Yet her degenerate children sold the crown
Of earth's wide kingdoms to a line of slaves;
Guilt reigned, and we with guilt, and plagues came down,
Till the north broke its floodgates, and the waves
Whelmed the degraded race, and weltered o'er their graves.
Vainly that ray of brightness from above,
That shone around the Galilean lake,
The light of hope, the leading star of love,
Struggled, the darkness of that day to break;
Even its own faithless guardians strove to slake,
In fogs of earth, the pure immortal flame;
And priestly hands, for Jesus' blessed sake,
Were red with blood, and charity became,
In that stern war of forms, a mockery and a name.
They triumphed, and less bloody rites were kept
Within the quiet of the convent cell:
The well-fed inmates pattered prayer, and slept,
And sinned, and liked their easy penance well.
Where pleasant was the spot for men to dwell,
Amid its fair broad lands the abbey lay,
Sheltering dark orgies that were shame to tell,
And cowled and barefoot beggars swarmed the way,
All in their convent weeds, of black, and white, and gray.
Oh, sweetly the returning muses' strain
Swelled over that famed stream, whose gentle tide
In their bright lap the Etrurian vales detain,
Sweet, as when winter storms have ceased to chide,
And all the new-leaved woods, resounding wide,
Send out wild hymns upon the scented air.
Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side
The emulous nations of the west repair,
And kindle their quenched urns, and drink fresh spirit there.
Still, Heaven deferred the hour ordained to rend
From saintly rottenness the sacred stole;
And cowl and worshipped shrine could still defend
The wretch with felon stains upon his soul;
And crimes were set to sale, and hard his dole
Who could not bribe a passage to the skies;
And vice, beneath the mitre's kind control,
Sinned gaily on, and grew to giant size,
Shielded by priestly power, and watched by priestly eyes.
At last the earthquake came--the shock, that hurled
To dust, in many fragments dashed and strown,
The throne, whose roots were in another world,
And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own.
From many a proud monastic pile, o'erthrown,
Fear-struck, the hooded inmates rushed and fled;
The web, that for a thousand years had grown
O'er prostrate Europe, in that day of dread
Crumbled and fell, as fire dissolves the flaxen thread.
The spirit of that day is still awake,
And spreads himself, and shall not sleep again;
But through the idle mesh of power shall break
Like billows o'er the Asian monarch's chain;
Till men are filled with him, and feel how vain,
Instead of the pure heart and innocent hands,
Are all the proud and pompous modes to gain
The smile of heaven;--till a new age expands
Its white and holy wings above the peaceful lands.
For look again on the past years;--behold,
How like the nightmare's dreams have flown away
Horrible forms of worship, that, of old,
Held, o'er the shuddering realms, unquestioned sway:
See crimes, that feared not once the eye of day,
Rooted from men, without a name or place:
See nations blotted out from earth, to pay
The forfeit of deep guilt;--with glad embrace
The fair disburdened lands welcome a nobler race.
Thus error's monstrous shapes from earth are driven;
They fade, they fly--but truth survives their flight;
Earth has no shades to quench that beam of heaven;
Each ray that shone, in early time, to light
The faltering footsteps in the path of right,
Each gleam of clearer brightness shed to aid
In man's maturer day his bolder sight,
All blended, like the rainbow's radiant braid,
Pour yet, and still shall pour, the blaze that cannot fade.
Late, from this western shore, that morning chased
The deep and ancient night, that threw its shroud
O'er the green land of groves, the beautiful waste,
Nurse of full streams, and lifter-up of proud
Sky-mingling mountains that o'erlook the cloud.
Erewhile, where yon gay spires their brightness rear,
Trees waved, and the brown hunter's shouts were loud
Amid the forest; and the bounding deer
Fled at the glancing plume, and the gaunt wolf yelled near;
And where his willing waves yon bright blue bay
Sends up, to kiss his decorated brim,
And cradles, in his soft embrace, the gay
Young group of grassy islands born of him,
And crowding nigh, or in the distance dim,
Lifts the white throng of sails, that bear or bring
The commerce of the world;--with tawny limb,
And belt and beads in sunlight glistening,
The savage urged his skiff like wild bird on the wing.
Then all this youthful paradise around,
And all the broad and boundless mainland, lay
Cooled by the interminable wood, that frowned
O'er mount and vale, where never summer ray
Glanced, till the strong tornado broke his way
Through the gray giants of the sylvan wild;
Yet many a sheltered glade, with blossoms gay,
Beneath the showery sky and sunshine mild,
Within the shaggy arms of that dark forest smiled.
There stood the Indian hamlet, there the lake
Spread its blue sheet that flashed with many an oar,
Where the brown otter plunged him from the brake,
And the deer drank: as the light gale flew o'er,
The twinkling maize-field rustled on the shore;
And while that spot, so wild, and lone, and fair,
A look of glad and guiltless beauty wore,
And peace was on the earth and in the air,
The warrior lit the pile, and bound his captive there:
Not unavenged--the foeman, from the wood,
Beheld the deed, and when the midnight shade
Was stillest, gorged his battle-axe with blood;
All died--the wailing babe--the shrieking maid--
And in the flood of fire that scathed the glade,
The roofs went down; but deep the silence grew,
When on the dewy woods the day-beam played;
No more the cabin smokes rose wreathed and blue,
And ever, by their lake, lay moored the light canoe.
Look now abroad--another race has filled
These populous borders--wide the wood recedes,
And towns shoot up, and fertile realms are tilled:
The land is full of harvests and green meads;
Streams numberless, that many a fountain feeds,
Shine, disembowered, and give to sun and breeze
Their virgin waters; the full region leads
New colonies forth, that toward the western seas
Spread, like a rapid flame among the autumnal trees.
Here the free spirit of mankind, at length,
Throws its last fetters off; and who shall place
A limit to the giant's unchained strength,
Or curb his swiftness in the forward race!
Far, like the cornet's way through infinite space
Stretches the long untravelled path of light,
Into the depths of ages: we may trace,
Distant, the brightening glory of its flight,
Till the receding rays are lost to human sight.
Europe is given a prey to sterner fates,
And writhes in shackles; strong the arms that chain
To earth her struggling multitude of states;
She too is strong, and might not chafe in vain
Against them, but might cast to earth the train
That trample her, and break their iron net.
Yes, she shall look on brighter days and gain
The meed of worthier deeds; the moment set
To rescue and raise up, draws near--but is not yet.
But thou, my country, thou shalt never fall,
Save with thy children--thy maternal care,
Thy lavish love, thy blessings showered on all--
These are thy fetters--seas and stormy air
Are the wide barrier of thy borders, where,
Among thy gallant sons that guard thee well,
Thou laugh'st at enemies: who shall then declare
The date of thy deep-founded strength, or tell
How happy, in thy lap, the sons of men shall dwell.