THE POETICAL WORKS
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
[1893 three volume set]
SONGS IN MANY KEYS
THE MORAL BULLY
THE MIND'S DIET
THE OLD PLAYER
A POEM DEDICATION OF THE PITTSFIELD CEMETERY, SEPTEMBER 9,1850
TO GOVERNOR SWAIN
TO AN ENGLISH FRIEND
AFTER A LECTURE ON WORDSWORTH
AFTER A LECTURE ON MOORE
AFTER A LECTURE ON KEATS
AFTER A LECTURE ON SHELLEY
AT THE CLOSE OF A COURSE OF LECTURES
THE NEW EDEN
SEMI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY,
NEW YORK, DECEMBER 22,1855
FAREWELL TO J. R. LOWELL
FOR THE MEETING OF THE BURNS CLUB, 1856
ODE FOR WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY
BIRTHDAY OF DANIEL WEBSTER
THE TWO STREAMS
THE LIVING TEMPLE
AT A BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL: TO J. R. LOWELL
A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO J. F. CLARKE
THE GRAY CHIEF
THE LAST LOOK: W. W. SWAIN
IN MEMORY OF CHARLES WENTWORTH UPHAM, JR.
MEETING OF THE ALUMNI OF HARVARD COLLEGE
THE PARTING SONG
FOR THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL SANITARY ASSOCIATION
FOR THE BURNS CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION,
AT A MEETING OF FRIENDS
BOSTON COMMON: THREE PICTURES
THE OLD MAN OF THE SEA
VIVE LA FRANCE
BROTHER JONATHAN'S LAMENT FOR SISTER CAROLINE
THE piping of our slender, peaceful reeds
Whispers uncared for while the trumpets bray;
Song is thin air; our hearts' exulting play
Beats time but to the tread of marching deeds,
Following the mighty van that Freedom leads,
Her glorious standard flaming to the day!
The crimsoned pavement where a hero bleeds
Breathes nobler lessons than the poet's lay.
Strong arms, broad breasts, brave hearts, are better worth
Than strains that sing the ravished echoes dumb.
Hark! 't is the loud reverberating drum
Rolls o'er the prairied West, the rock-bound North
The myriad-handed Future stretches forth
Its shadowy palms. Behold, we come,—we come!
Turn o'er these idle leaves. Such toys as these
Were not unsought for, as, in languid dreams,
We lay beside our lotus-feeding streams,
And nursed our fancies in forgetful ease.
It matters little if they pall or please,
Dropping untimely, while the sudden gleams
Glare from the mustering clouds whose blackness seems
Too swollen to hold its lightning from the trees.
Yet, in some lull of passion, when at last
These calm revolving moons that come and go—
Turning our months to years, they creep so slow—
Have brought us rest, the not unwelcome past
May flutter to thee through these leaflets, cast
On the wild winds that all around us blow.
May 1, 1861.
The story of Sir Harry Frankland and Agnes Surriage is told in the
ballad with a very strict adhesion to the facts. These were obtained
from information afforded me by the Rev. Mr. Webster, of Hopkinton, in
company with whom I visited the Frankland Mansion in that town, then
standing; from a very interesting Memoir, by the Rev. Elias Nason, of
Medford; and from the manuscript diary of Sir Harry, or more properly
Sir Charles Henry Frankland, now in the library of the Massachusetts
At the time of the visit referred to, old Julia was living, and on our
return we called at the house where she resided.—[She was living June
10, 1861, when this ballad was published]—Her account is little more
than paraphrased in the poem. If the incidents are treated with a
certain liberality at the close of the fifth part, the essential fact
that Agnes rescued Sir Harry from the ruins after the earthquake, and
their subsequent marriage as related, may be accepted as literal truth.
So with regard to most of the trifling details which are given; they are
taken from the record. It is greatly to be regretted that the Frankland
Mansion no longer exists. It was accidentally burned on the 23d of
January, 1858, a year or two after the first sketch of this ballad was
written. A visit to it was like stepping out of the century into the
years before the Revolution. A new house, similar in plan and
arrangements to the old one, has been built upon its site, and the
terraces, the clump of box, and the lilacs doubtless remain to bear
witness to the truth of this story.
The story, which I have told literally in rhyme, has been made
the subject of a carefully studied and interesting romance by Mr.
E. L. Bynner.
THE tale I tell is gospel true,
As all the bookmen know,
And pilgrims who have strayed to view
The wrecks still left to show.
The old, old story,—fair, and young,
And fond,—and not too wise,—
That matrons tell, with sharpened tongue,
To maids with downcast eyes.
Ah! maidens err and matrons warn
Beneath the coldest sky;
Love lurks amid the tasselled corn
As in the bearded rye!
But who would dream our sober sires
Had learned the old world's ways,
And warmed their hearths with lawless fires
In Shirley's homespun days?
'T is like some poet's pictured trance
His idle rhymes recite,—
This old New England-born romance
Of Agnes and the Knight;
Yet, known to all the country round,
Their home is standing still,
Between Wachusett's lonely mound
And Shawmut's threefold hill.
One hour we rumble on the rail,
One half-hour guide the rein,
We reach at last, o'er hill and dale,
The village on the plain.
With blackening wall and mossy roof,
With stained and warping floor,
A stately mansion stands aloof
And bars its haughty door.
This lowlier portal may be tried,
That breaks the gable wall;
And lo! with arches opening wide,
Sir Harry Frankland's hall!
'T was in the second George's day
They sought the forest shade,
The knotted trunks they cleared away,
The massive beams they laid,
They piled the rock-hewn chimney tall,
They smoothed the terraced ground,
They reared the marble-pillared wall
That fenced the mansion round.
Far stretched beyond the village bound
The Master's broad domain;
With page and valet, horse and hound,
He kept a goodly train.
And, all the midland county through,
The ploughman stopped to gaze
Whene'er his chariot swept in view
Behind the shining bays,
With mute obeisance, grave and slow,
Repaid by nod polite,—
For such the way with high and low
Till after Concord fight.
Nor less to courtly circles known
That graced the three-hilled town
With far-off splendors of the Throne,
And glimmerings from the Crown;
Wise Phipps, who held the seals of state
For Shirley over sea;
Brave Knowles, whose press-gang moved of late
The King Street mob's decree;
And judges grave, and colonels grand,
Fair dames and stately men,
The mighty people of the land,
The "World" of there and then.
'T was strange no Chloe's "beauteous Form,"
And "Eyes' celestial Blew,"
This Strephon of the West could warm,
No Nymph his Heart subdue.
Perchance he wooed as gallants use,
Whom fleeting loves enchain,
But still unfettered, free to choose,
Would brook no bridle-rein.
He saw the fairest of the fair,
But smiled alike on all;
No band his roving foot might snare,
No ring his hand enthrall.
Why seeks the knight that rocky cape
Beyond the Bay of Lynn?
What chance his wayward course may shape
To reach its village inn?
No story tells; whate'er we guess,
The past lies deaf and still,
But Fate, who rules to blight or bless,
Can lead us where she will.
Make way! Sir Harry's coach and four,
And liveried grooms that ride!
They cross the ferry, touch the shore
On Winnisimmet's side.
They hear the wash on Chelsea Beach,—
The level marsh they pass,
Where miles on miles the desert reach
Is rough with bitter grass.
The shining horses foam and pant,
And now the smells begin
Of fishy Swampscott, salt Nahant,
And leather-scented Lynn.
Next, on their left, the slender spires
And glittering vanes that crown
The home of Salem's frugal sires,
The old, witch-haunted town.
So onward, o'er the rugged way
That runs through rocks and sand,
Showered by the tempest-driven spray,
From bays on either hand,
That shut between their outstretched arms
The crews of Marblehead,
The lords of ocean's watery farms,
Who plough the waves for bread.
At last the ancient inn appears,
The spreading elm below,
Whose flapping sign these fifty years
Has seesawed to and fro.
How fair the azure fields in sight
Before the low-browed inn
The tumbling billows fringe with light
The crescent shore of Lynn;
Nahant thrusts outward through the waves
Her arm of yellow sand,
And breaks the roaring surge that braves
The gauntlet on her hand;
With eddying whirl the waters lock
Yon treeless mound forlorn,
The sharp-winged sea-fowl's breeding-rock,
That fronts the Spouting Horn;
Then free the white-sailed shallops glide,
And wide the ocean smiles,
Till, shoreward bent, his streams divide
The two bare Misery Isles.
The master's silent signal stays
The wearied cavalcade;
The coachman reins his smoking bays
Beneath the elm-tree's shade.
A gathering on the village green!
The cocked-hats crowd to see,
On legs in ancient velveteen,
With buckles at the knee.
A clustering round the tavern-door
Of square-toed village boys,
Still wearing, as their grandsires wore,
The old-world corduroys!
A scampering at the "Fountain" inn,—-
A rush of great and small,—
With hurrying servants' mingled din
And screaming matron's call.
Poor Agnes! with her work half done
They caught her unaware;
As, humbly, like a praying nun,
She knelt upon the stair;
Bent o'er the steps, with lowliest mien
She knelt, but not to pray,—
Her little hands must keep them clean,
And wash their stains away.
A foot, an ankle, bare and white,
Her girlish shapes betrayed,—
"Ha! Nymphs and Graces!" spoke the Knight;
"Look up, my beauteous Maid!"
She turned,—a reddening rose in bud,
Its calyx half withdrawn,—
Her cheek on fire with damasked blood
Of girlhood's glowing dawn!
He searched her features through and through,
As royal lovers look
On lowly maidens, when they woo
Without the ring and book.
"Come hither, Fair one! Here, my Sweet!
Nay, prithee, look not down!
Take this to shoe those little feet,"—
He tossed a silver crown.
A sudden paleness struck her brow,—
A swifter blush succeeds;
It burns her cheek; it kindles now
Beneath her golden beads.
She flitted, but the glittering eye
Still sought the lovely face.
Who was she? What, and whence? and why
Doomed to such menial place?
A skipper's daughter,—so they said,—
Left orphan by the gale
That cost the fleet of Marblehead
And Gloucester thirty sail.
Ah! many a lonely home is found
Along the Essex shore,
That cheered its goodman outward bound,
And sees his face no more!
"Not so," the matron whispered,—"sure
No orphan girl is she,—
The Surriage folk are deadly poor
Since Edward left the sea,
"And Mary, with her growing brood,
Has work enough to do
To find the children clothes and food
With Thomas, John, and Hugh.
"This girl of Mary's, growing tall,—
(Just turned her sixteenth year,)—
To earn her bread and help them all,
Would work as housemaid here."
So Agnes, with her golden beads,
And naught beside as dower,
Grew at the wayside with the weeds,
Herself a garden-flower.
'T was strange, 't was sad,—so fresh, so fair!
Thus Pity's voice began.
Such grace! an angel's shape and air!
The half-heard whisper ran.
For eyes could see in George's time,
As now in later days,
And lips could shape, in prose and rhyme,
The honeyed breath of praise.
No time to woo! The train must go
Long ere the sun is down,
To reach, before the night-winds blow,
The many-steepled town.
'T is midnight,—street and square are still;
Dark roll the whispering waves
That lap the piers beneath the hill
Ridged thick with ancient graves.
Ah, gentle sleep! thy hand will smooth
The weary couch of pain,
When all thy poppies fail to soothe
The lover's throbbing brain!
'T is morn,—the orange-mantled sun
Breaks through the fading gray,
And long and loud the Castle gun
Peals o'er the glistening bay.
"Thank God 't is day!" With eager eye
He hails the morning shine:—
"If art can win, or gold can buy,
The maiden shall be mine!"
"Who saw this hussy when she came?
What is the wench, and who?"
They whisper. "Agnes—is her name?
Pray what has she to do?"
The housemaids parley at the gate,
The scullions on the stair,
And in the footmen's grave debate
The butler deigns to share.
Black Dinah, stolen when a child,
And sold on Boston pier,
Grown up in service, petted, spoiled,
Speaks in the coachman's ear:
"What, all this household at his will?
And all are yet too few?
More servants, and more servants still,—
This pert young madam too!"
"Servant! fine servant!" laughed aloud
The man of coach and steeds;
"She looks too fair, she steps too proud,
This girl with golden beads!
"I tell you, you may fret and frown,
And call her what you choose,
You 'll find my Lady in her gown,
Your Mistress in her shoes!"
Ah, gentle maidens, free from blame,
God grant you never know
The little whisper, loud with shame,
That makes the world your foe!
Why tell the lordly flatterer's art,
That won the maiden's ear,—
The fluttering of the frightened heart,
The blush, the smile, the tear?
Alas! it were the saddening tale
That every language knows,—
The wooing wind, the yielding sail,
The sunbeam and the rose.
And now the gown of sober stuff
Has changed to fair brocade,
With broidered hem, and hanging cuff,
And flower of silken braid;
And clasped around her blanching wrist
A jewelled bracelet shines,
Her flowing tresses' massive twist
A glittering net confines;
And mingling with their truant wave
A fretted chain is hung;
But ah! the gift her mother gave,—
Its beads are all unstrung!
Her place is at the master's board,
Where none disputes her claim;
She walks beside the mansion's lord,
His bride in all but name.
The busy tongues have ceased to talk,
Or speak in softened tone,
So gracious in her daily walk
The angel light has shown.
No want that kindness may relieve
Assails her heart in vain,
The lifting of a ragged sleeve
Will check her palfrey's rein.
A thoughtful calm, a quiet grace
In every movement shown,
Reveal her moulded for the place
She may not call her own.
And, save that on her youthful brow
There broods a shadowy care,
No matron sealed with holy vow
In all the land so fair.
A ship comes foaming up the bay,
Along the pier she glides;
Before her furrow melts away,
A courier mounts and rides.
"Haste, Haste, post Haste!" the letters bear;
"Sir Harry Frankland, These."
Sad news to tell the loving pair!
The knight must cross the seas.
"Alas! we part!"—the lips that spoke
Lost all their rosy red,
As when a crystal cup is broke,
And all its wine is shed.
"Nay, droop not thus,—where'er," he cried,
"I go by land or sea,
My love, my life, my joy, my pride,
Thy place is still by me!"
Through town and city, far and wide,
Their wandering feet have strayed,
From Alpine lake to ocean tide,
And cold Sierra's shade.
At length they see the waters gleam
Amid the fragrant bowers
Where Lisbon mirrors in the stream
Her belt of ancient towers.
Red is the orange on its bough,
To-morrow's sun shall fling
O'er Cintra's hazel-shaded brow
The flush of April's wing.
The streets are loud with noisy mirth,
They dance on every green;
The morning's dial marks the birth
Of proud Braganza's queen.
At eve beneath their pictured dome
The gilded courtiers throng;
The broad moidores have cheated Rome
Of all her lords of song.
AH! Lisbon dreams not of the day—
Pleased with her painted scenes—
When all her towers shall slide away
As now these canvas screens!
The spring has passed, the summer fled,
And yet they linger still,
Though autumn's rustling leaves have spread
The flank of Cintra's hill.
The town has learned their Saxon name,
And touched their English gold,
Nor tale of doubt nor hint of blame
From over sea is told.
Three hours the first November dawn
Has climbed with feeble ray
Through mists like heavy curtains drawn
Before the darkened day.
How still the muffled echoes sleep!
Hark! hark! a hollow sound,—
A noise like chariots rumbling deep
Beneath the solid ground.
The channel lifts, the water slides
And bares its bar of sand,
Anon a mountain billow strides
And crashes o'er the land.
The turrets lean, the steeples reel
Like masts on ocean's swell,
And clash a long discordant peal,
The death-doomed city's knell.
The pavement bursts, the earth upheaves
Beneath the staggering town!
The turrets crack—the castle cleaves—
The spires come rushing down.
Around, the lurid mountains glow
With strange unearthly gleams;
While black abysses gape below,
Then close in jagged seams.
And all is over. Street and square
In ruined heaps are piled;
Ah! where is she, so frail, so fair,
Amid the tumult wild?
Unscathed, she treads the wreck-piled street,
Whose narrow gaps afford
A pathway for her bleeding feet,
To seek her absent lord.
A temple's broken walls arrest
Her wild and wandering eyes;
Beneath its shattered portal pressed,
Her lord unconscious lies.
The power that living hearts obey
Shall lifeless blocks withstand?
Love led her footsteps where he lay,—
Love nerves her woman's hand.
One cry,—the marble shaft she grasps,—
Up heaves the ponderous stone:—
He breathes,—her fainting form he clasps,—
Her life has bought his own!
How like the starless night of death
Our being's brief eclipse,
When faltering heart and failing breath
Have bleached the fading lips!
The earth has folded like a wave,
And thrice a thousand score,
Clasped, shroudless, in their closing grave,
The sun shall see no more!
She lives! What guerdon shall repay
His debt of ransomed life?
One word can charm all wrongs away,—
The sacred name of WIFE!
The love that won her girlish charms
Must shield her matron fame,
And write beneath the Frankland arms
The village beauty's name.
Go, call the priest! no vain delay
Shall dim the sacred ring!
Who knows what change the passing day,
The fleeting hour, may bring?
Before the holy altar bent,
There kneels a goodly pair;
A stately man, of high descent,
A woman, passing fair.
No jewels lend the blinding sheen
That meaner beauty needs,
But on her bosom heaves unseen
A string of golden beads.
The vow is spoke,—the prayer is said,—
And with a gentle pride
The Lady Agnes lifts her head,
Sir Harry Frankland's bride.
No more her faithful heart shall bear
Those griefs so meekly borne,—
The passing sneer, the freezing stare,
The icy look of scorn;
No more the blue-eyed English dames
Their haughty lips shall curl,
Whene'er a hissing whisper names
The poor New England girl.
But stay!—his mother's haughty brow,—
The pride of ancient race,—
Will plighted faith, and holy vow,
Win back her fond embrace?
Too well she knew the saddening tale
Of love no vow had blest,
That turned his blushing honors pale
And stained his knightly crest.
They seek his Northern home,—alas
He goes alone before;—
His own dear Agnes may not pass
The proud, ancestral door.
He stood before the stately dame;
He spoke; she calmly heard,
But not to pity, nor to blame;
She breathed no single word.
He told his love,—her faith betrayed;
She heard with tearless eyes;
Could she forgive the erring maid?
She stared in cold surprise.
How fond her heart, he told,—how true;
The haughty eyelids fell;—
The kindly deeds she loved to do;
She murmured, "It is well."
But when he told that fearful day,
And how her feet were led
To where entombed in life he lay,
The breathing with the dead,
And how she bruised her tender breasts
Against the crushing stone,
That still the strong-armed clown protests
No man can lift alone,—
Oh! then the frozen spring was broke;
By turns she wept and smiled;—
"Sweet Agnes!" so the mother spoke,
"God bless my angel child.
"She saved thee from the jaws of death,—
'T is thine to right her wrongs;
I tell thee,—I, who gave thee breath,—
To her thy life belongs!"
Thus Agnes won her noble name,
Her lawless lover's hand;
The lowly maiden so became
A lady in the land!
The tale is done; it little needs
To track their after ways,
And string again the golden beads
Of love's uncounted days.
They leave the fair ancestral isle
For bleak New England's shore;
How gracious is the courtly smile
Of all who frowned before!
Again through Lisbon's orange bowers
They watch the river's gleam,
And shudder as her shadowy towers
Shake in the trembling stream.
Fate parts at length the fondest pair;
His cheek, alas! grows pale;
The breast that trampling death could spare
His noiseless shafts assail.
He longs to change the heaven of blue
For England's clouded sky,—
To breathe the air his boyhood knew;
He seeks then but to die.
Hard by the terraced hillside town,
Where healing streamlets run,
Still sparkling with their old renown,—
The "Waters of the Sun,"—
The Lady Agnes raised the stone
That marks his honored grave,
And there Sir Harry sleeps alone
By Wiltshire Avon's wave.
The home of early love was dear;
She sought its peaceful shade,
And kept her state for many a year,
With none to make afraid.
At last the evil days were come
That saw the red cross fall;
She hears the rebels' rattling drum,—
Farewell to Frankland Hall!
I tell you, as my tale began,
The hall is standing still;
And you, kind listener, maid or man,
May see it if you will.
The box is glistening huge and green,
Like trees the lilacs grow,
Three elms high-arching still are seen,
And one lies stretched below.
The hangings, rough with velvet flowers,
Flap on the latticed wall;
And o'er the mossy ridge-pole towers
The rock-hewn chimney tall.
The doors on mighty hinges clash
With massive bolt and bar,
The heavy English-moulded sash
Scarce can the night-winds jar.
Behold the chosen room he sought
Alone, to fast and pray,
Each year, as chill November brought
The dismal earthquake day.
There hung the rapier blade he wore,
Bent in its flattened sheath;
The coat the shrieking woman tore
Caught in her clenching teeth;—
The coat with tarnished silver lace
She snapped at as she slid,
And down upon her death-white face
Crashed the huge coffin's lid.
A graded terrace yet remains;
If on its turf you stand
And look along the wooded plains
That stretch on either hand,
The broken forest walls define
A dim, receding view,
Where, on the far horizon's line,
He cut his vista through.
If further story you shall crave,
Or ask for living proof,
Go see old Julia, born a slave
Beneath Sir Harry's roof.
She told me half that I have told,
And she remembers well
The mansion as it looked of old
Before its glories fell;—
The box, when round the terraced square
Its glossy wall was drawn;
The climbing vines, the snow-balls fair,
The roses on the lawn.
And Julia says, with truthful look
Stamped on her wrinkled face,
That in her own black hands she took
The coat with silver lace.
And you may hold the story light,
Or, if you like, believe;
But there it was, the woman's bite,—
A mouthful from the sleeve.
Now go your ways;—I need not tell
The moral of my rhyme;
But, youths and maidens, ponder well
This tale of olden time!
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BERKSHIRE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY,
OCTOBER 4, 1849
CLEAR the brown path, to meet his coulter's gleam!
Lo! on he comes, behind his smoking team,
With toil's bright dew-drops on his sunburnt brow,
The lord of earth, the hero of the plough!
First in the field before the reddening sun,
Last in the shadows when the day is done,
Line after line, along the bursting sod,
Marks the broad acres where his feet have trod;
Still, where he treads, the stubborn clods divide,
The smooth, fresh furrow opens deep and wide;
Matted and dense the tangled turf upheaves,
Mellow and dark the ridgy cornfield cleaves;
Up the steep hillside, where the laboring train
Slants the long track that scores the level plain;
Through the moist valley, clogged with oozing clay,
The patient convoy breaks its destined way;
At every turn the loosening chains resound,
The swinging ploughshare circles glistening round,
Till the wide field one billowy waste appears,
And wearied hands unbind the panting steers.
These are the hands whose sturdy labor brings
The peasant's food, the golden pomp of kings;
This is the page, whose letters shall be seen
Changed by the sun to words of living green;
This is the scholar, whose immortal pen
Spells the first lesson hunger taught to men;
These are the lines which heaven-commanded Toil
Shows on his deed,—the charter of the soil.
O gracious Mother, whose benignant breast
Wakes us to life, and lulls us all to rest,
How thy sweet features, kind to every clime,
Mock with their smile the wrinkled front of time
We stain thy flowers,—they blossom o'er the dead;
We rend thy bosom, and it gives us bread;
O'er the red field that trampling strife has torn,
Waves the green plumage of thy tasselled corn;
Our maddening conflicts sear thy fairest plain,
Still thy soft answer is the growing grain.
Yet, O our Mother, while uncounted charms
Steal round our hearts in thine embracing arms,
Let not our virtues in thy love decay,
And thy fond sweetness waste our strength away.
No! by these hills, whose banners now displayed
In blazing cohorts Autumn has arrayed;
By yon twin summits, on whose splintery crests
The tossing hemlocks hold the eagles' nests;
By these fair plains the mountain circle screens,
And feeds with streamlets from its dark ravines,
True to their home, these faithful arms shall toil
To crown with peace their own untainted soil;
And, true to God, to freedom, to mankind,
If her chained bandogs Faction shall unbind,
These stately forms, that bending even now
Bowed their strong manhood to the humble plough,
Shall rise erect, the guardians of the land,
The same stern iron in the same right hand,
Till o'er their hills the shouts of triumph run,
The sword has rescued what the ploughshare won!
WINTER is past; the heart of Nature warms
Beneath the wrecks of unresisted storms;
Doubtful at first, suspected more than seen,
The southern slopes are fringed with tender green;
On sheltered banks, beneath the dripping eaves,
Spring's earliest nurslings spread their glowing leaves,
Bright with the hues from wider pictures won,
White, azure, golden,—drift, or sky, or sun,—
The snowdrop, bearing on her patient breast
The frozen trophy torn from Winter's crest;
The violet, gazing on the arch of blue
Till her own iris wears its deepened hue;
The spendthrift crocus, bursting through the mould
Naked and shivering with his cup of gold.
Swelled with new life, the darkening elm on high
Prints her thick buds against the spotted sky
On all her boughs the stately chestnut cleaves
The gummy shroud that wraps her embryo leaves;
The house-fly, stealing from his narrow grave,
Drugged with the opiate that November gave,
Beats with faint wing against the sunny pane,
Or crawls, tenacious, o'er its lucid plain;
From shaded chinks of lichen-crusted walls,
In languid curves, the gliding serpent crawls;
The bog's green harper, thawing from his sleep,
Twangs a hoarse note and tries a shortened leap;
On floating rails that face the softening noons
The still shy turtles range their dark platoons,
Or, toiling aimless o'er the mellowing fields,
Trail through the grass their tessellated shields.
At last young April, ever frail and fair,
Wooed by her playmate with the golden hair,
Chased to the margin of receding floods
O'er the soft meadows starred with opening buds,
In tears and blushes sighs herself away,
And hides her cheek beneath the flowers of May.
Then the proud tulip lights her beacon blaze,
Her clustering curls the hyacinth displays;
O'er her tall blades the crested fleur-de-lis,
Like blue-eyed Pallas, towers erect and free;
With yellower flames the lengthened sunshine glows,
And love lays bare the passion-breathing rose;
Queen of the lake, along its reedy verge
The rival lily hastens to emerge,
Her snowy shoulders glistening as she strips,
Till morn is sultan of her parted lips.
Then bursts the song from every leafy glade,
The yielding season's bridal serenade;
Then flash the wings returning Summer calls
Through the deep arches of her forest halls,—
The bluebird, breathing from his azure plumes
The fragrance borrowed where the myrtle blooms;
The thrush, poor wanderer, dropping meekly down,
Clad in his remnant of autumnal brown;
The oriole, drifting like a flake of fire
Rent by a whirlwind from a blazing spire.
The robin, jerking his spasmodic throat,
Repeats, imperious, his staccato note;
The crack-brained bobolink courts his crazy mate,
Poised on a bulrush tipsy with his weight;
Nay, in his cage the lone canary sings,
Feels the soft air, and spreads his idle wings.
Why dream I here within these caging walls,
Deaf to her voice, while blooming Nature calls;
Peering and gazing with insatiate looks
Through blinding lenses, or in wearying books?
Off, gloomy spectres of the shrivelled past!
Fly with the leaves that fill the autumn blast
Ye imps of Science, whose relentless chains
Lock the warm tides within these living veins,
Close your dim cavern, while its captive strays
Dazzled and giddy in the morning's blaze!
YET in the darksome crypt I left so late,
Whose only altar is its rusted grate,—
Sepulchral, rayless, joyless as it seems,
Shamed by the glare of May's refulgent beams,—
While the dim seasons dragged their shrouded train,
Its paler splendors were not quite in vain.
From these dull bars the cheerful firelight's glow
Streamed through the casement o'er the spectral snow;
Here, while the night-wind wreaked its frantic will
On the loose ocean and the rock-bound hill,
Rent the cracked topsail from its quivering yard,
And rived the oak a thousand storms had scarred,
Fenced by these walls the peaceful taper shone,
Nor felt a breath to slant its trembling cone.
Not all unblest the mild interior scene
When the red curtain spread its falling screen;
O'er some light task the lonely hours were past,
And the long evening only flew too fast;
Or the wide chair its leathern arms would lend
In genial welcome to some easy friend,
Stretched on its bosom with relaxing nerves,
Slow moulding, plastic, to its hollow curves;
Perchance indulging, if of generous creed,
In brave Sir Walter's dream-compelling weed.
Or, happier still, the evening hour would bring
To the round table its expected ring,
And while the punch-bowl's sounding depths were stirred,—
Its silver cherubs smiling as they heard,—
Our hearts would open, as at evening's hour
The close-sealed primrose frees its hidden flower.
Such the warm life this dim retreat has known,
Not quite deserted when its guests were flown;
Nay, filled with friends, an unobtrusive set,
Guiltless of calls and cards and etiquette,
Ready to answer, never known to ask,
Claiming no service, prompt for every task.
On those dark shelves no housewife hand profanes,
O'er his mute files the monarch folio reigns;
A mingled race, the wreck of chance and time,
That talk all tongues and breathe of every clime,
Each knows his place, and each may claim his part
In some quaint corner of his master's heart.
This old Decretal, won from Moss's hoards,
Thick-leaved, brass-cornered, ribbed with oaken boards,
Stands the gray patriarch of the graver rows,
Its fourth ripe century narrowing to its close;
Not daily conned, but glorious still to view,
With glistening letters wrought in red and blue.
There towers Stagira's all-embracing sage,
The Aldine anchor on his opening page;
There sleep the births of Plato's heavenly mind,
In yon dark tomb by jealous clasps confused,
"Olim e libris" (dare I call it mine?)
Of Yale's grave Head and Killingworth's divine!
In those square sheets the songs of Maro fill
The silvery types of smooth-leaved Baskerville;
High over all, in close, compact array,
Their classic wealth the Elzevirs display.
In lower regions of the sacred space
Range the dense volumes of a humbler race;
There grim chirurgeons all their mysteries teach,
In spectral pictures, or in crabbed speech;
Harvey and Haller, fresh from Nature's page,
Shoulder the dreamers of an earlier age,
Lully and Geber, and the learned crew
That loved to talk of all they could not do.
Why count the rest,—those names of later days
That many love, and all agree to praise,—
Or point the titles, where a glance may read
The dangerous lines of party or of creed?
Too well, perchance, the chosen list would show
What few may care and none can claim to know.
Each has his features, whose exterior seal
A brush may copy, or a sunbeam steal;
Go to his study,—on the nearest shelf
Stands the mosaic portrait of himself.
What though for months the tranquil dust descends,
Whitening the heads of these mine ancient friends,
While the damp offspring of the modern press
Flaunts on my table with its pictured dress;
Not less I love each dull familiar face,
Nor less should miss it from the appointed place;
I snatch the book, along whose burning leaves
His scarlet web our wild romancer weaves,
Yet, while proud Hester's fiery pangs I share,
My old MAGNALIA must be standing there!
WHEN o'er the street the morning peal is flung
From yon tall belfry with the brazen tongue,
Its wide vibrations, wafted by the gale,
To each far listener tell a different tale.
The sexton, stooping to the quivering floor
Till the great caldron spills its brassy roar,
Whirls the hot axle, counting, one by one,
Each dull concussion, till his task is done.
Toil's patient daughter, when the welcome note
Clangs through the silence from the steeple's throat,
Streams, a white unit, to the checkered street,
Demure, but guessing whom she soon shall meet;
The bell, responsive to her secret flame,
With every note repeats her lover's name.
The lover, tenant of the neighboring lane,
Sighing, and fearing lest he sigh in vain,
Hears the stern accents, as they come and go,
Their only burden one despairing No!
Ocean's rough child, whom many a shore has known
Ere homeward breezes swept him to his own,
Starts at the echo as it circles round,
A thousand memories kindling with the sound;
The early favorite's unforgotten charms,
Whose blue initials stain his tawny arms;
His first farewell, the flapping canvas spread,
The seaward streamers crackling overhead,
His kind, pale mother, not ashamed to weep
Her first-born's bridal with the haggard deep,
While the brave father stood with tearless eye,
Smiling and choking with his last good-by.
'T is but a wave, whose spreading circle beats,
With the same impulse, every nerve it meets,
Yet who shall count the varied shapes that ride
On the round surge of that aerial tide!
O child of earth! If floating sounds like these
Steal from thyself their power to wound or please,
If here or there thy changing will inclines,
As the bright zodiac shifts its rolling signs,
Look at thy heart, and when its depths are known,
Then try thy brother's, judging by thine own,
But keep thy wisdom to the narrower range,
While its own standards are the sport of change,
Nor count us rebels when we disobey
The passing breath that holds thy passion's sway.
PERHAPS too far in these considerate days
Has patience carried her submissive ways;
Wisdom has taught us to be calm and meek,
To take one blow, and turn the other cheek;
It is not written what a man shall do,
If the rude caitiff smite the other too!
Land of our fathers, in thine hour of need
God help thee, guarded by the passive creed!
As the lone pilgrim trusts to beads and cowl,
When through the forest rings the gray wolf's howl;
As the deep galleon trusts her gilded prow
When the black corsair slants athwart her bow;
As the poor pheasant, with his peaceful mien,
Trusts to his feathers, shining golden-green,
When the dark plumage with the crimson beak
Has rustled shadowy from its splintered peak,—
So trust thy friends, whose babbling tongues would charm
The lifted sabre from thy foeman's arm,
Thy torches ready for the answering peal
From bellowing fort and thunder-freighted keel!
THE MORAL BULLY
YON whey-faced brother, who delights to wear
A weedy flux of ill-conditioned hair,
Seems of the sort that in a crowded place
One elbows freely into smallest space;
A timid creature, lax of knee and hip,
Whom small disturbance whitens round the lip;
One of those harmless spectacled machines,
The Holy-Week of Protestants convenes;
Whom school-boys question if their walk transcends
The last advices of maternal friends;
Whom John, obedient to his master's sign,
Conducts, laborious, up to ninety-nine,
While Peter, glistening with luxurious scorn,
Husks his white ivories like an ear of corn;
Dark in the brow and bilious in the cheek,
Whose yellowish linen flowers but once a week,
Conspicuous, annual, in their threadbare suits,
And the laced high-lows which they call their boots,
Well mayst thou shun that dingy front severe,
But him, O stranger, him thou canst not fear.
Be slow to judge, and slower to despise,
Man of broad shoulders and heroic size
The tiger, writhing from the boa's rings,
Drops at the fountain where the cobra stings.
In that lean phantom, whose extended glove
Points to the text of universal love,
Behold the master that can tame thee down
To crouch, the vassal of his Sunday frown;
His velvet throat against thy corded wrist,
His loosened tongue against thy doubled fist.
The MORAL BULLY, though he never swears,
Nor kicks intruders down his entry stairs,
Though meekness plants his backward-sloping hat,
And non-resistance ties his white cravat,
Though his black broadcloth glories to be seen
In the same plight with Shylock's gaberdine,
Hugs the same passion to his narrow breast
That heaves the cuirass on the trooper's chest,
Hears the same hell-hounds yelling in his rear
That chase from port the maddened buccaneer,
Feels the same comfort while his acrid words
Turn the sweet milk of kindness into curds,
Or with grim logic prove, beyond debate,
That all we love is worthiest of our hate,
As the scarred ruffian of the pirate's deck,
When his long swivel rakes the staggering wreck!
Heaven keep us all! Is every rascal clown
Whose arm is stronger free to knock us down?
Has every scarecrow, whose cachectic soul
Seems fresh from Bedlam, airing on parole,
Who, though he carries but a doubtful trace
Of angel visits on his hungry face,
From lack of marrow or the coins to pay,
Has dodged some vices in a shabby way,
The right to stick us with his cutthroat terms,
And bait his homilies with his brother worms?
THE MIND'S DIET
No life worth naming ever comes to good
If always nourished on the selfsame food;
The creeping mite may live so if he please,
And feed on Stilton till he turns to cheese,
But cool Magendie proves beyond a doubt,
If mammals try it, that their eyes drop out.
No reasoning natures find it safe to feed,
For their sole diet, on a single creed;
It spoils their eyeballs while it spares their tongues,
And starves the heart to feed the noisy lungs.
When the first larvae on the elm are seen,
The crawling wretches, like its leaves, are green;
Ere chill October shakes the latest down,
They, like the foliage, change their tint to brown;
On the blue flower a bluer flower you spy,
You stretch to pluck it—'tis a butterfly;
The flattened tree-toads so resemble bark,
They're hard to find as Ethiops in the dark;
The woodcock, stiffening to fictitious mud,
Cheats the young sportsman thirsting for his blood;
So by long living on a single lie,
Nay, on one truth, will creatures get its dye;
Red, yellow, green, they take their subject's hue,—
Except when squabbling turns them black and blue!
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 OLD PLAYER
THE curtain rose; in thunders long and loud
The galleries rung; the veteran actor bowed.
In flaming line the telltales of the stage
Showed on his brow the autograph of age;
Pale, hueless waves amid his clustered hair,
And umbered shadows, prints of toil and care;
Round the wide circle glanced his vacant eye,—
He strove to speak,—his voice was but a sigh.
Year after year had seen its short-lived race
Flit past the scenes and others take their place;
Yet the old prompter watched his accents still,
His name still flaunted on the evening's bill.
Heroes, the monarchs of the scenic floor,
Had died in earnest and were heard no more;
Beauties, whose cheeks such roseate bloom o'er-spread
They faced the footlights in unborrowed red,
Had faded slowly through successive shades
To gray duennas, foils of younger maids;
Sweet voices lost the melting tones that start
With Southern throbs the sturdy Saxon heart,
While fresh sopranos shook the painted sky
With their long, breathless, quivering locust-cry.
Yet there he stood,—the man of other days,
In the clear present's full, unsparing blaze,
As on the oak a faded leaf that clings
While a new April spreads its burnished wings.
How bright yon rows that soared in triple tier,
Their central sun the flashing chandelier!
How dim the eye that sought with doubtful aim
Some friendly smile it still might dare to claim
How fresh these hearts! his own how worn and cold!
Such the sad thoughts that long-drawn sigh had told.
No word yet faltered on his trembling tongue;
Again, again, the crashing galleries rung.
As the old guardsman at the bugle's blast
Hears in its strain the echoes of the past,
So, as the plaudits rolled and thundered round,
A life of memories startled at the sound.
He lived again,—the page of earliest days,—
Days of small fee and parsimonious praise;
Then lithe young Romeo—hark that silvered tone,
From those smooth lips—alas! they were his own.
Then the bronzed Moor, with all his love and woe,
Told his strange tale of midnight melting snow;
And dark—plumed Hamlet, with his cloak and blade,
Looked on the royal ghost, himself a shade.
All in one flash, his youthful memories came,
Traced in bright hues of evanescent flame,
As the spent swimmer's in the lifelong dream,
While the last bubble rises through the stream.
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 at 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!
What magic power has changed the faded mime?
One breath of memory on the dust of time.
As the last window in the buttressed wall
Of some gray minster tottering to its fall,
Though to the passing crowd its hues are spread,
A dull mosaic, yellow, green, and red,
Viewed from within, a radiant glory shows
When through its pictured screen the sunlight flows,
And kneeling pilgrims on its storied pane
See angels glow in every shapeless stain;
So streamed the vision through his sunken eye,
Clad in the splendors of his morning sky.
All the wild hopes his eager boyhood knew,
All the young fancies riper years proved true,
The sweet, low-whispered words, the winning glance
From queens of song, from Houris of the dance,
Wealth's lavish gift, and Flattery's soothing phrase,
And Beauty's silence when her blush was praise,
And melting Pride, her lashes wet with tears,
Triumphs and banquets, wreaths and crowns and cheers,
Pangs of wild joy that perish on the tongue,
And all that poets dream, but leave unsung!
In every heart some viewless founts are fed
From far-off hillsides where the dews were shed;
On the worn features of the weariest face
Some youthful memory leaves its hidden trace,
As in old gardens left by exiled kings
The marble basins tell of hidden springs,
But, gray with dust, and overgrown with weeds,
Their choking jets the passer little heeds,
Till time's revenges break their seals away,
And, clad in rainbow light, the waters play.
Good night, fond dreamer! let the curtain fall
The world's a stage, and we are players all.
A strange rehearsal! Kings without their crowns,
And threadbare lords, and jewel-wearing clowns,
Speak the vain words that mock their throbbing hearts,
As Want, stern prompter! spells them out their parts.
The tinselled hero whom we praise and pay
Is twice an actor in a twofold play.
We smile at children when a painted screen
Seems to their simple eyes a real scene;
Ask the poor hireling, who has left his throne
To seek the cheerless home he calls his own,
Which of his double lives most real seems,
The world of solid fact or scenic dreams?
Canvas, or clouds,—the footlights, or the spheres,—
The play of two short hours, or seventy years?
Dream on! Though Heaven may woo our open eyes,
Through their closed lids we look on fairer skies;
Truth is for other worlds, and hope for this;
The cheating future lends the present's bliss;
Life is a running shade, with fettered hands,
That chases phantoms over shifting sands;
Death a still spectre on a marble seat,
With ever clutching palms and shackled feet;
The airy shapes that mock life's slender chain,
The flying joys he strives to clasp in vain,
Death only grasps; to live is to pursue,—
Dream on! there 's nothing but illusion true!
DEDICATION OF THE PITTSFIELD CEMETERY,
ANGEL of Death! extend thy silent reign!
Stretch thy dark sceptre o'er this new domain
No sable car along the winding road
Has borne to earth its unresisting load;
No sudden mound has risen yet to show
Where the pale slumberer folds his arms below;
No marble gleams to bid his memory live
In the brief lines that hurrying Time can give;
Yet, O Destroyer! from thy shrouded throne
Look on our gift; this realm is all thine own!
Fair is the scene; its sweetness oft beguiled
From their dim paths the children of the wild;
The dark-haired maiden loved its grassy dells,
The feathered warrior claimed its wooded swells,
Still on its slopes the ploughman's ridges show
The pointed flints that left his fatal bow,
Chipped with rough art and slow barbarian toil,—
Last of his wrecks that strews the alien soil!
Here spread the fields that heaped their ripened store
Till the brown arms of Labor held no more;
The scythe's broad meadow with its dusky blush;
The sickle's harvest with its velvet flush;
The green-haired maize, her silken tresses laid,
In soft luxuriance, on her harsh brocade;
The gourd that swells beneath her tossing plume;
The coarser wheat that rolls in lakes of bloom,—
Its coral stems and milk-white flowers alive
With the wide murmurs of the scattered hive;
Here glowed the apple with the pencilled streak
Of morning painted on its southern cheek;
The pear's long necklace strung with golden drops,
Arched, like the banian, o'er its pillared props;
Here crept the growths that paid the laborer's care
With the cheap luxuries wealth consents to spare;
Here sprang the healing herbs which could not save
The hand that reared them from the neighboring grave.
Yet all its varied charms, forever free
From task and tribute, Labor yields to thee
No more, when April sheds her fitful rain,
The sower's hand shall cast its flying grain;
No more, when Autumn strews the flaming leaves,
The reaper's band shall gird its yellow sheaves;
For thee alike the circling seasons flow
Till the first blossoms heave the latest snow.
In the stiff clod below the whirling drifts,
In the loose soil the springing herbage lifts,
In the hot dust beneath the parching weeds,
Life's withering flower shall drop its shrivelled seeds;
Its germ entranced in thy unbreathing sleep
Till what thou sowest mightier angels reap!
Spirit of Beauty! let thy graces blend
With loveliest Nature all that Art can lend.
Come from the bowers where Summer's life-blood flows
Through the red lips of June's half-open rose,
Dressed in bright hues, the loving sunshine's dower;
For tranquil Nature owns no mourning flower.
Come from the forest where the beech's screen
Bars the fierce moonbeam with its flakes of green;
Stay the rude axe that bares the shadowy plains,
Stanch the deep wound That dries the maple's veins.
Come with the stream whose silver-braided rills
Fling their unclasping bracelets from the hills,
Till in one gleam, beneath the forest's wings,
Melts the white glitter of a hundred springs.
Come from the steeps where look majestic forth
From their twin thrones the Giants of the North
On the huge shapes, that, crouching at their knees,
Stretch their broad shoulders, rough with shaggy trees.
Through the wide waste of ether, not in vain,
Their softened gaze shall reach our distant plain;
There, while the mourner turns his aching eyes
On the blue mounds that print the bluer skies,
Nature shall whisper that the fading view
Of mightiest grief may wear a heavenly hue.
Cherub of Wisdom! let thy marble page
Leave its sad lesson, new to every age;
Teach us to live, not grudging every breath
To the chill winds that waft us on to death,
But ruling calmly every pulse it warms,
And tempering gently every word it forms.
Seraph of Love! in heaven's adoring zone,
Nearest of all around the central throne,
While with soft hands the pillowed turf we spread
That soon shall hold us in its dreamless bed,
With the low whisper,—Who shall first be laid
In the dark chamber's yet unbroken shade?—
Let thy sweet radiance shine rekindled here,
And all we cherish grow more truly dear.
Here in the gates of Death's o'erhanging vault,
Oh, teach us kindness for our brother's fault
Lay all our wrongs beneath this peaceful sod,
And lead our hearts to Mercy and its God.
FATHER of all! in Death's relentless claim
We read thy mercy by its sterner name;
In the bright flower that decks the solemn bier,
We see thy glory in its narrowed sphere;
In the deep lessons that affliction draws,
We trace the curves of thy encircling laws;
In the long sigh that sets our spirits free,
We own the love that calls us back to Thee!
Through the hushed street, along the silent plain,
The spectral future leads its mourning train,
Dark with the shadows of uncounted bands,
Where man's white lips and woman's wringing hands
Track the still burden, rolling slow before,
That love and kindness can protect no more;
The smiling babe that, called to mortal strife,
Shuts its meek eyes and drops its little life;
The drooping child who prays in vain to live,
And pleads for help its parent cannot give;
The pride of beauty stricken in its flower;
The strength of manhood broken in an hour;
Age in its weakness, bowed by toil and care,
Traced in sad lines beneath its silvered hair.
The sun shall set, and heaven's resplendent spheres
Gild the smooth turf unhallowed yet by tears,
But ah! how soon the evening stars will shed
Their sleepless light around the slumbering dead!
Take them, O Father, in immortal trust!
Ashes to ashes, dust to kindred dust,
Till the last angel rolls the stone away,
And a new morning brings eternal day!
TO GOVERNOR SWAIN
DEAR GOVERNOR, if my skiff might brave
The winds that lift the ocean wave,
The mountain stream that loops and swerves
Through my broad meadow's channelled curves
Should waft me on from bound to bound
To where the River weds the Sound,
The Sound should give me to the Sea,
That to the Bay, the Bay to thee.
It may not be; too long the track
To follow down or struggle back.
The sun has set on fair Naushon
Long ere my western blaze is gone;
The ocean disk is rolling dark
In shadows round your swinging bark,
While yet the yellow sunset fills
The stream that scarfs my spruce-clad hills;
The day-star wakes your island deer
Long ere my barnyard chanticleer;
Your mists are soaring in the blue
While mine are sparks of glittering dew.
It may not be; oh, would it might,
Could I live o'er that glowing night!
What golden hours would come to life,
What goodly feats of peaceful strife,—
Such jests, that, drained of every joke,
The very bank of language broke,—
Such deeds, that Laughter nearly died
With stitches in his belted side;
While Time, caught fast in pleasure's chain,
His double goblet snapped in twain,
And stood with half in either hand,—
Both brimming full,—but not of sand!
It may not be; I strive in vain
To break my slender household chain,—
Three pairs of little clasping hands,
One voice, that whispers, not commands.
Even while my spirit flies away,
My gentle jailers murmur nay;
All shapes of elemental wrath
They raise along my threatened path;
The storm grows black, the waters rise,
The mountains mingle with the skies,
The mad tornado scoops the ground,
The midnight robber prowls around,—
Thus, kissing every limb they tie,
They draw a knot and heave a sigh,
Till, fairly netted in the toil,
My feet are rooted to the soil.
Only the soaring wish is free!—
And that, dear Governor, flies to thee!
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!
AFTER A LECTURE ON WORDSWORTH
COME, spread your wings, as I spread mine,
And leave the crowded hall
For where the eyes of twilight shine
O'er evening's western wall.
These are the pleasant Berkshire hills,
Each with its leafy crown;
Hark! from their sides a thousand rills
Come singing sweetly down.
A thousand rills; they leap and shine,
Strained through the shadowy nooks,
Till, clasped in many a gathering twine,
They swell a hundred brooks.
A hundred brooks, and still they run
With ripple, shade, and gleam,
Till, clustering all their braids in one,
They flow a single stream.
A bracelet spun from mountain mist,
A silvery sash unwound,
With ox-bow curve and sinuous twist
It writhes to reach the Sound.
This is my bark,—a pygmy's ship;
Beneath a child it rolls;
Fear not,—one body makes it dip,
But not a thousand souls.
Float we the grassy banks between;
Without an oar we glide;
The meadows, drest in living green,
Unroll on either side.
Come, take the book we love so well,
And let us read and dream
We see whate'er its pages tell,
And sail an English stream.
Up to the clouds the lark has sprung,
Still trilling as he flies;
The linnet sings as there he sung;
The unseen cuckoo cries,
And daisies strew the banks along,
And yellow kingcups shine,
With cowslips, and a primrose throng,
And humble celandine.
Ah foolish dream! when Nature nursed
Her daughter in the West,
The fount was drained that opened first;
She bared her other breast.
On the young planet's orient shore
Her morning hand she tried;
Then turned the broad medallion o'er
And stamped the sunset side.
Take what she gives, her pine's tall stem,
Her elm with hanging spray;
She wears her mountain diadem
Still in her own proud way.
Look on the forests' ancient kings,
The hemlock's towering pride
Yon trunk had thrice a hundred rings,
And fell before it died.
Nor think that Nature saves her bloom
And slights our grassy plain;
For us she wears her court costume,—
Look on its broidered train;
The lily with the sprinkled dots,
Brands of the noontide beam;
The cardinal, and the blood-red spots,
Its double in the stream,
As if some wounded eagle's breast,
Slow throbbing o'er the plain,
Had left its airy path impressed
In drops of scarlet rain.
And hark! and hark! the woodland rings;
There thrilled the thrush's soul;
And look! that flash of flamy wings,—
The fire-plumed oriole!
Above, the hen-hawk swims and swoops,
Flung from the bright, blue sky;
Below, the robin hops, and whoops
His piercing, Indian cry.
Beauty runs virgin in the woods
Robed in her rustic green,
And oft a longing thought intrudes,
As if we might have seen.
Her every finger's every joint
Ringed with some golden line,
Poet whom Nature did anoint
Had our wild home been thine.
Yet think not so; Old England's blood
Runs warm in English veins;
But wafted o'er the icy flood
Its better life remains.
Our children know each wildwood smell,
The bayberry and the fern,
The man who does not know them well
Is all too old to learn.
Be patient! On the breathing page
Still pants our hurried past;
Pilgrim and soldier, saint and sage,
The poet comes the last!
Though still the lark-voiced matins ring
The world has known so long;
The wood-thrush of the West shall sing
Earth's last sweet even-song!
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!
AFTER A LECTURE ON KEATS
"Purpureos spargam flores."
THE wreath that star-crowned Shelley gave
Is lying on thy Roman grave,
Yet on its turf young April sets
Her store of slender violets;
Though all the Gods their garlands shower,
I too may bring one purple flower.
Alas! what blossom shall I bring,
That opens in my Northern spring?
The garden beds have all run wild,
So trim when I was yet a child;
Flat plantains and unseemly stalks
Have crept across the gravel walks;
The vines are dead, long, long ago,
The almond buds no longer blow.
No more upon its mound I see
The azure, plume-bound fleur-de-lis;
Where once the tulips used to show,
In straggling tufts the pansies grow;
The grass has quenched my white-rayed gem,
The flowering "Star of Bethlehem,"
Though its long blade of glossy green
And pallid stripe may still be seen.
Nature, who treads her nobles down,
And gives their birthright to the clown,
Has sown her base-born weedy things
Above the garden's queens and kings.
Yet one sweet flower of ancient race
Springs in the old familiar place.
When snows were melting down the vale,
And Earth unlaced her icy mail,
And March his stormy trumpet blew,
And tender green came peeping through,
I loved the earliest one to seek
That broke the soil with emerald beak,
And watch the trembling bells so blue
Spread on the column as it grew.
Meek child of earth! thou wilt not shame
The sweet, dead poet's holy name;
The God of music gave thee birth,
Called from the crimson-spotted earth,
Where, sobbing his young life away,
His own fair Hyacinthus lay.
The hyacinth my garden gave
Shall lie upon that Roman grave!
AFTER A LECTURE ON SHELLEY
ONE broad, white sail in Spezzia's treacherous bay
On comes the blast; too daring bark, beware I
The cloud has clasped her; to! it melts away;
The wide, waste waters, but no sail is there.
Morning: a woman looking on the sea;
Midnight: with lamps the long veranda burns;
Come, wandering sail, they watch, they burn for thee!
Suns come and go, alas! no bark returns.
And feet are thronging on the pebbly sands,
And torches flaring in the weedy caves,
Where'er the waters lay with icy hands
The shapes uplifted from their coral graves.
Vainly they seek; the idle quest is o'er;
The coarse, dark women, with their hanging locks,
And lean, wild children gather from the shore
To the black hovels bedded in the rocks.
But Love still prayed, with agonizing wail,
"One, one last look, ye heaving waters, yield!"
Till Ocean, clashing in his jointed mail,
Raised the pale burden on his level shield.
Slow from the shore the sullen waves retire;
His form a nobler element shall claim;
Nature baptized him in ethereal fire,
And Death shall crown him with a wreath of flame.
Fade, mortal semblance, never to return;
Swift is the change within thy crimson shroud;
Seal the white ashes in the peaceful urn;
All else has risen in yon silvery cloud.
Sleep where thy gentle Adonais lies,
Whose open page lay on thy dying heart,
Both in the smile of those blue-vaulted skies,
Earth's fairest dome of all divinest art.
Breathe for his wandering soul one passing sigh,
O happier Christian, while thine eye grows dim,—
In all the mansions of the house on high,
Say not that Mercy has not one for him!
AT THE CLOSE OF A COURSE OF LECTURES
As the voice of the watch to the mariner's dream,
As the footstep of Spring on the ice-girdled stream,
There comes a soft footstep, a whisper, to me,—
The vision is over,—the rivulet free.
We have trod from the threshold of turbulent March,
Till the green scarf of April is hung on the larch,
And down the bright hillside that welcomes the day,
We hear the warm panting of beautiful May.
We will part before Summer has opened her wing,
And the bosom of June swells the bodice of Spring,
While the hope of the season lies fresh in the bud,
And the young life of Nature runs warm in our blood.
It is but a word, and the chain is unbound,
The bracelet of steel drops unclasped to the ground;
No hand shall replace it,—it rests where it fell,—-
It is but one word that we all know too well.
Yet the hawk with the wildness untamed in his eye,
If you free him, stares round ere he springs to the sky;
The slave whom no longer his fetters restrain
Will turn for a moment and look at his chain.
Our parting is not as the friendship of years,
That chokes with the blessing it speaks through its tears;
We have walked in a garden, and, looking around,
Have plucked a few leaves from the myrtles we found.
But now at the gate of the garden we stand,
And the moment has come for unclasping the hand;
Will you drop it like lead, and in silence retreat
Like the twenty crushed forms from an omnibus seat?
Nay! hold it one moment,—the last we may share,—
I stretch it in kindness, and not for my fare;
You may pass through the doorway in rank or in file,
If your ticket from Nature is stamped with a smile.
For the sweetest of smiles is the smile as we part,
When the light round the lips is a ray from the heart;
And lest a stray tear from its fountain might swell,
We will seal the bright spring with a quiet farewell.
AFTER A LECTURE AT ALBANY
'T WAS a vision of childhood that came with its dawn,
Ere the curtain that covered life's day-star was drawn;
The nurse told the tale when the shadows grew long,
And the mother's soft lullaby breathed it in song.
"There flows a fair stream by the hills of the West,"—
She sang to her boy as he lay on her breast;
"Along its smooth margin thy fathers have played;
Beside its deep waters their ashes are laid."
I wandered afar from the land of my birth,
I saw the old rivers, renowned upon earth,
But fancy still painted that wide-flowing stream
With the many-hued pencil of infancy's dream.
I saw the green banks of the castle-crowned Rhine,
Where the grapes drink the moonlight and change it to wine;
I stood by the Avon, whose waves as they glide
Still whisper his glory who sleeps at their side.
But my heart would still yearn for the sound of the waves
That sing as they flow by my forefathers' graves;
If manhood yet honors my cheek with a tear,
I care not who sees it,—no blush for it here!
Farewell to the deep-bosomed stream of the West!
I fling this loose blossom to float on its breast;
Nor let the dear love of its children grow cold,
Till the channel is dry where its waters have rolled!
THE NEW EDEN
MEETING OF THE BERKSHIRE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY,
AT STOCKBRIDGE, SEPTEMBER 13,1854
SCARCE could the parting ocean close,
Seamed by the Mayflower's cleaving bow,
When o'er the rugged desert rose
The waves that tracked the Pilgrim's plough.
Then sprang from many a rock-strewn field
The rippling grass, the nodding grain,
Such growths as English meadows yield
To scanty sun and frequent rain.
But when the fiery days were done,
And Autumn brought his purple haze,
Then, kindling in the slanted sun,
The hillsides gleamed with golden maize.
The food was scant, the fruits were few
A red-streak glistening here and there;
Perchance in statelier precincts grew
Some stern old Puritanic pear.
Austere in taste, and tough at core,
Its unrelenting bulk was shed,
To ripen in the Pilgrim's store
When all the summer sweets were fled.
Such was his lot, to front the storm
With iron heart and marble brow,
Nor ripen till his earthly form
Was cast from life's autumnal bough.
But ever on the bleakest rock
We bid the brightest beacon glow,
And still upon the thorniest stock
The sweetest roses love to blow.
So on our rude and wintry soil
We feed the kindling flame of art,
And steal the tropic's blushing spoil
To bloom on Nature's ice-clad heart.
See how the softening Mother's breast
Warms to her children's patient wiles,
Her lips by loving Labor pressed
Break in a thousand dimpling smiles,
From when the flushing bud of June
Dawns with its first auroral hue,
Till shines the rounded harvest-moon,
And velvet dahlias drink the dew.
Nor these the only gifts she brings;
Look where the laboring orchard groans,
And yields its beryl-threaded strings
For chestnut burs and hemlock cones.
Dear though the shadowy maple be,
And dearer still the whispering pine,
Dearest yon russet-laden tree
Browned by the heavy rubbing kine!
There childhood flung its rustling stone,
There venturous boyhood learned to climb,—
How well the early graft was known
Whose fruit was ripe ere harvest-time!
Nor be the Fleming's pride forgot,
With swinging drops and drooping bells,
Freckled and splashed with streak and spot,
On the warm-breasted, sloping swells;
Nor Persia's painted garden-queen,—
Frail Houri of the trellised wall,—
Her deep-cleft bosom scarfed with green,—
Fairest to see, and first to fall.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
When man provoked his mortal doom,
And Eden trembled as he fell,
When blossoms sighed their last perfume,
And branches waved their long farewell,
One sucker crept beneath the gate,
One seed was wafted o'er the wall,
One bough sustained his trembling weight;
These left the garden,—these were all.
And far o'er many a distant zone
These wrecks of Eden still are flung
The fruits that Paradise hath known
Are still in earthly gardens hung.
Yes, by our own unstoried stream
The pink-white apple-blossoms burst
That saw the young Euphrates gleam,—
That Gihon's circling waters nursed.
For us the ambrosial pear—displays
The wealth its arching branches hold,
Bathed by a hundred summery days
In floods of mingling fire and gold.
And here, where beauty's cheek of flame
With morning's earliest beam is fed,
The sunset-painted peach may claim
To rival its celestial red.
. . . . . . . . . . .
What though in some unmoistened vale
The summer leaf grow brown and sere,
Say, shall our star of promise fail
That circles half the rolling sphere,
From beaches salt with bitter spray,
O'er prairies green with softest rain,
And ridges bright with evening's ray,
To rocks that shade the stormless main?
If by our slender-threaded streams
The blade and leaf and blossom die,
If, drained by noontide's parching beams,
The milky veins of Nature dry,
See, with her swelling bosom bare,
Yon wild-eyed Sister in the West,—
The ring of Empire round her hair,
The Indian's wampum on her breast!
We saw the August sun descend,
Day after day, with blood-red stain,
And the blue mountains dimly blend
With smoke-wreaths from the burning plain;
Beneath the hot Sirocco's wings
We sat and told the withering hours,
Till Heaven unsealed its hoarded springs,
And bade them leap in flashing showers.
Yet in our Ishmael's thirst we knew
The mercy of the Sovereign hand
Would pour the fountain's quickening dew
To feed some harvest of the land.
No flaming swords of wrath surround
Our second Garden of the Blest;
It spreads beyond its rocky bound,
It climbs Nevada's glittering crest.
God keep the tempter from its gate!
God shield the children, lest they fall
From their stern fathers' free estate,—
Till Ocean is its only wall!
SEMI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY
NEW YORK, DECEMBER 22, 1855
NEW ENGLAND, we love thee; no time can erase
From the hearts of thy children the smile on thy face.
'T is the mother's fond look of affection and pride,
As she gives her fair son to the arms of his bride.
His bride may be fresher in beauty's young flower;
She may blaze in the jewels she brings with her dower.
But passion must chill in Time's pitiless blast;
The one that first loved us will love to the last.
You have left the dear land of the lake and the hill,
But its winds and its waters will talk with you still.
"Forget not," they whisper, "your love is our debt,"
And echo breathes softly, "We never forget."
The banquet's gay splendors are gleaming around,
But your hearts have flown back o'er the waves of the Sound;
They have found the brown home where their pulses were born;
They are throbbing their way through the trees and the corn.
There are roofs you remember,—their glory is fled;
There are mounds in the churchyard,—one sigh for the dead.
There are wrecks, there are ruins, all scattered around;
But Earth has no spot like that corner of ground.
Come, let us be cheerful,—remember last night,
How they cheered us, and—never mind—meant it all right;
To-night, we harm nothing,—we love in the lump;
Here's a bumper to Maine, in the juice of the pump!
Here 's to all the good people, wherever they be,
Who have grown in the shade of the liberty-tree;
We all love its leaves, and its blossoms and fruit,
But pray have a care of the fence round its root.
We should like to talk big; it's a kind of a right,
When the tongue has got loose and the waistband grown tight;
But, as pretty Miss Prudence remarked to her beau,
On its own heap of compost no biddy should crow.
Enough! There are gentlemen waiting to talk,
Whose words are to mine as the flower to the stalk.
Stand by your old mother whatever befall;
God bless all her children! Good night to you all!
TO J. R. LOWELL
FAREWELL, for the bark has her breast to the tide,
And the rough arms of Ocean are stretched for his bride;
The winds from the mountain stream over the bay;
One clasp of the hand, then away and away!
I see the tall mast as it rocks by the shore;
The sun is declining, I see it once more;
To-day like the blade in a thick-waving field,
To-morrow the spike on a Highlander's shield.
Alone, while the cloud pours its treacherous breath,
With the blue lips all round her whose kisses are death;
Ah, think not the breeze that is urging her sail
Has left her unaided to strive with the gale.
There are hopes that play round her, like fires on the mast,
That will light the dark hour till its danger has past;
There are prayers that will plead with the storm when it raves,
And whisper "Be still!" to the turbulent waves.
Nay, think not that Friendship has called us in vain
To join the fair ring ere we break it again;
There is strength in its circle,—you lose the bright star,
But its sisters still chain it, though shining afar.
I give you one health in the juice of the vine,
The blood of the vineyard shall mingle with mine;
Thus, thus let us drain the last dew-drops of gold,
As we empty our hearts of the blessings they hold.
April 29, 1855.
FOR THE MEETING OF THE BURNS CLUB
THE mountains glitter in the snow
A thousand leagues asunder;
Yet here, amid the banquet's glow,
I hear their voice of thunder;
Each giant's ice-bound goblet clinks;
A flowing stream is summoned;
Wachusett to Ben Nevis drinks;
Monadnock to Ben Lomond!
Though years have clipped the eagle's plume
That crowned the chieftain's bonnet,
The sun still sees the heather bloom,
The silver mists lie on it;
With tartan kilt and philibeg,
What stride was ever bolder
Than his who showed the naked leg
Beneath the plaided shoulder?
The echoes sleep on Cheviot's hills,
That heard the bugles blowing
When down their sides the crimson rills
With mingled blood were flowing;
The hunts where gallant hearts were game,
The slashing on the border,
The raid that swooped with sword and flame,
Give place to "law and order."
Not while the rocking steeples reel
With midnight tocsins ringing,
Not while the crashing war-notes peal,
God sets his poets singing;
The bird is silent in the night,
Or shrieks a cry of warning
While fluttering round the beacon-light,—
But hear him greet the morning!
The lark of Scotia's morning sky!
Whose voice may sing his praises?
With Heaven's own sunlight in his eye,
He walked among the daisies,
Till through the cloud of fortune's wrong
He soared to fields of glory;
But left his land her sweetest song
And earth her saddest story.
'T is not the forts the builder piles
That chain the earth together;
The wedded crowns, the sister isles,
Would laugh at such a tether;
The kindling thought, the throbbing words,
That set the pulses beating,
Are stronger than the myriad swords
Of mighty armies meeting.
Thus while within the banquet glows,
Without, the wild winds whistle,
We drink a triple health,—the Rose,
The Shamrock, and the Thistle
Their blended hues shall never fade
Till War has hushed his cannon,—
Close-twined as ocean-currents braid
The Thames, the Clyde, the Shannon!
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!
BIRTHDAY OF DANIEL WEBSTER
JANUARY 18, 1856
WHEN life hath run its largest round
Of toil and triumph, joy and woe,
How brief a storied page is found
To compass all its outward show!
The world-tried sailor tires and droops;
His flag is rent, his keel forgot;
His farthest voyages seem but loops
That float from life's entangled knot.
But when within the narrow space
Some larger soul hath lived and wrought,
Whose sight was open to embrace
The boundless realms of deed and thought,—
When, stricken by the freezing blast,
A nation's living pillars fall,
How rich the storied page, how vast,
A word, a whisper, can recall!
No medal lifts its fretted face,
Nor speaking marble cheats your eye,
Yet, while these pictured lines I trace,
A living image passes by:
A roof beneath the mountain pines;
The cloisters of a hill-girt plain;
The front of life's embattled lines;
A mound beside the heaving main.
These are the scenes: a boy appears;
Set life's round dial in the sun,
Count the swift arc of seventy years,
His frame is dust; his task is done.
Yet pause upon the noontide hour,
Ere the declining sun has laid
His bleaching rays on manhood's power,
And look upon the mighty shade.
No gloom that stately shape can hide,
No change uncrown its brow; behold I
Dark, calm, large-fronted, lightning-eyed,
Earth has no double from its mould.
Ere from the fields by valor won
The battle-smoke had rolled away,
And bared the blood-red setting sun,
His eyes were opened on the day.
His land was but a shelving strip
Black with the strife that made it free
He lived to see its banners dip
Their fringes in the Western sea.
The boundless prairies learned his name,
His words the mountain echoes knew,
The Northern breezes swept his fame
From icy lake to warm bayou.
In toil he lived; in peace he died;
When life's full cycle was complete,
Put off his robes of power and pride,
And laid them at his Master's feet.
His rest is by the storm-swept waves
Whom life's wild tempests roughly trie
Whose heart was like the streaming eaves
Of ocean, throbbing at his side.
Death's cold white hand is like the snow
Laid softly on the furrowed hill,
It hides the broken seams below,
And leaves the summit brighter still.
In vain the envious tongue upbraids;
His name a nation's heart shall keep
Till morning's latest sunlight fades
On the blue tablet of the deep.
WE count the broken lyres that rest
Where the sweet wailing singers slumber,
But o'er their silent sister's breast
The wild-flowers who will stoop to number?
A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy Fame is proud to win them:—
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
Nay, grieve not for the dead alone
Whose song has told their hearts' sad story,—
Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory
Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
But where the glistening night-dews weep
On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.
O hearts that break and give no sign
Save whitening lip and fading tresses,
Till Death pours out his longed-for wine
Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses,—
If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!
THE TWO STREAMS
BEHOLD the rocky wall
That down its sloping sides
Pours the swift rain-drops, blending, as they fall,
In rushing river-tides!
Yon stream, whose sources run
Turned by a pebble's edge,
Is Athabasca, rolling toward the sun
Through the cleft mountain-ledge.
The slender rill had strayed,
But for the slanting stone,
To evening's ocean, with the tangled braid
Of foam-flecked Oregon.
So from the heights of Will
Life's parting stream descends,
And, as a moment turns its slender rill,
Each widening torrent bends,—
From the same cradle's side,
From the same mother's knee,—
One to long darkness and the frozen tide,
One to the Peaceful Sea!
NOT charity we ask,
Nor yet thy gift refuse;
Please thy light fancy with the easy task
Only to look and choose.
The little-heeded toy
That wins thy treasured gold
May be the dearest memory, holiest joy,
Of coming years untold.
Heaven rains on every heart,
But there its showers divide,
The drops of mercy choosing, as they part,
The dark or glowing side.
One kindly deed may turn
The fountain of thy soul
To love's sweet day-star, that shall o'er thee burn
Long as its currents roll.
The pleasures thou hast planned,—
Where shall their memory be
When the white angel with the freezing hand
Shall sit and watch by thee?
Living, thou dost not live,
If mercy's spring run dry;
What Heaven has lent thee wilt thou freely give,
Dying, thou shalt not die.
HE promised even so!
To thee his lips repeat,—
Behold, the tears that soothed thy sister's woe
Have washed thy Master's feet!
March 20, 1859.
I MAY not rightly call thy name,—
Alas! thy forehead never knew
The kiss that happier children claim,
Nor glistened with baptismal dew.
Daughter of want and wrong and woe,
I saw thee with thy sister-band,
Snatched from the whirlpool's narrowing flow
By Mercy's strong yet trembling hand.
"Avis!"—With Saxon eye and cheek,
At once a woman and a child,
The saint uncrowned I came to seek
Drew near to greet us,—spoke, and smiled.
God gave that sweet sad smile she wore
All wrong to shame, all souls to win,—
A heavenly sunbeam sent before
Her footsteps through a world of sin.
"And who is Avis?"—Hear the tale
The calm-voiced matrons gravely tell,—
The story known through all the vale
Where Avis and her sisters dwell.
With the lost children running wild,
Strayed from the hand of human care,
They find one little refuse child
Left helpless in its poisoned lair.
The primal mark is on her face,—
The chattel-stamp,—the pariah-stain
That follows still her hunted race,—
The curse without the crime of Cain.
How shall our smooth-turned phrase relate
The little suffering outcast's ail?
Not Lazarus at the rich man's gate
So turned the rose-wreathed revellers pale.
Ah, veil the living death from sight
That wounds our beauty-loving eye!
The children turn in selfish fright,
The white-lipped nurses hurry by.
Take her, dread Angel! Break in love
This bruised reed and make it thine!—
No voice descended from above,
But Avis answered, "She is mine."
The task that dainty menials spurn
The fair young girl has made her own;
Her heart shall teach, her hand shall learn
The toils, the duties yet unknown.
So Love and Death in lingering strife
Stand face to face from day to day,
Still battling for the spoil of Life
While the slow seasons creep away.
Love conquers Death; the prize is won;
See to her joyous bosom pressed
The dusky daughter of the sun,—
The bronze against the marble breast!
Her task is done; no voice divine
Has crowned her deeds with saintly fame.
No eye can see the aureole shine
That rings her brow with heavenly flame.
Yet what has holy page more sweet,
Or what had woman's love more fair,
When Mary clasped her Saviour's feet
With flowing eyes and streaming hair?
Meek child of sorrow, walk unknown,
The Angel of that earthly throng,
And let thine image live alone
To hallow this unstudied song!
THE LIVING TEMPLE
NOT in the world of light alone,
Where God has built his blazing throne,
Nor yet alone in earth below,
With belted seas that come and go,
And endless isles of sunlit green,
Is all thy Maker's glory seen:
Look in upon thy wondrous frame,—
Eternal wisdom still the same!
The smooth, soft air with pulse-like waves
Flows murmuring through its hidden caves,
Whose streams of brightening purple rush,
Fired with a new and livelier blush,
While all their burden of decay
The ebbing current steals away,
And red with Nature's flame they start
From the warm fountains of the heart.
No rest that throbbing slave may ask,
Forever quivering o'er his task,
While far and wide a crimson jet
Leaps forth to fill the woven net
Which in unnumbered crossing tides
The flood of burning life divides,
Then, kindling each decaying part,
Creeps back to find the throbbing heart.
But warmed with that unchanging flame
Behold the outward moving frame,
Its living marbles jointed strong
With glistening band and silvery thong,
And linked to reason's guiding reins
By myriad rings in trembling chains,
Each graven with the threaded zone
Which claims it as the master's own.
See how yon beam of seeming white
Is braided out of seven-hued light,
Yet in those lucid globes no ray
By any chance shall break astray.
Hark how the rolling surge of sound,
Arches and spirals circling round,
Wakes the hushed spirit through thine ear
With music it is heaven to hear.
Then mark the cloven sphere that holds
All thought in its mysterious folds;
That feels sensation's faintest thrill,
And flashes forth the sovereign will;
Think on the stormy world that dwells
Locked in its dim and clustering cells!
The lightning gleams of power it sheds
Along its hollow glassy threads!
O Father! grant thy love divine
To make these mystic temples thine!
When wasting age and wearying strife
Have sapped the leaning walls of life,
When darkness gathers over all,
And the last tottering pillars fall,
Take the poor dust thy mercy warms,
And mould it into heavenly forms!
AT A BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL
TO J. R. LOWELL
WE will not speak of years to-night,—
For what have years to bring
But larger floods of love and light,
And sweeter songs to sing?
We will not drown in wordy praise
The kindly thoughts that rise;
If Friendship own one tender phrase,
He reads it in our eyes.
We need not waste our school-boy art
To gild this notch of Time;—
Forgive me if my wayward heart
Has throbbed in artless rhyme.
Enough for him the silent grasp
That knits us hand in hand,
And he the bracelet's radiant clasp
That locks our, circling band.
Strength to his hours of manly toil!
Peace to his starlit dreams!
Who loves alike the furrowed soil,
The music-haunted streams!
Sweet smiles to keep forever bright
The sunshine on his lips,
And faith that sees the ring of light
Round nature's last eclipse!
February 22, 1859.
A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE
TO J. F. CLARKE
WHO is the shepherd sent to lead,
Through pastures green, the Master's sheep?
What guileless "Israelite indeed"
The folded flock may watch and keep?
He who with manliest spirit joins
The heart of gentlest human mould,
With burning light and girded loins,
To guide the flock, or watch the fold;
True to all Truth the world denies,
Not tongue-tied for its gilded sin;
Not always right in all men's eyes,
But faithful to the light within;
Who asks no meed of earthly fame,
Who knows no earthly master's call,
Who hopes for man, through guilt and shame,
Still answering, "God is over all";
Who makes another's grief his own,
Whose smile lends joy a double cheer;
Where lives the saint, if such be known?—
Speak softly,—such an one is here!
O faithful shepherd! thou hast borne
The heat and burden of the clay;
Yet, o'er thee, bright with beams unshorn,
The sun still shows thine onward way.
To thee our fragrant love we bring,
In buds that April half displays,
Sweet first-born angels of the spring,
Caught in their opening hymn of praise.
What though our faltering accents fail,
Our captives know their message well,
Our words unbreathed their lips exhale,
And sigh more love than ours can tell.
April 4, 1860.
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!
THE LAST LOOK
W. W. SWAIN
BEHOLD—not him we knew!
This was the prison which his soul looked through,
Tender, and brave, and true.
His voice no more is heard;
And his dead name—that dear familiar word—
Lies on our lips unstirred.
He spake with poet's tongue;
Living, for him the minstrel's lyre was strung:
He shall not die unsung.
Grief tried his love, and pain;
And the long bondage of his martyr-chain
Vexed his sweet soul,—in vain!
It felt life's surges break,
As, girt with stormy seas, his island lake,
Smiling while tempests wake.
How can we sorrow more?
Grieve not for him whose heart had gone before
To that untrodden shore!
Lo, through its leafy screen,
A gleam of sunlight on a ring of green,
Untrodden, half unseen!
Here let his body rest,
Where the calm shadows that his soul loved best
May slide above his breast.
Smooth his uncurtained bed;
And if some natural tears are softly shed,
It is not for the dead.
Fold the green turf aright
For the long hours before the morning's light,
And say the last Good Night!
And plant a clear white stone
Close by those mounds which hold his loved, his own,—
Lonely, but not alone.
Here let him sleeping lie,
Till Heaven's bright watchers slumber in the sky
And Death himself shall die!
Naushon, September 22, 1858.
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!
April 15, 1860.
DIED JANUARY 7, 1861
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!
'T is 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!
MEETING OF THE ALUMNI OF HARVARD COLLEGE
I THANK you, MR. PRESIDENT, you've kindly broke the ice;
Virtue should always be the first,—I 'm only SECOND VICE—
(A vice is something with a screw that's made to hold its jaw
Till some old file has played away upon an ancient saw).
Sweet brothers by the Mother's side, the babes of days gone by,
All nurslings of her Juno breasts whose milk is never dry,
We come again, like half-grown boys, and gather at her beck
About her knees, and on her lap, and clinging round her neck.
We find her at her stately door, and in her ancient chair,
Dressed in the robes of red and green she always loved to wear.
Her eye has all its radiant youth, her cheek its morning flame;
We drop our roses as we go, hers flourish still the same.
We have been playing many an hour, and far away we've strayed,
Some laughing in the cheerful sun, some lingering in the shade;
And some have tired, and laid them down where darker shadows fall,
Dear as her loving voice may be, they cannot hear its call.
What miles we 've travelled since we shook the dew-drops from our shoes
We gathered on this classic green, so famed for heavy dues!
How many boys have joined the game, how many slipped away,
Since we've been running up and down, and having out our play!
One boy at work with book and brief, and one with gown and band,
One sailing vessels on the pool, one digging sand,
One flying paper kites on change, one planting little pills,—
The seeds of certain annual flowers well known as little bills.
What maidens met us on our way, and clasped us hand in hand!
What cherubs,—not the legless kind, that fly, but never stand!
How many a youthful head we've seen put on its silver crown
What sudden changes back again to youth's empurpled brown!
But fairer sights have met our eyes, and broader lights have shone,
Since others lit their midnight lamps where once we trimmed our own;
A thousand trains that flap the sky with flags of rushing fire,
And, throbbing in the Thunderer's hand, Thought's million-chorded lyre.
We've seen the sparks of Empire fly beyond the mountain bars,
Till, glittering o'er the Western wave, they joined the setting stars;
And ocean trodden into paths that trampling giants ford,
To find the planet's vertebrae and sink its spinal cord.
We've tried reform,—and chloroform,—and both have turned our brain;
When France called up the photograph, we roused the foe to pain;
Just so those earlier sages shared the chaplet of renown,—
Hers sent a bladder to the clouds, ours brought their lightning down.
We've seen the little tricks of life, its varnish and veneer,
Its stucco-fronts of character flake off and disappear,
We 've learned that oft the brownest hands will heap the biggest pile,
And met with many a "perfect brick" beneath a rimless "tile."
What dreams we 've had of deathless name, as scholars, statesmen, bards,
While Fame, the lady with the trump, held up her picture cards!
Till, having nearly played our game, she gayly whispered, "Ah!
I said you should be something grand,—you'll soon be grandpapa."
Well, well, the old have had their day, the young must take their turn;
There's something always to forget, and something still to learn;
But how to tell what's old or young, the tap-root from the sprigs,
Since Florida revealed her fount to Ponce de Leon Twiggs?
The wisest was a Freshman once, just freed from bar and bolt,
As noisy as a kettle-drum, as leggy as a colt;
Don't be too savage with the boys,—the Primer does not say
The kitten ought to go to church because the cat doth prey.
The law of merit and of age is not the rule of three;
Non constat that A. M. must prove as busy as A. B.
When Wise the father tracked the son, ballooning through the skies,
He taught a lesson to the old,—go thou and do like Wise!
Now then, old boys, and reverend youth, of high or low degree,
Remember how we only get one annual out of three,
And such as dare to simmer down three dinners into one
Must cut their salads mighty short, and pepper well with fun.
I've passed my zenith long ago, it's time for me to set;
A dozen planets wait to shine, and I am lingering yet,
As sometimes in the blaze of day a milk-and-watery moon
Stains with its dim and fading ray the lustrous blue of noon.
Farewell! yet let one echo rise to shake our ancient hall;
God save the Queen,—whose throne is here,—the Mother of us all
Till dawns the great commencement-day on every shore and sea,
And "Expectantur" all mankind, to take their last Degree!
THE PARTING SONG
FESTIVAL OF THE ALUMNI, 1857
THE noon of summer sheds its ray
On Harvard's holy ground;
The Matron calls, the sons obey,
And gather smiling round.
Then old and young together stand,
The sunshine and the snow,
As heart to heart, and hand in hand,
We sing before we go!
Her hundred opening doors have swung
Through every storied hall
The pealing echoes loud have rung,
"Thrice welcome one and all!"
Then old and young, etc.
We floated through her peaceful bay,
To sail life's stormy seas
But left our anchor where it lay
Beneath her green old trees.
Then old and young, etc.
As now we lift its lengthening chain,
That held us fast of old,
The rusted rings grow bright again,—
Their iron turns to gold.
Then old and young, etc.
Though scattered ere the setting sun,
As leaves when wild winds blow,
Our home is here, our hearts are one,
Till Charles forgets to flow.
Then old and young, etc.
FOR THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL
WHAT makes the Healing Art divine?
The bitter drug we buy and sell,
The brands that scorch, the blades that shine,
The scars we leave, the "cures" we tell?
Are these thy glories, holiest Art,—
The trophies that adorn thee best,—
Or but thy triumph's meanest part,—
Where mortal weakness stands confessed?
We take the arms that Heaven supplies
For Life's long battle with Disease,
Taught by our various need to prize
Our frailest weapons, even these.
But ah! when Science drops her shield—
Its peaceful shelter proved in vain—
And bares her snow-white arm to wield
The sad, stern ministry of pain;
When shuddering o'er the fount of life,
She folds her heaven-anointed wings,
To lift unmoved the glittering knife
That searches all its crimson springs;
When, faithful to her ancient lore,
She thrusts aside her fragrant balm
For blistering juice, or cankering ore,
And tames them till they cure or calm;
When in her gracious hand are seen
The dregs and scum of earth and seas,
Her kindness counting all things clean
That lend the sighing sufferer ease;
Though on the field that Death has won,
She save some stragglers in retreat;—
These single acts of mercy done
Are but confessions of defeat.
What though our tempered poisons save
Some wrecks of life from aches and ails;
Those grand specifics Nature gave
Were never poised by weights or scales!
God lent his creatures light and air,
And waters open to the skies;
Man locks him in a stifling lair,
And wonders why his brother dies!
In vain our pitying tears are shed,
In vain we rear the sheltering pile
Where Art weeds out from bed to bed
The plagues we planted by the mile!
Be that the glory of the past;
With these our sacred toils begin
So flies in tatters from its mast
The yellow flag of sloth and sin,
And lo! the starry folds reveal
The blazoned truth we hold so dear
To guard is better than to heal,—
The shield is nobler than the spear!
FOR THE BURNS CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
JANUARY 25, 1859
His birthday.—Nay, we need not speak
The name each heart is beating,—
Each glistening eye and flushing cheek
In light and flame repeating!
We come in one tumultuous tide,—
One surge of wild emotion,—
As crowding through the Frith of Clyde
Rolls in the Western Ocean;
As when yon cloudless, quartered moon
Hangs o'er each storied river,
The swelling breasts of Ayr and Doon
With sea green wavelets quiver.
The century shrivels like a scroll,—
The past becomes the present,—
And face to face, and soul to soul,
We greet the monarch-peasant.
While Shenstone strained in feeble flights
With Corydon and Phillis,—
While Wolfe was climbing Abraham's heights
To snatch the Bourbon lilies,—
Who heard the wailing infant's cry,
The babe beneath the sheeliug,
Whose song to-night in every sky
Will shake earth's starry ceiling,—
Whose passion-breathing voice ascends
And floats like incense o'er us,
Whose ringing lay of friendship blends
With labor's anvil chorus?
We love him, not for sweetest song,
Though never tone so tender;
We love him, even in his wrong,—
His wasteful self-surrender.
We praise him, not for gifts divine,—
His Muse was born of woman,—
His manhood breathes in every line,—
Was ever heart more human?
We love him, praise him, just for this
In every form and feature,
Through wealth and want, through woe and bliss,
He saw his fellow-creature!
No soul could sink beneath his love,—
Not even angel blasted;
No mortal power could soar above
The pride that all outlasted!
Ay! Heaven had set one living man
Beyond the pedant's tether,—
His virtues, frailties, HE may scan,
Who weighs them all together!
I fling my pebble on the cairn
Of him, though dead, undying;
Sweet Nature's nursling, bonniest bairn
Beneath her daisies lying.
The waning suns, the wasting globe,
Shall spare the minstrel's story,—
The centuries weave his purple robe,
The mountain-mist of glory!
AT A MEETING OF FRIENDS
AUGUST 29, 1859
I REMEMBER—why, yes! God bless me! and was it so long ago?
I fear I'm growing forgetful, as old folks do, you know;
It must have been in 'forty—I would say 'thirty-nine—
We talked this matter over, I and a friend of mine.
He said, "Well now, old fellow, I'm thinking that you and I,
If we act like other people, shall be older by and by;
What though the bright blue ocean is smooth as a pond can be,
There is always a line of breakers to fringe the broadest sea.
"We're taking it mighty easy, but that is nothing strange,
For up to the age of thirty we spend our years like Change;
But creeping up towards the forties, as fast as the old years fill,
And Time steps in for payment, we seem to change a bill."
"I know it," I said, "old fellow; you speak the solemn truth;
A man can't live to a hundred and likewise keep his youth;
But what if the ten years coming shall silver-streak my hair,
You know I shall then be forty; of course I shall not care.
"At forty a man grows heavy and tired of fun and noise;
Leaves dress to the five-and-twenties and love to the silly boys;
No foppish tricks at forty, no pinching of waists and toes,
But high-low shoes and flannels and good thick worsted hose."
But one fine August morning I found myself awake
My birthday:—By Jove, I'm forty! Yes, forty, and no mistake!
Why, this is the very milestone, I think I used to hold,
That when a fellow had come to, a fellow would then be old!
But that is the young folks' nonsense; they're full of their
A man's in his prime at forty,—I see that plain enough;
At fifty a man is wrinkled, and may be bald or gray;
I call men old at fifty, in spite of all they say.
At last comes another August with mist and rain and shine;
Its mornings are slowly counted and creep to twenty-nine,
And when on the western summits the fading light appears,
It touches with rosy fingers the last of my fifty years.
There have been both men and women whose hearts were firm and bold,
But there never was one of fifty that loved to say "I'm old";
So any elderly person that strives to shirk his years,
Make him stand up at a table and try him by his peers.
Now here I stand at fifty, my jury gathered round;
Sprinkled with dust of silver, but not yet silver-crowned,
Ready to meet your verdict, waiting to hear it told;
Guilty of fifty summers; speak! Is the verdict old.
No! say that his hearing fails him; say that his sight grows dim;
Say that he's getting wrinkled and weak in back and limb,
Losing his wits and temper, but pleading, to make amends,
The youth of his fifty summers he finds in his twenty friends.
FOR THE FAIR IN AID OF THE FUND TO PROCURE
BALL'S STATUE OF WASHINGTON
ALL overgrown with bush and fern,
And straggling clumps of tangled trees,
With trunks that lean and boughs that turn,
Bent eastward by the mastering breeze,—
With spongy bogs that drip and fill
A yellow pond with muddy rain,
Beneath the shaggy southern hill
Lies wet and low the Shawinut plain.
And hark! the trodden branches crack;
A crow flaps off with startled scream;
A straying woodchuck canters back;
A bittern rises from the stream;
Leaps from his lair a frightened deer;
An otter plunges in the pool;—
Here comes old Shawmut's pioneer,
The parson on his brindled bull!
The streets are thronged with trampling feet,
The northern hill is ridged with graves,
But night and morn the drum is beat
To frighten down the "rebel knaves."
The stones of King Street still are red,
And yet the bloody red-coats come
I hear their pacing sentry's tread,
The click of steel, the tap of drum,
And over all the open green,
Where grazed of late the harmless kine,
The cannon's deepening ruts are seen,
The war-horse stamps, the bayonets shine.
The clouds are dark with crimson rain
Above the murderous hirelings' den,
And soon their whistling showers shall stain
The pipe-clayed belts of Gage's men.
Around the green, in morning light,
The spired and palaced summits blaze,
And, sunlike, from her Beacon-height
The dome-crowned city spreads her rays;
They span the waves, they belt the plains,
They skirt the roads with bands of white,
Till with a flash of gilded panes
Yon farthest hillside bounds the sight.
Peace, Freedom, Wealth! no fairer view,
Though with the wild-bird's restless wings
We sailed beneath the noontide's blue
Or chased the moonlight's endless rings!
Here, fitly raised by grateful hands
His holiest memory to recall,
The Hero's, Patriot's image stands;
He led our sires who won them all!
November 14, 1859.
THE OLD MAN OF THE SEA
A NIGHTMARE DREAM BY DAYLIGHT
Do you know the Old Man of the Sea, of the Sea?
Have you met with that dreadful old man?
If you have n't been caught, you will be, you will be;
For catch you he must and he can.
He does n't hold on by your throat, by your throat,
As of old in the terrible tale;
But he grapples you tight by the coat, by the coat,
Till its buttons and button-holes fail.
There's the charm of a snake in his eye, in his eye,
And a polypus-grip in his hands;
You cannot go back, nor get by, nor get by,
If you look at the spot where he stands.
Oh, you're grabbed! See his claw on your sleeve, on your sleeve!
It is Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea!
You're a Christian, no doubt you believe, you believe
You're a martyr, whatever you be!
Is the breakfast-hour past? They must wait, they must wait,
While the coffee boils sullenly down,
While the Johnny-cake burns on the grate, on the grate,
And the toast is done frightfully brown.
Yes, your dinner will keep; let it cool, let it cool,
And Madam may worry and fret,
And children half-starved go to school, go to school;
He can't think of sparing you yet.
Hark! the bell for the train! "Come along! Come along!
For there is n't a second to lose."
"ALL ABOARD!" (He holds on.) "Fsht I ding-dong! Fsht! ding-dong!"—
You can follow on foot, if you choose.
There's a maid with a cheek like a peach, like a peach,
That is waiting for you in the church;—
But he clings to your side like a leech, like a leech,
And you leave your lost bride in the lurch.
There's a babe in a fit,—hurry quick! hurry quick!
To the doctor's as fast as you can!
The baby is off, while you stick, while you stick,
In the grip of the dreadful Old Man!
I have looked on the face of the Bore, of the Bore;
The voice of the Simple I know;
I have welcomed the Flat at my door, at my door;
I have sat by the side of the Slow;
I have walked like a lamb by the friend, by the friend,
That stuck to my skirts like a bur;
I have borne the stale talk without end, without end,
Of the sitter whom nothing could stir.
But my hamstrings grow loose, and I shake, and I shake,
At the sight of the dreadful Old Man;
Yea, I quiver and quake, and I take, and I take,
To my legs with what vigor I can!
Oh the dreadful Old Man of the Sea, of the Sea
He's come back like the Wandering Jew!
He has had his cold claw upon me, upon me,—
And be sure that he 'll have it on you!
OUR FATHERS' LAND
GOD bless our Fathers' Land!
Keep her in heart and hand
One with our own!
From all her foes defend,
Be her brave People's Friend,
On all her realms descend,
Protect her Throne!
Father, with loving care
Guard Thou her kingdom's Heir,
Guide all his ways
Thine arm his shelter be,
From him by land and sea
Bid storm and danger flee,
Prolong his days!
Lord, let War's tempest cease,
Fold the whole Earth in peace
Under thy wings
Make all thy nations one,
All hearts beneath the sun,
Till Thou shalt reign alone,
Great King of kings!
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!
BROTHER JONATHAN'S LAMENT FOR SISTER CAROLINE
SHE has gone,—she has left us in passion and pride,—
Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side!
She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow,
And turned on her brother the face of a foe!
Oh, Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
We can never forget that our hearts have been one,—
Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name,
From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!
You were always too ready to fire at a touch;
But we said, "She is hasty,—she does not mean much."
We have scowled, when you uttered some turbulent threat;
But Friendship still whispered, "Forgive and forget!"
Has our love all died out? Have its altars grown cold?
Has the curse come at last which the fathers foretold?
Then Nature must teach us the strength of the chain
That her petulant children would sever in vain.
They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil,
Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil,
Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their eaves,
And the shark tracks the pirate, the lord of the waves:
In vain is the strife! When its fury is past,
Their fortunes must flow in one channel at last,
As the torrents that rush from the mountains of snow
Roll mingled in peace through the valleys below.
Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky
Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die!
Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel,
The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!
Oh, Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
There are battles with Fate that can never be won!
The star-flowering banner must never be furled,
For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!
Go, then, our rash sister! afar and aloof,
Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof;
But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore,
Remember the pathway that leads to our door!
March 25, 1861.
NOTES: (For original print volume one)
[There stand the Goblet and the Sun.]
The Goblet and the Sun (Vas-Sol), sculptured on a free-stone slab
supported by five pillars, are the only designation of the family tomb
of the Vassalls.
[Thus mocked the spoilers with his school-boy scorn.]
See "Old Ironsides," of this volume.
[On other shores, above their mouldering towns.]
Daniel Webster quoted several of the verses which follow, in his address
at the laying of the corner-stone of the addition to the Capitol at
Washington, July 4, 1851.
[Thou calm, chaste scholar.]
Charles Chauncy Emerson; died May 9, 1836.
[And thou, dear friend, whom Science still deplores.]
James Jackson, Jr., M. D.; died March 28, 1834.
Mr. Emerson has quoted some lines from this poem, but
somewhat disguised as he recalled them. It is never safe to
quote poetry without referring to the original.
[Hark! The sweet bells renew their welcome sound.]
The churches referred to in the lines which follow are,—
1. King's Chapel, the foundation of which was laid by Governor Shirley
2. Brattle Street Church, consecrated in 1773. The completion of this
edifice, the design of which included a spire, was prevented by the
troubles of the Revolution, and its plain, square tower presented
nothing more attractive than a massive simplicity. In the front of this
tower, till the church was demolished in 1872, there was to be seen,
half imbedded in the brick-work, a cannon-ball, which was thrown from
the American fortifications at Cambridge, during the bombard-ment of the
city, then occupied by the British troops.
3. The Old South, first occupied for public worship in 1730.
4. Park Street Church, built in 1809, the tall white steeple of which is
the most conspicuous of all the Boston spires.
5. Christ Church, opened for public worship in 1723, and containing a
set of eight bells, long the only chime in Boston.
[INTERNATIONAL ODE.] This ode was