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Choice Specimens of American Literature, And Literary Reader by Benj. N. Martin

Part 10 out of 11

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On the shore stood Hiawatha,
Turned and waved his hand at parting;
On the clear and luminous water
Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
From the pebbles of the margin
Shoved it forth into the water;
Whispered to it, "Westward! westward!"
And with speed it darted forward.
And the evening sun descending
Set the clouds on fire with redness,
Burned the broad sky, like a prairie,
Left upon the level water
One long track and trail of splendor,
Down whose streams, as down a river,
Westward, westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset,
Sailed into the purple vapors,
Sailed into the dusk of evening.
And the people from the margin
Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
Till the birch canoe seemed lifted
High into that sea of splendor,
Till it sank into the vapors
Like the new moon slowly, slowly
Sinking in the purple distance.
And they said, "Farewell for ever!"
Said, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the forests, dark and lonely,
Moved through all their depth of darkness,
Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the waves upon the margin
Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
Sobbed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the heron, the Shu-shuh-gah,
From her haunts among the fen-lands,
Screamed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,
In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest wind Keewaydin,
To the islands of the Blessed,
To the kingdom of Ponemah,
To the land of the Hereafter!

* * * * *

=_William D. Gallagher, 1808-._= (Manual, p. 523.)

=_371._= THE LABORER.

Stand up--erect! Thou hast the form,
And likeness of thy God!--who more?
A soul as dauntless mid the storm
Of daily life, a heart as warm
And pure, as breast e'er bore.

What then?--Thou art as true a Man
As moves the human mass among;
As much a part of the Great plan
That with creation's dawn began,
As any of the throng.

Who is thine enemy? the high
In station, or in wealth the chief?
The great, who coldly pass thee by,
With proud step and averted eye?
Nay! nurse not such belief.

* * * * *

No:--uncurbed passions--low desires--
Absence of noble self-respect--
Death, in the breast's consuming fires,
To that high Nature which aspires
For ever, till thus checked:

* * * * *

True, wealth thou hast not: 'tis but dust!
Nor place; uncertain as the wind!
But that thou hast, which, with thy crust
And water, may despise the lust
Of both--a noble mind.

With this and passions under ban,
True faith, and holy trust in God,
Thou art the peer of any man.
Look up, then--that thy little span
Of life, may be well trod!

* * * * *

=_John G. Whittier, 1808-._= (Manual, pp. 490, 522.)


Maddened by Earth's wrong and evil,
"Lord," I cried in sudden ire,
"From thy right hand, clothed with thunder,
Shake the bolted fire!

"Love is lost, and Faith is dying;
With the brute, the man is sold;
And the dropping blood of labor
Hardens into gold."

* * * * *

"Thou, the patient Heaven upbraiding,"
Spake a solemn Voice within;
"Weary of our Lord's forbearance,
Art thou free from sin?"

* * * * *

"Earnest words must needs be spoken
When the warm heart bleeds or burns
With its scorn of wrong, or pity
For the wronged, by turns.

"But, by all thy nature's weakness,
Hidden faults and follies known,
Be thou, in rebuking evil,
Conscious of thine own.

"Not the less shall stern-eyed Duty
To thy lips her trumpet set,
But with harsher blasts shall mingle
Wailings of regret."

Cease not, Voice of holy speaking,
Teacher sent of God, be near,
Whispering through the day's cool silence,
Let my spirit hear!

So, when thoughts of evil doers
Waken scorn, or hatred move,
Shall a mournful fellow-feeling
Temper all with love.

* * * * *

From "The Tent on the Beach."


O lonely bay of Trinity,
O dreary shores, give ear!
Lean down unto the white-lipped sea
The voice of God to hear!

From world to world his couriers fly,
Thought-winged, and shod with fire;
The angel of his stormy sky
Rides down the sunken wire.

What saith the herald of the Lord?
"The world's long strife is done;
Close wedded by that mystic cord,
Its continents are one.

"And one in heart, as one in blood,
Shall all her peoples be;
The hands of human brotherhood
Are clasped beneath the sea.

"Through Orient seas, o'er Afric's plain
And Asian mountains borne,
The vigor of the Northern brain
Shall nerve the world outworn.

"From clime to clime, from shore to shore,
Shall thrill the magic thread;
The new Prometheus steals once more
The fire that wakes the dead."

Throb on, strong pulse of thunder! beat
From answering beach to beach;
Fuse nations in thy kindly heat,
And melt the chains of each!

Wild terror of the sky above,
Glide tamed and dumb below!
Bear gently, Ocean's carrier-dove,
Thy errands to and fro.

Weave on, swift shuttle of the Lord,
Beneath the deep so far,
The bridal robe of earth's accord,
The funeral shroud of war!

For lo! the fall of Ocean's wall,
Space mocked, and time outrun;
And round the world the thought of all
Is as the thought of one!

The poles unite, the zones agree,
The tongues of striving cease;
As on the sea of Galilee,
The Christ is whispering, Peace!

* * * * *

From Snow-Bound.


The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon,
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east: we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

* * * * *

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
A zigzag wavering to and fro
Crossed and recrossed the winged snow:
And ere the early bed-time came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And, through the glass, the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm rolled on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature's geometric signs,
In starry flake and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,--
A universe of sky and snow!

* * * * *

From "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim."


* * * * *

Gathered from many sects, the Quaker brought
His old beliefs, adjusting to the thought
That moved his soul, the creed his fathers taught.

One faith alone, so broad that all mankind
Within themselves its secret witness find,
The soul's communion with the Eternal Mind,

The Spirit's law, the Inward Rule and Guide,
Scholar and peasant, lord and serf, allied,
The polished Penn, and Cromwell's Ironside.

As still in Hemskerck's Quaker meeting, face
By face, in Flemish detail, we may trace
How loose-mouthed boor, and fine ancestral grace,

Sat in close contrast,--the clipt-headed churl,
Broad market-dame, and simple serving-girl,
By skirt of silk and periwig in curl!

For soul touched soul; the spiritual treasure-trove
Made all men equal, none could rise above,
Nor sink below, that level of God's love.

So, with his rustic neighbors sitting down,
The homespun frock beside the scholar's gown,
Pastorius, to the manners of the town

Added the freedom of the woods, and sought
The bookless wisdom by experience taught,
And learned to love his new-found home, while not

Forgetful of the old; the seasons went
Their rounds, and somewhat to his spirit lent
Of their own calm and measureless content.

Glad even to tears, he heard the robin sing
His song of welcome to the Western spring,
And bluebird borrowing from the sky his wing.

And when the miracle of autumn came,
And all the woods with many-colored flame
Of splendor, making summer's greenness tame,

Burned unconsumed, a voice without a sound
Spake to him from each kindled bush around
And made the strange, new landscape holy ground.

* * * * *

=_Albert Pike, 1809-._= (Manual, p. 523.)

From "Lines on the Rocky Mountains."


The deep, transparent sky is full
Of many thousand glittering lights--
Unnumbered stars that calmly rule
The dark dominions of the night.
The mild, bright moon has upward risen,
Out of the gray and boundless plain,
And all around the white snows glisten,
Where frost, and ice, and silence, reign,--
While ages roll away, and they unchanged remain.

These mountains, piercing the blue sky
With their eternal cones of ice,--
The torrents dashing from on high,
O'er rock, and crag, and precipice,--
Change not, but still remain as ever,
Unwasting, deathless, and sublime,
And will remain while lightnings quiver,
Or stars the hoary summits climb,
Or rolls the thunder-chariot of eternal Time.

* * * * *

=_Anne C. Lynch Botta._=

From her "Poems."


Deal kindly with those speechless ones,
That throng our gladsome earth;
Say not the bounteous gift of life
Alone is nothing worth.

What though with mournful memories
They sigh not for the past?
What though their ever joyous now
No future overcast.

No aspirations fill their breast
With longings undefined;
They live, they love, and they are blest
For what they seek they find.

They see no mystery in the stars,
No wonder in the plain,
And Life's enigma wakes in them,
No questions dark and vain.

To them earth is a final home,
A bright and blest abode;
Their lives unconsciously flow on
In harmony with God.

To this fair world our human hearts
Their hopes and longings bring,
And o'er its beauty and its bloom,
Their own dark shadows fling.

Between the future and the past
In wild unrest we stand,
And ever as our feet advance,
Retreats the promised land.

And though Love, Fame, and Wealth, and Power
Bind in their gilded bond,
We pine to grasp the unattained--
The _something_ still beyond.

And, beating on their prison bars,
Our spirits ask more room,
And with unanswered questionings,
They pierce beyond the tomb.

Then say thou not, oh, doubtful heart!
There is no life to come:
That in some tearless, cloudless land;
Thou shalt not find thy home.

* * * * *

=_Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-._= (Manual, pp. 478, 520.)

From his Poems.

=_378._= THE LAST LEAF.

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane.

My grandmamma has said,--
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago,--
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow.

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back.
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,--
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

* * * * *

From "The Professor at the Breakfast Table."


* * * * *

They reach the holy place, fulfill the days
To solemn feasting given, and grateful praise.
At last they turn, and far Moriah's height
Melts into southern sky and fades from sight.
All day the dusky caravan has flowed
In devious trails along the winding road,--
(For many a step their homeward path attends,
And all the sons of Abraham are as friends.)
Evening has come,--the hour of rest and joy;--
Hush! hush! that whisper,--"Where is Mary's boy?"
O weary hour! O aching days that passed,
Filled with strange fears, each wilder than the last:
The soldier's lance,--the fierce centurion's sword,--
The crushing wheels that whirl some Roman lord,--
The midnight crypt that sucks the captive's breath,--
The blistering sun on Hinnom's vale of death!
Thrice on his cheek had rained the morning light,
Thrice on his lips the mildewed kiss of night,
Crouched by some porphyry column's shining plinth,
Or stretched beneath the odorous terebinth.
At last, in desperate mood, they sought once more
The Temple's porches, searched in vain before;
They found him seated with the ancient men,--
The grim old rufflers of the tongue and pen,--
Their bald heads glistening as they clustered near,
Their gray beards slanting as they turned to hear,
Lost In half-envious wonder and surprise
That lips so fresh should utter words so wise.
And Mary said,--as one who, tried too long,
Tells all her grief and half her sense of wrong.--
"What is this thoughtless thing which thou hast done?
Lo, we have sought thee sorrowing, O my son!"
Few words he spake, and scarce of filial tone,--
Strange words, their sense a mystery yet unknown;
Then turned with them and left the holy hill,
To all their mild commands obedient still.
The tale was told to Nazareth's sober men,
And Nazareth's matrons told it oft again;
The maids retold it at the fountain's side;
The youthful shepherds doubted or denied;
It passed around among the listening friends,
With all that fancy adds and fiction lends,
Till newer marvels dimmed the young renown
Of Joseph's son, who talked the Rabbies down.
But Mary, faithful to its lightest word,
Kept in her heart the sayings she had heard,
Till the dread morning rent the Temple's veil,
And shuddering Earth confirmed the wondrous tale.

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall;
A mother's secret hope outlives them all.

* * * * *

=_Willis Gaylord Clark, 1810-1841._= (Manual, pp. 503, 523.)

From his "Literary Remains."


Come, while the morning of thy life is glowing--
Ere the dim phantoms thou art chasing die;
Ere the gay spell which earth is round thee throwing,
Fade like the sunset of a summer sky;
Life hath but shadows, save a promise given,
Which lights the future with a fadeless ray;
O, touch the sceptre--win a hope in heaven--
Come--turn thy spirit from the world away.

Then will the crosses of this brief existence,
Seem airy nothings to thine ardent soul;
And shining brightly in the forward distance,
Will of thy patient race appear the goal;
Home of the weary! where in peace reposing,
The spirit lingers in unclouded bliss,
Though o'er its dust the curtained grave is closing--
Who would not _early_ choose a lot like this?

* * * * *

=_James Russell Lowell, 1819-._= (Manual, p. 520.)

From his "Miscellaneous Poems," &c.

=_381._= A SONG.

Violet! sweet violet!
Thine eyes are full of tears;
Are they wet
Even yet,
With the thought of other years?
Or with gladness are they full,
For the night so beautiful,
And longing for those far-off spheres?

Loved-one of my youth thou wast,
Of my merry youth,
And I see,
All the fair and sunny past,
All its openness and truth,
Ever fresh and green in thee
As the moss is in the sea.

Thy little heart, that hath with love
Grown colored like the sky above,
On which thou lookest ever,--
Can it know
All the woe
Of hope for what returneth never,
All the sorrow and the longing
To these hearts of ours belonging?

Out on it! no foolish pining
For the sky
Dims thine eye,
Or for the stars so calmly shining;
Like thee let this soul of mine
Take hue from that wherefor I long,
Self-stayed and high, serene and strong,
Not satisfied with hoping--but divine.

Violet! dear violet!
Thy blue eyes are only wet
With joy and love of him who sent thee,
And for the fulfilling sense
Of that glad obedience
Which made thee all that Nature meant thee!

* * * * *

From "The Present Crisis."


When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
Of a century, bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

* * * * *

Once, to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by for ever, twist that darkness and that light.

* * * * *

We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great,
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din,
List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,--
"They enslave their children's children, who make compromise with sin."

* * * * *

From The Atlantic Monthly.


O sailors, did sweet eyes look after you,
The day you sailed away from sunny Spain?
Bright eyes that followed fading ship and crew,
Melting in tender rain?

Did no one dream of that drear night to be,
Wild with the wind, fierce with the stinging snow,
When, on yon granite point that frets the sea,
The ship met her death-blow?

Fifty long years ago these sailors died:
(None know how many sleep beneath the waves:)
Fourteen gray head-stones, rising side by side,
Point out their nameless graves,--

Lonely, unknown, deserted, but for me,
And the wild birds that flit with mournful cry,
And sadder winds, and voices of the sea
That moans perpetually.

Wives, mothers, maidens, wistfully, in vain
Questioned the distance for the yearning sail,
That, leaning landward, should have stretched again
White arms wide on the gale,

To bring back their beloved. Year by year,
Weary they watched, till youth and beauty passed,
And lustrous eyes grew dim, and age drew near,
And hope was dead at last.

Still summer broods o'er that delicious land,
Rich, fragrant, warm with skies of golden glow:
Live any yet of that forsaken band
Who loved so long ago?

O Spanish women, over the far seas,
Could I but show you where your dead repose!
Could I send tidings on this northern breeze,
That strong and steady blows!

Dear dark-eyed sisters, you remember yet
These you have lost, but you can never know
One stands at their bleak graves whose eyes are wet
With thinking of your woe!

* * * * *

=_Edgar Allen Poe._= (Manual, p. 510.)

From his Works.

=_384._= "THE RAVEN."

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door;
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door,--
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah! distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow,
From my books, surcease of sorrow,--sorrow for the lost Lenore,--
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,--
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door;
Darkness there,--and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whisper'd word, "Lenore!"
This I whisper'd, and an echo murmur'd back the word, "Lenore!"
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before.
"Surely," said I,--"surely that is something at my window-lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore,--
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;--
'Tis the wind, and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or staid he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door,--
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,--
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then, this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no
Ghastly, grim, and ancient Raven wandering from the nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvell'd this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was bless'd with seeing bird above his chamber door,--
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,--
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he utter'd; not a feather then he flutter'd--
Till I scarcely more than mutter'd, "Other friends have flown before--
On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before,"
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Follow'd fast and follow'd faster, till his songs one burden bore--
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never--never--more!'"

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheel'd a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust, and
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining which the lamp-light gloated o'er
_She_ shall press, ah, never more!

Then methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent
Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff, this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Never more."

"Prophet," said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil!--
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest toss'd thee here ashore,
Desolate, though all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by Horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Never more."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul, with sorrow laden, if within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Never more."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked,
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Never more."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor,
Shall be lifted--never more.

* * * * *

=_Alfred B. Street, 1811-._= (Manual, pp. 522, 531.)

From his "Poems."


There is a blending of cloud, haze, and sky;
A silvery sheet, with spaces of soft hue;
A trembling veil of gauze is stretched athwart
The shadowy hill-sides and dark forest-flanks;
A soothing quiet broods upon the air,
And the faint sunshine winks with drowsiness.
Far sounds melt mellow on the ear: the bark,
The bleat, the tinkle, whistle, blast of horn,
The rattle of the wagon-wheel, the low,
The fowler's shot, the twitter of the bird,
And even the hue of converse from the road.

* * * * *

The sunshine flashed on streams,
Sparkled on leaves, and laughed on fields and woods.
All, all was life and motion, as all now
Is sleep and quiet. Nature in her change
Varies each day, as in the world of man
She moulds the differing features. Yea, each leaf
Is variant from its fellow. Yet her works
Are blended in a glorious harmony,
For thus God made his earth. Perchance His breath
Was music when He spake it into life,
Adding thereby another instrument
To the innumerable choral orbs
Sending the tribute of their grateful praise
In ceaseless anthems towards His sacred throne.

* * * * *

From "Drawings and Tintings."


Struggling along the mountain path,
We hear, amid the gloom,
Like a roused giant's voice of wrath,
A deep-toned, sullen boom:
Emerging on the platform high,
Burst sudden to the startled eye
Rocks, woods, and waters, wild and rude--
A scene of savage solitude.

Swift as an arrow from the bow;
Headlong the torrent leaps,
Then tumbling round, in dazzling snow
And dizzy whirls it sweeps;
Then, shooting through the narrow aisle
Of this sublime cathedral pile,
Amidst its vastness, dark and grim,
It peals its everlasting hymn.

Pyramid on pyramid of rock
Towers upward, wild and riven,
As piled by Titan hand, to mock
The distant smiling heaven.
And where its blue streak is displayed,
Branches their emerald net-work braid
So high, the eagle in his flight
Seems but a dot upon the sight.

Here column'd hemlocks point in air
Their cone-like fringes green;
Their trunks hang knotted, black and bare,
Like spectres o'er the scene;
Here lofty crag and deep abyss,
And awe-inspiring precipice;
There grottoes bright in wave-worn gloss,
And carpeted with velvet moss.

No wandering ray e'er kissed with light
This rock-walled sable pool,
Spangled with foam-gems thick and white,
And slumbering deep and cool;
But where yon cataract roars down,
Set by the sun, a rainbow crown
Is dancing, o'er the dashing strife--
Hope glittering o'er the storm of life.

Beyond, the smooth and mirror'd sheet
So gently steals along,
The very ripples, murmuring sweet,
Scarce drown the wild bee's song;
The violet from the grassy side
Dips its blue chalice in the tide;
And, gliding o'er the leafy brink,
The deer, unfrightened, stoops to drink.

Myriads of man's time-measured race
Have vanished from the earth,
Nor left a memory of their trace,
Since first this scene had birth;
These waters, thundering now along,
Joined in Creation's matin-song;
And only by their dial-trees
Have known the lapse of centuries!

* * * * *

=_Laura M.H. Thurston, 1812-1842._= (Manual, P. 524.)


I hail thee, Valley of the West,
For what thou yet shalt be!
I hail thee for the hopes that rest
Upon thy destiny!
Here from this mountain height, I see
Thy bright waves floating rapidly,
Thine emerald fields outspread;
And feel that in the book of fame,
Proudly shall thy recorded name
In later days be read.

Oh! brightly, brightly glow thy skies
In Summer's sunny hours!
The green earth seems a paradise
Arrayed in summer flowers!
But oh! there is a land afar,
Whose skies to me all brighter are,
Along the Atlantic shore!
For eyes beneath their radiant shrine
In kindlier glances answered mine:
Can these their light restore?

Upon the lofty bound I stand,
That parts the East and West;
Before me lies a fairy land;
Behind--_a home of rest!_
_Here_, Hope her wild enchantment flings,
Portrays all bright and lovely things,
My footsteps to allure--
But _there_, in memory's light I see
All that was once most dear to me--
My young heart's cynosure!

* * * * *

=_Francis S. Osgood, 1812-1850_= (Manual, p. 523.)

=_388._= "The Parting."

I looked not, I sighed not, I dared not betray
The wild storm of feeling that strove to have way,
For I knew that each sign of the sorrow _I_ felt
_Her_ soul to fresh pity and passion would melt,
And calm was my voice, and averted my eyes,
As I parted from all that in being I prize.

I pined but one moment that form to enfold.
Yet the hand that touched hers, like the marble was cold,--
I heard her voice falter a timid farewell,
Nor trembled, though soft on my spirit it fell,
And she knew not, she dreamed not, the anguish of soul
Which only my pity for her could control.

It is over--the loveliest dream of delight
That ever illumined a wanderer's night!
Yet one gleam of comfort will brighten my way,
Though mournful and desolate ever I stray:
It is this--that to her, to my idol, I spared
The pang that her love could have softened and shared!

* * * * *

=_Harriet Beecher Stowe._= (Manual, p. 484.)

From the "Religious Poems."


When winds are raging o'er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
'Tis said, far down, beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.

Far, far beneath, the noise of tempests dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.

So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest!
There is a temple, sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life's angry voices
Dies in hushed stillness at its peaceful door.

Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth,
Disturbs that soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.

O Rest of rests! O Peace, serene, eternal!
Thou ever livest, and Thou changest never;
And in the secret of Thy presence dwelleth
Fullness of joy, for ever and for ever.

* * * * *

=_390._= "ONLY A YEAR."

One year ago,--a ringing voice,
A clear blue eye,
And clustering curls of sunny hair,
Too fair to die.

Only a year,--no voice, no smile,
No glance of eye,
No clustering curls of golden hair,
Fair but to die!

One year ago,--what loves, what schemes
Far into life!
What joyous hopes, what high, resolves,
What generous strife!

The silent picture on the wall,
The burial stone,
Of all that beauty, life, and joy
Remain alone!

One year,--one year,--one little year,
And so much gone!
And yet the even flow of life
Moves calmly on.

The grave grows green, the flowers bloom fair,
Above that head;
No sorrowing tint of leaf or spray
Says he is dead.

No pause or hush of merry birds
That sing above,
Tells us how coldly sleeps below
The form we love.

Where hast thou been this year, beloved?
What hast thou seen?
What visions fair, what glorious life,
Where thou hast been?

The veil! the veil! so thin, so strong!
'Twixt us and thee;
The mystic veil! when shall it fall,
That we may see?

Not dead, not sleeping, not even gone,
But present still,
And waiting for the coming hour
Of God's sweet will.

Lord of the living and the dead,
Our Saviour dear!
We lay in silence at thy feet
This sad, sad year!

* * * * *

=_Henry T. Tuckerman._=

From his "Poems."


The quarry whence thy form majestic sprung,
Has peopled earth with grace,
Heroes and gods that elder bards have sung,
A bright and peerless race,
But from its sleeping veins ne'er rose before,
A shape of loftier name
Than his, who, Glory's wreath with meekness wore,
The noblest son of fame
Sheathed is the sword that Passion never stained;
His gaze around is cast,
As if the joys of Freedom, newly gained,
Before his vision passed;
As if a nation's shout of love and pride
With music filled the air,
And his calm soul was lifted on the tide
Of deep and grateful prayer;
As if the crystal mirror of his life
To fancy sweetly came,
With scenes of patient toil and noble strife,
Undimmed by doubt or shame;
As if the lofty purpose of his soul
Expression would betray--
The high resolve Ambition to control,
And thrust her crown away!
O, it was well in marble, firm and white,
To carve our hero's form,
Whose angel guidance was our strength in fight,
Our star amid the storm;
Whose matchless truth has made his name divine,
And human freedom sure,
His country great, his tomb earth's dearest shrine,
While man and time endure!
And it is well to place his image there,
Beneath, the dome he blest;
Let meaner spirits who its councils share,
Revere that silent guest!
Let us go up with high and sacred love,
To look on his pure brow,
And as, with solemn grace, he points above,
Renew the patriot's vow!

* * * * *

=_John G. Saxe, 1816-._= (Manual, p. 523, 531.)

From "Early Rising."


"God bless the man who first invented sleep!"
So Sancho Panza said, and so say I:
And bless him, also, that he didn't keep
His great discovery to himself; nor try
To make it--as the lucky fellow might--
A close monopoly by patent-right!

* * * * *

'Tis beautiful to leave the world a while
For the soft visions of the gentle night;
And free, at last, from mortal care or guile,
To live as only in the angels' sight,
In Sleep's sweet realm so cosily shut in,
Where, at the worst, we only dream of sin!

So let us sleep, and give the Maker praise.
I like the lad, who, when his father thought
To clip his morning nap by hackneyed praise
Of vagrant worm by early songster caught,
Cried, "Served him right!--it's not at all surprising;
The worm was punished, sir, for early rising!"

* * * * *


Right jollie is ye tailyor-man
As annie man may be;
And all ye daye, upon ye benche
He worketh merrilie.

And oft, ye while in pleasante wise
He coileth up his lymbes,
He singeth songs ye like whereof
Are not in Watts his hymns.

And yet he toileth all ye while
His merrie catches rolle;
As true unto ye needle as
Ye needle to ye pole.

What cares ye valiant tailyor-man
For all ye cowarde fears?
Against ye scissors of ye Fates,
He points his mightie shears.

He heedeth not ye anciente jests
That witless sinners use;
What feareth ye bolde tailyor-man
Ye hissinge of a goose?

He pulleth at ye busie threade,
To feede his lovinge wife
And eke his childe; for unto them
It is the threade of life.

He cutteth well ye rich man's coate,
And with unseemlie pride,
He sees ye little waistcoate In
Ye cabbage bye his side,

Meanwhile ye tailyor-man his wife,
To labor nothing loth,
Sits bye with readie hande to baste
Ye urchin, and ye cloth.

Full happie is ye tailyor-man
Yet is he often tried,
Lest he, from fullness of ye dimes,
Wax wanton in his pride.

Full happie is ye tailyor-man,
And yet he hath a foe,
A cunning enemie that none
So well as tailyors knowe.

It is ye slipperie customer
Who goes his wicked wayes,
And wears ye tailyor-man his coate,
But never, never payes!

* * * * *

From "The Money King."


In olden times,--if classic poets say
The simple truth, as poets do to-day,--
When Charon's boat conveyed a spirit o'er
The Lethean water to the Hadean shore,
The fare was just a penny,--not too great,
The moderate, regular, Stygian statute rate.
_Now_, for a shilling, he will cross the stream,
(His paddles whirling to the force of steam!)
And bring, obedient to some wizard power,
Back to the Earth more spirits in an hour,
Than Brooklyn's famous ferry could convey,
Or thine, Hoboken, in the longest day!
Time was when men bereaved of vital breath,
Were calm and silent in the realms of Death;
When mortals dead and decently inurned
Were heard no more; no traveler returned,
Who once had crossed the dark Plutonian strand,
To whisper secrets of the spirit-land,--
Save when perchance some sad, unquiet soul--
Among the tombs might wander on parole,--
A well-bred ghost, at night's bewitching noon,
Returned to catch some glimpses of the moon,
Wrapt in a mantle of unearthly white,
(The only rapping of an ancient sprite!)
Stalked round in silence till the break of day,
Then from the Earth passed unperceived away.
Now all is changed: the musty maxim fails,
And dead men _do_ repeat the queerest tales!
Alas, that here, as in the books, we see
The travelers clash, the doctors disagree!
Alas, that all, the further they explore,
For all their search are but confused the more!
Ye great departed!--men of mighty mark,--
Bacon and Newton, Adams, Adam Clarke,
Edwards and Whitefield, Franklin, Robert Hall,
Calhoun, Clay, Channing, Daniel Webster,--all
Ye great quit-tenants of this earthly ball,--
If in your new abodes ye cannot rest,
But must return, O, grant us this request:
Come with a noble and celestial air,
To prove your title to the names ye bear!
Give some clear token of your heavenly birth;
Write as good English as ye wrote on earth!
Show not to all, in ranting prose and verse,
The spirit's progress is from bad to worse;
And, what were once superfluous to advise,
Don't tell, I beg you, such, egregious lies!--
Or if perchance your agents are to blame,
Don't let them trifle with your honest fame;
Let chairs and tables rest, and "rap" instead,
Ay, "knock" your slippery "Mediums" on the head!

* * * * *

=_395._= "Boys"

"The proper study of mankind is man,"--
The most perplexing one, no doubt, is woman,
The subtlest study that the mind can scan,
Of all deep problems, heavenly or human!

But of all studies in the round of learning,
From nature's marvels down to human toys,
To minds well fitted for acute discerning,
The very queerest one is that of boys!

If to ask questions that would puzzle Plato,
And all the schoolmen of the Middle Age,--
If to make precepts worthy of old Cato,
Be deemed philosophy, your boy's a sage!

If the possession of a teeming fancy,
(Although, forsooth, the younker doesn't know it,)
Which he can use in rarest necromancy,
Be thought poetical, your boy's a poet!

If a strong will and most courageous bearing,
If to be cruel as the Roman Nero;
If all that's chivalrous, and all that's daring,
Can make a hero, then the boy's a hero!

But changing soon with his increasing stature,
The boy is lost in manhood's riper age,
And with him goes his former triple nature,--
No longer Poet, Hero, now, nor Sage!

* * * * *

=_396._= SONNET TO A CLAM.

Inglorious friend! most confident I am
Thy life is one of very little ease;
Albeit men mock thee with their similes,
And prate of being "happy as a clam!"
What though thy shell protects thy fragile head
From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea?
Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee,
While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed,
And bear thee off,--as foemen take their spoil,--
Far from thy friends and family to roam;
Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home,
To meet destruction in a foreign broil!
Though thou art tender, yet thy humble bard
Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!

* * * * *

=_Lucy Hooper, 1816-1841._= (Manual, p. 524.)


A voice is on mine ear--a solemn voice:
I come, I come, it calls me to my rest;
Faint not, my yearning heart; rejoice, rejoice;
Soon shalt thou reach the gardens of the blest:
On the bright waters there, the living streams,
Soon shalt thou launch in peace thy weary bark,
Waked by rude waves no more from gentle dreams,
Sadly to feel that earth to thee is dark--
Not bright as once; O, vain, vain memories, cease,
I cast your burden down--I strive for peace.

I heed the warning voice: oh, spurn me not,
My early friend; let the bruised heart go free:
Mine were high fancies, but a wayward lot
Hath made my youthful dreams in sadness flee;
Then chide not, I would linger yet awhile,
Thinking o'er wasted hours, a weary train,
Cheered by the moon's soft light, the sun's glad smile,
Watching the blue sky o'er my path of pain,
Waiting nay summons: whose shall be the eye
To glance unkindly--I have come to die!

Sweet words--to die! O, pleasant, pleasant sounds,
What bright revealings to my heart they bring;
What melody, unheard in earth's dull rounds,
And floating from the land of glorious Spring
The eternal home! my weary thoughts revive,
Fresh flowers my mind puts forth, and buds of love,
Gentle and kindly thoughts for all that live,
Fanned by soft breezes from the world above:
And pausing not, I hasten to my rest--
Again, O, gentle summons, thou art blest!

* * * * *

=_Catharine Ann Warfield._=

=_398._= "THE RETURN TO ASHLAND.[85]"

Unfold the silent gates,
The Lord of Ashland waits
Patient without, to enter his domain;
Tell not who sits within,
With sad and stricken mien,
That he, her soul's beloved, hath come again.

Long hath she watched for him,
Till hope itself grew dim,
And sorrow ceased to wake the frequent tear;
But let these griefs depart,
Like shadows from her heart--
Tell her, the long expected host is here.

He comes--but not alone,
For darkly pressing on,
The people pass beneath his bending trees,
Not as they came of yore,
When torch and banner bore
Their part amid exulting harmonies.

But still, and sad, they sweep
Amid the foliage deep,
Even to the threshold of that mansion gray,
Whither from life's unrest,
As an eagle seeks his nest,
It ever was his wont to flee away.

And he once more hath come
To that accustomed home,
To taste a calm, life never offered yet;
To know a rest so deep,
That they who watch and weep,
In this vain world may well its peace regret.

[Footnote 85: The home of Henry Clay.]

* * * * *

=_Arthur Cleveland Coxe, 1818-._= (Manual, p. 523.)

=_399._= THE HEART'S SONG.

In the silent midnight watches,
List thy bosom door;
How it knocketh, knocketh, knocketh,
Knocketh evermore!
Say not 'tis thy pulse's beating;
'Tis thy heart of sin;
'Tis thy Saviour knocks, and crieth,
"Rise, and let me in."

Death comes down with reckless footstep
To the hall and hut;
Think you Death will tarry knocking
Where the door is shut?
Jesus waiteth, waiteth, waiteth;
But thy door is fast.
Grieved, away thy Saviour goeth;
Death breaks in at last.

Then 'tis thine to stand entreating
Christ to let thee in,
At the gate of heaven beating,
Wailing for thy sin.
Nay, alas! thou foolish virgin,
Hast thou then forgot?
Jesus waited long to know thee,--
Now he knows thee not.

* * * * *

=_William Ross Wallace, 1819-._= (Manual, p. 523.)

=_400._= THE NORTH EDDA.

Noble was the old North Edda,
Filling many a noble grave,
That for "man the one thing needful
In his world is to be brave."

This, the Norland's blue-eyed mother
Nightly chanted to her child,
While the Sea-King, grim and stately,
Looked upon his boy and smiled.

* * * * *

Let us learn that old North Edda
Chanted grandly on the grave,
Still for man the one thing needful
In his world is to be brave.

Valkyrs yet are forth and choosing
Who must be among the slain;
Let us, like that grim old Sea-King,
Smile at Death upon the plain,--

Smile at tyrants leagued with falsehood,
Knowing Truth, eternal, stands
With the book God wrote for Freedom
Always open in her hands,--

Smile at fear when in our duty,
Smile at Slander's Jotun-breath,
Smile upon our shrouds when summoned
Down the darkling deep of death.

Valor only grows a manhood;
Only this upon our sod,
Keeps us in the golden shadow
Falling from the throne of God.

* * * * *

=_Walter Whitman, 1819-.[86]_=

From Leaves of Grass.


I too, many and many a time cross'd the river, the sun half an hour
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls--I saw them high in
the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies,
and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward
the south.

I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape
of my head, in the sun-lit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward,
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look'd towards the lower bay to notice the arriving ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars,
The round masts, the swimming motion of the hulls, the slender
serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl
of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls
of the granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely
flank'd on each side by the barges--the hay-boat, the
belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys
burning high and glaringly into the night.
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and
yellow light, over the tops of houses, and down into the
clefts of streets.

These and all else, were to me the same as they are to you;
I project myself a moment to tell you--also I return.

[Footnote 86: Was born in New York in 1819, and has been printer,
teacher, and later, an official at Washington. His poetry, though
irregular in form, and often coarse in sentiment, is decidedly original
and vigorous.]

* * * * *

=_Amelia B. Welby, 1819-1852._= (Manual, p. 523.)

=_402._= "THE BEREAVED."

It is a still and lovely spot
Where they have laid thee down to rest;
The white rose and forget-me-not
Bloom sweetly on thy breast,
And birds and streams with liquid lull
Have made the stillness beautiful.

And softly through the forest bars
Light, lovely shapes, on glossy plumes,
Float ever in, like winged stars,
Amid the purpling glooms.
Their sweet songs, borne from tree to tree,
Thrill the light leaves with melody.

Alas! too deep a weight of thought
Had filled thy heart in youth's sweet hour;
It seemed with love and bliss o'erfraught;
As fleeting passion-flower
Unfolding 'neath a southern sky,
To blossom soon, and soon to die.

Alas! the very path I trace,
In happier hours thy footsteps made;
This spot was once thy resting place,
Within the silent shade.
Thy white hand trained the fragrant bough
That drops its blossoms o'er me now.

* * * * *

Yet in those calm and blooming bowers
I seem to feel thy presence still,
Thy breath seems floating o'er the flowers,
Thy whisper on the hill;
The clear, faint starlight, and the sea,
Are whispering to my heart of thee.

No more thy smiles my heart rejoice,
Yet still I start to meet thy eye,
And call upon the low, sweet voice,
That gives me no reply--
And list within my silent door
For the light feet that come no more.

* * * * *

=_Rebecca S. Nichols,_= about =_1820-._= (Manual, pp. 503, 524.)

From "Musings."


How like a conquerer the king of day
Folds back the curtains of his orient couch,
Bestrides the fleecy clouds, and speeds his way
Through skies made brighter by his burning touch;
For, as a warrior from the tented field
Victorious, hastes his wearied limbs to rest,
So doth the sun his brazen sceptre yield,
And sink, fair Night, upon thy gentle breast.

* * * * *

Fair Vesper, when thy golden tresses gleam
Amid the banners of the sunset sky,
Thy spirit floats on every radiant beam
That gilds with beauty thy sweet home on high;
Then hath my soul its hour of deepest bliss,
And gentle thoughts like angels round me throng,
Breathing of worlds (O, how unlike to this!)
Where dwell eternal melody and song.

* * * * *

=_Alice Cary._=

"The Old House."


My little birds, with backs as brown
As sand, and throats as white as frost,
I've searched the summer up and down,
And think the other birds have lost
The tunes, you sang so sweet, so low,
About the old house, long ago.

My little flowers, that with your bloom
So hid the grass you grew upon,
A child's foot scarce had any room
Between you,--are you dead and gone?
I've searched through fields and gardens rare,
Nor found your likeness any where.

My little hearts, that beat so high
With love to God, and trust in men,
Oh come to me, and say if I
But dream, or was I dreaming then,
What time we sat within the glow
Of the old house-hearth, long ago?

My little hearts, so fond, so true,
I searched the world all far and wide,
And never found the like of you:
God grant we meet the other side
The darkness 'twixt us, now that stands,
In that new house not made with hands!

* * * * *

=_Sidney Dyer,_=[87] about =_1820-._=


However humble be the bard who sings,
If he can touch one chord of love that slumbers,
His name, above the proudest line of kings,
Shall live immortal in his truthful numbers.

The name of him who sung of "Home, sweet home,[88]"
Is now enshrined with every holy feeling;
And though he sleeps beneath no sainted dome,
Each heart a pilgrim at his shrine is kneeling.

The simple lays that wake no tear when sung,
Like chords of feeling from the music taken,
Are, in the bosom of the singer, strung,
Which every throbbing heart-pulse will awaken.

[Footnote 87: A Baptist clergyman, who has lived for many years at
Indianapolis, Indiana; the author of numerous songs.]

[Footnote 88: John Howard Payne.]

* * * * *

=_Austin T. Earle,[89] 1821-._=

From "Warm Hearts had We."


The autumn winds were damp and cold,
And dark the clouds that swept along,
As from the fields, the grains of gold
We gathered, with the husker's song.
Our hardy forms, though thinly clad,
Scarce felt the winds that swept us by,
For she a child, and I a lad,
Warm hearts had we, my Kate and I.

We heaped the ears of yellow corn,
More worth than bars of gold to view:
The crispy covering from it torn,
The noblest grain that ever grew;
Nor heeded we, though thinly clad,
The chilly winds that swept us by;
For she a child, and I a lad,
Warm hearts had we, my Kate and I.

[Footnote 89: Was born in Tennessee; a well-known Western writer of both
verse and prose.]

* * * * *

=_Thomas Buchanan Read, 1822-1872._= (Manual, p. 523.)

From "Sylvia, or the Last Shepherd."


* * * * *

Thus sang the shepherd crowned at noon
And every breast was heaved with sighs;--
Attracted by the tree and tune,
The winged singers left the skies.

Close to the minstrel sat the maid;
His song had drawn her fondly near:
Her large and dewy eyes betrayed
The secret to her bosom dear.

The factory people through the fields,
Pale men and maids and children pale,
Listened, forgetful of the wheel,
Till the last summons woke the vale.

And all the mowers rising said,
"The world has lost its dewy prime;
Alas! the Golden age is dead,
And we are of the Iron time!

"The wheel and loom have left our homes,--
Our maidens sit with empty hands,
Or toil beneath yon roaring domes,
And fill the factory's pallid bands,

"The fields are swept as by a war,
Our harvests are no longer blythe;
Yonder the iron mower's-car,
Comes with his devastating scythe.

"They lay us waste by fire and steel,
Besiege us to our very doors;
Our crops before the driving wheel
Fall captive to the conquerors.

"The pastoral age is dead, is dead!
Of all the happy ages chief;
Let every mower bow his head,
In token of sincerest grief.

"And let our brows be thickly bound
With every saddest flower that blows;
And all our scythes be deeply wound
With every mournful herb that grows."

Thus sang the mowers; and they said,
"The world has lost its dewy prime;
Alas! the Golden age is dead,
And we are of the Iron time!"

Each wreathed his scythe and twined his head;
They took their slow way through the plain:
The minstrel and the maiden led
Across the fields the solemn train.

The air was rife with clamorous sounds,
Of clattering factory-thundering forge,--
Conveyed from the remotest bounds
Of smoky plain and mountain gorge.

Here, with a sudden shriek and roar,
The rattling engine thundered by;
A steamer past the neighboring shore
Convulsed the river and the sky.

The brook that erewhile laughed abroad,
And o'er one light wheel loved to play,
Now, like a felon, groaning trod
Its hundred treadmills night and day.

The fields were tilled with steeds of steam,
Whose fearful neighing shook the vales;
Along the road there rang no team,--
The barns were loud, but not with flails.

And still the mournful mowers said,
"The world has lost its dewy prime;
Alas! the Golden age is dead,
And we are of the Iron time!"

* * * * *

From "The Closing Scene."


All sights were mellowed, and all sounds subdued,
The hills seemed farther, and the streams sang low;
As in a dream, the distant woodman hewed
His winter log, with many a muffled blow.

* * * * *

The sentinel cock upon the hill-side crew,
Crew thrice, and all was stiller than before,
Silent, till some replying warder blew
His alien horn, and then was heard no more.

Where erst the jay, within the elm's tall crest,
Made garrulous trouble round her unfledged young,
And where the oriole hung her swaying nest,
By every light wind, like a censer, swung.

* * * * *

Amid all this, the centre of the scene,
The white-haired matron, with monotonous tread,
Plied the swift wheel, and, with her joyless mien,
Sat like a Fate, and watched the flying thread.

* * * * *

While yet her cheek was bright with summer bloom,
Her country summoned, and she gave her all;
And twice war bowed to her his sable plume,
Re-gave the swords to rust upon the wall--

Re-gave the swords, but not the hand that drew,
And struck for Liberty its dying blow;
Nor him who, to his sire and country true,
Fell 'mid the ranks of the invading foe.

Long, but not loud, the droning wheel went on,
Like the low murmur of a hive at noon;
Long, but not loud, the memory of the gone
Breathed through her lips a sad and tremulous tune.

At last the thread was snapped; her head was bowed;
Life dropped the distaff through his hands serene;
And loving neighbors smoothed her careful shroud,
While death and winter closed the autumn scene.

* * * * *

=_Margaret M. Davidson, 1823-1837._= (Manual, p. 523.)

From Lines in Memory of her Sister Lucretia.


O thou, so early lost, so long deplored!
Pure spirit of my sister, be thou near;
And, while I touch this hallowed harp of thine,
Bend from the skies, sweet sister, bend and hear.

For thee I pour this unaffected lay;
To thee these simple numbers all belong:
For though thine earthly form has passed away,
Thy memory still inspires my childish song.

Take, then, this feeble tribute; 'tis thine own;
Thy fingers sweep my trembling heartstrings o'er,
Arouse to harmony each buried tone,
And bid its wakened music sleep no more.

Long has thy voice been silent, and thy lyre
Hung o'er thy grave, in death's unbroken rest;
But when its last sweet tones were borne away,
One answering echo lingered in my breast.

O thou pure spirit! if thou hoverest near,
Accept these lines, unworthy though they be,
Faint echoes from thy fount of song divine,
By thee inspired, and dedicate to thee.

* * * * *

=_John R. Thompson,[90] 1823-1873._=

=_410._= MUSIC IN CAMP.

Two armies covered hill and plain,
Where Rappahannock's waters
Ran deeply crimsoned with the stain
Of battle's recent slaughters.

The summer clouds lay pitched like tents
In meads of heavenly azure,
And each dread gun of the elements
Slept in its hid embrazure.

The breeze so softly blew, it made
No forest leaf to quiver,
And the smoke of the random cannonade
Rolled slowly from the river.

And now, where circling hills looked down,
With cannon grimly planted,
O'er listless camp and silent town
The golden sunset slanted.

When on the fervid air there came
A strain--now rich and tender;
The music seemed itself aflame
With day's departing splendor.

And yet once more the bugles sang
Above the stormy riot;
No shout upon the evening rang--
There reigned a holy quiet,

The sad, slow stream, its noiseless flood
Poured o'er the glistening pebbles;
All silent now the Yankees stood,
And silent stood the Rebels.

No unresponsive soul had heard
That plaintive note's appealing,
So deeply "Home, Sweet Home" had stirred
The hidden founts of feeling.

Or Blue, or Gray, the soldier sees,
As by the wand of fairy,
The cottage 'neath the live-oak trees,
The cabin by the prairie.

Or cold or warm, his native skies
Bend in their beauty o'er him;
Seen through the tear-mist in his eyes,
His loved ones stand before him.

As fades the iris after rain
In April's tearful weather,
The vision vanished, as the strain
And daylight died together.

But memory, waked by music's art,
Expressed in simplest numbers,
Subdued the sternest Yankee's heart,
Made light the Rebel's slumbers.

And fair the form of music shines,
That bright, celestial creature,
Who still 'mid war's embattled lines,
Gave this one touch of Nature.

[Footnote 90: Received a liberal education and relinquishing his
profession--the law--for literature, was for some years editor of the
Southern Literary Messenger. Has written chiefly for the magazines and
for the newspapers. A native of Virginia.]

* * * * *

=_George Henry Boker, 1824-._= (Manual, p. 520.)

From the "Ode to a Mountain Oak."


Type of unbending Will!
Type of majestic self-sustaining Power!
Elate in sunshine, firm when tempests lower,
May thy calm strength my wavering spirit fill!
Oh! let me learn from thee,
Thou proud and steadfast tree,
To bear unmurmuring what stern Time may send;
Nor 'neath life's ruthless tempests bend:
But calmly stand like thee,
Though wrath and storm shake me,
Though vernal hopes in yellow Autumn end,
And, strong in truth, work out my destiny.
Type of long-suffering Power!
Type of unbending Will!
Strong in the tempest's hour,
Bright when the storm is still;

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