Part 2 out of 6
As if it were beneath their right
To wear such borrowed diadems.
Low in the west gleam after gleam
Glowed faint and fainter, till the last
Made the dying day a living dream,
To last as long as life shall last.
And in the arches of the trees
The wild birds slept with folded wing;
And e'en the lips of the summer breeze
That sang all day, had ceased to sing.
And all was silent, save the rill
That rippled round the lilies' feet,
And sang, while stillness grew more still
To listen to the murmur sweet.
And now and then it surely seemed
The little stream was laughing low,
As if its sleepy wavelets dreamed
Such dreams as only children know.
So still that not the faintest breath
Did stir the shadows in the air;
It would have seemed the home of Death,
Had I not felt Life sleeping there.
And slow and soft, and soft and slow,
From darkling earth and darkened sky
Wide wings of gloom waved to and fro,
And spectral shadows flitted by.
And then, methought, upon the sward
I saw -- or was it starlight's ray?
Or angels come to watch and guard
The valley till the dawn of day?
Is every lower life the ward
Of spirits more divinely wrought?
'Tis sweet to believe 'tis God's, and hard
To think 'tis but a poet's thought.
But God's or poet's thought, I ween,
My senses did not fail me when
I saw veiled angels watch that scene
And guard its sleep, as they guard men.
Sweet sang the stream as on it pressed,
As sorrow sings a heart to sleep;
As a mother sings one child to rest,
And for the dead one still will weep.
I walked adown the singing stream,
The lilies slept on either side;
My heart -- it could not help but dream
At eve, and after eventide.
Ah! dreams of such a lofty reach
With more than earthly fancies fraught,
That not the strongest wings of speech
Could ever touch their lowest thought.
Dreams of the Bright, the Fair, the Far --
Heart-fancies flashing Heaven's hue --
That swept around, as sweeps a star
The boundless orbit of the True.
Yea! dreams all free from earthly taint,
Where human passion played no part,
As pure as thoughts that thrill a saint,
Or hunt an archangelic heart.
Ah! dreams that did not rise from sense,
And rose too high to stoop to it,
And framed aloft like frankincense
In censers round the infinite.
Yea! dreams that vied with angels' flight!
And, soaring, bore my heart away
Beyond the far star-bounds of night,
Unto the everlasting day.
How long I strolled beside the stream
I do not know, nor may I say;
But when the poet ceased to dream
The priest went on his knees to pray.
I felt as sure a seraph feels
When in some golden hour of grace
God smiles, and suddenly reveals
A new, strange glory in His face.
Ah! starlit valley! Lilies white!
The poet dreamed -- ye slumbered deep!
But when the priest knelt down that night
And prayed, why woke ye from your sleep?
* * * * *
The stream sang down the valley fair,
I saw the wakened lilies nod,
I knew they heard me whisper there,
"How beautiful art Thou, my God!"
Into a temple vast and dim,
Solemn and vast and dim,
Just when the last sweet Vesper Hymn
Was floating far away,
With eyes that tabernacled tears --
Her heart the home of tears --
And cheeks wan with the woes of years,
A woman went one day.
And, one by one, adown the aisles,
Adown the long, lone aisles,
Their faces bright with holy smiles
That follow after prayer,
The worshipers in silence passed,
In silence slowly passed away;
The woman knelt until the last
Had left her lonely there.
A holy hush came o'er the place,
O'er the holy place,
The shadows kissed her woe-worn face,
Her forehead touched the floor;
The wreck that drifted thro' the years --
Sin-driven thro' the years --
Was floating o'er the tide of tears,
To Mercy's golden shore.
Her lips were sealed, they could not pray,
They sighed, but could not pray,
All words of prayer had died away
From them long years ago;
But ah! from out her eyes there rose --
Sad from her eyes there rose --
The prayer of tears, which swiftest goes
To Heaven -- winged with woe.
With weary tears, her weary eyes,
Her joyless, weary eyes,
Wailed forth a rosary; and her sighs
And sobs strung all the beads;
The while before her spirit's gaze --
Her contrite spirit's gaze --
Moved all the mysteries of her days,
And histories of her deeds.
Still as a shadow, while she wept,
So desolately wept,
Up thro' the long, lone aisle she crept
Unto an altar fair;
"Mother!" -- her pale lips said no more --
Could say no more --
The wreck, at last, reached Mercy's shore,
For Mary's shrine was there.
A Land without Ruins
"A land without ruins is a land without memories --
a land without memories is a land without history.
A land that wears a laurel crown may be fair to see;
but twine a few sad cypress leaves around the brow of any land,
and be that land barren, beautiless and bleak, it becomes lovely
in its consecrated coronet of sorrow, and it wins the sympathy of the heart
and of history. Crowns of roses fade -- crowns of thorns endure.
Calvaries and crucifixions take deepest hold of humanity --
the triumphs of might are transient -- they pass and are forgotten --
the sufferings of right are graven deepest on the chronicle of nations."
Yes give me the land where the ruins are spread,
And the living tread light on the hearts of the dead;
Yes, give me a land that is blest by the dust,
And bright with the deeds of the down-trodden just.
Yes, give me the land where the battle's red blast
Has flashed to the future the fame of the past;
Yes, give me the land that hath legends and lays
That tell of the memories of long vanished days;
Yes, give me a land that hath story and song!
Enshrine the strife of the right with the wrong!
Yes, give me a land with a grave in each spot,
And names in the graves that shall not be forgot;
Yes, give me the land of the wreck and the tomb;
There is grandeur in graves -- there is glory in gloom;
For out of the gloom future brightness is born,
As after the night comes the sunrise of morn;
And the graves of the dead with the grass overgrown
May yet form the footstool of liberty's throne,
And each single wreck in the war path of might
Shall yet be a rock in the temple of right.
They come, as the breeze comes over the foam,
Waking the waves that are sinking to sleep --
The fairest of memories from far-away home,
The dim dreams of faces beyond the dark deep.
They come as the stars come out in the sky,
That shimmer wherever the shadows may sweep,
And their steps are as soft as the sound of a sigh
And I welcome them all while I wearily weep.
They come as a song comes out of the past
A loved mother murmured in days that are dead,
Whose tones spirit-thrilling live on to the last,
When the gloom of the heart wraps its gray o'er the head.
They come like the ghosts from the grass shrouded graves,
And they follow our footsteps on life's winding way;
And they murmur around us as murmur the waves
That sigh on the shore at the dying of day.
They come, sad as tears to the eyes that are bright;
They come, sweet as smiles to the lips that are pale;
They come, dim as dreams in the depths of the night;
They come, fair as flowers to the summerless vale.
There is not a heart that is not haunted so,
Though far we may stray from the scenes of the past,
Its memories will follow wherever we go,
And the days that were first sway the days that are last.
The Prayer of the South
My brow is bent beneath a heavy rod!
My face is wan and white with many woes!
But I will lift my poor chained hands to God,
And for my children pray, and for my foes.
Beside the graves where thousands lowly lie
I kneel, and weeping for each slaughtered son,
I turn my gaze to my own sunny sky,
And pray, O Father, let Thy will be done!
My heart is filled with anguish, deep and vast!
My hopes are buried with my children's dust!
My joys have fled, my tears are flowing fast!
In whom, save Thee, our Father, shall I trust?
Ah! I forgot Thee, Father, long and oft,
When I was happy, rich, and proud, and free;
But conquered now, and crushed, I look aloft,
And sorrow leads me, Father, back to Thee.
Amid the wrecks that mark the foeman's path
I kneel, and wailing o'er my glories gone,
I still each thought of hate, each throb of wrath,
And whisper, Father, let Thy will be done!
Pity me, Father of the desolate!
Alas! my burdens are so hard to bear;
Look down in mercy on my wretched fate,
And keep me, guard me, with Thy loving care.
Pity me, Father, for His holy sake,
Whose broken heart bled at the feet of grief,
That hearts of earth, whenever they shall break,
Might go to His and find a sure relief.
Ah, me, how dark! Is this a brief eclipse?
Or is it night with no to-morrow's sun?
O Father! Father! with my pale, sad lips,
And sadder heart, I pray Thy will be done.
My homes are joyless, and a million mourn
Where many met in joys forever flown;
Whose hearts were light, are burdened now and torn,
Where many smiled, but one is left to moan.
And ah! the widow's wails, the orphan's cries,
Are morning hymn and vesper chant to me;
And groans of men and sounds of women's sighs
Commingle, Father, with my prayer to Thee.
Beneath my feet ten thousand children dead --
Oh! how I loved each known and nameless one!
Above their dust I bow my crownless head
And murmur: Father, still Thy will be done.
Ah! Father, Thou didst deck my own loved land
With all bright charms, and beautiful and fair;
But foeman came, and with a ruthless hand,
Spread ruin, wreck, and desolation there.
Girdled with gloom, of all my brightness shorn,
And garmented with grief, I kiss Thy rod,
And turn my face, with tears all wet and worn,
To catch one smile of pity from my God.
Around me blight, where all before was bloom,
And so much lost, alas! and nothing won
Save this -- that I can lean on wreck and tomb
And weep, and weeping, pray Thy will be done.
And oh! 'tis hard to say, but said, 'tis sweet;
The words are bitter, but they hold a balm --
A balm that heals the wounds of my defeat,
And lulls my sorrow into holy calm.
It is the prayer of prayers, and how it brings,
When heard in heaven, peace and hope to me!
When Jesus prayed it did not angels' wings
Gleam 'mid the darkness of Gethsemane?
My children, Father, Thy forgiveness need;
Alas! their hearts have only place for tears!
Forgive them, Father, ev'ry wrongful deed,
And every sin of those four bloody years;
And give them strength to bear their boundless loss,
And from their hearts take every thought of hate;
And while they climb their Calvary with their cross,
Oh! help them, Father, to endure its weight.
And for my dead, my Father, may I pray?
Ah! sighs may soothe, but prayer shall soothe me more!
I keep eternal watch above their clay;
Oh! rest their souls, my Father, I implore;
Forgive my foes -- they know not what they do --
Forgive them all the tears they made me shed;
Forgive them, though my noblest sons they slew,
And bless them, though they curse my poor, dear dead.
Oh! may my woes be each a carrier dove,
With swift, white wings, that, bathing in my tears,
Will bear Thee, Father, all my prayers of love,
And bring me peace in all my doubts and fears.
Father, I kneel, 'mid ruin, wreck, and grave --
A desert waste, where all was erst so fair --
And for my children and my foes I crave
Pity and pardon. Father, hear my prayer!
Feast of the Assumption
"A Night Prayer"
Dark! Dark! Dark!
The sun is set; the day is dead:
Thy Feast has fled;
My eyes are wet with tears unshed;
I bow my head;
Where the star-fringed shadows softly sway
I bend my knee,
And, like a homesick child, I pray,
Mary, to thee.
Dark! Dark! Dark!
And, all the day -- since white-robed priest
In farthest East,
In dawn's first ray -- began the Feast,
I -- I the least --
Thy least, and last, and lowest child,
I called on thee!
Virgin! didst hear? my words were wild;
Didst think of me?
Dark! Dark! Dark!
Alas! and no! The angels bright,
With wings as white
As a dream of snow in love and light,
Flashed on thy sight;
They shone like stars around thee, Queen!
I knelt afar --
A shadow only dims the scene
Where shines a star!
Dark! Dark! Dark!
And all day long, beyond the sky,
Sweet, pure, and high,
The angel's song swept sounding by
And when such music filled thy ear,
Rose round thy throne,
How could I hope that thou wouldst hear
My far, faint moan?
Dark! Dark! Dark!
And all day long, where altars stand,
Or poor or grand,
A countless throng from every land,
With lifted hand,
Winged hymns to thee from sorrow's vale
In glad acclaim;
How couldst thou hear my lone lips wail
Thy sweet, pure name?
Dark! Dark! Dark!
Alas! and no! Thou didst not hear
Nor bend thy ear,
To prayer of woe as mine so drear;
For hearts more dear
Hid me from hearing and from sight
This bright Feast-day;
Wilt hear me, Mother, if in its night
I kneel and pray?
Dark! Dark! Dark!
The sun is set, the day is dead;
Thy Feast hath fled;
My eyes are wet with the tears I shed;
I bow my head;
Angels and altars hailed thee, Queen,
All day; ah! be
To-night what thou hast ever been --
A mother to me!
Dark! Dark! Dark!
Thy queenly crown in angels' sight
Is fair and bright;
Ah! lay it down; for, oh! to-night
Its jeweled light
Shines not as the tender love-light shines,
O Mary! mild,
In the mother's eyes, whose pure heart pines
For poor, lost child!
Dark! Dark! Dark!
Sceptre in hand, thou dost hold sway
Fore'er and aye
In angel-land; but, fair Queen! pray
Lay it away.
Let thy sceptre wave in the realms above
Where angels are;
But, Mother! fold in thine arms of love
Thy child afar!
Dark! Dark! Dark!
Mary, I call! Wilt hear the prayer
My poor lips dare?
Yea! be to all a Queen most fair,
Crown, sceptre, bear!
But look on me with a mother's eyes
From heaven's bliss;
And waft to me from the starry skies
A mother's kiss!
Dark! Dark! Dark!
The sun is set; the day is dead;
Her Feast has fled;
Can she forget the sweet blood shed,
The last words said
That evening -- "Woman! behold thy Son!
Oh! priceless right,
Of all His children! The last, least one,
Is heard to-night.
Weary hearts! weary hearts! by the cares of life oppressed,
Ye are wand'ring in the shadows -- ye are sighing for a rest:
There is darkness in the heavens, and the earth is bleak below,
And the joys we taste to-day may to-morrow turn to woe.
Weary hearts! God is Rest.
Lonely hearts! lonely hearts! this is but a land of grief;
Ye are pining for repose -- ye are longing for relief:
What the world hath never given, kneel and ask of God above,
And your grief shall turn to gladness, if you lean upon His love.
Lonely hearts! God is Love.
Restless hearts! restless hearts! ye are toiling night and day,
And the flowers of life, all withered, leave but thorns along your way:
Ye are waiting, ye are waiting, till your toilings all shall cease,
And your ev'ry restless beating is a sad, sad prayer for peace.
Restless hearts! God is Peace.
Breaking hearts! broken hearts! ye are desolate and lone,
And low voices from the past o'er your present ruins moan!
In the sweetest of your pleasures there was bitterest alloy,
And a starless night hath followed on the sunset of your joy.
Broken hearts! God is Joy.
Homeless hearts! homeless hearts! through the dreary, dreary years,
Ye are lonely, lonely wand'rers, and your way is wet with tears;
In bright or blighted places, wheresoever ye may roam,
Ye look away from earth-land, and ye murmur, "Where is home?"
Homeless hearts! God is Home.
A Child's Wish
Before an Altar
I wish I were the little key
That locks Love's Captive in,
And lets Him out to go and free
A sinful heart from sin.
I wish I were the little bell
That tinkles for the Host,
When God comes down each day to dwell
With hearts He loves the most.
I wish I were the chalice fair,
That holds the Blood of Love,
When every flash lights holy prayer
Upon its way above.
I wish I were the little flower
So near the Host's sweet face,
Or like the light that half an hour
Burns on the shrine of grace.
I wish I were the altar where,
As on His mother's breast,
Christ nestles, like a child, fore'er
In Eucharistic rest.
But, oh! my God, I wish the most
That my poor heart may be
A home all holy for each Host
That comes in love to me.
Cometh a voice from a far-land!
Beautiful, sad, and low;
Shineth a light from the star-land!
Down on the night of my woe;
And a white hand, with a garland,
Biddeth my spirit to go.
Away and afar from the night-land,
Where sorrow o'ershadows my way,
To the splendors and skies of the light-land,
Where reigneth eternity's day;
To the cloudless and shadowless bright-land,
Whose sun never passeth away.
And I knew the voice; not a sweeter
On earth or in Heaven can be;
And never did shadow pass fleeter
Than it and its strange melody;
And I know I must hasten to meet her,
"Yea, ~Sister!~ thou callest to me!"
And I saw the light; 'twas not seeming,
It flashed from the crown that she wore,
And the brow, that with jewels was gleaming,
My lips had kissed often of yore!
And the eyes, that with rapture were beaming,
Had smiled on me sweetly before.
And I saw the hand with the garland,
Ethel's hand -- holy and fair;
Who went long ago to the far-land
To weave me the wreath I shall wear;
And to-night I look up to the star-land,
And pray that I soon may be there.
Last of May
To the Children of Mary of the Cathedral of Mobile
In the mystical dim of the temple,
In the dream-haunted dim of the day,
The sunlight spoke soft to the shadows,
And said: "With my gold and your gray,
Let us meet at the shrine of the Virgin,
And ere her fair feast pass away,
Let us weave there a mantle of glory,
To deck the last evening of May."
The tapers were lit on the altar,
With garlands of lilies between;
And the steps leading up to the statue
Flashed bright with the roses' red sheen;
The sun-gleams came down from the heavens
Like angels, to hallow the scene,
And they seemed to kneel down with the shadows
That crept to the shrine of the Queen.
The singers, their hearts in their voices,
Had chanted the anthems of old,
And the last trembling wave of the Vespers
On the far shores of silence had rolled.
And there -- at the Queen-Virgin's altar --
The sun wove the mantle of gold
While the hands of the twilight were weaving
A fringe for the flash of each fold.
And wavelessly, in the deep silence,
Three banners hung peaceful and low --
They bore the bright blue of the heavens,
They wore the pure white of the snow
And beneath them fair children were kneeling,
Whose faces, with graces aglow,
Seemed sinless, in land that is sinful,
And woeless, in life full of woe.
Their heads wore the veil of the lily,
Their brows wore the wreath of the rose,
And their hearts like their flutterless banners,
Were stilled in a holy repose.
Their shadowless eyes were uplifted,
Whose glad gaze would never disclose
That from eyes that are most like the heavens
The dark rain of tears soonest flows.
The banners were borne to the railing,
Beneath them, a group from each band;
And they bent their bright folds for the blessing
That fell from the priest's lifted hand.
And he signed the three fair, silken standards,
With a sign never foe could withstand.
What stirred them? The breeze of the evening?
Or a breath from the far angel-land?
Then came, two by two, to the altar,
The young, and the pure, and the fair,
Their faces the mirror of Heaven,
Their hands folded meekly in prayer;
They came for a simple blue ribbon,
For love of Christ's Mother to wear;
And I believe, with the Children of Mary,
The Angels of Mary were there.
Ah, faith! simple faith of the children!
You still shame the faith of the old!
Ah, love! simple love of the little,
You still warm the love of the cold!
And the beautiful God who is wandering
Far out in the world's dreary wold,
Finds a home in the hearts of the children
And a rest with the lambs of the fold.
Swept a voice: was it wafted from Heaven?
Heard you ever the sea when it sings
Where it sleeps on the shore in the night time?
Heard you ever the hymns the breeze brings
From the hearts of a thousand bright summers?
Heard you ever the bird, when she springs
To the clouds, till she seems to be only
A song of a shadow on wings?
Came a voice: and an "Ave Maria"
Rose out of a heart rapture-thrilled;
And in the embrace of its music
The souls of a thousand lay stilled.
A voice with the tones of an angel,
Never flower such a sweetness distilled;
It faded away -- but the temple
With its perfume of worship was filled.
Then back to the Queen-Virgin's altar
The white veils swept on, two by two;
And the holiest halo of heaven
Flashed out from the ribbons of blue;
And they laid down the wreaths of the roses
Whose hearts were as pure as their hue;
Ah! they to the Christ are the truest,
Whose loves to the Mother are true!
And thus, in the dim of the temple,
In the dream-haunted dim of the day,
The Angels and Children of Mary
Met ere their Queen's Feast passed away,
Where the sun-gleams knelt down with the shadows
And wove with their gold and their gray
A mantle of grace and of glory
For the last lovely evening of May.
S. M. A.
Gone! and there's not a gleam of you,
Faces that float into far away;
Gone! and we can only dream of you
Each as you fade like a star away.
Fade as a star in the sky from us,
Vainly we look for your light again;
Hear ye the sound of a sigh from us?
"Come!" and our hearts will be bright again.
Come! and gaze on our face once more,
Bring us the smiles of the olden days;
Come! and shine in your place once more,
And change the dark into golden days.
Gone! gone! gone! Joy is fled for us;
Gone into the night of the nevermore,
And darkness rests where you shed for us
A light we will miss ~forevermore~.
Faces! ye come in the night to us;
Shadows! ye float in the sky of sleep;
Shadows! ye bring nothing bright to us;
Faces! ye are but the sigh of sleep.
Gone! and there's not a gleam of you,
Faces that float into the far away;
Gone! and we only can dream of you
Till we sink like you and the stars away.
Feast of the Sacred Heart
Two lights on a lowly altar;
Two snowy cloths for a Feast;
Two vases of dying roses;
The morning comes from the east,
With a gleam for the folds of the vestments
And a grace for the face of the priest.
The sound of a low, sweet whisper
Floats over a little bread,
And trembles around a chalice,
And the priest bows down his head!
O'er a sign of white on the altar --
In the cup -- o'er a sign of red.
As red as the red of roses,
As white as the white of snows!
But the red is a red of a surface
Beneath which a God's blood flows;
And the white is the white of a sunlight
Within which a God's flesh glows.
Ah! words of the olden Thursday!
Ye come from the far-away!
Ye bring us the Friday's victim
In His own love's olden way;
In the hand of the priest at the altar
His Heart finds a home each day.
The sight of a Host uplifted!
The silver-sound of a bell!
The gleam of a golden chalice.
Be glad, sad heart! 'tis well;
He made, and He keeps love's promise,
With thee all days to dwell.
From his hand to his lips that tremble,
From his lips to his heart a-thrill,
Goes the little Host on its love-path,
Still doing the Father's will;
And over the rim of the chalice
The blood flows forth to fill
The heart of the man anointed
With the waves of a wondrous grace;
A silence falls on the altar --
An awe on each bended face --
For the Heart that bled on Calvary
Still beats in the holy place.
The priest comes down to the railing
Where brows are bowed in prayer;
In the tender clasp of his fingers
A Host lies pure and fair,
And the hearts of Christ and the Christian
Meet there -- and only there!
Oh! love that is deep and deathless!
Oh! faith that is strong and grand!
Oh! hope that will shine forever,
O'er the wastes of a weary land!
Christ's Heart finds an earthly heaven
In the palm of the priest's pure hand.
In Memory of Very Rev. J. B. Etienne
Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission
and of the Sisters of Charity.
A shadow slept folded in vestments,
The dream of a smile on its face,
Dim, soft as the gleam after sunset
That hangs like a halo of grace
Where the daylight hath died in the valley,
And the twilight hath taken its place.
A shadow! but still on the mortal
There rested the tremulous trace
Of the joy of a spirit immortal,
Passed up to its God in His grace.
A shadow! hast seen in the summer
A cloud wear the smile of the sun?
On the shadow of death there is flashing
The glory of noble deeds done;
On the face of the dead there is glowing
The light of a holy race run;
And the smile of the face is reflecting
The gleam of the crown he has won.
Still, shadow! sleep on in the vestments
Unstained by the priest who has gone.
And thro' all the nations the children
Of Vincent de Paul wail his loss;
But the glory that crowns him in heaven
Illumines the gloom of their cross.
They send to the shadow the tribute
Of tears, from the fountains of love,
And they send from their altars sweet prayers
To the throne of their Father above.
Yea! sorrow weeps over the shadow,
But faith looks aloft to the skies;
And hope, like a rainbow, is flashing
O'er the tears that rain down from their eyes.
They murmur on earth "De Profundis",
The low chant is mingled with sighs;
"Laudate" rings out through the heavens --
The dead priest hath won his faith's prize.
His children in sorrow will honor
His grave; every tear is a gem,
And their prayers round his brow in the heavens
Will brighten his fair diadem.
I kneel at his grave and remember,
In love, I am ~still~ one of them.
The tears that trickled down our eyes,
They do not touch the earth to-day;
But soar like angels to the skies,
And, like the angels, may not die;
For ah! our immortality
Flows thro' each tear -- sounds in each sigh.
What waves of tears surge o'er the deep
Of sorrow in our restless souls!
And they are strong, not weak, who weep
Those drops from out the sea that rolls
Within their hearts forevermore,
Without a depth -- without a shore.
But ah! the tears that are not wept,
The tears that never outward fall;
The tears that grief for years has kept
Within us -- they are best of all;
The tears our eyes shall never know,
Are dearer than the tears that flow.
Each night upon earth's flowers below,
The dew comes down from darkest skies,
And every night our tears of woe
Go up like dews to Paradise,
To keep in bloom, and make more fair,
The flowers of crowns we yet shall wear.
For ah! the surest way to God
Is up the lonely streams of tears,
That flow when bending 'neath His rod,
And fill the tide of earthly years.
On laughter's billows hearts are tossed,
On waves of tears no heart is lost.
Flow on, ye tears! and bear me home;
Flow not! ye tears of deeper woe;
Flow on, ye tears! that are but foam
Of deeper waves that will not flow.
A little while -- I reach the shore
Where tears flow not forevermore!
Lines (Two Loves)
Two loves came up a long, wide aisle,
And knelt at a low, white gate;
One -- tender and true, with the shyest smile,
One -- strong, true, and elate.
Two lips spoke in a firm, true way,
And two lips answered soft and low;
In one true hand such a little hand lay
Fluttering, frail as a flake of snow.
One stately head bent humbly there,
Stilled were the throbbings of human love;
One head drooped down like a lily fair,
Two prayers went, wing to wing, above.
God blest them both in the holy place,
A long, brief moment the rite was done;
On the human love fell the heavenly grace,
Making two hearts forever one.
Between two lengthening rows of smiles,
One sweetly shy, one proud, elate,
Two loves passed down the long, wide aisles,
Will they ever forget the low, white gate?
The Land We Love
Land of the gentle and brave!
Our love is as wide as thy woe;
It deepens beside every grave
Where the heart of a hero lies low.
Land of the sunniest skies!
Our love glows the more for thy gloom;
Our hearts, by the saddest of ties,
Cling closest to thee in thy doom.
Land where the desolate weep
In a sorrow no voice may console!
Our tears are but streams, making deep
The ocean of love in our soul.
Land where the victor's flag waves,
Where only the dead are free!
Each link of the chain that enslaves
But binds us to them and to thee.
Land where the Sign of the Cross
Its shadow hath everywhere shed!
We measure our love by thy loss,
Thy loss by the graves of our dead!
Go! heart of mine! the way is long --
The night is dark -- the place is far;
Go! kneel and pray, or chant a song,
Beside two graves where Mary's star
Shines o'er two children's hearts at rest,
With Mary's medals on their breast.
Go! heart! those children loved you so,
Their little lips prayed oft for you!
But ah! those necks are lying low
Round which you twined the badge of blue.
Go to their graves, this Virgin's feast,
With poet's song and prayer of priest.
Go! like a pilgrim to a shrine,
For that is holy ground where sleep
Children of Mary and of thine;
Go! kneel, and pray and sing and weep;
Last summer how their faces smiled
When each was blessed as Mary's child.
* * * * *
My heart is gone! I cannot sing!
Beside those children's grave, song dies;
Hush! Poet! -- Priest! Prayer hath a wing
To pass the stars and reach the skies;
Sweet children! from the land of light
Look down and bless my heart to-night.
Reverie ["We laugh when our souls are the saddest,"]
We laugh when our souls are the saddest,
We shroud all our griefs in a smile;
Our voices may warble their gladdest,
And our souls mourn in anguish the while.
And our eyes wear a summer's bright glory,
When winter is wailing beneath;
And we tell not the world the sad story
Of the thorn hidden back of the wreath.
Ah! fast flow the moments of laughter,
And bright as the brook to the sea
But ah! the dark hours that come after
Of moaning for you and for me.
Yea, swift as the sunshine, and fleeting
As birds, fly the moments of glee!
And we smile, and mayhap grief is sleeting
Its ice upon you and on me.
And the clouds of the tempest are shifting
O'er the heart, tho' the face may be bright;
And the snows of woe's winter are drifting
Our souls; and each day hides a night.
For ah! when our souls are enjoying
The mirth which our faces reveal,
There is something -- a something -- alloying
The sweetness of joy that we feel.
Life's loveliest sky hides the thunder
Whose bolt in a moment may fall;
And our path may be flowery, but under
The flowers there are thorns for us all.
Ah! 'tis hard when our beautiful dreamings
That flash down the valley of night,
Wave their wing when the gloom hides their gleaming,
And leave us, like eagles in flight;
And fly far away unreturning,
And leave us in terror and tears,
While vain is the spirit's wild yearning
That they may come back in the years.
Come back! did I say it? but never
Do eagles come back to the cage:
They have gone -- they have gone -- and forever --
Does youth come back ever to age?
No! a joy that has left us in sorrow
Smiles never again on our way,
But we meet in the farthest to-morrow
The face of the grief of to-day.
The brightness whose tremulous glimmer
Has faded we cannot recall;
And the light that grows dimmer and dimmer --
When gone -- 'tis forever and all.
Not a ray of it anywhere lingers,
Not a gleam of it gilds the vast gloom;
Youth's roses perfume not the fingers
Of age groping nigh to the tomb.
For "the memory of joy is a sadness" --
The dim twilight after the day;
And the grave where we bury a gladness
Sends a grief like a ghost, on our way.
No day shall return that has faded,
The dead come not back from the tomb;
The vale of each life must be shaded,
That we may see best from the gloom.
The height of the homes of our glory,
All radiant with splendors of light;
That we may read clearly life's story --
"The dark is the dawn of the bright."
I Often Wonder Why 'Tis So
Some find work where some find rest,
And so the weary world goes on:
I sometimes wonder which is best;
The answer comes when life is gone.
Some eyes sleep when some eyes wake,
And so the dreary night-hours go;
Some hearts beat where some hearts break;
I often wonder why 'tis so.
Some wills faint where some wills fight,
Some love the tent, and some the field;
I often wonder who are right --
The ones who strive, or those who yield?
Some hands fold where other hands
Are lifted bravely in the strife;
And so thro' ages and thro' lands
Move on the two extremes of life.
Some feet halt where some feet tread,
In tireless march, a thorny way;
Some struggle on where some have fled;
Some seek when others shun the fray.
Some swords rust where others clash,
Some fall back where some move on;
Some flags furl where others flash
Until the battle has been won.
Some sleep on while others keep
The vigils of the true and brave:
They will not rest till roses creep
Around their name above a grave.
Be you near, or be you far,
Let my blessing, like a star,
Shine upon you everywhere!
And in each lone evening hour,
When the twilight folds the flower,
I will fold thy name in prayer.
In the dark and in the day,
To my heart you know the way,
Sorrow's pale hand keeps the key;
In your sorrow or your sin
You may always enter in;
I will keep a place for thee.
If God's blessing pass away
From your spirit; if you stray
From his presence, do not wait.
Come to my heart, for I keep
For the hearts that wail and weep,
Ever opened wide -- a gate.
In your joys to others go,
When your feet walk ways of woe
Only then come back to me;
I will give you tear for tear,
And our tears shall more endear
Thee to me and me to thee.
For I make my heart the home
Of all hearts in grief that come
Seeking refuge and a rest.
Do not fear me, for you know,
Be your footsteps e'er so low,
I know yours, of all, the best.
Once you came; and you brought sin;
Did not my hand lead you in --
Into God's heart, thro' my own?
Did not my voice speak a word
You, for years, had never heard --
Mystic word in Mercy's tone?
And a grace fell on your brow,
And I heard your murmured vow,
When I whispered: "Go in peace."
"Go in peace, and sin no more,"
Did you not touch Mercy's shore,
Did not sin's wild tempest cease?
Go! then: thou art good and pure!
If thou e'er shouldst fall, be sure,
Back to me thy footsteps trace!
In my heart for year and year,
Be thou far away or near,
I shall keep for thee a place.
Yes! I bless you -- near or far --
And my blessing, like a star,
Shall shine on you everywhere;
And in many a holy hour,
As the sunshine folds the flower,
I will fold thy heart in prayer.
July 9th, 1872
Between two pillared clouds of gold
The beautiful gates of evening swung --
And far and wide from flashing fold
The half-furled banners of light, that hung
O'er green of wood and gray of wold
And over the blue where the river rolled,
The fading gleams of their glory flung.
The sky wore not a frown all day
To mar the smile of the morning tide;
The soft-voiced winds sang joyous lay --
You never would think they had ever sighed;
The stream went on its sunlit way
In ripples of laughter; happy they
As the hearts that met at Riverside.
No cloudlet in the sky serene!
Not a silver speck in the golden hue!
But where the woods waved low and green,
And seldom would let the sunlight through,
Sweet shadows fell, and in their screen,
The faces of children might be seen,
And the flash of ribbons of blue.
It was a children's simple feast,
Yet many were there whose faces told
How far they are from childhood's East
Who have reached the evening of the old!
And father -- mother -- sister -- priest --
They seemed all day like the very least
Of the little children of the fold.
The old forgot they were not young,
The young forgot they would e'er be old,
And all day long the trees among,
Where'er their footsteps stayed or strolled,
Came wittiest word from tireless tongue,
And the merriest peals of laughter rung
Where the woods drooped low and the river rolled.
No cloud upon the faces there,
Not a sorrow came from its hiding place
To cast the shadow of a care
On the fair, sweet brows in that fairest place
For in the sky and in the air,
And in their spirits, and everywhere,
Joy reigned in the fullness of her grace.
The day was long, but ah! too brief!
Swift to the West bright-winged she fled;
Too soon on ev'ry look and leaf
The last rays flushed which her plumage shed
From an evening cloud -- was it a sign of grief?
And the bright day passed -- is there much relief
That its dream dies not when its gleam is dead?
Great sky, thou art a prophet still!
And by thy shadows and by thy rays
We read the future if we will,
And all the fates of our future ways;
To-morrows meet us in vale and hill,
And under the trees, and by the rill,
Thou givest the sign of our coming days.
That evening cloud was a sign, I ween --
For the sister of that summer day
Shall come next year to the selfsame scene;
The winds will sing the selfsame lay;
The selfsame woods will wave as green,
And Riverside, thy skies serene
Shall robe thee again in a golden sheen;
Yet though thy shadows may weave a screen
Where the children's faces may be seen,
Thou ne'er shall be as thou hast been,
For a face they loved has passed away.
Wake Me a Song
Out of the silences wake me a song,
Beautiful, sad, and soft, and low;
Let the loveliest music sound along,
And wing each note with a wail of woe:
Dim and drear
As hope's last tear;
Out of the silences wake me a hymn,
Whose sounds are like shadows soft and dim.
Out of the stillness in your heart --
A thousand songs are sleeping there --
Wake me a song, thou child of art!
The song of a hope in a last despair:
Dark and low,
A chant of woe;
Out of the stillness, tone by tone,
Cold as a snowflake, low as a moan.
Out of the darkness flash me a song,
Brightly dark and darkly bright;
Let it sweep as a lone star sweeps along
The mystical shadows of the night:
Sing it sweet;
Where nothing is drear, or dark, or dim,
And earth-song soars into heavenly hymn.
In Memoriam (David J. Ryan, C.S.A.)
Thou art sleeping, brother, sleeping
In thy lonely battle grave;
Shadows o'er the past are creeping,
Death, the reaper, still is reaping,
Years have swept, and years are sweeping
Many a memory from my keeping,
But I'm waiting still, and weeping
For my beautiful and brave.
When the battle songs were chanted,
And war's stirring tocsin pealed,
By those songs thy heart was haunted,
And thy spirit, proud, undaunted,
Clamored wildly -- wildly panted:
"Mother! let my wish be granted;
I will ne'er be mocked and taunted
That I fear to meet our vaunted
Foemen on the bloody field.
"They are thronging, mother! thronging,
To a thousand fields of fame;
Let me go -- 'tis wrong, and wronging
God and thee to crush this longing;
On the muster-roll of glory,
In my country's future story,
On the field of battle gory
I must consecrate my name.
"Mother! gird my sword around me,
Kiss thy soldier-boy `good-bye.'"
In her arms she wildly wound thee,
To thy birth-land's cause she bound thee,
With fond prayers and blessings crowned thee,
And she sobbed: "When foes surround thee,
If you fall, I'll know they found thee
Where the bravest love to die."
At the altar of their nation,
Stood that mother and her son,
He, the victim of oblation,
Panting for his immolation;
She, in priestess' holy station,
Weeping words of consecration,
While God smiled his approbation,
Blessed the boy's self-abnegation,
Cheered the mother's desolation,
When the sacrifice was done.
Forth, like many a noble other,
Went he, whispering soft and low:
"Good-bye -- pray for me, my mother;
Sister! kiss me -- farewell, brother;"
And he strove his grief to smother.
Forth, with footsteps firm and fearless,
And his parting gaze was tearless
Though his heart was lone and cheerless,
Thus from all he loved to go.
Lo! yon flag of freedom flashing
In the sunny Southern sky:
On, to death and glory dashing,
On, where swords are clanging, clashing,
On, where balls are crushing, crashing,
On, 'mid perils dread, appalling,
On, they're falling, falling, falling.
On, they're growing fewer, fewer,
On, their hearts beat all the truer,
On, on, on, no fear, no falter,
On, though round the battle-altar
There were wounded victims moaning,
There were dying soldiers groaning;
On, right on, death's danger braving,
Warring where their flag was waving,
While Baptismal blood was laving
All that field of death and slaughter;
On, still on; that bloody lava
Made them braver and made them braver,
On, with never a halt or waver,
On in battle -- bleeding -- bounding,
While the glorious shout swept sounding,
"We will win the day or die!"
And they won it; routed -- riven --
Reeled the foemen's proud array:
They had struggled hard, and striven,
Blood in torrents they had given,
But their ranks, dispersed and driven,
Fled, in sullenness, away.
Many a heart was lonely lying
That would never throb again;
Some were dead, and some were dying;
Those were silent, these were sighing;
Thus to die alone, unattended,
Unbewept and unbefriended,
On that bloody battle-plain.
When the twilight sadly, slowly
Wrapped its mantle o'er them all,
Thousands, thousands lying lowly,
Hushed in silence deep and holy,
There was one, his blood was flowing
And his last of life was going,
And his pulse faint, fainter beating
Told his hours were few and fleeting;
And his brow grew white and whiter,
While his eyes grew strangely brighter;
There he lay -- like infant dreaming,
With his sword beside him gleaming,
For the hand in life that grasped it,
True in death still fondly clasped it;
There his comrades found him lying
'Mid the heaps of dead and dying,
And the sternest bent down weeping
O'er the lonely sleeper sleeping:
'Twas the midnight; stars shone round him,
And they told us how they found him
Where the bravest love to fall.
Where the woods, like banners bending,
Drooped in starlight and in gloom,
There, when that sad night was ending,
And the faint, far dawn was blending
With the stars now fast descending;
There they mute and mournful bore him,
With the stars and shadows o'er him,
And they laid him down -- so tender --
And the next day's sun, in splendor,
Flashed above my brother's tomb.
What? (To Ethel)
At the golden gates of the visions
I knelt me adown one day;
But sudden my prayer was a silence,
For I heard from the "Far away"
The murmur of many voices
And a silvery censer's sway.
I bowed in awe, and I listened --
The deeps of my soul were stirred,
But deepest of all was the meaning
Of the far-off music I heard,
And yet it was stiller than silence,
Its notes were the "Dream of a Word".
A word that is whispered in heaven,
But cannot be heard below;
It lives on the lips of the angels
Where'er their pure wings glow;
Yet only the "Dream of its Echo"
Ever reaches this valley of woe.
But I know the word and its meaning;
I reached to its height that day,
When prayer sank into a silence
And my heart was so far away;
But I may not murmur the music,
Nor the word may my lips yet say.
But some day far in the future,
And up from the dust of the dead,
And out of my lips when speechless
The mystical word shall be said,
'Twill come to thee, still as a spirit,
When the soul of the bard has fled.
The Master's Voice
The waves were weary, and they went to sleep;
The winds were hushed;
The starlight flushed
The furrowed face of all the mighty deep.
The billows yester eve so dark and wild,
Wore strangely now
A calm upon their brow,
Like that which rests upon a cradled child.
The sky was bright, and every single star,
With gleaming face,
Was in its place,
And looked upon the sea -- so fair and far.
And all was still -- still as a temple dim,
When low and faint,
As murmurs plaint,
Dies the last note of the Vesper hymn.
A bark slept on the sea, and in the bark
Slept Mary's Son --
The only One
Whose face is light! where all, all else, is dark.
His brow was heavenward turned, His face was fair
He dreamed of me
On that still sea --
The stars He made were gleaming through His hair.
And lo! a moan moved o'er the mighty deep;
The sky grew dark:
The little bark
Felt all the waves awaking from their sleep.
The winds wailed wild, and wilder billows beat;
The bark was tossed:
Shall all be lost?
But Mary's Son slept on, serene and sweet.
The tempest raged in all its mighty wrath,
The winds howled on,
All hope seemed gone,
And darker waves surged round the bark's lone path.
The sleeper woke! He gazed upon the deep;
He whispered: "Peace!
Winds -- wild waves, cease!
Be still!" The tempest fled -- the ocean fell asleep.
And ah! when human hearts by storms are tossed,
When life's lone bark
Drifts through the dark
And 'mid the wildest waves where all seems lost,
He now, as then, with words of power and peace,
Murmurs: "Stormy deep,
Be still -- still -- and sleep!"
And lo! a great calm comes -- the tempest's perils cease.
Silently -- shadowly -- some lives go,
And the sound of their voices is all unheard;
Or, if heard at all, 'tis as faint as the flow
Of beautiful waves which no storm hath stirred.
Deep lives these
As the pearl-strewn seas.
Softly and noiselessly some feet tread
Lone ways on earth, without leaving a mark;
They move 'mid the living, they pass to the dead,
As still as the gleam of a star thro' the dark.
Sweet lives those
In their strange repose.
Calmly and lowly some hearts beat,
And none may know that they beat at all;
They muffle their music whenever they meet
A few in a hut or a crowd in a hall.
Great hearts those --
God only knows!
Soundlessly -- shadowly -- such move on,
Dim as the dream of a child asleep;
And no one knoweth 'till they are gone
How lofty their souls -- their hearts how deep.
Bright souls these --
God only sees.
Lonely and hiddenly in the world --
Tho' in the world 'tis their lot to stay --
The tremulous wings of their hearts are furled
Until they fly from the world away,
And find their rest
On "Our Father's" breast,
Where earth's unknown shall be known the best,
And the hidden hearts shall be brightest blest.
Crushed with a burden of woe,
Wrecked in the tempest of sin:
Death came, and two lips murmured low,
"Ah! once I was white as the snow,
In the happy and pure long ago;
But they say God is sweet -- is it so?
Will He let a poor wayward one in --
In where the innocent are?
Ah! justice stands guard at the gate;
Does it mock at a poor sinner's fate?
Alas! I have fallen so far!
Oh, God! Oh, my God! 'tis too late!
I have fallen as falls a lost star:
"The sky does not miss the gone gleam,
But my heart, like the lost star, can dream
Of the sky it has fall'n from. Nay!
I have wandered too far -- far away.
Oh! would that my mother were here;
Is God like a mother? Has He
Any love for a sinner like me?"
Her face wore the wildness of woe --
Her words, the wild tones of despair;
Ah! how can a heart sink so low?
How a face that was once bright and so fair,
Can be furrowed and darkened with care?
Wild rushed the hot tears from her eyes,
From her lips rushed the wildest of sighs,
Her poor heart was broken; but then
Her God was far gentler than men.
A voice whispered low at her side,
"Child! God is more gentle than men,
He watches by passion's dark tide,
He sees a wreck drifting -- and then
He beckons with hand and with voice,
And he sees the poor wreck floating in
To the haven on Mercy's bright shore;
And He whispers the whisper of yore:
`The angels of heaven rejoice
O'er the sinner repenting of sin.'"
* * * * *
And a silence came down for a while,
And her lips they were moving in prayer,
And her face it wore just such a smile
As, perhaps, it was oft wont to wear,
Ere the heart of the girl knew a guile,
Ere the soul of the girl knew the wile,
That had led her to passion's despair.
Death's shadows crept over her face,
And softened the hard marks of care;
Repentance had won a last grace,
And the Angel of Mercy stood there.
The Rosary of My Tears
Some reckon their age by years,
Some measure their life by art;
But some tell their days by the flow of their tears,
And their lives by the moans of their heart.
The dials of earth may show
The length, not the depth, of years,
Few or many they come, few or many they go,
But time is best measured by tears.
Ah! not by the silver gray
That creeps thro' the sunny hair,
And not by the scenes that we pass on our way,
And not by the furrows the fingers of care
On forehead and face have made.
Not so do we count our years;
Not by the sun of the earth, but the shade
Of our souls, and the fall of our tears.
For the young are ofttimes old,
Though their brows be bright and fair;
While their blood beats warm, their hearts are cold --
O'er them the spring -- but winter is there.
And the old are ofttimes young,
When their hair is thin and white;
And they sing in age, as in youth they sung,
And they laugh, for their cross was light.
But bead, by bead, I tell
The rosary of my years;
From a cross to a cross they lead; 'tis well,
And they're blest with a blessing of tears.
Better a day of strife
Than a century of sleep;
Give me instead of a long stream of life
The tempests and tears of the deep.
A thousand joys may foam
On the billows of all the years;
But never the foam brings the lone back home --
It reaches the haven through tears.
Out of the shadows of sadness,
Into the sunshine of gladness,
Into the light of the blest;
Out of a land very dreary,
Out of a world very weary,
Into the rapture of rest.
Out of to-day's sin and sorrow,
Into a blissful to-morrow,
Into a day without gloom;
Out of a land filled with sighing,
Land of the dead and the dying,
Into a land without tomb.
Out of a life of commotion,
Tempest-swept oft as the ocean,
Dark with the wrecks drifting o'er;
Into a land calm and quiet,
Never a storm cometh nigh it,
Never a wreck on its shore.
Out of a land in whose bowers
Perish and fade all the flowers:
Out of the land of decay,
Into the Eden where fairest
Of flowerets, and sweetest and rarest,
Never shall wither away.
Out of the world of the wailing
Thronged with the anguished and ailing;
Out of the world of the sad,
Into the world that rejoices --
World of bright visions and voices --
Into the world of the glad.
Out of a life ever mournful,
Out of a land very lornful,
Where in bleak exile we roam,
Into a joy-land above us,
Where there's a Father to love us --
Into our home -- "Sweet Home".
What Ails the World?
"What ails the world?" the poet cried;
"And why does death walk everywhere?
And why do tears fall anywhere?
And skies have clouds, and souls have care?"
Thus the poet sang, and sighed.
For he would fain have all things glad,
All lives happy, all hearts bright;
Not a day would end in night,
Not a wrong would vex a right --
And so he sang -- and he was sad.
Thro' his very grandest rhymes
Moved a mournful monotone --
Like a shadow eastward thrown
From a sunset -- like a moan
Tangled in a joy-bell's chimes.
"What ails the world?" he sang and asked --
And asked and sang -- but all in vain;
No answer came to any strain,
And no reply to his refrain --
The mystery moved 'round him masked.
"What ails the world?" An echo came --
"Ails the world?" The minstrel bands,
With famous or forgotten hands,
Lift up their lyres in all the lands,
And chant alike, and ask the same
From him whose soul first soared in song,
A thousand, thousand years away,
To him who sang but yesterday,
In dying or in deathless lay --
"What ails the world?" comes from the throng.
They fain would sing the world to rest;
And so they chant in countless keys,
As many as the waves of seas,
And as the breathings of the breeze,
Yet even when they sing their best --
When o'er the list'ning world there floats
Such melody as 'raptures men --
When all look up entranced -- and when
The song of fame floats forth, e'en then
A discord creepeth through the notes --
Their sweetest harps have broken strings,
Their grandest accords have their jars,
Like shadows on the light of stars,
And somehow, something ever mars
The songs the greatest minstrel sings.
And so each song is incomplete,
And not a rhyme can ever round
Into the chords of perfect sound
The tones of thought that e'er surround
The ways walked by the poet's feet.
"What ails the world?" he sings and sighs;
No answer cometh to his cry.
He asks the earth and asks the sky --
The echoes of his song pass by
Unanswered -- and the poet dies.
There never was a valley without a faded flower,
There never was a heaven without some little cloud;
The face of day may flash with light in any morning hour,
But evening soon shall come with her shadow-woven shroud.
There never was a river without its mists of gray,
There never was a forest without its fallen leaf;
And joy may walk beside us down the windings of our way,
When, lo! there sounds a footstep, and we meet the face of grief.
There never was a seashore without its drifting wreck,
There never was an ocean without its moaning wave;
And the golden gleams of glory the summer sky that fleck,
Shine where dead stars are sleeping in their azure-mantled grave.
There never was a streamlet, however crystal clear,
Without a shadow resting in the ripples of its tide;
Hope's brightest robes are 'broidered with the sable fringe of fear,
And she lures us, but abysses girt her path on either side.
The shadow of the mountain falls athwart the lowly plain,
And the shadow of the cloudlet hangs above the mountain's head,
And the highest hearts and lowest wear the shadow of some pain,
And the smile has scarcely flitted ere the anguish'd tear is shed.
For no eyes have there been ever without a weary tear,
And those lips cannot be human which have never heaved a sigh;
For without the dreary winter there has never been a year,
And the tempests hide their terrors in the calmest summer sky.
The cradle means the coffin, and the coffin means the grave;
The mother's song scarce hides the ~De Profundis~ of the priest;
You may cull the fairest roses any May-day ever gave,
But they wither while you wear them ere the ending of your feast.
So this dreary life is passing -- and we move amid its maze,
And we grope along together, half in darkness, half in light;
And our hearts are often burdened by the mysteries of our ways,
Which are never all in shadow and are never wholly bright.
And our dim eyes ask a beacon, and our weary feet a guide,
And our hearts of all life's mysteries seek the meaning and the key;
And a cross gleams o'er our pathway -- on it hangs the Crucified,
And He answers all our yearnings by the whisper, "Follow Me."
Life is a burden; bear it;
Life is a duty; dare it;
Life is a thorn-crown; wear it,
Though it break your heart in twain;
Though the burden crush you down;
Close your lips, and hide your pain,
First the Cross, and then, the Crown.
At last the dream of youth
Stands fair and bright before me,
The sunshine of the home of truth
Falls tremulously o'er me.
And tower, and spire, and lofty dome
In brightest skies are gleaming;
Walk I, to-day, the ways of Rome,
Or am I only dreaming?
No, 'tis no dream; my very eyes
Gaze on the hill-tops seven;
Where crosses rise and kiss the skies,
And grandly point to Heaven.
Gray ruins loom on ev'ry side,
Each stone an age's story;
They seem the very ghosts of pride
That watch the grave of glory.
There senates sat, whose sceptre sought
An empire without limit;
There grandeur dreamed its dream and thought
That death would never dim it.
There rulers reigned; yon heap of stones
Was once their gorgeous palace;
Beside them now, on altar-thrones,
The priests lift up the chalice.
There legions marched with bucklers bright,
And lances lifted o'er them;
While flags, like eagles plumed for flight,
Unfurled their wings before them.
There poets sang, whose deathless name
Is linked to deathless verses;
There heroes hushed with shouts of fame
Their trampled victim's curses.
There marched the warriors back to home,
Beneath yon crumbling portal,
And placed upon the brow of Rome
The proud crown of immortal.
There soldiers stood with armor on,
In steel-clad ranks and serried,
The while their red swords flashed upon
The slaves whose rights they buried.
Here pagan pride, with sceptre, stood,
And fame would not forsake it,
Until a simple cross of wood
Came from the East to break it.
That Rome is dead -- here is the grave --
Dead glory rises never;
And countless crosses o'er it wave,
And will wave on forever.
Beyond the Tiber gleams a dome
Above the hill-tops seven;
It arches o'er the world from Rome,
And leads the world to Heaven.
December 6, 1872.