Part 1 out of 2
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BY S.G. GOODRICH
G.P. PUTNAM, 155 BROADWAY
And 'mid the awful stillness
Of their grave,
The forest oaks have flourished--
And the breath
Of years hath swept their races,
Wave on wave,
As ages fainted
On the shores of death.
The tumbling cliff perchance
Hath thundered deep,
Like a rough note
Of music in the song
Of centuries, and the whirlwind's
Hath ploughed the forest
With its furrows strong.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
ILLUSTRATIONS. DRAWN BY ENGRAVED BY
1. Frontispiece Billings Lossing & Barrett
2. Vignette Croome Anderson
3. Vignette Billings Hartwell
4. The Departure of the Fairies Billings Bobbett & Edmonds
5. Voyage of the Fairies Billings Bobbett & Edmonds
6. The Fairies' Search Billings Hartwell
7. The Fairy Dance Billings Lossing & Barrett
8. Indians' discovery of the Humming Birds Billings Lossing & Barrett
9. Lake Superior Billings Hartwell
10. The Leaf Billings Marsh
11. The Bubble Chase Billings Hartwell
12. Dream of Life Harvey Hartwell
13. The Surf Sprite Billings Brown
14. Vignette Billings Brown
15. The First Frost of Autumn Billings Nichols
16. The Sea Bird Billings Brown
17. Vignette Billings Brown
18. The King of Terrors Billings Marsh
19. The Rainbow Bridge Billings Bobbett & Edmonds
20. The Rival Bubbles Billings Marsh
21. The Mississippi Billings Bobbett & Edmonds
22. Banks of the Mississippi Billings Lossing & Barrett
23. The Indian Lovers Chapman Adams
24. Vignette Billings Lossing & Barrett
25. The Two Windmills Billings Hartwell
26. The Gipsy's Prayer Billings Hartwell
27. The Robin Chapman Adams
28. Burial at Sea Billings Richardson
29. The Dream of Youth Billings Hartwell
30. The Old Oak Billings Brown
31. To a Wild Violet in March Croome Anderson
32. The Rose Cheney Fairchild
33. The Maniac Billings Brown
34. The Two Shades Billings Marsh
35. The Outcast Billings Hartwell
36. "My Native Hills," &c. Billings Andrews
37. The Moonlit Prairie Billings Andrews
38. The Farewell Billings Andrews
39. The Expulsion from Eden Billings Marsh
40. Vignette Croome Anderson
Henry J. Crate, Pressman.
Birth-night of the Humming Birds
The Bubble Chase
A Dream of Life
The Surf Sprite
The First Frost of Autumn
The Sea Bird
The King of Terrors
The Rainbow Bridge
The Rival Bubbles
The Two Windmills
The Ideal and the Actual
The Golden Dream
The Gipsy's Prayer
Inscription for a Rural Cemetery
Song: the Robin
Thoughts at Sea
A Burial at Sea
The Dream of Youth
The Old Oak
To a Wild Violet in March
The Rose: to Ellen
The Two Shades
The Teacher's Lesson
To a Lady who had been Singing
The Broken Heart
The Star of the West
Good and Evil
The Mountain Stream
Birth-night of the Humming Birds.
[Illustration: The Departure of the Fairies]
I'll tell you a Fairy Tale that's new:
How the merry Elves o'er the ocean flew
From the Emerald isle to this far-off shore,
As they were wont in the days of yore;
And played their pranks one moonlit night,
Where the zephyrs alone could see the sight.
Ere the Old world yet had found the New,
The fairies oft in their frolics flew
To the fragrant isles of the Caribbee--
Bright bosom-gems of a golden sea.
Too dark was the film of the Indian's eye,
These gossamer sprites to suspect or spy,--
So they danced 'mid the spicy groves unseen,
And mad were their merry pranks, I ween;
For the fairies, like other discreet little elves,
Are freest and fondest when all by themselves.
No thought had they that in after time,
The Muse would echo their deeds in rhyme;
So gayly doffing light stocking and shoe,
They tripped o'er the meadow all dappled in dew.
I could tell, if I would, some right merry tales,
Of unslippered fairies that danced in the vales--
But the lovers of scandal I leave in the lurch--
And, beside, these elves don't belong to the church.
If they danced--be it known--'twas not in the clime
Of your Mathers and Hookers, where laughter was crime;
Where sentinel virtue kept guard o'er the lip,
Though witchcraft stole into the heart by a slip!
Oh no! 'twas the land of the fruit and the flower--
Where Summer and Spring both dwelt in one bower--
Where one hung the citron, all ripe from the bough,
And the other with blossoms encircled her brow;
Where the mountains embosomed rich tissues of gold,
And the rivers o'er rubies and emeralds rolled.
It was there, where the seasons came only to bless,
And the fashions of Eden still lingered, in dress,
That these gay little fairies were wont, as I say,
To steal in their merriest gambols away.
But dropping the curtain o'er frolic and fun,
Too good to be told, or too bad to be done,
I give you a legend from Fancy's own sketch,
Though I warn you he's given to fibbing--the wretch!
Yet I learn by the legends of breezes and brooks,
'Tis as true as the fairy tales told in the books.
One night, when the moon shone fair on the main,
Choice spirits were gathered from meadow and plain--
And lightly embarking from Erin's bold cliffs,
They slid o'er the wave in their moonbeam skiffs.
A ray for a rudder--a thought for a sail--
Swift, swift was each bark as the wing of the gale.
[Illustration: Voyage of the Fairies]
Yet long were the tale,
Should I linger to say
What gambol and frolic
Enlivened the way;
How they flirted with bubbles
That danced on the wave,
Or listened to mermaids
That sang from the cave;
Or slid with the moonbeams
Down deep to the grove
Of coral, where mullet
And goldfish rove:
How there, in long vistas
Of silence and sleep,
They waltzed, as if mocking
The death of the deep:
How, oft, where the wreck
Lay scattered and torn,
They peeped in the skull,
All ghastly and lorn;
Or deep, 'mid wild rocks,
Quizzed the goggling shark,
And mouthed at the sea-wolf,
So solemn and stark;
Each seeming to think
That the earth and the sea
Were made but for fairies,
For gambol and glee!
Enough, that at last they came to the Isle,
Where moonlight and fragrance were rivals the while.
Not yet had those vessels from Palos been here,
To turn the bright gem to the blood-mingled tear.
Oh no! still blissful and peaceful the land,
And the merry elves flew from the sea to the strand.
Right happy and joyous seemed now the fond crew,
As they tripped 'mid the orange groves flashing in dew,
For they were to hold a revel that night,
A gay fancy ball, and each to be dight
In the gem or the flower that fancy might choose,
From mountain or vale, for its fragrance or hues.
Away sped the maskers like arrows of light
To gather their gear for the revel bright.
To the dazzling peaks of far-off Peru,
In emulous speed some sportively flew,
And deep in the mine, or 'mid glaciers on high,
For ruby and sapphire searched heedful and sly.
For diamonds rare that gleam in the bed
Of Brazilian streams, some merrily sped,
While others for topaz and emerald stray,
'Mid the cradle cliffs of the Paraguay.
[Illustration: The Fairies' Search]
As these are gathering the rarest of gems,
Others are plucking the rarest of stems.
They range wild dells where the zephyr alone,
To the blushing blossoms before was known;
Through forests they fly, whose branches are hung
By creeping plants, with fair flowerets strung,
Where temples of nature with arches of bloom,
Are lit by the moonlight, and faint with perfume.
They stray where the mangrove and clematis twine,
Where azalia and laurel in rivalry shine;
Where, tall as the oak, the passion-tree glows,
And jasmine is blent with rhodora and rose.
O'er blooming savannas and meadows of light,
'Mid regions of summer they sweep in their flight,
And gathering the fairest, they speed to their bower,
Each one with his favorite brilliant or flower.
The hour is come, and the fairies are seen
In their plunder arrayed on the moonlit green.
The music is breathed--'tis a soft strain of pleasure,
And the light giddy throng whirl into the measure.
[Illustration: The Fairy Dance]
'Twas a joyous dance, and the dresses were bright,
Such as never were known till that famous night;
For the gems and the flowers that shone in the scene,
O'ermatched the regalia of princess and queen.
No gaudy slave to a fair one's brow
Was the rose, or the ruby, or emerald now,
But lighted with souls by the playful elves,
The brilliants and blossoms seemed dancing themselves.
Of all that did chance, 'twere a long tale to tell,
Of the dresses and waltzes, and who was the belle;
But each was so happy, and all were so fair,
That night stole away and the dawn caught them there!
Such a scampering never before was seen,
As the fairies' flight on that island green.
They rushed to the bay with twinkling feet,
But vain was their haste, for the moonlight fleet
Had passed with the dawn, and never again
Were those fairies permitted to traverse the main.
But 'mid the groves, when the sun was high,
The Indian marked with a worshipping eye,
The HUMMING BIRDS, all unknown before,
Glancing like thoughts from flower to flower,
And seeming as if earth's loveliest things,
The brilliants and blossoms, had taken wings:
And Fancy hath whispered in numbers light,
That these are the fairies who danced that night,
And linger yet in the garb they wore,
Content in our clime and more blest than before!
[Illustration: Indians' discovery of the Humming Birds]
[Illustration: Lake Superior]
Father of Lakes! thy waters bend,
Beyond the eagle's utmost view,
When, throned in heaven, he sees thee send
Back to the sky its world of blue.
Boundless and deep the forests weave
Their twilight shade thy borders o'er,
And threatening cliffs, like giants, heave
Their rugged forms along thy shore.
Nor can the light canoes, that glide
Across thy breast like things of air,
Chase from thy lone and level tide,
The spell of stillness deepening there.
Yet round this waste of wood and wave,
Unheard, unseen, a spirit lives,
That, breathing o'er each rock and cave,
To all, a wild, strange aspect gives.
The thunder-riven oak, that flings
Its grisly arms athwart the sky,
A sudden, startling image brings
To the lone traveller's kindled eye.
The gnarled and braided boughs that show
Their dim forms in the forest shade,
Like wrestling serpents seem, and throw
Fantastic horrors through the glade.
The very echoes round this shore,
Have caught a strange and gibbering tone,
For they have told the war-whoop o'er,
Till the wild chorus is their own.
Wave of the wilderness, adieu--
Adieu, ye rocks, ye wilds, ye woods!
Roll on, thou Element of blue,
And fill these awful solitudes!
Thou hast no tale to tell of man.
God is thy theme. Ye sounding caves,
Whisper of Him, whose mighty plan,
Deems as a bubble all your waves!
[Illustration: The Leaf]
It came with spring's soft sun and showers,
Mid bursting buds and blushing flowers;
It flourished on the same light stem,
It drank the same clear dews with them.
The crimson tints of summer morn
That gilded one, did each adorn:
The breeze that whispered light and brief
To bud or blossom, kissed the leaf;
When o'er the leaf the tempest flew,
The bud and blossom trembled too.
But its companions passed away,
And left the leaf to lone decay.
The gentle gales of spring went by:
The fruits and flowers of summer die.
The autumn winds swept o'er the hill,
And winter's breath came cold and chill.
The leaf now yielded to the blast,
And on the rushing stream was cast.
Far, far it glided to the sea,
And whirled and eddied wearily,
Till suddenly it sank to rest,
And slumbered in the ocean's breast.
Thus life begins--its morning hours,
Bright as the birthday of the flowers--
Thus passes like the leaves away,
As withered and as lost as they.
Beneath the parent roof we meet
In joyous groups, and gayly greet
The golden beams of love and light,
That dawn upon the youthful sight.
But soon we part, and one by one,
Like leaves and flowers, the group is gone.
One gentle spirit seeks the tomb,
His brow yet fresh with childhood's bloom:
Another treads the paths of fame,
And barters peace to win a name.
Another still, tempts fortune's wave,
And seeking wealth, secures a grave.
The last, grasps yet the brittle thread:
Though friends are gone and joy is dead--
Still dares the dark and fretful tide,
And clutches at its power and pride--
Till suddenly the waters sever,
And like the leaf, he sinks for ever!
The Bubble Chase.
[Illustration: The Bubble Chase]
Twas morn, and, wending on its way,
Beside my path a stream was playing;
And down its banks, in humor gay,
A thoughtless boy was idly straying.
Light as the breeze they onward flew--
That joyous youth and laughing tide,
And seemed each other's course to woo,
For long they bounded side by side.
And now the dimpling water staid,
And glassed its ripples in a nook;
And on its breast a bubble played,
Which won the boy's admiring look.
He bent him o'er the river's brim,
And on the radiant vision gazed;
For lovelier still it seemed to him,
That in its breast his imaged blazed.
With beating heart and trembling finger,
He stooped the wondrous gem to clasp,
But, spellbound, seemed a while to linger,
Ere yet he made th' adventurous grasp.
And still a while the glittering toy,
Coquettish, seemed to shun the snare,
And then more eager grew the boy,
And followed with impetuous air.
Round and around, with heedful eyes,
He chased it o'er the wavy river:
He marked his time and seized his prize,
But in his hand it burst for ever!
Upon the river's marge he sate,
The tears adown his young cheek gushing;
And long,--his heart disconsolate--
He heeded not the river's rushing.
But tears will cease. And now the boy
Once more looked forth upon the stream:
'Twas morning still, and lo! a toy,
Bright as the last one, in the beam!
He rose--pursued--the bubble caught;
It burst--he sighed--then others chased;
And as I parted, still he sought
New bubbles in their downward haste.
My onward path I still pursued,
Till the high noontide sun was o'er me.
And now, though changed in form and mood,
That Youth and river seemed before me.
The deepened stream more proudly swept,
Though chafed by many a vessel's prow;
The Youth in manhood's vigor stept,
But care was chiselled on his brow.
Still on the stream he kept his eye,
And wooed the bubbles to the shore,
And snatched them, as they circled by,
Though bursting as they burst before.
Once more we parted. Yet again
We met--though now 'twas evening dim:
Onward the waters rushed amain,
And vanished o'er a cataract's brim.
Though swift and dark the raging surge,
The Bubble-Chaser still was there;
And, bending o'er the dizzy verge,
Clutched at the gaudy things of air.
With staff in hand and tottering knee,
Upon the slippery brink he stood,
And watched, with doting ecstasy,
Each wreath of foam that rode the flood.
"One bubble more!" I heard him call,
And saw his trembling fingers play:
He snatched, and down the roaring fall,
With the lost bubble, passed away!
A Dream of Life.
[Illustration: Dream of Life]
When I was young--long, long ago--
I dreamed myself among the flowers;
And fancy drew the picture so,
They seemed like Fairies in their bowers.
The rose was still a rose, you know--
But yet a maid. What could I do?
You surely would not have me go,
When rosy maidens seem to woo?
My heart was gay, and 'mid the throng
I sported for an hour or two;
We danced the flowery paths along,
And did as youthful lovers do.
But sports must cease, and so I dreamed
To part with these, my fairy flowers--
But oh, how very hard it seemed
To say good-by 'mid such sweet bowers!
And one fair Maid of modest air
Gazed on me with her eye of blue;
I saw the tear-drop gathering there--
How could I say to her, Adieu!
I fondly gave my hand and heart,
And we were wed. Bright hour of youth!
How little did I think to part
With my sweet bride, whose name was Truth!
But time passed on, and Truth grew gray,
And chided, though with gentlest art:
I loved her, though I went astray,
And almost broke her faithful heart.
And then I left her, and in tears--
These could not move my hardened breast!
I wandered, and for weary years
I sought for bliss, but found no rest.
I sought--yet ever sought in vain--
To find the peace, the joy of youth:
At last, I turned me back again,
And found them with my faithful Truth.
The Surf Sprite.
[Illustration: The Surf Sprite]
In the far off sea there is many a sprite,
Who rests by day, but awakes at night.
In hidden caves where monsters creep,
When the sun is high, these spectres sleep:
From the glance of noon, they shrink with dread,
And hide 'mid the bones of the ghastly dead.
Where the surf is hushed, and the light is dull,
In the hollow tube and the whitened skull,
They crouch in fear or in whispers wail,
For the lingering night, and the coming gale.
But at even-tide, when the shore is dim,
And bubbling wreaths with the billows swim,
They rise on the wing of the freshened breeze,
And flit with the wind o'er the rolling seas.
At summer eve, as I sat on the cliff,
I marked a shape like a dusky skiff,
That skimmed the brine, toward the rocky shore--
I heard a voice in the surge's roar--
I saw a form in the flashing spray,
And white arms beckoned me away.
Away o'er the tide we went together,
Through shade and mist and stormy weather--
Away, away, o'er the lonely water,
On wings of thought like shadows we flew,
Nor paused 'mid scenes of wreck and slaughter,
That came from the blackened waves to view.
The staggering ship to the gale we left,
The drifting corse and the vacant boat;
The ghastly swimmer all hope bereft--
We left them there on the sea to float!
Through mist and shade and stormy weather,
That night we went to the icy Pole,
And there on the rocks we stood together,
And saw the ocean before us roll.
No moon shone down on the hermit sea,
No cheering beacon illumed the shore,
No ship on the water, no light on the lea,
No sound in the ear but the billow's roar!
But the wave was bright, as if lit with pearls,
And fearful things on its bosom played;
Huge crakens circled in foamy whirls,
As if the deep for their sport was made,
And mighty whales through the crystal dashed,
And upward sent the far glittering spray,
Till the darkened sky with the radiance flashed,
And pictured in glory the wild array.[A]
Hast thou seen the deep in the moonlight beam,
Its wave like a maiden's bosom swelling?
Hast thou seen the stars in the water's gleam,
As if its depths were their holy dwelling?
We met more beautiful scenes that night,
As we slid along in our spirit-car,
For we crossed the South Sea, and, ere the light,
We doubled Cape Horn on a shooting star.
In our way we stooped o'er a moonlit isle,
Which the fairies had built in the lonely sea,
And the Surf Sprite's brow was bent with a smile,
As we gazed through the mist on their revelry.
The ripples that swept to the pebbly shore,
O'er shells of purple in wantonness played,
And the whispering zephyrs sweet odors bore,
From roses that bloomed amid silence and shade.
In winding grottos, with gems all bright,
Soft music trembled from harps unseen,
And fair forms glided on wings of light,
'Mid forests of fragrance, and valleys of green.
There were voices of gladness the heart to beguile,
And glances of beauty too fond to be true--
For the Surf Sprite shrieked, and the Fairy Isle,
By the breath of the tempest was swept from our view.
Then the howling gale o'er the billows rushed,
And trampled the sea in its march of wrath;
From stooping clouds the red lightnings gushed,
And thunders moved in their blazing path.
'Twas a fearful night, but my shadowy guide
Had a voice of glee as we rode on the gale,
For we saw afar a ship on the tide,
With a bounding course and a fearless sail.
In darkness it came, like a storm-sent bird,
But another ship it met on the wave:
A shock--a shout--but no more we heard,
For they both went down to their ocean-grave!
We paused on the misty wing of the storm,
As a ruddy flash lit the face of the deep,
And far in its bosom full many a form
Was swinging down to its silent sleep.
Another flash! and they seemed to rest,
In scattered groups, on the floor of the tide:
The lover and loved, they were breast to breast,
The mother and babe, they were side by side.
The leaping waves clapped their hands in joy,
And gleams of gold with the waters flowed,
But the peace of the sleepers knew no alloy,
For all was hushed in their lone abode!
On, on, like midnight visions, we passed,
The storm above, and the surge below,
And shrieking forms swept by on the blast,
Like demons speeding on errands of woe.
My spirit sank, for aloft in the cloud,
A Star-set Flag on the whirlwind flew,
And I knew that the billow must be the shroud
Of the noble ship and her gallant crew.
Her side was striped with a belt of white,
And a dozen guns from each battery frowned,
But the lightning came in a sheet of flame,[B]
And the towering sails in its folds were wound.
Vain, vain was the shout, that in battle rout,
Had rung as a knell in the ear of the foe,
For the bursting deck was heaved from the wreck,
And the sky was bathed in the awful glow!
The ocean shook to its oozy bed,
As the swelling sound to the canopy went,
And the splintered fires like meteors shed
Their light o'er the tossing element.
A moment they gleamed, then sank in the foam,
And darkness swept over the gorgeous glare--
They lighted the mariners down to their home,
And left them all sleeping in stillness there!
The storm is hushed, and my vision is o'er,
The Surf Sprite changed to a foamy wreath,
The night is deepened along the shore,
And I thread my way o'er the dusky heath.
But often again I shall go to that cliff,
And seek for her form on the flashing tide,
For I know she will come in her airy skiff,
And over the sea we shall swiftly ride!
[Footnote A: The Laplanders are said to entertain the idea that the
coruscations of the Aurora Borealis, are occasioned by the sports of the
fishes in the polar seas.]
[Footnote B: The loss of the United States Sloop-of-War Hornet, in the
Gulf of Mexico, 1829, suggested this passage. She was supposed to have
gone down in a hurricane, but as nothing is positively known on the
subject, it is not beyond lawful poetical license to imagine, at least in
a dream, that the powder magazine was set on fire by the lightning, and
the ship rent in pieces, by the explosion.]
The First Frost of Autumn.
[Illustration: The First Frost of Autumn]
At evening it rose in the hollow glade,
Where wild-flowers blushed 'mid silence and shade;
Where, hid from the gaze of the garish noon,
They were slily wooed by the trembling moon.
It rose--for the guardian zephyrs had flown,
And left the valley that night alone.
No sigh was borne from the leafy hill,
No murmur came from the lapsing rill;
The boughs of the willow in silence wept,
And the aspen leaves in that sabbath slept.
The valley dreamed, and the fairy lute
Of the whispering reed by the brook was mute.
The slender rush o'er the glassy rill,
As a marble shaft, was erect and still,
And no airy sylph on the mirror wave,
A dimpling trace of its footstep gave.
The moon shone down, but the shadows deep
Of the pensile flowers, were hushed in sleep.
The pulse was still in that vale of bloom,
And the Spirit rose from its marshy tomb.
It rose o'er the breast of a silver spring,
Where the mist at morn shook its snowy wing,
And robed like the dew, when it woos the flowers.
It stole away to their secret bowers.
With a lover's sigh, and a zephyr's breath,
It whispered bliss, but its work was death:
It kissed the lip of a rose asleep,
And left it there on its stem to weep:
It froze the drop on a lily's leaf,
And the shivering blossom was bowed in grief.
O'er the gentian it breathed, and the withered flower
Fell blackened and scathed in its lonely bower;
It stooped to the asters all blooming around,
And kissed the buds as they slept on the ground.
They slept, but no morrow could waken their bloom,
And shrouded by moonlight, they lay in their tomb.
The Frost Spirit went, like the lover light,
In search of fresh beauty and bloom that night
Its wing was plumed by the moon's cold ray,
And noiseless it flew o'er the hills away.
It flew, yet its dallying fingers played,
With a thrilling touch, through the maple's shade;
It toyed with the leaves of the sturdy oak,
It sighed o'er the aspen, and whispering spoke
To the bending sumach, that stooped to throw
Its chequering shade o'er a brook below.
It kissed the leaves of the beech, and breathed
O'er the arching elm, with its ivy wreathed:
It climbed to the ash on the mountain's height--
It flew to the meadow, and hovering light
O'er leafy forest and fragrant dell,
It bound them all in its silvery spell.
Each spreading bough heard the whispered bliss,
And gave its cheek to the gallant's kiss--
Though giving, the leaves disdainingly shook,
As if refusing the boon they took.
Who dreamed that the morning's light would speak,
And show that kiss on the blushing cheek?
For in silence the fairy work went through--
And no croning owl of the scandal knew:
No watch-dog broke from his slumbers light,
To tell the tale to the listening night.
But that which in secret is darkly done,
Is oft displayed by the morrow's sun;
And thus the leaves in the light revealed,
With their glowing hues what the night concealed.
The sweet, frail flowers that once welcomed the morn,
Now drooped in their bowers, all shrivelled and lorn;
While the hardier trees shook their leaves in the blast--
Though tell-tale colors were over them cast.
The maple blushed deep as a maiden's cheek,
And the oak confessed what it would not speak.
The beech stood mute, but a purple hue
O'er its glossy robe was a witness true.
The elm and the ivy with varying dyes,
Protesting their innocence, looked to the skies:
And the sumach rouged deeper, as stooping to look,
It glanced at the colors that flared in the brook.
The delicate aspen grew nervous and pale,
As the tittering forest seemed full of the tale;
And the lofty ash, though it tossed up its bough,
With a puritan air on the mountain's brow,
Bore a purple tinge o'er its leafy fold,
And the hidden revel was gayly told!
[Illustration: The Sea-Bird]
Far, far o'er the deep is my island throne,
Where the sea-gull roams and reigns alone;
Where nought is seen but the beetling rock,
And nought is heard but the ocean-shock,
And the scream of birds when the storm is nigh,
And the crash of the wreck, and the fearful cry
Of drowning men, in their agony.
I love to sit, when the waters sleep,
And ponder the depths of the glassy deep,
Till I dream that I float on a corse at sea,
And sing of the feast that is made for me.
I love on the rush of the storm to sail,
And mingle my scream with the hoarser gale.
When the sky is dark, and the billow high,
When the tempest sweeps in its terror by,
I love to ride on the maddening blast--
To flap my wing o'er the fated mast,
And sing to the crew a song of fear,
Of the reef and the surge that await them here.
When the storm is done and the revel is o'er,
I love to sit on the rocky shore,
And tell to the ear of the dying breeze,
The tales that are hushed in the sullen seas;
Of the ship that sank in the reefy surge,
And left her fate to the sea-gull's dirge:
Of the lover that sailed to meet his bride,
And his story gave to the secret tide:
Of the father that went on the trustless main,
And never was met by his child again:
Of the hidden things which the waves conceal,
And the sea-bird's song can alone reveal.
I tell of the ship that hath found a grave--
Her spars still float on the restless wave,
But down in the halls of the voiceless deep,
The forms of the brave and the beautiful sleep.
I saw the storm as it gathered fast,
I heard the roar of the coming blast,
I marked the ship in her fearful strife,
As she flew on the tide, like a thing of life.
But the whirlwind came, and her masts were wrung,
Away, and away on the waters flung.
I sat on the gale o'er the sea-swept deck,
And screamed in delight o'er the coming wreck:
I flew to the reef with a heart of glee,
And wiled the ship to her destiny.
On the hidden rocks like a hawk she rushed,
And the sea through her riven timbers gushed:
O'er the whirling surge the wreck was flung,
And loud on the gale wild voices rung.
I gazed on the scene--I saw despair
On the pallid brows of a youthful pair.
The maiden drooped like a gentle flower,
When lashed by the gale in its quivering bower:
Her arms round her lover she wildly twined,
And gazed on the sea with a wildered mind.
He bent o'er the trembler, and sheltered her form,
From the plash of the sea, and the sweep of the storm;
But woe to the lover, and woe to the maid,
Whose hopes on the treacherous deep are laid!
For the Sea hath a King whose palaces shine,
In lustre and light down the pearly brine,
And he loves to gather in glory there,
The choicest things of the earth and air.
In his deep saloons with coral crowned,
Where gems are sparkling above and around,
He gathers his harem of love and grace,
And beauty he takes to his cold embrace.
The winds and the waves are his messengers true.
And lost is the wanderer whom they pursue.
They sweep the shore, they plunder the wreck,
His stores to heap, and his halls to deck.
Oh! lady and lover, ye are doomed their prey--
They come! they come! ye are swept away!
Ye sink in the tide,--but it cannot sever
The fond ones who sleep in its depths for ever!
Wild! wild was the storm, and loud was its roar,
And strange were the sights that I hovered o'er:
I saw the babe with its mother die;
I listened to catch its parting sigh;
And I laughed to see the black billows play
With the sleeping child in their gambols gay.
I saw a girl whose arms were white,
As the foam that flashed on the billows' height;
And the ripples played with her glossy curls,
And her cheek was kissed by the dancing whirls;
But her bosom was dead to hope and fear,
For she shuddered not as the shark came near.
I poised my foot on the forehead fair
Of a lovely boy that floated there;
I looked in the eyes of the drowning brave,
As they upward gazed through the glassy wave;
I screamed o'er the bubbles that told of death,
And stooped as the last gave up his breath.
I flapped my wing, for the work was done--
The storm was hushed, and the laughing sun
Sent his gushing light o'er the sullen seas--
And I tell my tale to the fainting breeze,
Of the hidden things which the waves conceal,
And the sea-bird's song can alone reveal!
The King of Terrors.
[Illustration: The King of Terrors]
As a shadow He flew, but sorrow and wail
Came up from his path, like the moan of the gale.
His quiver was full, though his arrows fell fast
As the sharp hail of winter when urged by the blast.
He smiled on each shaft as it flew from the string,
Though feathered by fate, and the lightning its wing.
Unerring, unsparing, it sped to its mark,
As the mandate of destiny, certain and dark.
The mail of the warrior it severed in twain,--
The wall of the castle it shivered amain:
No shield could shelter, no prayer could save,
And Love's holy shrine no immunity gave.
A babe in the cradle--its mother bent o'er,--
The arrow is sped,--and that babe is no more!
At the faith-plighting altar, a lovely one bows,--
The gem on her finger,--in Heaven her vows;
Unseen is the blow, but she sinks in the crowd,
And her bright wedding-garment is turned to a shroud!
On flew the Destroyer, o'er mountain and main,--
And where there was life, there, there are the slain!
No valley so deep, no islet so lone,
But his shadow is cast, and his victims are known.
He paused not, though years rolled weary and slow,
And Time's hoary pinion drooped languid and low:
He paused not till Man from his birth-place was swept,
And the sea and the land in solitude slept.
On a mountain he stood, for the struggle was done,--
A smile on his lip for the victory won.
The city of millions,--lone islet and cave,
The home of the hermit,--all earth was a grave!
The last of his race, where the first saw the light,
The monarch had met, and triumphed in fight:
Swift, swift was the steed, o'er Shinar's wide sand,
But swifter the arrow that flew from Death's hand!
O'er the mountain he seems like a tempest to lower,
Triumphant and dark in the fulness of power;
And flashes of flame, that play round his crest,
Bespeak the fierce lightning that glows in his breast.
But a vision of wonder breaks now on his sight;
The blue vault of heaven is gushing with light,
And, facing the tyrant, a form from the sky
Returns the fierce glance of his challenging eye.
A moment they pause,--two princes of might,--
The Demon of Darkness,--an Angel of Light!
Each gazes on each,--no barrier between--
And the quivering rocks shrink aghast from the scene!
The sword of the angel waves free in the air;
Death looks to his quiver,--no arrow is there!
He falls like a pyramid, crumbled and torn;
And a vision of light on his dying eye borne,
In glory reveals the blest souls of the slain,--
And he sees that his sceptre was transient and vain;
For, 'mid the bright throng, e'en the infant he slew,
And the altar-struck bride, beam full on the view!
The Rainbow Bridge.
[Illustration: The Rainbow Bridge]
Love and Hope and Youth, together--
Travelling once in stormy weather,
Met a deep and gloomy tide,
Flowing swift and dark and wide.
'Twas named the river of Despair,--
And many a wreck was floating there!
The urchins paused, with faces grave,
Debating how to cross the wave,
When lo! the curtain of the storm
Was severed, and the rainbow's form
Stood against the parting cloud--
Emblem of peace on trouble's shroud!
Hope pointed to the signal flying,
And the three, their shoulders plying,
O'er the stream the light arch threw--
A rainbow bridge of loveliest hue!
Now, laughing as they tripped it o'er,
They gayly sought the other shore:
But soon the hills began to frown,
And the bright sun went darkly down.
Though their step was light and fleet,
The rainbow vanished 'neath their feet,--
And down they went,--the giddy things!
But Hope put forth his ready wings,--
And clinging Love and Youth he bore
In triumph to the other shore.
But ne'er I ween should mortals deem
On rainbow bridge to cross a stream,
Unless bright, buoyant Hope is nigh,
And, light with Love and Youth, they fly!
The Rival Bubbles.
[Illustration: The Rival Bubbles]
Two bubbles on a mountain stream,
Began their race one shining morn,
And lighted by the ruddy beam,
Went dancing down 'mid shrub and thorn.
The stream was narrow, wild and lone,
But gayly dashed o'er mound and rock,
And brighter still the bubbles shone,
As if they loved the whirling shock.
Each leaf, and flower, and sunny ray,
Was pictured on them as they flew,
And o'er their bosoms seemed to play
In lovelier forms and colors new.
Thus on they went, and side by side,
They kept in sad and sunny weather,
And rough or smooth the flowing tide,
They brightest shone when close together.
Nor did they deem that they could sever,
That clouds could rise, or morning wane;
They loved, and thought that love for ever
Would bind them in its gentle chain.
But soon the mountain slope was o'er,
And 'mid new scenes the waters flowed,
And the two bubbles now no more
With their first morning beauty glowed.
They parted, and the sunny ray
That from each other's love they borrowed;
That made their dancing bosoms gay,
While other bubbles round them sorrowed:
That ray was dimmed, and on the wind
A shadow came, as if from Heaven;
Yet on they flew, and sought to find
From strife, the bliss that love had given.
They parted, yet in sight they kept,
And rivals now the friends became,
And if, perchance, the eddies swept
Them close, they flashed with flame.
And fiercer forward seemed to bound,
With the swift ripples toward the main;
And all the lesser bubbles round,
Each sought to gather in its train.
They strove, and in that eager strife
Their morning friendship was forgot,
And all the joys that sweeten life,
The rival bubbles knew them not.
The leaves, the flowers, the grassy shore,
Were all neglected in the chase,
And on their bosoms now no more
These forms of beauty found a place.
But all was dim and drear within,
And envy dwelt where love was known,
And images of fear and sin
Were traced, where truth and pleasure shone.
The clouds grew dark, the tide swelled high,
And gloom was o'er the waters flung,
But riding on the billows, nigh
Each other now the bubbles swung.
Closer and closer still they rushed,
In anger o'er the rolling river;
They met, and 'mid the waters crushed,
The rival bubbles burst for ever!
The sun has sunk behind the hills,
The shadows o'er the landscape creep;
A drowsy sound the woodland fills,
And nature folds her arms to sleep:
Good night--good night.
The chattering jay has ceased his din--
The noisy robin sings no more--
The crow, his mountain haunt within,
Dreams 'mid the forest's surly roar:
Good night--good night.
The sunlit cloud floats dim and pale;
The dew is falling soft and still;
The mist hangs trembling o'er the vale,
And silence broods o'er yonder mill:
The rose, so ruddy in the light,
Bends on its stem all rayless now,
And by its side the lily white
A sister shadow, seems to bow:
Good night--good night.
The bat may wheel on silent wing--
The fox his guilty vigils keep--
The boding owl his dirges sing;
But love and innocence will sleep:
Good night--good night!
[Illustration: The Mississippi]
Far in the West, where snow-capt mountains rise,
Like marble shafts beneath Heaven's stooping dome,
And sunset's dreamy curtain drapes the skies,
As if enchantment there would build her home--
O'er wood and wave, from haunts of men away--
From out the glen, all trembling like a child,
A babbling streamlet comes as if to play--
Albeit the scene is savage, lone and wild.
Here at the mountain's foot, that infant wave
'Mid bowering leaves doth hide its rustic birth--
Here learns the rock and precipice to brave--
And go the Monarch River of the Earth!
Far, far from hence, its bosom deep and wide,
Bears the proud steamer on its fiery wing--
Along its banks, bright cities rise in pride,
And o'er its breast their gorgeous image fling.
The Mississippi needs no herald now--
But here within this glen unknown to fame,
It flows content--a bubble on its brow,
A leaf upon its breast--without a name!
[Illustration: Banks of the Mississippi]
Strange contrasts here--for on the glacier's height,
The tempest raves, and arrowy lightnings leap--
Yet deep beneath, the wild flowers lone and light,
On slender stems in breezeless silence sleep.
Skyward the racing eagles wildly fling
Their savage clamor to the echoing dell--
While sheltered deep, the bee with folded wing,
Voluptuous slumbers in his fragrant cell.
Around, the splintered rocks are heaped to heaven,
With grisly caverns yawning wide between,
As if the Titans there had battle given,
And left their ruin written on the scene!
Yet o'er these ghastly shapes, soft lichens wind,
And timid daisies droop, and tranquil flowers
A robe of many-colored beauty, bind,
As if some vagrant fairy claimed these bowers.
Fit cradle this--Majestic Stream, for thee!
Nursed at the glacier's foot--by tempests fed--
The lightning flashing o'er thy canopy,
And thunders pealing round thine infant bed--
The pious Indian marks thy mystic birth,
'Mid storm and cloud, and nature's aspect wild--
And wondering, deems thee not a thing of earth,
But great Manitto's fair and favored child.
Aye--and the mind, by inspiration taught,
Like nature's pupil feels a Presence near,
Which bids the bosom tremble with the thought
That He who came from Teman hath been here![B]
What thronging fancies crowd upon the soul,
As from these heights the Giant Stream we trace,
And wander with its waters as they roll
From hence, to their far ocean dwelling-place--
Marking its birth in this bleak frigid zone,
Its conquering march to yonder tropic shore,
The boundless valley which it makes its own,
With thousand tribute rivers as they pour!
No classic page its story to reveal;
No nymph, or naļad, sporting in its glades;
No banks encrimsoned with heroic steel;
And haunted yet by dim poetic shades--
Its annals linger in the eternal rock,
Hoary with centuries; in cataracts that sing
To the dull ear of ages; in the shock
Of plunging glaciers that madly fling,
The forest like a flight of spears, aloft:
In wooded vales that spread beyond the view;
In boundless prairies, blooming fair and soft;
In mantling vines that teem with clusters blue;
And as the sunny south upon us breathes--
In orange groves that scent the balmy air,
And tempt soft summer with its fragrant wreaths,
Throughout the year to be a dweller there.
These of the past their whispered lore unfold,
And fertile fancy with its wizard art,
May weave wild legends, as the seers of old
Made gods and heroes into being start.
Perchance some mystic mound may wake the spell:
A crumbled skull--a spear--a vase of clay
Within its bosom half the tale may tell--
And all the rest 'tis fancy's gift to say.
Alas! that ruthless science in these days,
To its stern crucible hath brought at last,
The cherished shapes that all so fondly gaze
Upon us from the dim poetic past!
Else might these moonlit prairies show at dawn,
The dew-swept circle of the elfin dance--
These woodlands teem with sportive fay and faun--
These grottoes glimmer with sweet Echo's glance.
Perchance a future Homer might have wrought
From out the scattered wreck of ages fled,
Some long lost Troy, where mighty heroes fought,
And made the earth re-echo with their tread!
It may not be, for though these scenes are fair,
As fabled Arcady--the sylph and fay,
And all their gentle kindred, shun the air,
Where car and steamer make their stormy way.
Perchance some Cooper's magic art may wake
The sleeping legends of this mighty vale,
And twine fond memories round the lawn and lake,
Where Warrior fought or Lover told his tale:
And when the Red Man's form hath left these glades,
And memory's moonlight o'er his story streams,
From their dim graves shall rise heroic shades,
And fill the fancy with romantic dreams.
Then, in the city's gorgeous squares shall rise
The chiselled column to the admiring view--
To mark the spot where some stern Black Hawk lies,
Whom ages gone, our glorious grandsires slew!
[Illustration: The Indian Lovers]
Dim shadows these that come at Fancy's call--
Yet deeper scenes before the Patriot rise,
As fate's stern prophet lifts the fearful pall,
And shows the future to his straining eyes.
Oh! shall that vision paint this glorious vale
With happy millions o'er its bosom spread--
Or ghastly scenes where battle taints the gale
With brother's blood by brother's weapon shed?
Away, ye phantom fears--the scene is fair,
Down the long vista of uncounted years;
Bright harvests smile, sweet meadows scent the air,
And peaceful plenty o'er the scene appears.
The village rings with labor's jocund laugh,
The hoyden shout around the school-house door,
The old man's voice, as bending o'er his staff,
He waxes valiant in the tales of yore:
Far tapering spires from teeming cities rise,
The sabbath bell comes stealing on the air,
A holy anthem seeks the bending skies,
And earth and heaven seem fondly blended there!
Aye--and beyond, where distance spreads its blue,
Down the unfolding vale of future time,
A glorious vision rises on the view,
And wakes the bosom with a hope sublime.
Majestic Stream! at dim Creation's dawn,
Thou wert a witness of that glorious birth--
And thy proud waters still shall sweep the lawn
When Peace shall claim dominion of the earth.
Here in this vale for mighty empire made,
Perchance the glorious flag shall be unfurled,
And violence and wrong and ruin fade,
Before its conquering march around the world!
[Footnote A: We are told by the Geographers that the Missouri, which
rises in the glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, is properly the head stream
of the Mississippi, and it is thus regarded in these lines. In this view,
the Mississippi is the longest river in the world.]
[Footnote B: Habakkuk iii. 3.]
The Two Windmills.
[Illustration: The Two Windmills]
Two neighbors, living on a hill,
Had each--and side by side--a mill.
The one was Jones,--a thrifty wight--
Whose mill in every wind went right.
The storm and tempest vainly spent
Their rage upon it--round it went!
E'en when the summer breeze was light,
The whirling wings performed their flight;
And hence a village saying rose--
"As sure as Jones's mill, it goes."
Not so with neighbor Smith's--close by;
Full half the time it would not ply:
Save only when the wind was west,
Still as a post it stood at rest.
By every tempest it was battered,
By every thundergust 'twas shattered;
Through many a rent the rain did filter;
And, fair or foul, 'twas out of kilter;
And thus the saying came at last--
"Smith's mill is made for folks that fast."
Now, who can read this riddle right?
Two mills are standing on a height--
One whirling brisk, whate'er the weather,
The other, idle, weeks together!
Come, gentle reader, lend thine ear,
And thou the simple truth shalt hear;
And mark,--for here the moral lurks,--
Smith held to faith, but not to works;
While Jones believed in both, and so,
By faith and practice, made it go!
Smith prayed, and straight sent in his bill,
Expecting Heaven to tend his mill;
And grumbled sore, whene'er he found
That wheels ungreased would not go round.
Not so with Jones--for, though as prayerful,
To grease his wheels he e'er was careful,
And healed, with ready stitch, each rent
That ruthless time or tempest sent;
And thus, by works, his faith expressed,
Good neighbor Jones by Heaven was blessed.
The Ideal and the Actual.
My boat is on the bounding tide,
Away, away from surge and shore;
A waif upon the wave I ride,
Without a rudder or an oar.
Blow as ye list, ye breezes, blow--
The compass now is nought to me;
Flow as ye will, ye billows, flow,
If but ye bear me out to sea.
Yon waving line of dusky blue,
Where care and toil oppress the heart--
To thee I bid a long adieu,
And smile to feel that thus we part.
There let the sweating ploughman toil,
The yearning miser count his gain,
The fevered scholar waste his oil,
But I am bounding o'er the main!
How fresh these breezes to the brow--
How dear this freedom to the soul;
Bright ocean, I am with thee now,
So let thy golden billows roll!
* * * * *
But stay--what means this throbbing brain--
This heaving chest--these pulses quick?
Oh, take me to the land again,
_For I am very, very sick!_
The Golden Dream.
In midnight dreams the Wizard came,
And beckoned me away--
With tempting hopes of wealth and fame,
He cheered my lonely way.
He led me o'er a dusky heath,
And there a river swept,
Whose gay and glassy tide beneath,
Uncounted treasure, slept.
The wooing ripples lightly dashed
Around the cherished store,
And circling eddies brightly flashed
Above the yellow ore.
I bent me o'er the deep smooth stream,
And plunged the gold to get,--
But oh! it vanished with my dream--
And I got dripping wet!
O'er lonely heath and darksome hill,
As shivering home I went,
The mocking Wizard whispered shrill,
'Thou'dst better been content!'
The Gipsy's Prayer.
[Illustration: The Gipsy's Prayer]
Our altar is the dewy sod--
Our temple yon blue throne of God:
No priestly rite our souls to bind--
We bow before the Almighty Mind.
Oh, Thou whose realm is wide as air--
Thou wilt not spurn the Gipsies' prayer:
Though banned and barred by all beside,
Be Thou the Outcast's guard and guide.
Poor fragments of a Nation wrecked--
Its story whelmed in Time's neglect--
We drift unheeded on the wave,
If God refuse the lost to save.
Yet though we name no Fatherland--
And though we clasp no kindred hand--
Though houseless, homeless wanderers we--
Oh give us Hope, and Heaven with Thee!
Inscription for a Rural Cemetery.
Peace to the dead! The forest weaves,
Around your couch, its shroud of leaves;
While shadows dim and silence deep,
Bespeak the quiet of your sleep.
Rest, pilgrim, here! Your journey o'er,
Life's weary cares ye heed no more;
Time's sun has set, in yonder west--
Your work is done--rest, Pilgrim, rest!
Rest till the morning hour; wait
Here, at Eternity's dread gate,
Safe in the keeping of the sod,
And the sure promises of God.
Dark is your home--yet round the tomb,
Tokens of hope--sweet flowerets bloom;
And cherished memories, soft and dear,
Blest as their fragrance, linger here!
We speak, yet ye are dumb! How dread
This deep, stern silence of the Dead!
The whispers of the Grave, severe,
The listening Soul alone can hear!
Song: The Robin.
[Illustration: The Robin]
At misty dawn,
At rosy morn,
The Redbreast sings alone:
At twilight dim,
Still, still, his hymn
Hath a sad, and sorrowing tone.
Another day, his song is gay,
For a listening bird is near--
O ye who sorrow, come borrow, borrow,
A lesson of robin here!
Thoughts at Sea.
Here is the boundless ocean,--there the sky,
O'er-arching broad and blue--
Telling of God and heaven--how deep, how high,
How glorious and true!
Upon the wave there is an anthem sweet,
Whispered in fear and love,
Sending a solemn tribute to the feet
Of Him who sits above.
God of the waters! Nature owns her King!
The Sea thy sceptre knows;
At thy command the tempest spreads its wing,
Or folds it to repose.
And when the whirlwind hath gone rushing by,
Obedient to thy will,
What reverence sits upon the wave and sky,
Humbled, subdued, and still!
Oh! let my soul, like this submissive sea,
With peace upon its breast,
By the deep influence of thy Spirit be
Holy and hushed to rest.
And as the gladdening sun lights up the morn,
Bidding the storm depart,
So may the Sun of Righteousness adorn,
With love, my shadowed heart.
A Burial at Sea.
[Illustration: Burial at Sea]
The shore hath blent with the distant skies,
O'er the bend of the crested seas,
And the leaning ship in her pathway flies,
On the sweep of the freshened breeze.
Swift be its flight! for a dying guest
It bears across the billow,
And she fondly sighs in her native West
To find a peaceful pillow.
There, o'er the tide, her kindred sleep,
And she would sleep beside them--
It may not be! for the sea is deep,
And the waves--the waves divide them!
It may not be! for the flush is flown,
That lighted her lily cheek--
'Twas the passing beam, ere the sun goes down.--
Life's last and loveliest streak.
'Tis gone, and a dew is o'er her now--
The dew of the mornless eve--
No morrow will shine on that pallid brow,
For the spirit hath ta'en its leave.
* * * * *
The ship heaves to, and the funeral rite,
O'er the lovely form is said,
And the rough man's cheek with tears is bright,
As he lowers the gentle dead.
The corse sinks down, alone--alone,
To its dark and dreary grave,
And the soul on a lightened wing hath flown,
To the world beyond the wave.
* * * * *
'Tis a fearful thing in the sea to sleep
Alone in a silent bed--
'Tis a fearful thing on the shoreless deep
Of the spirit-world to tread!
The Dream of Youth.
[Illustration: The Dream of Youth]
In days of yore, while yet the world was new,
And all around was beautiful to view--
When spring or summer ruled the happy hours,
And golden fruit hung down mid opening flowers;
When, if you chanced among the woods to stray,
The rosy-footed dryad led the way,--
Or if, beside a mountain brook, your path,
You ever caught some naļad at her bath:
'Twas in that golden day, that Damon strayed.
Musing, alone, along a Grecian glade.
Retired the scene, yet in the morning light,
Athens in view, shone glimmering to the sight.
'Twas far away, yet painted on the skies,
It seemed a marble cloud of glorious dyes,
Where yet the rosy morn, with lingering ray,
Loved on the sapphire pediments to play.
But why did Damon heed the _distant_ scene?
For he was young, and all around was green:
A noisy brook was romping through the dell,
And on his ear the laughing echoes fell:
Along his path the stooping wild flowers grew,
And woo'd the very zephyrs as they flew.
Then why young Damon, heeding nought around,
Seemed in some thrall of distant vision bound,
I cannot tell--but dreamy grew his gaze,
And all his thought was in a misty maze.
Awhile he sauntered--then beneath a tree,
He sat him down, and there a reverie
Came o'er his spirit like a spell,--and bright,
A truth-like vision, shone upon his sight.
Around on every side, with glowing pinions,
A circling band, as if from Jove's dominions,
All wooing came, and sought with wily art,
To steal away the youthful dreamer's heart.
One offered wealth--another spoke of fame,
And held a wreath to twine around his name.
One brought the pallet, and the magic brush,
By which creative art bids nature blush,
To see her rival--and the artful boy,
His story told--the all-entrancing joy
His skill could give,--but well the rogue concealed
The piercing thorns that flourish, unrevealed,
Along the artist's path--the poverty, the strife
Of study, and the weary waste of life--
All these, the drawback of his wily tale,
The little artist covered with a veil.
Young Damon listened, and his heart beat high--
But now a cunning archer gained his eye--
And stealing close, he whispered in his ear,
A glowing tale, so musical and dear,
That Damon vowed, like many a panting youth,
To Love, eternal constancy and truth!
But while the whisper from his bosom broke,
A fearful Image to his spirit spoke:
With frowning brow, and giant arm he stood,
Holding a glass, as if in threatening mood,
He waited but a moment for the sand,
To sweep the idle Dreamer from the land!
Young Damon started, and his dream was o'er,
But to his soul, the seeming vision bore
A solemn meaning, which he could not spurn--
And Youth, perchance, may from our fable learn,
That while the beckoning passions woo and sigh,
TIME, with his ready scythe, stands listening by.
You bid the minstrel strike the lute,
And wake once more a soothing tone--
Alas! its strings, untuned, are mute,
Or only echo moan for moan.
The flowers around it twined are dead,
And those who wreathed them there, are flown;
The spring that gave them bloom is fled,
And winter's frost is o'er them thrown.
Poor lute! forgot 'mid strife and care,
I fain would try thy strings once more,--
Perchance some lingering tone is there--
Some cherished melody of yore.
If flowers that bloom no more are here,
Their odors still around us cling--
And though the loved are lost-still dear,
Their memories may wake the string.
I strike--but lo, the wonted thrill,
Of joy in sorrowing cadence dies:
Alas! the minstrel's hand is chill,
And the sad lute, responsive, sighs.
'Tis ever thus--our life begins,
In Eden, and all fruit seems sweet--
We taste and knowledge, with our sins,
Creeps to the heart and spoils the cheat.
In youth, the sun brings light alone--
No shade then rests upon the sight--
But when the beaming morn is flown,
We see the shadows--not the light
I once found music every where--
The whistle from the willow wrung--
The string, set in the window, there,
Sweet measures to my fancy flung.
But now, this dainty lute is dead--
Or answers but to sigh and wail,
Echoing the voices of the fled,
Passing before me dim and pale!
Yet angel forms are in that train,
And One upon the still air flings,
Of woven melody, a strain,
Down trembling from Her heaven-bent wings.
'Tis past--that Speaking Form is flown--
But memory's pleased and listening ear,
Shall oft recall that choral tone,
To love and poetry so dear.
And far away in after time,
Shall blended Piety and Love
Find fond expression in the rhyme,
Bequeathed to earth by One above.
* * * * *
Poor lute!--thy bounding pulse is still,--
Yet all thy silence I forgive,
That thus thy last--thy dying thrill,
Would make Her gentle virtues live!
[Footnote A: Written by request for the "Memorial," a work published in
New-York, 1850, in commemoration of the late Frances S. Osgood,--edited
by Mary E. Hewett.]
The Old Oak.
[Illustration: The Old Oak]
Friend of my early days, we meet once more!
Once more I stand thine aged boughs beneath,
And hear again the rustling music pour,
Along thy leaves, as whispering spirits breathe.
Full many a day of sunshine and of storm,
Since last we parted, both have surely known;
Thy leaves are thinned, decrepit is thy form,--
And all my cherished visions, they are flown!
How beautiful, how brief, those sunny hours
Departed now, when life was in its spring--
When Fancy knew no scene undecked with flowers,
And Expectation flew on Fancy's wing!
Here, on the bank, beside this whispering stream,
Which still runs by as gayly as of yore,
Marking its eddies, I was wont to dream
Of things away, on some far fairy shore.
Then every whirling leaf and bubbling ball,
That floated by, was full of radiant thought;
Each linked with love, had music at its call,
And thrilling echoes o'er my bosom brought.
The bird that sang within this gnarled oak,
The waves that dallied with its leafy shade,
The mellow murmurs from its boughs that broke,
Their joyous tribute to my spirit paid.
No phantom rose to tell of future ill,
No grisly warning marr'd my prophet dreams--
My heart translucent as the leaping rill,
My thoughts all free and flashing at its beams.
Here is the grassy knoll I used to seek
At summer noon, beneath the spreading shade,
And watch the flowers that stooped with glowing cheek,
To meet the romping ripples as they played.
Here is the spot which memory's magic glass
Hath often brought, arrayed in fadeless green,
Making this oak, this brook, this waving grass--
A simple group--fond Nature's fairest scene.
And as I roamed beside the Rhone or Rhine,
Or other favored stream, in after days,
With jealous love, this rivulet would shine,
Full on my heart, and claim accustomed praise.
And oh! how oft by sorrow overborne,
By care oppressed, or bitter malice wrung,
By friends betrayed, or disappointment torn,
My weary heart, all sickened and unstrung--
Hath yearned to leave the bootless strife afar,
And find beneath this oak a quiet grave,
Where the rough echo of the world's loud jar,
Yields to the music of the mellow wave!
And now again I stand this stream beside;
Again I hear the silver ripples flow--
I mark the whispers murmuring o'er the tide,
And the light bubbles trembling as they go.
But oh! the magic-spell that lingered here,
In boyhood's golden age, my heart to bless,
With the bright waves that rippled then so clear,
Is lost in ocean's dull forgetfulness.
Gone are the visions of that glorious time--
Gone are the glancing birds I loved so well,
Nor will they wake again their silver chime,
From the deep tomb of night in which they dwell!
And if perchance some fleeting memories steal,
Like far-off echoes to my dreaming ear,
Away, ungrasped, the cheating visions wheel,
As spectres start upon the wing of fear.
Alas! the glorious sun, which then was high,
Touching each common thing with rosy light,
Is darkly banished from the lowering sky--
And life's dull onward pathway lies, in night.
Yes--I am changed--and this gray gnarled form,
Its leaves all scattered by the rending blast,
Is but an image of my heart;--the storm--
The storm of life, doth make us such at last!
Farewell, old oak! I leave thee to the wind,
And go to struggle with the chafing tide--
Soon to the dust thy form shall be resigned,
And I would sleep thy crumbling limbs beside.
Thy memory will pass; thy sheltering shade,
Will weave no more its tissue o'er the sod;
And all thy leaves, ungathered in the glade,
Shall, by the reckless hoof of time, be trod.
My cherished hopes, like shadows and like leaves,
Name, fame, and fortune--each shall pass away;
And all that castle-building fancy weaves,
Shall sleep, unthinking, as the drowsy clay.
But from thy root another tree shall bloom--
With living leaves its tossing boughs shall rise;
And the winged spirit--bursting from the tomb,--
Oh, shall it spring to light beyond these skies?
To a Wild Violet, in March.
[Illustration: To a Wild Violet, in March]
My pretty flower,
How cam'st thou here?
Around thee all
Is sad and sere,--
The brown leaves tell
Of winter's breath,
And all but thou
Of doom and death.
The naked forest
On yonder hill
The snow-wreath lies,
And all is bleak--
Then say, sweet flower,
Whence cam'st thou here
In such an hour?
No tree unfolds its timid bud--
Chill pours the hill-side's lurid flood--
The tuneless forest all is dumb--
Whence then, fair violet, didst thou come?
Spring hath not scattered yet her flowers,
But lingers still in southern bowers;
No gardener's art hath cherished thee,
For wild and lone thou springest free.
Thou springest here to man unknown,
Waked into life by God alone!
Sweet flower--thou tellest well thy birth,--
Thou cam'st from Heaven, though soiled in earth!