Part 6 out of 7
_("Lorsque le regiment des hallebardiers.")_
When the regiment of Halberdiers
Is proudly marching by,
The eagle of the mountain screams
From out his stormy sky;
Who speaketh to the precipice,
And to the chasm sheer;
Who hovers o'er the thrones of kings,
And bids the caitiffs fear.
King of the peak and glacier,
King of the cold, white scalps--
He lifts his head, at that close tread,
The eagle of the Alps.
O shame! those men that march below--
O ignominy dire!
Are the sons of my free mountains
Sold for imperial hire.
Ah! the vilest in the dungeon!
Ah! the slave upon the seas--
Is great, is pure, is glorious,
Is grand compared with these,
Who, born amid my holy rocks,
In solemn places high,
Where the tall pines bend like rushes
When the storm goes sweeping by;
Yet give the strength of foot they learned
By perilous path and flood,
And from their blue-eyed mothers won,
The old, mysterious blood;
The daring that the good south wind
Into their nostrils blew,
And the proud swelling of the heart
With each pure breath they drew;
The graces of the mountain glens,
With flowers in summer gay;
And all the glories of the hills
To earn a lackey's pay.
Their country free and joyous--
She of the rugged sides--
She of the rough peaks arrogant
Whereon the tempest rides:
Mother of the unconquered thought
And of the savage form,
Who brings out of her sturdy heart
The hero and the storm:
Who giveth freedom unto man,
And life unto the beast;
Who hears her silver torrents ring
Like joy-bells at a feast;
Who hath her caves for palaces,
And where her chalets stand--
The proud, old archer of Altorf,
With his good bow in his hand.
Is she to suckle jailers?
Shall shame and glory rest,
Amid her lakes and glaciers,
Like twins upon her breast?
Shall the two-headed eagle,
Marked with her double blow,
Drink of her milk through all those hearts
Whose blood he bids to flow?
Say, was it pomp ye needed,
And all the proud array
Of courtly joust and high parade
Upon a gala day?
Look up; have not my valleys
Their torrents white with foam--
Their lines of silver bullion
On the blue hillocks of home?
Doth not sweet May embroider
My rocks with pearls and flowers?
Her fingers trace a richer lace
Than yours in all my bowers.
Are not my old peaks gilded
When the sun arises proud,
And each one shakes a white mist plume
Out of the thunder-cloud?
O, neighbor of the golden sky--
Sons of the mountain sod--
Why wear a base king's colors
For the livery of God?
O shame! despair! to see my Alps
Their giant shadows fling
Into the very waiting-room
Of tyrant and of king!
O thou deep heaven, unsullied yet,
Into thy gulfs sublime--
Up azure tracts of flaming light--
Let my free pinion climb;
Till from my sight, in that clear light,
Earth and her crimes be gone--
The men who act the evil deeds--
The caitiffs who look on.
Far, far into that space immense,
Beyond the vast white veil,
Where distant stars come out and shine,
And the great sun grows pale.
THE CUP ON THE BATTLE-FIELD.
_("Mon pere, ce heros au sourire.")_
[Bk. XLIX. iv.]
My sire, the hero with the smile so soft,
And a tall trooper, his companion oft,
Whom he loved greatly for his courage high
And strength and stature, as the night drew nigh
Rode out together. The battle was done;
The dead strewed the field; long sunk was the sun.
It seemed in the darkness a sound they heard,--
Was it feeble moaning or uttered word?
'Twas a Spaniard left from the force in flight,
Who had crawled to the roadside after fight;
Shattered and livid, less live than dead,
Rattled his throat as hoarsely he said:
"Water, water to drink, for pity's sake!
Oh, a drop of water this thirst to slake!"
My father, moved at his speech heart-wrung,
Handed the orderly, downward leapt,
The flask of rum at the holster kept.
"Let him have some!" cried my father, as ran
The trooper o'er to the wounded man,--
A sort of Moor, swart, bloody and grim;
But just as the trooper was nearing him,
He lifted a pistol, with eye of flame,
And covered my father with murd'rous aim.
The hurtling slug grazed the very head,
And the helmet fell, pierced, streaked with red,
And the steed reared up; but in steady tone:
"Give him the whole!" said my father, "and on!"
HOW GOOD ARE THE POOR.
_("Il est nuit. La cabane est pauvre.")_
[Bk. LII. iii.]
'Tis night--within the close stout cabin door,
The room is wrapped in shade save where there fall
Some twilight rays that creep along the floor,
And show the fisher's nets upon the wall.
In the dim corner, from the oaken chest,
A few white dishes glimmer; through the shade
Stands a tall bed with dusky curtains dressed,
And a rough mattress at its side is laid.
Five children on the long low mattress lie--
A nest of little souls, it heaves with dreams;
In the high chimney the last embers die,
And redden the dark room with crimson gleams.
The mother kneels and thinks, and pale with fear,
She prays alone, hearing the billows shout:
While to wild winds, to rocks, to midnight drear,
The ominous old ocean sobs without.
Poor wives of fishers! Ah! 'tis sad to say,
Our sons, our husbands, all that we love best,
Our hearts, our souls, are on those waves away,
Those ravening wolves that know not ruth, nor rest.
Think how they sport with these beloved forms;
And how the clarion-blowing wind unties
Above their heads the tresses of the storms:
Perchance even now the child, the husband, dies.
For we can never tell where they may be
Who, to make head against the tide and gale,
Between them and the starless, soulless sea
Have but one bit of plank, with one poor sail.
Terrible fear! We seek the pebbly shore,
Cry to the rising billows, "Bring them home."
Alas! what answer gives their troubled roar,
To the dark thought that haunts us as we roam.
Janet is sad: her husband is alone,
Wrapped in the black shroud of this bitter night:
His children are so little, there is none
To give him aid. "Were they but old, they might."
Ah, mother! when they too are on the main,
How wilt thou weep: "Would they were young again!"
She takes his lantern--'tis his hour at last
She will go forth, and see if the day breaks,
And if his signal-fire be at the mast;
Ah, no--not yet--no breath of morning wakes.
No line of light o'er the dark water lies;
It rains, it rains, how black is rain at morn:
The day comes trembling, and the young dawn cries--
Cries like a baby fearing to be born.
Sudden her humane eyes that peer and watch
Through the deep shade, a mouldering dwelling find,
No light within--the thin door shakes--the thatch
O'er the green walls is twisted of the wind,
Yellow, and dirty, as a swollen rill,
"Ah, me," she saith, "here does that widow dwell;
Few days ago my good man left her ill:
I will go in and see if all be well."
She strikes the door, she listens, none replies,
And Janet shudders. "Husbandless, alone,
And with two children--they have scant supplies.
Good neighbor! She sleeps heavy as a stone."
She calls again, she knocks, 'tis silence still;
No sound--no answer--suddenly the door,
As if the senseless creature felt some thrill
Of pity, turned--and open lay before.
She entered, and her lantern lighted all
The house so still, but for the rude waves' din.
Through the thin roof the plashing rain-drops fall,
But something terrible is couched within.
* * * * *
"So, for the kisses that delight the flesh,
For mother's worship, and for children's bloom,
For song, for smile, for love so fair and fresh,
For laugh, for dance, there is one goal--the tomb."
And why does Janet pass so fast away?
What hath she done within that house of dread?
What foldeth she beneath her mantle gray?
And hurries home, and hides it in her bed:
With half-averted face, and nervous tread,
What hath she stolen from the awful dead?
The dawn was whitening over the sea's verge
As she sat pensive, touching broken chords
Of half-remorseful thought, while the hoarse surge
Howled a sad concert to her broken words.
"Ah, my poor husband! we had five before,
Already so much care, so much to find,
For he must work for all. I give him more.
What was that noise? His step! Ah, no! the wind.
"That I should be afraid of him I love!
I have done ill. If he should beat me now,
I would not blame him. Did not the door move?
Not yet, poor man." She sits with careful brow
Wrapped in her inward grief; nor hears the roar
Of winds and waves that dash against his prow,
Nor the black cormorant shrieking on the shore.
Sudden the door flies open wide, and lets
Noisily in the dawn-light scarcely clear,
And the good fisher, dragging his damp nets,
Stands on the threshold, with a joyous cheer.
"'Tis thou!" she cries, and, eager as a lover,
Leaps up and holds her husband to her breast;
Her greeting kisses all his vesture cover;
"'Tis I, good wife!" and his broad face expressed
How gay his heart that Janet's love made light.
"What weather was it?" "Hard." "Your fishing?" "Bad.
The sea was like a nest of thieves to-night;
But I embrace thee, and my heart is glad.
"There was a devil in the wind that blew;
I tore my net, caught nothing, broke my line,
And once I thought the bark was broken too;
What did you all the night long, Janet mine?"
She, trembling in the darkness, answered, "I!
Oh, naught--I sew'd, I watch'd, I was afraid,
The waves were loud as thunders from the sky;
But it is over." Shyly then she said--
"Our neighbor died last night; it must have been
When you were gone. She left two little ones,
So small, so frail--William and Madeline;
The one just lisps, the other scarcely runs."
The man looked grave, and in the corner cast
His old fur bonnet, wet with rain and sea,
Muttered awhile, and scratched his head,--at last
"We have five children, this makes seven," said he.
"Already in bad weather we must sleep
Sometimes without our supper. Now! Ah, well--
'Tis not my fault. These accidents are deep;
It was the good God's will. I cannot tell.
"Why did He take the mother from those scraps,
No bigger than my fist. 'Tis hard to read;
A learned man might understand, perhaps--
So little, they can neither work nor need.
"Go fetch them, wife; they will be frightened sore,
If with the dead alone they waken thus.
That was the mother knocking at our door,
And we must take the children home to us.
"Brother and sister shall they be to ours,
And they will learn to climb my knee at even;
When He shall see these strangers in our bowers,
More fish, more food, will give the God of Heaven.
"I will work harder; I will drink no wine--
Go fetch them. Wherefore dost thou linger, dear?
Not thus were wont to move those feet of thine."
She drew the curtain, saying, "They are here!"
LA VOIX DE GUERNESEY.
(VICTOR HUGO TO GARIBALDI.)
_("Ces jeunes gens, combien etaient-ils.")_
[LA VOIX DE GUERNESEY, December, 1868.]
Young soldiers of the noble Latin blood,
How many are ye--Boys? Four thousand odd.
How many are there dead? Six hundred: count!
Their limbs lie strewn about the fatal mount,
Blackened and torn, eyes gummed with blood, hearts rolled
Out from their ribs, to give the wolves of the wold
A red feast; nothing of them left but these
Pierced relics, underneath the olive trees,
Show where the gin was sprung--the scoundrel-trap
Which brought those hero-lads their foul mishap.
See how they fell in swathes--like barley-ears!
Their crime? to claim Rome and her glories theirs;
To fight for Right and Honor;--foolish names!
Come--Mothers of the soil! Italian dames!
Turn the dead over!--try your battle luck!
(Bearded or smooth, to her that gave him suck
The man is always child)--Stay, here's a brow
Split by the Zouaves' bullets! This one, now,
With the bright curly hair soaked so in blood,
Was yours, ma donna!--sweet and fair and good.
The spirit sat upon his fearless face
Before they murdered it, in all the grace
Of manhood's dawn. Sisters, here's yours! his lips,
Over whose bloom the bloody death-foam slips,
Lisped house-songs after you, and said your name
In loving prattle once. That hand, the same
Which lies so cold over the eyelids shut,
Was once a small pink baby-fist, and wet
With milk beads from thy yearning breasts.
Thine eldest,--thou, thy youngest born. Oh, flow
Of tears never to cease! Oh, Hope quite gone,
Dead like the dead!--Yet could they live alone--
Without their Tiber and their Rome? and be
Young and Italian--and not also free?
They longed to see the ancient eagle try
His lordly pinions in a modern sky.
They bore--each on himself--the insults laid
On the dear foster-land: of naught afraid,
Save of not finding foes enough to dare
For Italy. Ah; gallant, free, and rare
Young martyrs of a sacred cause,--Adieu!
No more of life--no more of love--for you!
No sweet long-straying in the star-lit glades
At Ave-Mary, with the Italian maids;
No welcome home!
This Garibaldi now, the Italian boys
Go mad to hear him--take to dying--take
To passion for "the pure and high";--God's sake!
It's monstrous, horrible! One sees quite clear
Society--our charge--must shake with fear,
And shriek for help, and call on us to act
When there's a hero, taken in the fact.
If Light shines in the dark, there's guilt in that!
What's viler than a lantern to a bat?
Your Garibaldi missed the mark! You see
The end of life's to cheat, and not to be
Cheated: The knave is nobler than the fool!
Get all you can and keep it! Life's a pool,
The best luck wins; if Virtue starves in rags,
I laugh at Virtue; here's my money-bags!
Here's righteous metal! We have kings, I say,
To keep cash going, and the game at play;
There's why a king wants money--he'd be missed
Without a fertilizing civil list.
Do but try
The question with a steady moral eye!
The colonel strives to be a brigadier,
The marshal, constable. Call the game fair,
And pay your winners! Show the trump, I say!
A renegade's a rascal--till the day
They make him Pasha: is he rascal then?
What with these sequins? Bah! you speak to Men,
And Men want money--power--luck--life's joy--
Those take who can: we could, and fobbed Savoy;
For those who live content with honest state,
They're public pests; knock we 'em on the pate!
They set a vile example! Quick--arrest
That Fool, who ruled and failed to line his nest.
Just hit a bell, you'll see the clapper shake--
Meddle with Priests, you'll find the barrack wake--
Ah! Princes know the People's a tight boot,
March 'em sometimes to be shot and to shoot,
Then they'll wear easier. So let them preach
The righteousness of howitzers; and teach
At the fag end of prayer: "Now, slit their throats!
My holy Zouaves! my good yellow-coats!"
We like to see the Holy Father send
Powder and steel and lead without an end,
To feed Death fat; and broken battles mend.
But thou, our Hero, baffled, foiled,
The Glorious Chief who vainly bled and toiled.
The trust of all the Peoples--Freedom's Knight!
The Paladin unstained--the Sword of Right!
What wilt thou do, whose land finds thee but jails!
The banished claim the banished! deign to cheer
The refuge of the homeless--enter here,
And light upon our households dark will fall
Even as thou enterest. Oh, Brother, all,
Each one of us--hurt with thy sorrows' proof,
Will make a country for thee of his roof.
Come, sit with those who live as exiles learn:
Come! Thou whom kings could conquer but not yet turn.
We'll talk of "Palermo"--"the Thousand" true,
Will tell the tears of blood of France to you;
Then by his own great Sea we'll read, together,
Old Homer in the quiet summer weather,
And after, thou shalt go to thy desire
While that faint star of Justice grows to fire.
Oh, Italy! hail your Deliverer,
Oh, Nations! almost he gave Rome to her!
Strong-arm and prophet-heart had all but come
To win the city, and to make it "Rome."
Calm, of the antique grandeur, ripe to be
Named with the noblest of her history.
He would have Romanized your Rome--controlled
Her glory, lordships, Gods, in a new mould.
Her spirits' fervor would have melted in
The hundred cities with her; made a twin
Vesuvius and the Capitol; and blended
Strong Juvenal's with the soul, tender and splendid,
Of Dante--smelted old with new alloy--
Stormed at the Titans' road full of bold joy
Whereby men storm Olympus. Italy,
Weep!--This man could have made one Rome of thee!
But the crime's wrought! Who wrought it?
Priest Pius? No! Each does but what he can.
Yonder's the criminal! The warlike wight
Who hides behind the ranks of France to fight,
Greek Sinon's blood crossed thick with Judas-Jew's,
The Traitor who with smile which true men woos,
Lip mouthing pledges--hand grasping the knife--
Waylaid French Liberty, and took her life.
Kings, he is of you! fit companion! one
Whom day by day the lightning looks upon
Keen; while the sentenced man triples his guard
And trembles; for his hour approaches hard.
Ye ask me "when?" I say _soon_! Hear ye not
Yon muttering in the skies above the spot?
Mark ye no coming shadow, Kings? the shroud
Of a great storm driving the thunder-cloud?
Hark! like the thief-catcher who pulls the pin,
God's thunder asks to _speak to one within_!
And meanwhile this death-odor--this corpse-scent
Which makes the priestly incense redolent
Of rotting men, and the Te Deums stink--
Reeks through the forests--past the river's brink,
O'er wood and plain and mountain, till it fouls
Fair Paris in her pleasures; then it prowls,
A deadly stench, to Crete, to Mexico,
To Poland--wheresoe'er kings' armies go:
And Earth one Upas-tree of bitter sadness,
Opening vast blossoms of a bloody madness.
Throats cut by thousands--slain men by the ton!
Earth quite corpse-cumbered, though the half not done!
They lie, stretched out, where the blood-puddles soak,
Their black lips gaping with the last cry spoke.
"Stretched;" nay! _sown broadcast_; yes, the word is "sown."
The fallows Liberty--the harsh wind blown
Over the furrows, Fate: and these stark dead
Are grain sublime, from Death's cold fingers shed
To make the Abyss conceive: the Future bear
More noble Heroes! Swell, oh, Corpses dear!
Rot quick to the green blade of Freedom! Death!
Do thy kind will with them! They without breath,
Stripped, scattered, ragged, festering, slashed and blue,
Dangle towards God the arms French shot tore through
And wait in meekness, Death! for Him and You!
Oh, France! oh, People! sleeping unabashed!
Liest thou like a hound when it was lashed?
Thou liest! thine own blood fouling both thy hands,
And on thy limbs the rust of iron bands,
And round thy wrists the cut where cords went deep.
Say did they numb thy soul, that thou didst sleep?
Alas! sad France is grown a cave for sleeping,
Which a worse night than Midnight holds in keeping,
Thou sleepest sottish--lost to life and fame--
While the stars stare on thee, and pale for shame.
Stir! rouse thee! Sit! if thou know'st not to rise;
Sit up, thou tortured sluggard! ope thine eyes!
Stretch thy brawn, Giant! Sleep is foul and vile!
Art fagged, art deaf, art dumb? art blind this while?
They lie who say so! Thou dost know and feel
The things they do to thee and thine. The heel
That scratched thy neck in passing--whose? Canst say?
Yes, yes, 'twas _his_, and this is his _fete-day_.
Oh, thou that wert of humankind--couched so--
A beast of burden on this dunghill! oh!
Bray to them, Mule! Oh, Bullock! bellow then!
Since they have made thee blind, grope in thy den!
Do something, Outcast One, that wast so grand!
Who knows if thou putt'st forth thy poor maimed hand,
There may be venging weapon within reach!
Feel with both hands--with both huge arms go stretch
Along the black wall of thy cellar. Nay,
There _may_ be some odd thing hidden away?
Who knows--there _may_! Those great hands might so come
In course of ghastly fumble through the gloom,
Upon a sword--a _sword_! The hands once clasp
Its hilt, must wield it with a Victor's grasp.
EDWIN ARNOLD, C.S.I.
[Footnote 1: The Battle of Mentana, so named from a village by Rome, was
fought between the allied French and Papal Armies and the Volunteer Forces
of Garibaldi, Nov. 3, 1867.]
[Footnote 2: Palermo was taken immediately after the Garibaldian
volunteers, 1000 strong, landed at Marsala to inaugurate the rising which
made Italy free.]
[Footnote 3: Both poet and his idol lived to see the French Republic for
the fourth time proclaimed. When Hugo rose in the Senate, on the first
occasion after his return to Paris after the expulsion of the Napoleons,
and his white head was seen above that of Rouher, ex-Prime Minister of the
Empire, all the house shuddered, and in a nearly unanimous voice shouted:
"The judgment of God! expiation!"]
LES CHANSONS DES RUES ET DES BOIS.
LOVE OF THE WOODLAND.
_("Orphee au bois du Caystre.")_
[Bk. I. ii.]
Orpheus, through the hellward wood
Hurried, ere the eve-star glowed,
For the fauns' lugubrious hoots
Followed, hollow, from crooked roots;
Aeschylus, where Aetna smoked,
Gods of Sicily evoked
With the flute, till sulphur taint
Dulled and lulled the echoes faint;
Pliny, soon his style mislaid,
Dogged Miletus' merry maid,
As she showed eburnean limbs
All-multiplied by brooklet brims;
Plautus, see! like Plutus, hold
Bosomfuls of orchard-gold,
Learns he why that mystic core
Was sweet Venus' meed of yore?
Dante dreamt (while spirits pass
As in wizard's jetty glass)
Each black-bossed Briarian trunk
Waved live arms like furies drunk;
Winsome Will, 'neath Windsor Oak,
Eyed each elf that cracked a joke
At poor panting grease-hart fast--
Obese, roguish Jack harassed;
At Versailles, Moliere did court
Cues from Pan (in heron port,
Half in ooze, half treeward raised),
"Words so witty, that Boileau's 'mazed!"
Foliage! fondly you attract!
Dian's faith I keep intact,
And declare that thy dryads dance
Still, and will, in thy green expanse!
[FOR MY LITTLE CHILD ONLY.]
_("Tas de feux tombants.")_
[Bk. III. vii.]
See the scintillating shower!
Like a burst from golden mine--
Incandescent coals that pour
From the incense-bowl divine,
And around us dewdrops, shaken,
Mirror each a twinkling ray
'Twixt the flowers that awaken
In this glory great as day.
Mists and fogs all vanish fleetly;
And the birds begin to sing,
Whilst the rain is murm'ring sweetly
As if angels echoing.
And, methinks, to show she's grateful
For this seed from heaven come,
Earth is holding up a plateful
Of the birds and buds a-bloom!
TO LITTLE JEANNE.
_("Vous eutes donc hier un an.")_
You've lived a year, then, yesterday, sweet child,
Prattling thus happily! So fledglings wild,
New-hatched in warmer nest 'neath sheltering bough,
Chirp merrily to feel their feathers grow.
Your mouth's a rose, Jeanne! In these volumes grand
Whose pictures please you--while I trembling stand
To see their big leaves tattered by your hand--
Are noble lines; but nothing half your worth,
When all your tiny frame rustles with mirth
To welcome me. No work of author wise
Can match the thought half springing to your eyes,
And your dim reveries, unfettered, strange,
Regarding man with all the boundless range
Of angel innocence. Methinks, 'tis clear
That God's not far, Jeanne, when I see you here.
Ah! twelve months old: 'tis quite an age, and brings
Grave moments, though your soul to rapture clings,
You're at that hour of life most like to heaven,
When present joy no cares, no sorrows leaven
When man no shadow feels: if fond caress
Round parent twines, children the world possess.
Your waking hopes, your dreams of mirth and love
From Charles to Alice, father to mother, rove;
No wider range of view your heart can take
Than what her nursing and his bright smiles make;
They two alone on this your opening hour
Can gleams of tenderness and gladness pour:
They two--none else, Jeanne! Yet 'tis just, and I,
Poor grandsire, dare but to stand humbly by.
You come--I go: though gloom alone my right,
Blest be the destiny which gives you light.
Your fair-haired brother George and you beside
Me play--in watching you is all my pride;
And all I ask--by countless sorrows tried--
The grave; o'er which in shadowy form may show
Your cradles gilded by the morning's glow.
Pure new-born wonderer! your infant life
Strange welcome found, Jeanne, in this time of strife.
Like wild-bee humming through the woods your play,
And baby smiles have dared a world at bay:
Your tiny accents lisp their gentle charms
To mighty Paris clashing mighty arms.
Ah! when I see you, child, and when I hear
You sing, or try, with low voice whispering near,
And touch of fingers soft, my grief to cheer,
I dream this darkness, where the tempests groan,
Trembles, and passes with half-uttered moan.
For though these hundred towers of Paris bend,
Though close as foundering ship her glory's end,
Though rocks the universe, which we defend;
Still to great cannon on our ramparts piled,
God sends His blessing by a little child.
TO A SICK CHILD DURING THE SIEGE OF PARIS.
_("Si vous continuez toute pale.")_
If you continue thus so wan and white;
If I, one day, behold
You pass from out our dull air to the light,
You, infant--I, so old:
If I the thread of our two lives must see
Thus blent to human view,
I who would fain know death was near to me,
And far away for you;
If your small hands remain such fragile things;
If, in your cradle stirred,
You have the mien of waiting there for wings,
Like to some new-fledged bird;
Not rooted to our earth you seem to be.
If still, beneath the skies,
You turn, O Jeanne, on our mystery
Soft, discontented eyes!
If I behold you, gay and strong no more;
If you mope sadly thus;
If you behind you have not shut the door,
Through which you came to us;
If you no more like some fair dame I see
Laugh, walk, be well and gay;
If like a little soul you seem to me
That fain would fly away--
I'll deem that to this world, where oft are blent
The pall and swaddling-band,
You came but to depart--an angel sent
To bear me from the land.
LUCY H. HOOPER.
THE CARRIER PIGEON.
_("Oh! qu'est-ce que c'est donc que l'Inconnu.")_
Who then--oh, who, is like our God so great,
Who makes the seed expand beneath the mountain's weight;
Who for a swallow's nest leaves one old castle wall,
Who lets for famished beetles savory apples fall,
Who bids a pigmy win where Titans fail, in yoke,
And, in what we deem fruitless roar and smoke,
Makes Etna, Chimborazo, still His praises sing,
And saves a city by a word lapped 'neath a pigeon's wing!
TOYS AND TRAGEDY.
_("Enfants, on vous dira plus tard.")_
In later years, they'll tell you grandpapa
Adored his little darlings; for them did
His utmost just to pleasure them and mar
No moments with a frown or growl amid
Their rosy rompings; that he loved them so
(Though men have called him bitter, cold, and stern,)
That in the famous winter when the snow
Covered poor Paris, he went, old and worn,
To buy them dolls, despite the falling shells,
At which laughed Punch, and they, and shook his bells.
_("Charle! o mon fils!")_
Charles, Charles, my son! hast thou, then, quitted me?
Must all fade, naught endure?
Hast vanished in that radiance, clear for thee,
But still for us obscure?
My sunset lingers, boy, thy morn declines!
Sweet mutual love we've known;
For man, alas! plans, dreams, and smiling twines
With others' souls his own.
He cries, "This has no end!" pursues his way:
He soon is downward bound:
He lives, he suffers; in his grasp one day
Mere dust and ashes found.
I've wandered twenty years, in distant lands,
With sore heart forced to stay:
Why fell the blow Fate only understands!
God took my home away.
To-day one daughter and one son remain
Of all my goodly show:
Wellnigh in solitude my dark hours wane;
God takes my children now.
Linger, ye two still left me! though decays
Our nest, our hearts remain;
In gloom of death your mother silent prays,
I in this life of pain.
Martyr of Sion! holding Thee in sight,
I'll drain this cup of gall,
And scale with step resolved that dangerous height,
Which rather seems a fall.
Truth is sufficient guide; no more man needs
Than end so nobly shown.
Mourning, but brave, I march; where duty leads,
I seek the vast unknown.
THE LESSON OF THE PATRIOT DEAD.
_("O caresse sublime.")_
Upon the grave's cold mouth there ever have caresses clung
For those who died ideally good and grand and pure and young;
Under the scorn of all who clamor: "There is nothing just!"
And bow to dread inquisitor and worship lords of dust;
Let sophists give the lie, hearts droop, and courtiers play the worm,
Our martyrs of Democracy the Truth sublime affirm!
And when all seems inert upon this seething, troublous round,
And when the rashest knows not best to flee ar stand his ground,
When not a single war-cry from the sombre mass will rush,
When o'er the universe is spread by Doubting utter hush,
Then he who searches well within the walls that close immure
Our teachers, leaders, heroes slain because they lived too pure,
May glue his ear upon the ground where few else came to grieve,
And ask the austere shadows: "Ho! and must one still believe?
Read yet the orders: 'Forward, march!' and 'charge!'" Then from the lime,
Which burnt the bones but left the soul (Oh! tyrants' useless crime!)
Will rise reply: "Yes!" "yes!" and "yes!" the thousand, thousandth time!
THE BOY ON THE BARRICADE.
_("Sur une barricade.")_
Like Casabianca on the devastated deck,
In years yet younger, but the selfsame core.
Beside the battered barricado's restless wreck,
A lad stood splashed with gouts of guilty gore,
But gemmed with purest blood of patriot more.
Upon his fragile form the troopers' bloody grip
Was deeply dug, while sharply challenged they:
"Were you one of this currish crew?"--pride pursed his lip,
As firm as bandog's, brought the bull to bay--
While answered he: "I fought with others. Yea!"
"Prepare then to be shot! Go join that death-doomed row."
As paced he pertly past, a volley rang--
And as he fell in line, mock mercies once more flow
Of man's lead-lightning's sudden scathing pang,
But to his home-turned thoughts the balls but sang.
"Here's half-a-franc I saved to buy my mother's bread!"--
The captain started--who mourns not a dear,
The dearest! mother!--"Where is she, wolf-cub?" he said
Still gruffly. "There, d'ye see? not far from here."
"Haste! make it hers! then back to swell _their_ bier."
He sprang aloof as springald from detested school,
Or ocean-rover from protected port.
"The little rascal has the laugh on us! no fool
To breast our bullets!"--but the scoff was short,
For soon! the rogue is racing from his court;
And with still fearless front he faces them and calls:
"READY! but level low--_she's_ kissed these eyes!"
From cooling hands of _men_ each rifle falls,
And their gray officer, in grave surprise,
Life grants the lad whilst his last comrade dies.
Brave youth! I know not well what urged thy act,
Whether thou'lt pass in palace, or die rackt;
But _then_, shone on the guns, a sublime soul.--
A Bayard-boy's, bound by his pure parole!
Honor redeemed though paid by parlous price,
Though lost be sunlit sports, wild boyhood's spice,
The Gates, the cheers of mates for bright device!
Greeks would, whilom, have choicely clasped and circled thee,
Set thee the first to shield some new Thermopylae;
Thy deed had touched and tuned their true Tyrtaeus tongue,
And staged by Aeschylus, grouped thee grand gods among.
And thy lost name (now known no more) been gilt and graved
On cloud-kissed column, by the sweet south ocean laved.
From us no crown! no honors from the civic sheaf--
Purely this poet's tear-bejewelled, aye-green leaf!
TO HIS ORPHAN GRANDCHILDREN.
_("O Charles, je te sens pres de moi.")_
I feel thy presence, Charles. Sweet martyr! down
In earth, where men decay,
I search, and see from cracks which rend thy tomb,
Burst out pale morning's ray.
Close linked are bier and cradle: here the dead,
To charm us, live again:
Kneeling, I mourn, when on my threshold sounds
Two little children's strain.
George, Jeanne, sing on! George, Jeanne, unconscious play!
Your father's form recall,
Now darkened by his sombre shade, now gilt
By beams that wandering fall.
Oh, knowledge! what thy use? did we not know
Death holds no more the dead;
But Heaven, where, hand in hand, angel and star
Smile at the grave we dread?
A Heaven, which childhood represents on earth.
Orphans, may God be nigh!
That God, who can your bright steps turn aside
From darkness, where I sigh.
All joy be yours, though sorrow bows me down!
To each his fitting wage:
Children, I've passed life's span, and men are plagued
By shadows at that stage.
Hath any done--nay, only half performed--
The good he might for others?
Hath any conquered hatred, or had strength
To treat his foes like brothers?
E'en he, who's tried his best, hath evil wrought:
Pain springs from happiness:
My heart has triumphed in defeat, my pulse
Ne'er quickened at success.
I seemed the greater when I felt the blow:
The prick gives sense of gain;
Since to make others bleed my courage fails,
I'd rather bear the pain.
To grow is sad, since evils grow no less;
Great height is mark for all:
The more I have of branches, more of clustering boughs,
The ghastlier shadows fall.
Thence comes my sadness, though I grant your charms:
Ye are the outbursting
Of the soul in bloom, steeped in the draughts
Of nature's boundless spring.
George is the sapling, set in mournful soil;
Jeanne's folding petals shroud
A mind which trembles at our uproar, yet
Half longs to speak aloud.
Give, then, my children--lowly, blushing plants,
Whom sorrow waits to seize--
Free course to instincts, whispering 'mid the flowers,
Like hum of murmuring bees.
Some day you'll find that chaos comes, alas!
That angry lightning's hurled,
When any cheer the People, Atlas huge,
Grim bearer of the world!
You'll see that, since our fate is ruled by chance,
Each man, unknowing, great,
Should frame life so, that at some future hour
Fact and his dreamings meet.
I, too, when death is past, one day shall grasp
That end I know not now;
And over you will bend me down, all filled
With dawn's mysterious glow.
I'll learn what means this exile, what this shroud
Enveloping your prime;
And why the truth and sweetness of one man
Seem to all others crime.
I'll hear--though midst these dismal boughs you sang--
How came it, that for me,
Who every pity feel for every woe,
So vast a gloom could be.
I'll know why night relentless holds me, why
So great a pile of doom:
Why endless frost enfolds me, and methinks
My nightly bed's a tomb:
Why all these battles, all these tears, regrets,
And sorrows were my share;
And why God's will of me a cypress made,
When roses bright ye were.
TO THE CANNON "VICTOR HUGO."
[Bought with the proceeds of Readings of "Les Chatiments" during
the Siege of Paris.]
Thou deadly crater, moulded by my muse,
Cast thou thy bronze into my bowed and wounded heart,
And let my soul its vengeance to thy bronze impart!
L'ART D'ETRE GRANDPERE.
THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR.
_("Prenez garde a ce petit etre.")_
[LAUS PUER: POEM V.]
Take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great: in him is God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights in the blue sky.
In our brief bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And His forgiveness in their smile.
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes:
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry, Paradise
Weeps, and if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on Sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs.
When God seeks out these tender things,
Whom in the shadow where we keep,
He sends them clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that weep!
_Dublin University Magazine._
THE EPIC OF THE LION.
_("Un lion avait pris un enfant.")_
A Lion in his jaws caught up a child--
Not harming it--and to the woodland, wild
With secret streams and lairs, bore off his prey--
The beast, as one might cull a bud in May.
It was a rosy boy, a king's own pride,
A ten-year lad, with bright eyes shining wide,
And save this son his majesty beside
Had but one girl, two years of age, and so
The monarch suffered, being old, much woe;
His heir the monster's prey, while the whole land
In dread both of the beast and king did stand;
Sore terrified were all.
By came a knight
That road, who halted, asking, "What's the fright?"
They told him, and he spurred straight for the site!
The beast was seen to smile ere joined they fight,
The man and monster, in most desperate duel,
Like warring giants, angry, huge, and cruel.
Stout though the knight, the lion stronger was,
And tore that brave breast under its cuirass,
Scrunching that hero, till he sprawled, alas!
Beneath his shield, all blood and mud and mess:
Whereat the lion feasted: then it went
Back to its rocky couch and slept content.
Sudden, loud cries and clamors! striking out
Qualm to the heart of the quiet, horn and shout
Causing the solemn wood to reel with rout.
Terrific was this noise that rolled before;
It seemed a squadron; nay, 'twas something more--
A whole battalion, sent by that sad king
With force of arms his little prince to bring,
Together with the lion's bleeding hide.
Which here was right or wrong? Who can decide?
Have beasts or men most claim to live? God wots!
He is the unit, we the cipher-dots.
Ranged in the order a great hunt should have,
They soon between the trunks espy the cave.
"Yes, that is it! the very mouth of the den!"
The trees all round it muttered, warning men;
Still they kept step and neared it. Look you now,
Company's pleasant, and there were a thou--
Good Lord! all in a moment, there's its face!
Frightful! they saw the lion! Not one pace
Further stirred any man; but bolt and dart
Made target of the beast. He, on his part,
As calm as Pelion in the rain or hail,
Bristled majestic from the teeth to tail,
And shook full fifty missiles from his hide,
But no heed took he; steadfastly he eyed,
And roared a roar, hoarse, vibrant, vengeful, dread,
A rolling, raging peal of wrath, which spread,
Making the half-awakened thunder cry,
"Who thunders there?" from its black bed of sky.
This ended all! Sheer horror cleared the coast;
As fogs are driven by the wind, that valorous host
Melted, dispersed to all the quarters four,
Clean panic-stricken by that monstrous roar.
Then quoth the lion, "Woods and mountains, see,
A thousand men, enslaved, fear one beast free!"
He followed towards the hill, climbed high above,
Lifted his voice, and, as the sowers sow
The seed down wind, thus did that lion throw
His message far enough the town to reach:
"King! your behavior really passes speech!
Thus far no harm I've wrought to him your son;
But now I give you notice--when night's done,
I will make entry at your city-gate,
Bringing the prince alive; and those who wait
To see him in my jaws--your lackey-crew--
Shall see me eat him in your palace, too!"
Next morning, this is what was viewed in town:
Dawn coming--people going--some adown
Praying, some crying; pallid cheeks, swift feet,
And a huge lion stalking through the street.
It seemed scarce short of rash impiety
To cross its path as the fierce beast went by.
So to the palace and its gilded dome
With stately steps unchallenged did he roam;
He enters it--within those walls he leapt!
For certes, though he raged and wept,
His majesty, like all, close shelter kept,
Solicitous to live, holding his breath
Specially precious to the realm. Now death
Is not thus viewed by honest beasts of prey;
And when the lion found _him_ fled away,
Ashamed to be so grand, man being so base,
He muttered to himself, "A wretched king!
'Tis well; I'll eat his boy!" Then, wandering,
Lordly he traversed courts and corridors,
Paced beneath vaults of gold on shining floors,
Glanced at the throne deserted, stalked from hall
To hall--green, yellow, crimson--empty all!
Rich couches void, soft seats unoccupied!
And as he walked he looked from side to side
To find some pleasant nook for his repast,
Since appetite was come to munch at last
The princely morsel!--Ah! what sight astounds
That grisly lounger?
In the palace grounds
An alcove on a garden gives, and there
A tiny thing--forgot in the general fear,
Lulled in the flower-sweet dreams of infancy,
Bathed with soft sunlight falling brokenly
Through leaf and lattice--was at that moment waking;
A little lovely maid, most dear and taking,
The prince's sister--all alone, undressed--
She sat up singing: children sing so best.
Charming this beauteous baby-maid; and so
The beast caught sight of her and stopped--
Entered--the floor creaked as he stalked straight in.
Above the playthings by the little bed
The lion put his shaggy, massive head,
Dreadful with savage might and lordly scorn,
More dreadful with that princely prey so borne;
Which she, quick spying, "Brother, brother!" cried,
"Oh, my own brother!" and, unterrified,
She gazed upon that monster of the wood,
Whose yellow balls not Typhon had withstood,
And--well! who knows what thoughts these small heads hold?
She rose up in her cot--full height, and bold,
And shook her pink fist angrily at him.
Whereon--close to the little bed's white rim,
All dainty silk and laces--this huge brute
Set down her brother gently at her foot,
Just as a mother might, and said to her,
"Don't be put out, now! There he is, dear, there!"
EDWIN ARNOLD, C.S.I.
LES QUATRE VENTS DE L'ESPRIT.
ON HEARING THE PRINCESS ROYAL SING.
_("Dans ta haute demeure.")_
[Bk. III. ix., 1881.]
In thine abode so high
Where yet one scarce can breathe,
Dear child, most tenderly
A soft song thou dost wreathe.
Thou singest, little girl--
Thy sire, the King is he:
Around thee glories whirl,
But all things sigh in thee.
Thy thought may seek not wings
Of speech; dear love's forbidden;
Thy smiles, those heavenly things,
Being faintly born, are chidden.
Thou feel'st, poor little Bride,
A hand unknown and chill
Clasp thine from out the wide
Deep shade so deathly still.
Thy sad heart, wingless, weak,
Is sunk in this black shade
So deep, thy small hands seek,
Vainly, the pulse God made.
Thou art yet but highness, thou
That shaft be majesty:
Though still on thy fair brow
Some faint dawn-flush may be,
Child, unto armies dear,
Even now we mark heaven's light
Dimmed with the fume and fear
And glory of battle-might.
Thy godfather is he,
Earth's Pope,--he hails thee, child!
Passing, armed men you see
Like unarmed women, mild.
As saint all worship thee;
Thyself even hast the strong
Thrill of divinity
Mingled with thy small song.
Each grand old warrior
Guards thee, submissive, proud;
Mute thunders at thy door
Sleep, that shall wake most loud.
Around thee foams the wild
Bright sea, the lot of kings.
Happier wert thou, my child,
I' the woods a bird that sings!
NELSON R. TYERMAN.
[Footnote 1: Marie, daughter of King Louis Philippe, afterwards Princess
MY HAPPIEST DREAM.
_("J'aime a me figure.")_
[Bk. III. vii. and viii.]
I love to look, as evening fails,
On vestals streaming in their veils,
Within the fane past altar rails,
Green palms in hand.
My darkest moods will always clear
When I can fancy children near,
With rosy lips a-laughing--dear,
Enchanting vision, too, displayed,
That of a sweet and radiant maid,
Who knows not why she is afraid,--
Love's yet unseen!
Another--rarest 'mong the rare--
To see the gaze of chosen fair
Return prolonged and wistful stare
Of eager een.
But--dream o'er all to stir my soul,
And shine the brightest on the roll,
Is when a land of tyrant's toll
By sword is rid.
I say not dagger--with the sword
When Right enchampions the horde,
All in broad day--so that the bard
May sing the victor with the starred
Bayard and Cid!
AN OLD-TIME LAY.
_("Jamais elle ne raille.")_
[Bk. III. xiii.]
Where your brood seven lie,
Float in calm heavenly,
Life passing evenly,
Waterfowl, waterfowl! often I dream
For a rest
Like your nest,
Skirting the stream.
Shine the sun tearfully
Ere the clouds clear fully,
Still you skim cheerfully,
Swallow, oh! swallow swift! often I sigh
For a home
Where you roam
Nearing the sky!
Guileless of pondering;
Seeking no fonder ring
Than the rose-garland Love gives thee apart!
Grant me soon--
Home in thy heart!
_("Jersey dort dans les flots.")_
[Bk. III. xiv., Oct. 8, 1854.]
Dear Jersey! jewel jubilant and green,
'Midst surge that splits steel ships, but sings to thee!
Thou fav'rest Frenchmen, though from England seen,
Oft tearful to that mistress "North Countree";
Returned the third time safely here to be,
I bless my bold Gibraltar of the Free.
Yon lighthouse stands forth like a fervent friend,
One who our tempest buffets back with zest,
And with twin-steeple, eke our helmsman's end,
Forms arms that beckon us upon thy breast;
Rose-posied pillow, crystallized with spray,
Where pools pellucid mirror sunny ray.
A frigate fretting yonder smoothest sky,
Like pauseless petrel poising o'er a wreck,
Strikes bright athwart the dearly dazzled eye,
Until it lessens to scarce certain speck,
'Neath Venus, sparkling on the agate-sprinkled beach,
For fisher's sailing-signal, just and true,
Until Aurora frights her from the view.
In summer, steamer-smoke spreads as thy veil,
And mists in winter sudden screen thy sight,
When at thy feet the galley-breakers wail
And toss their tops high o'er the lofty flight
Of horrid storm-worn steps with shark-like bite,
That only ope to swallow up in spite.
But penitent in calm, thou givest a balm,
To many a man who's felt thy rage,
And many a sea-bird--thanks be heard!--
Thou shieldest--sea-bird--exiled bard and sage.
THEN, MOST, I SMILE.
_("Il est un peu tard.")_
[Bk. III. xxx., Oct. 30, 1854.]
Late it is to look so proud,
Daisy queen! come is the gloom
Of the winter-burdened cloud!--
"But, in winter, most I bloom!"
Star of even! sunk the sun!
Lost for e'er the ruddy line;
And the earth is veiled in dun,--
"Nay, in darkness, best I shine!"
O, my soul! art 'bove alarm,
Quaffing thus the cup of gall--
Canst thou face the grave with calm?--
"Yes, the Christians smile at all."
THE EXILE'S DESIRE.
_("Si je pouvais voir, O patrie!")_
[Bk. III. xxxvii.]
Would I could see you, native land,
Where lilacs and the almond stand
Behind fields flowering to the strand--
Can I--oh, father, mother, crave
Another final blessing save
To rest my head upon your grave?--
In the one pit where ye repose,
Would I could tell of France's woes,
My brethren, who fell facing foes--
Would I had--oh, my dove of light,
After whose flight came ceaseless night,
One plume to clasp so purely white.--
Far from ye all--oh, dead, bewailed!
The fog-bell deafens me empaled
Upon this rock--I feel enjailed--
Like one who watches at the gate
Lest some shall 'scape the doomed strait.
I watch! the tyrant, howe'er late,
THE REFUGEE'S HAVEN.
_("Vous voila dans la froide Angleterre.")_
[Bk. III. xlvii., Jersey, Sept. 19, 1854.]
You may doubt I find comfort in England
But, there, 'tis a refuge from dangers!
Where a Cromwell dictated to Milton,
Republicans ne'er can be strangers!
TO THE NAPOLEON COLUMN.
[Oct. 9, 1830.]
When with gigantic hand he placed,
For throne, on vassal Europe based,
That column's lofty height--
Pillar, in whose dread majesty,
In double immortality,
Glory and bronze unite!
Aye, when he built it that, some day,
Discord or war their course might stay,
Or here might break their car;
And in our streets to put to shame
Pigmies that bear the hero's name
Of Greek and Roman war.
It was a glorious sight; the world
His hosts had trod, with flags unfurled,
In veteran array;
Kings fled before him, forced to yield,
He, conqueror on each battlefield,
Their cannon bore away.
Then, with his victors back he came;
All France with booty teemed, her name
Was writ on sculptured stone;
And Paris cried with joy, as when
The parent bird comes home again
To th' eaglets left alone.
Into the furnace flame, so fast,
Were heaps of war-won metal cast,
The future monument!
His thought had formed the giant mould,
And piles of brass in the fire he rolled,
From hostile cannon rent.
When to the battlefield he came,
He grasped the guns spite tongues of flame,
And bore the spoil away.
This bronze to France's Rome he brought,
And to the founder said, "Is aught
Wanting for our array?"
And when, beneath a radiant sun,
That man, his noble purpose done,
With calm and tranquil mien,
Disclosed to view this glorious fane,
And did with peaceful hand contain
The warlike eagle's sheen.
Round _thee_, when hundred thousands placed,
As some great Roman's triumph graced,
The little Romans all;
We boys hung on the procession's flanks,
Seeking some father in thy ranks,
And loud thy praise did call.
Who that surveyed thee, when that day
Thou deemed that future glory ray
Would here be ever bright;
Feared that, ere long, all France thy grave
From pettifoggers vain would crave
Beneath that column's height?
_Author of "Critical Essays."_
_("Je suis la Charite.")_
"Lo! I am Charity," she cries,
"Who waketh up before the day;
While yet asleep all nature lies,
God bids me rise and go my way."
How fair her glorious features shine,
Whereon the hand of God hath set
An angel's attributes divine,
With all a woman's sweetness met.
Above the old man's couch of woe
She bows her forehead, pure and even.
There's nothing fairer here below,
There's nothing grander up in heaven,
Than when caressingly she stands
(The cold hearts wakening 'gain their beat),
And holds within her holy hands
The little children's naked feet.
To every den of want and toil
She goes, and leaves the poorest fed;
Leaves wine and bread, and genial oil,
And hopes that blossom in her tread,
And fire, too, beautiful bright fire,
That mocks the glowing dawn begun,
Where, having set the blind old sire,
He dreams he's sitting in the sun.
Then, over all the earth she runs,
And seeks, in the cold mists of life,
Those poor forsaken little ones
Who droop and weary in the strife.
Ah, most her heart is stirred for them,
Whose foreheads, wrapped in mists obscure,
Still wear a triple diadem--
The young, the innocent, the poor.
And they are better far than we,
And she bestows a worthier meed;
For, with the loaf of charity,
She gives the kiss that children need.
She gives, and while they wondering eat
The tear-steeped bread by love supplied,
She stretches round them in the street
Her arm that passers push aside.
If, with raised head and step alert,
She sees the rich man stalking by,
She touches his embroidered skirt,
And gently shows them where they lie.
She begs for them of careless crowd,
Of earnest brows and narrow hearts,
That when it hears her cry aloud,
Turns like the ebb-tide and departs.
O miserable he who sings
Some strain impure, whose numbers fall
Along the cruel wind that brings
Death to some child beneath his wall.
O strange and sad and fatal thing,
When, in the rich man's gorgeous hall,
The huge fire on the hearth doth fling
A light on some great festival,
To see the drunkard smile in state,
In purple wrapt, with myrtle crowned,
While Jesus lieth at the gate
With only rags to wrap him round.
_Dublin University Magazine_
_("Vous qui ne savez pas combien l'enfance est belle.")_
Sweet sister, if you knew, like me,
The charms of guileless infancy,
No more you'd envy riper years,
Or smiles, more bitter than your tears.
But childhood passes in an hour,
As perfume from a faded flower;
The joyous voice of early glee
Flies, like the Halcyon, o'er the sea.
Enjoy your morn of early Spring;
Soon time maturer thoughts must bring;
Those hours, like flowers that interclimb,
Should not be withered ere their time.
Too soon you'll weep, as we do now,
O'er faithless friend, or broken vow,
And hopeless sorrows, which our pride
In pleasure's whirl would vainly hide.
Laugh on! unconscious of thy doom,
All innocence and opening bloom;
Laugh on! while yet thine azure eye
Mirrors the peace that reigns on high.
MRS. B. SOMERS.
THE PITY OF THE ANGELS.
_("Un Ange vit un jour.")_
[LA PITIE SUPREME VIII., 1881.]
When an angel of kindness
Saw, doomed to the dark,
Men framed in his likeness,
He sought for a spark--
Stray gem of God's glory
That shines so serene--
And, falling like lark,
To brighten our story,
Pure Pity was seen.
Sitting in a porchway cool,
Fades the ruddy sunlight fast,
Twilight hastens on to rule--
Working hours are wellnigh past
Shadows shoot across the lands;
But one sower lingers still,
Old, in rags, he patient stands,--
Looking on, I feel a thrill.
Black and high his silhouette
Dominates the furrows deep!
Now to sow the task is set,
Soon shall come a time to reap.
Marches he along the plain,
To and fro, and scatters wide
From his hands the precious grain;
Moody, I, to see him stride.
Darkness deepens. Gone the light.
Now his gestures to mine eyes
Are august; and strange--his height
Seems to touch the starry skies.
OH, WHY NOT BE HAPPY?
_("A quoi bon entendre les oiseaux?")_
[RUY BLAS, Act II.]
Oh, why not be happy this bright summer day,
'Mid perfume of roses and newly-mown hay?
Great Nature is smiling--the birds in the air
Sing love-lays together, and all is most fair.
Then why not be happy
This bright summer day,
'Mid perfume of roses
And newly-mown hay?
The streamlets they wander through meadows so fleet,
Their music enticing fond lovers to meet;
The violets are blooming and nestling their heads
In richest profusion on moss-coated beds.
Then why not be happy
This bright summer day,
When Nature is fairest
And all is so gay?
[Footnote 1: Music composed by Elizabeth Philip.]
FREEDOM AND THE WORLD.
[Inscription under a Statue of the Virgin and Child, at Guernsey.--The
poet sees in the emblem a modern Atlas, i.e., Freedom supporting the
_("Le peuple est petit.")_
Weak is the People--but will grow beyond all other--
Within thy holy arms, thou fruitful victor-mother!
O Liberty, whose conquering flag is never furled--
Thou bearest Him in whom is centred all the World.
_("Quand tu chantes.")_
When the voice of thy lute at the eve
Charmeth the ear,
In the hour of enchantment believe
What I murmur near.
That the tune can the Age of Gold
With its magic restore.
Play on, play on, my fair one,
Play on for evermore.
When thy laugh like the song of the dawn
Riseth so gay
That the shadows of Night are withdrawn
And melt away,
I remember my years of care
And misgiving no more.
Laugh on, laugh on, my fair one,
Laugh on for evermore.
When thy sleep like the moonlight above
Lulling the sea,
Doth enwind thee in visions of love,
Perchance, of me!
I can watch so in dream that enthralled me,
Sleep on, sleep on, my fair one!
Sleep on for evermore.
HENRY F. CHORLEY.
AN AUTUMNAL SIMILE.
_("Les feuilles qui gisaient.")_
The leaves that in the lonely walks were spread,
Starting from off the ground beneath the tread,
Coursed o'er the garden-plain;
Thus, sometimes, 'mid the soul's deep sorrowings,
Our soul a moment mounts on wounded wings,
Then, swiftly, falls again.
TO CRUEL OCEAN.
Where are the hapless shipmen?--disappeared,
Gone down, where witness none, save Night, hath been,
Ye deep, deep waves, of kneeling mothers feared,
What dismal tales know ye of things unseen?
Tales that ye tell your whispering selves between
The while in clouds to the flood-tide ye pour;
And this it is that gives you, as I ween,
Those mournful voices, mournful evermore,
When ye come in at eve to us who dwell on shore.
ESMERALDA IN PRISON.
_("Phoebus, n'est-il sur la terre?")_
[OPERA OF "ESMERALDA," ACT IV., 1836.]
Phoebus, is there not this side the grave,
Power to save
Those who're loving? Magic balm
That will restore to me my former calm?
Is there nothing tearful eye
Can e'er dry, or hush the sigh?
I pray Heaven day and night,
As I lay me down in fright,
To retake my life, or give
All again for which I'd live!
Phoebus, hasten from the shining sphere
To me here!
Hither hasten, bring me Death; then Love
May let our spirits rise, ever-linked, above!
_("Mon ame a ton coeur s'est donnee.")_
[ANGELO, Act II., May, 1835.]
My soul unto thy heart is given,
In mystic fold do they entwine,
So bound in one that, were they riven,
Apart my soul would life resign.
Thou art my song and I the lyre;
Thou art the breeze and I the brier;
The altar I, and thou the fire;
Mine the deep love, the beauty thine!
As fleets away the rapid hour
My sorrowing lay
Touch thee, sweet flower.
ERNEST OSWALD COE.
A FLEETING GLIMPSE OF A VILLAGE.
_("Tout vit! et se pose avec grace.")_
How graceful the picture! the life, the repose!
The sunbeam that plays on the porchstone wide;
And the shadow that fleets o'er the stream that flows,
And the soft blue sky with the hill's green side.
LORD ROCHESTER'S SONG.
_("Un soldat au dur visage.")_
[CROMWELL, ACT I.]
"Hold, little blue-eyed page!"
So cried the watchers surly,
Stern to his pretty rage
And golden hair so curly--
"Methinks your satin cloak
Masks something bulky under;
I take this as no joke--
Oh, thief with stolen plunder!"
"I am of high repute,
And famed among the truthful:
This silver-handled lute
Is meet for one still youthful
Who goes to keep a tryst
With her who is his dearest.
I charge you to desist;
My cause is of the clearest."
But guardsmen are so sharp,
Their eyes are as the lynx's:
"That's neither lute nor harp--
Your mark is not the minxes.
Your loving we dispute--
That string of steel so cruel
For music does not suit--
You go to fight a duel!"
THE BEGGAR'S QUATRAIN.
_("Aveugle comme Homere.")_