Part 1 out of 7
This etext was produced by Pat Castevans
SELECTIONS FROM AMERICAN POETRY
With Special Reference to Poe, Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier
by Margaret Sprague Carhart
The Day of Doom
The Wild Honeysuckle
To a Honey Bee
The Indian Burying Ground
The Battle of the Kegs
The Ballad of Nathan Hale
Love to the Church
The Old Oaken Bucket
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
The Yellow Violet
To a Waterfowl
The West Wind
"I Broke the Spell that Held Me Long"
A Forest Hymn
The Death of the Flowers
The Gladness of Nature
To the Fringed Gentian
Song of Marion's Men
The Crowded Street
The Snow Shower
Robert of Lincoln
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
The Star Spangled Banner
JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
The American Flag
The Culprit Fay
On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake
JOHN HOWARD PAYNE
Home Sweet Home
EDGAR ALLAN POE
The Haunted Palace
To One in Paradise
Eulalie A Song
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Hymn to the Night
A Psalm of Life
The Skeleton in Armor
The Wreck of the Hesperus
The Village Blacksmith
It is not Always May
The Rainy Day
The Arrow and the Song
The Day is Done
Walter Von Vogelweide
The Discoverer of the North Cape
Tales of a Wayside Inn
The Landlord's Tale
The Sicilian's Tale
The Theologian's Tale
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
The Frost Spirit
Songs of Labor Dedication
Songs of Labor The Lumberman
Barclay of Ury
Seed-Time and Harvest
The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall
Skipper Ireson's Ride
The Double-headed Snake of Newbury
The Eternal Goodness
The Pipes at Lucknow
Cobbler Keezar's Vision
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Each and All
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
The Shepherd of King Admetus
Ode recited at the Harvard Commemoration
Prelude to the Vision of Sir Launfal
What Mr Robinson Thinks
Sunthin' in the Pastoral Line
An Indain Summer Reverie
A Fable for Critics (selection)
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
The Last Leaf
The Chambered Nautilus
The Deacon's Masterpiece
THOMAS BUCHANAN READ
Storm on the St. Bernard
O Captain! My Captain!
Pioneers! O Pioneers!
SELECTIONS OF AMERICAN POETRY
If we define poetry as the heart of man expressed in beautiful language,
we shall not say that we have no national poetry. True, America has
produced no Shakespeare and no Milton, but we have an inheritance in all
English literature; and many poets in America have followed in the
footsteps of their literary British forefathers.
Puritan life was severe. It was warfare, and manual labor of a most
exhausting type, and loneliness, and devotion to a strict sense of duty.
It was a life in which pleasure was given the least place and duty the
greatest. Our Puritan ancestors thought music and poetry dangerous,
if not actually sinful, because they made men think of this world rather
than of heaven. When Anne Bradstreet wrote our first known American
poems, she was expressing English thought; "The tenth muse" was not
animated by the life around her, but was living in a dream of the land
she had left behind; her poems are faint echoes of the poetry of England.
After time had identified her with life in the new world, she wrote
"Contemplations," in which her English nightingales are changed to
crickets and her English gilli-flowers to American blackberry vines.
The truly representative poetry of colonial times is Michael
Wigglesworth's "Day of Doom. This is the real heart of the Puritan,
his conscience, in imperfect rhyme. It fulfills the first part of our
definition, but shows by its lack of beautiful style that both elements
are necessary to produce real poetry.
Philip Freneau was the first American who sought to express his life in
poetry. The test of beauty of language again excludes from real poetry
some of his expressions and leaves us a few beautiful lyrics, such as
"The Wild Honeysuckle," in which the poet sings his love of American
nature. With them American poetry may be said to begin.
The fast historical event of national importance was the American
Revolution. Amid the bitter years of want, of suffering, and of war; few
men tried to write anything beautiful. Life was harsh and stirring and
this note was echoed in all the literature. As a result we have
narrative and political poetry, such as "The Battle of the Kegs" and "A
Fable," dealing almost entirely with events and aiming to arouse military
ardor. In "The Ballad of Nathan Hale," the musical expression of
bravery, pride, and sympathy raises the poem so far above the rhymes of
their period that it will long endure as the most memorable poetic
expression of the Revolutionary period.
Poetry was still a thing of the moment, an avocation, not dignified by
receiving the best of a man. With William Cullen Bryant came a change.
He told our nation that in the new world as well as in the old some men
should live for the beautiful. Everything in nature spoke to him in
terms of human life. Other poets saw the re1ation between their own
lives and the life of the flowers and the birds, but Bryant constantly
expressed this relationship. The concluding stanza of "To a Waterfowl"
is the most perfect example of this characteristic, but it underlies also
the whole thought of his youthful poem "Thanatopsis" (A View of Death).
If we could all read the lives of our gentians and bobolinks as he did,
there would be more true poetry in America. Modern thinkers urge us to
step outside of ourselves into the lives of others and by our imagination
to share their emotions; this is no new ambition in America; since Bryant
in "The Crowded Street" analyzes the life in the faces he sees.
Until the early part of the nineteenth century American poetry dealt
mainly with the facts of history and the description of nature. A new
element of fancy is prominent in Joseph Rodman Drake's "The Culprit Fay."
It dances through a long narrative with the delicacy of the fay himself.
Edgar Allan Poe brought into our poetry somber sentiment and musical
expression. Puritan poetry was somber, but it was almost devoid of
sentiment. Poe loved sad beauty and meditated on the sad things in life.
Many of his poems lament the loss of some fair one. "To Helen," "Annabel
Lee" "Lenore," and "To One In Paradise" have the theme, while in "The
Raven" the poet is seeking solace for the loss of Lenore. "Eulalie--A
Song" rises, on the other hand to intense happiness. With Poe the sound
by which his idea was expressed was as important as the thought itself.
He knew how to make the sound suit the thought, as in "The Raven" and
"The Bells." One who understands no English can grasp the meaning of the
different sections from the mere sound, so clearly distinguishable are
the clashing of the brass and the tolling of the iron bells. If we
return to our definition of poetry as an expression of the heart of a
man, we shall find the explanation of these peculiarities: Poe was a man
of moods and possessed the ability to express these moods in appropriate
The contrast between the emotion of Poe and the c alm spirit of the man
who followed him is very great. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow American
poetry reached high-water mark. Lafcadio Hearn in his "Interpretations
of Literature" says: "Really I believe that it is a very good test of any
Englishman's ability to feel poetry, simply to ask him, `Did you like
Longfellow when you were a boy?' If he eats `No,' then it is no use to
talk to him on the subject of poetry at all, however much he might be
able to tell you about quantities and metres." No American has in equal
degree won the name of "household poet." If this term is correctly
understood, it sums up his merits more succinctly than can any other
Longfellow dealt largely with men and women and the emotions common to us
all. Hiawatha conquering the deer and bison, and hunting in despair for
food where only snow and ice abound; Evangeline faithful to her father
and her lover, and relieving suffering in the rude hospitals of a new
world; John Alden fighting the battle between love and duty; Robert of
Sicily learning the lesson of humility; Sir Federigo offering his last
possession to the woman he loved; Paul Revere serving his country in time
of need; the monk proving that only a sense of duty done can bring
happiness: all these and more express the emotions which we know are true
in our own lives. In his longer narrative poems he makes the legends of
Puritan life real to us; he takes English folk-lore and makes us see
Othere talking to Arthur, and the Viking stealing his bride. His short
poems are even better known than his longer narratives. In them he
expressed his gentle, sincere love of the young, the suffering, and the
sorrowful. In the Sonnets he showed; that deep appreciation of European
literature which made noteworthy his teaching at Harvard and his
He believed that he was assigned a definite task in the world which he
described as follows in his last poem:
"As comes the smile to the lips,
The foam to the surge;
So come to the Poet his songs,
All hitherward blown
From the misty realm, that belongs
To the vast unknown.
His, and not his, are the lays
He sings; and their fame
Is his, and not his; and the praise
And the pride of a name.
For voices pursue him by day
And haunt him by night,
And he listens and needs must obey,
When the Angel says: 'Write!'
John Greenleaf Whittier seems to suffer by coming in such close proximity
to Longfellow. Genuine he was, but his spirit was less buoyant than
Longfellow's and he touches our hearts less. Most of his early poems
were devoted to a current political issue. They aimed to win converts to
the cause of anti-slavery. Such poems always suffer in time in
comparison with the song of a man who sings because "the heart is so full
that a drop overfills it." Whittier's later poems belong more to this
class and some of them speak to-day to our emotions as well as to our
intellects. "The Hero" moves us with a desire to serve mankind, and the
stirring tone of "Barbara Frietchie" arouses our patriotism by its
picture of the same type of bravery. In similar vein is "Barclay of
Ury," which must have touched deeply the heart of the Quaker poet. "The
Pipes of Lucknow" is dramatic in its intense grasp of a climactic hour
and loses none of its force in the expression. We can actually hear the
skirl of the bagpipes. Whittier knew the artiste of the world and talked
to us about Raphael and Burns with clear-sighted, affectionate interest.
His poems show varied characteristics; the love of the sterner aspects of
nature, modified by the appreciation of the humble flower; the conscience
of the Puritan, tinged with sympathy for the sorrowful; the steadfastness
of the Quaker, stirred by the fire of the patriot.
The poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson is marked by serious contemplation
rather than by warmth of emotional expression. In Longfellow the appeal
is constantly to a heart which is not disassociated from a brain; in
Emerson the appeal is often to the intellect alone. We recognize the
force of the lesson in "The Titmouse," even if it leaves us less devoted
citizens than does "The Hero" and less capable women than does
"Evangeline." He reaches his highest excellence when he makes us feel as
well as understand a lesson, as in "The Concord Hymn" and "Forbearance."
If we could all write on the tablets of our hearts that single stanza,
forbearance would be a real factor in life. And it is to this poet whom
we call unemotional that we owe this inspiring quatrain:
"So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth replies, I can!"
James Russell Lowell was animated by a well-defined purpose which he
described in the following lines:
"It may be glorious to write
Thoughts that make glad the two or three
High souls like those far stars that come in sight
Once in a century.
But better far it is to speak
One simple word which, now and then
Shall waken their free nature in the weak
And friendless sons of men.
To write some earnest verse or line
Which, seeking not the praise of art,
Shall make a clearer faith and manhood shine
In the untutored heart."
His very accomplishments made it difficult for him to reach this aim,
since his poetry does not move "the untutored heart" so readily as does
that of Longfellow or Whittier. It is, on the whole, too deeply burdened
with learning and too individual in expression to fulfil his highest
desire. Of his early poems the most generally known is probably "The
Vision of Sir Launfal," in which a strong moral purpose is combined with
lines of beautiful nature description:
"And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days.
Two works by which he will be permanently remembered show a deeper and
more effective Lowell. "The Biglow Papers" are the most successful of
all the American poems which attempt to improve conditions by means of
humor. Although they refer in the main to the situation at the time of
the Mexican War, they deal with such universal political traits that they
may be applied to almost any age. They are written in a Yankee dialect
which, it is asserted, was never spoken, but which enhances the humor, as
in "What Mr. Robinson Thinks." Lowell's tribute to Lincoln occurs in the
Ode which he wrote to commemorate the Harvard students who enlisted in
the Civil War. After dwelling on the search for truth which should be
the aim of every college student, he turns to the delineation of
Lincoln's character in a eulogy of great beauty. Clear in analysis, far-
sighted in judgment, and loving in sentiment, he expresses that opinion
of Lincoln which has become a part of the web of American thought. His
is no hurried judgment, but the calm statement of opinion which is to-day
accepted by the world:
"They all are gone, and, standing like a tower,
Our children shall behold his fame,
The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading, praise, not blame,
Now birth of our new soil, the first American."
With Oliver Wendell Holmes comes the last of this brief American list of
honor. No other American has so combined delicacy with the New England
humor. We should be poorer by many a smile without "My Aunt" and "The
Deacon's Masterpiece." But this is not his entire gift. "The Chambered
Nautilus" strikes the chord of noble sentiment sounded in the last stanza
of "Thanatopsis" and it will continue to sing in our hearts "As the swift
seasons roll." There is in his poems the smile and the sigh of the well-
"And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the Spring.
Let them smile; as I do now;
As the old forsaken bough
Where I cling."
And is this all? Around these few names does all the fragrance of
American poetry hover? In the hurry, prosperity, and luxury of modern
life is the care if the flower of poetry lost? Surely not. The last
half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth have
brought many beautiful flowers of poetry and hints of more perfect
blossoms. Lanier has sung of the life of the south he loved; Whitman and
Miller have stirred us with enthusiasm for the progress of the nation;
Field and Riley have made us laugh and cry in sympathy; Aldrich, Sill,
Van Dyke, Burroughs, and Thoreau have shared with us their hoard of
beauty. Among the present generation may there appear many men and women
whose devotion to the delicate flower shall be repaid by the gratitude of
Some time now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride
Were gilded o'er by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits, seem'd painted, but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hue,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
I wist not what to wish, yet sure, thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is He that dwells on high!
Whose power and beauty by his works we know;
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,
That hath this underworld so richly dight:
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.
Then on a stately oak I cast mine eye,
Whose ruffling top the clouds seem'd to aspire;
How long since thou wast in thine infancy?
Thy strength, and stature, more thy years admire;
Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born,
Or thousand since thou breakest thy shell of horn?
If so, all these as naught Eternity doth scorn.
I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,
The black-clad cricket bear a second part,
They kept one tune, and played on the same string,
Seeming to glory in their little art.
Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise?
And in their kind resound their Master's praise:
Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher lays.
When I behold the heavens as in their prime,
And then the earth (though old) still clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible of time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen;
If winter come, and greenness then do fade,
A spring returns, and they more youthful made;
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's
THE DAY OF DOOM
SOUNDING OF THE LAST TRUMP
Still was the night, Serene & Bright,
when all Men sleeping lay;
Calm was the season, & carnal reason
thought so 'twould last for ay.
Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease,
much good thou hast in store:
This was their Song, their Cups among,
the Evening before.
Wallowing in all kind of sin,
vile wretches lay secure:
The best of men had scarcely then
their Lamps kept in good ure.
Virgins unwise, who through disguise
amongst the best were number'd,
Had closed their eyes; yea, and the wise
through sloth and frailty slumber'd.
For at midnight brake forth a Light,
which turn'd the night to day,
And speedily a hideous cry
did all the world dismay.
Sinners awake, their hearts do ake,
trembling their loynes surprizeth;
Amaz'd with fear, by what they hear,
each one of them ariseth.
They rush from Beds with giddy heads,
and to their windows run,
Viewing this light, which shines more bright
than doth the Noon-day Sun.
Straightway appears (they see 't with tears)
the Son of God most dread;
Who with his Train comes on amain
to Judge both Quick and Dead.
Before his face the Heav'ns gave place,
and Skies are rent asunder,
With mighty voice, and hideous noise,
more terrible than Thunder.
His brightness damps heav'ns glorious lamps
and makes them hang their heads,
As if afraid and quite dismay'd,
they quit their wonted steads.
No heart so bold, but now grows cold
and almost dead with fear:
No eye so dry, but now can cry,
and pour out many a tear.
Earth's Potentates and pow'rful States,
Captains and Men of Might
Are quite abasht, their courage dasht
at this most dreadful sight.
Mean men lament, great men do rent
their Robes, and tear their hair:
They do not spare their flesh to tear
through horrible despair.
All Kindreds wail: all hearts do fail:
horror the world doth fill
With weeping eyes, and loud out-cries,
yet knows not how to kill.
Some hide themselves in Caves and Delves,
in places under ground:
Some rashly leap into the Deep,
to scape by being drown'd:
Some to the Rocks (O senseless blocks!)
and woody Mountains run,
That there they might this fearful sight,
and dreaded Presence shun.
In vain do they to Mountains say,
fall on us and us hide
From Judges ire, more hot than fire,
for who may it abide?
No hiding place can from his Face
sinners at all conceal,
Whose flaming Eye hid things doth 'spy
and darkest things reveal.
The Judge draws nigh, exalted high,
upon a lofty Throne,
Amidst a throng of Angels strong,
lo, Israel's Holy One!
The excellence of whose presence
and awful Majesty,
Amazeth Nature, and every Creature,
doth more than terrify.
The Mountains smoak, the Hills are shook,
the Earth is rent and torn,
As if she should be clear dissolv'd,
or from the Center born.
The Sea doth roar, forsakes the shore,
and shrinks away for fear;
The wild beasts flee into the Sea,
so soon as he draws near.
Before his Throne a Trump is blown,
Proclaiming the day of Doom:
Forthwith he cries, Ye dead arise,
and unto Judgment come.
No sooner said, but 'tis obey'd;
Sepulchres opened are:
Dead bodies all rise at his call,
and 's mighty power declare.
His winged Hosts flie through all Coasts,
Both good and bad, both quick and dead,
and all to Judgment bring.
Out of their holes those creeping Moles,
that hid themselves for fear,
By force they take, and quickly make
before the Judge appear.
Thus every one before the Throne
of Christ the Judge is brought,
Both righteous and impious
that good or ill hath wrought.
A separation, and diff'ring station
by Christ appointed is
(To sinners sad) 'twixt good and bad,
'twixt Heirs of woe and bliss.
THE WILD HONEYSUCKLE
Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouched thy homed blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet:
No roving foot shall crush thee here,
No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature's self in white arrayed,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
And planted here the guardian shade,
And sent soft waters murmuring by;
Thus quietly thy summer goes,
Thy days declining to repose.
Smit with those charms, that must decay,
I grieve to see your future doom;
They died--nor were those flowers more gay,
The flowers that did in Eden bloom;
Unpitying frosts, and Autumn's power,
Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
From morning suns and evening dews
At first thy little being came;
If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
The space between is but an hour,
The frail duration of a flower.
TO A HONEY BEE
Thou, born to sip the lake or spring,
Or quaff the waters of the stream,
Why hither come on vagrant wing?
Does Bacchus tempting seem,--
Did he for you this glass prepare?
Will I admit you to a share?
Did storms harass or foes perplex,
Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay--
Did wars distress, or labors vex,
Or did you miss your way?
A better seat you could not take
Than on the margin of this lake.
Welcome!--I hail you to my glass
All welcome, here, you find;
Here, let the cloud of trouble pass,
Here, be all care resigned.
This fluid never fails to please,
And drown the griefs of men or bees.
What forced you here we cannot know,
And you will scarcely tell,
But cheery we would have you go
And bid a glad farewell:
On lighter wings we bid you fly,
Your dart will now all foes defy.
Yet take not, oh! too deep a drink,
And in this ocean die;
Here bigger bees than you might sink,
Even bees full six feet high.
Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said
To perish in a sea of red.
Do as you please, your will is mine;
Enjoy it without fear,
And your grave will be this glass of wine,
Your epitaph--a tear--
Go, take your seat in Charon's boat;
We'll tell the hive, you died afloat.
THE INDIAN BURYING-GROUND
In spite of all the learned have said,
I still my old opinion keep;
The posture that we give the dead
Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands;--
The Indian, when from life released,
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
And venison, for a journey dressed,
Bespeak the nature of the soul,
Activity, that wants no rest.
His bow for action ready bent,
And arrows, with a head of stone,
Can only mean that life is spent,
And not the old ideas gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,
No fraud upon the dead commit, -
Observe the swelling turf, and say,
They do not die, but here they sit.
Here still a lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace
(Now wasted half by wearing rains)
The fancies of a ruder race.
Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires)
children of the forest played.
There oft a restless Indian queen
(Pale Shebah with her braided hair),
And many a barbarous form is seen
To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews,
In habit for the chase arrayed,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer--a shade!
And long shall timorous Fancy see
The painted chief, and pointed spear,
And Reason's self shall bow the knee
To shadows and delusions here.
At Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er;
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more!
If in this wreck of ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite thy gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!
Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sigh for the shepherds sunk to rest!
Stranger, their humble groves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear:
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear.
They saw their injured country's woe,
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear--but left the shield.
Led by thy conquering standards, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly:
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved in such a cause to die--
But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.
Now rest in peace, our patriot band;
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A bright Phoebus of their own.
THE BATTLE OF THE KEGS
Gallants attend and hear a friend
Trill forth harmonious ditty,
Strange things I'll tell which late befell
In Philadelphia city.
'Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood on a log of wood,
And saw a thing surprising.
As in amaze he stood to gaze,
The truth can't be denied, sir,
He spied a score of kegs or more
Come floating down the tide, sir.
A sailor too in jerkin blue,
This strange appearance viewing,
First damned his eyes, in great surprise,
Then said, "Some mischief's brewing.
"These kegs, I'm told, the rebels hold,
Packed up like pickled herring;
And they're come down to attack the town,
In this new way of ferrying."
The soldier flew, the sailor too,
And scared almost to death, sir,
Wore out their shoes, to spread the news,
And ran till out of breath, sir.
Now up and down throughout the town,
Most frantic scenes were acted;
And some ran here, and others there,
Like men almost distracted.
Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quaked;
And girls and boys, with hideous noise,
Ran through the streets half naked.
Sir William he, snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a snoring,
Nor dreamed of harm as he lay warm,
In bed with Mrs. Loring.
Now in a fright, he starts upright,
Awaked by such a clatter;
He rubs both eyes, and boldly cries,
"For God's sake, what's the matter?"
At his bedside he then espied,
Sir Erskine at command, sir,
Upon one foot he had one boot,
And th' other in his hand, sir.
"Arise, arise," Sir Erskine cries,
"The rebels--more's the pity,
Without a boat are all afloat,
And ranged before the city.
"The motley crew, in vessels new,
With Satan for their guide, sir,
Packed up in bags, or wooden kegs,
Come driving down the tide, sir.
"Therefore prepare for bloody war;
These kegs must all be routed,
Or surely we despised shall be,
And British courage doubted."
The royal band now ready stand
All ranged in dread array, sir,
With stomach' stout to see it out,
And make a bloody day, sir.
The cannons roar from shore to shore.
The small arms make a rattle;
Since wars began I'm sure no man
E'er saw so strange a battle.
The rebel dales, the rebel vales,
With rebel trees surrounded,
The distant woods, the hills and floods,
With rebel echoes sounded.
The fish below swam to and fro,
Attacked from every quarter;
Why sure, thought they, the devil's to pay,
'Mongst folks above the water.
The kegs, 'tis said, though strongly made,
Of rebel staves and hoops, sir,
Could not oppose their powerful foes,
The conquering British troops, sir.
From morn to night these men of might
Displayed amazing courage;
And when the sun was fairly down,
Retired to sup their porridge.
A hundred men with each a pen,
Or more upon my word, sir,
It is most true would be too few,
Their valor to record, sir.
Such feats did they perform that day,
Against these wicked kegs, sir,
That years to come: if they get home,
They'll make their boasts and brags, sir.
Hail, Columbia! happy land!
Hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band!
Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause,
Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause,
And when the storm of war was gone,
Enjoyed the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.
Firm, united, let us be,
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Immortal patriots! rise once more:
Defend your rights, defend your shore:
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood the well-earned prize.
While offering peace sincere and just,
In Heaven we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.
Firm, united, let us be,
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Sound, sound, the trump of Fame!
Let WASHINGTON'S great name
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Ring through the world with loud applause;
Let every clime to Freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear.
With equal skill, and godlike power,
He governed in the fearful hour
Of horrid war; or guides, with ease,
The happier times of honest peace.
Firm, united, let us be,
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country, stands--
The rock on which the storm will beat,
The rock on which the storm will beat;
But, armed in virtue firm and true,
His hopes are fixed on Heaven and you.
When hope was sinking in dismay,
And glooms obscured Columbia's day,
His steady mind, from changes free.
Resolved on death or liberty.
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
THE BALLAD OF NATHAN HALE
The breezes went steadily through the tall pines,
A-saying "oh! hu-ush!" a-saying "oh! hu-ush!"
As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse,
For Hale in the bush, for Hale in the bush.
"Keep still!" said the thrush as she nestled her young,
In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road.
"For the tyrants are near, and with them appear
What bodes us no good, what bodes us no good."
The brave captain heard it, and thought of his home
In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook.
With mother and sister and memories dear,
He so gayly forsook; he so gayly forsook.
Cooling shades of the night were coming apace,
The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat.
The noble one sprang from his dark lurking-place,
To make his retreat; to make his retreat.
He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves.
As he passed through the wood; as he passed through the wood;
And silently gained his rude launch on the shore,
As she played with the flood; as she played with the flood.
The guards of the camp, on that dark, dreary night,
Had a murderous will; had a murderous will.
They took him and bore him afar from the shore,
To a hut on the hill; to a hut on the hill.
No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer,
In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell.
But he trusted in love, from his Father above.
In his heart, all was well; in his heart, all was well.
An ominous owl, with his solemn bass voice,
Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by:
"The tyrant's proud minions most gladly rejoice,
For he must soon die; for he must soon die."
The brave fellow told them, no thing he restrained,--
The cruel general! the cruel general!--
His errand from camp, of the ends to be gained,
And said that was all; and said that was all.
They took him and bound him and bore him away,
Down the hill's grassy side; down the hill's grassy side.
'Twas there the base hirelings, in royal array,
His cause did deride; his cause did deride.
Five minutes were given, short moments, no more,
For him to repent; for him to repent.
He prayed for his mother, he asked not another,
To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went.
The faith of a martyr the tragedy showed,
As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage.
And Britons will shudder at gallant Hales blood,
As his words do presage, as his words do presage.
"Thou pale king of terrors, thou life's gloomy foe,
Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave;
Tell tyrants, to you their allegiance they owe.
No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave."
Rejoice, Americans, rejoice!
Praise ye the Lord with heart and voice!
The treaty's signed with faithful France,
And now, like Frenchmen, sing and dance!
But when your joy gives way to reason,
And friendly hints are not deemed treason,
Let me, as well as I am able,
Present your Congress with a fable.
Tired out with happiness, the frogs
Sedition croaked through all their bogs;
And thus to Jove the restless race,
Made out their melancholy case.
"Famed, as we are, for faith and prayer,
We merit sure peculiar care;
But can we think great good was meant us,
When logs for Governors were sent us?
"Which numbers crushed they fell upon,
And caused great fear,--till one by one,
As courage came, we boldly faced 'em,
Then leaped upon 'em, and disgraced 'em!
"Great Jove," they croaked, "no longer fool us,
None but ourselves are fit to rule us;
We are too large, too free a nation,
To be encumbered with taxation!
"We pray for peace, but wish confusion,
Then right or wrong, a--revolution!
Our hearts can never bend to obey;
Therefore no king--and more we'll pray."
Jove smiled, and to their fate resigned
The restless, thankless, rebel kind;
Left to themselves, they went to work,
First signed a treaty with king Stork.
He swore that they, with his alliance,
To all the world might bid defiance;
Of lawful rule there was an end on't,
And frogs were henceforth--independent.
At which the croakers, one and all!
Proclaimed a feast, and festival!
But joy to-day brings grief to-morrow;
Their feasting o'er, now enter sorrow!
The Stork grew hungry, longed for fish;
The monarch could not have his wish;
In rage he to the marshes flies,
And makes a meal of his allies.
Then grew so fond of well-fed frogs,
He made a larder of the bogs!
Say, Yankees, don't you feel compunction,
At your unnatural rash conjunction?
Can love for you in him take root,
Who's Catholic, and absolute?
I'll tell these croakers how he'll treat 'em;
Frenchmen, like storks, love frogs--to eat 'em.
LOVE TO THE CHURCH
I love thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
With his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God!
Her walls before thee stand,
Dear as the apple of thine eye,
And graven on thy hand.
If e'er to bless thy sons
My voice or hands deny,
These hands let useful skill forsake,
This voice in silence die.
For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given
Till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou friend divine,
Our Saviour and our King,
Thy hand from every snare and foe
Shall great deliverance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be given
The brightest glories earth can yield,
And brighter bliss of heaven.
THE OLD OAKEN BUCKET
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell,
The cot of my father, the dairy-house nigh it,
And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well-
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.
That moss-covered vessel I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell;
Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket arose from the well.
How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips!
Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
The brightest that beauty or revelry sips.
And now, far removed from the loved habitation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell,
As fancy reverts to my father's plantation,
And sighs for the bucket that hangs in the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hangs in the well!
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice:--
Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings,
The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,--the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods--rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.--Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashing--yet the dead are there;
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men--
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the grayheaded man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
THE YELLOW VIOLET
When beechen buds begin to swell,
And woods the blue-bird's warble know,
The yellow violet's modest bell
Peeps from the last year's leaves below.
Ere russet fields their green resume,
Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare,
To meet thee, when thy faint perfume
Alone is in the virgin air.
Of all her train, the hands of Spring
First plant thee in the watery mould,
And I have seen thee blossoming
Beside the snow-bank's edges cold.
Thy parent sun, who bade thee view
Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip,
Has bathed thee in his own bright hue,
And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.
Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat,
And earthward bent thy gentle eye,
Unapt the passing view to meet,
When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day,
Thy early smile has stayed my walk;
But midst the gorgeous blooms of May,
I passed thee on thy humble stalk.
So they, who climb to wealth, forget
The friends in darker fortunes tried.
I copied them--but I regret
That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour
Awakes the painted tribes of light,
I'll not o'erlook the modest flower
That made the woods of April bright.
TO A WATERFOWL
Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast--
The desert and illimitable air--
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, in my heart
Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.
When breezes are soft and skies are fair,
I steal an hour from study and care,
And hie me away to the woodland scene,
Where wanders the stream with waters of green,
As if the bright fringe of herbs on its brink
Had given their stain to the waves they drink;
And they, whose meadows it murmurs through,
Have named the stream from its own fair hue.
Yet pure its waters--its shallows are bright
With colored pebbles and sparkles of light,
And clear the depths where its eddies play,
And dimples deepen and whirl away,
And the plane-tree's speckled arms o'ershoot
The swifter current that mines its root,
Through whose shifting leaves, as you walk the hill,
The quivering glimmer of sun and rill
With a sudden flash on the eye is thrown,
Like the ray that streams from the diamond-stone.
Oh, loveliest there the spring days come,
With blossoms, and birds, and wild-bees' hum;
The flowers of summer are fairest there,
And freshest the breath of the summer air;
And sweetest the golden autumn day
In silence and sunshine glides away.
Yet, fair as thou art, thou shunnest to glide,
Beautiful stream! by the village side;
But windest away from haunts of men,
To quiet valley and shaded glen;
And forest, and meadow, and slope of hill,
Around thee, are lonely, lovely, and still,
Lonely--save when, by thy rippling tides,
From thicket to thicket the angler glides;
Or the simpler comes, with basket and book,
For herbs of power on thy banks to look;
Or haply, some idle dreamer, like me,
To wander, and muse, and gaze on thee.
Still--save the chirp of birds that feed
On the river cherry and seedy reed,
And thy own wild music gushing out
With mellow murmur of fairy shout,
From dawn to the blush of another day,
Like traveller singing along his way.
That fairy music I never hear,
Nor gaze on those waters so green and clear,
And mark them winding away from sight,
Darkened with shade or flashing with light,
While o'er them the vine to its thicket clings,
And the zephyr stoops to freshen his wings,
But I wish that fate had left me free
To wander these quiet haunts with thee,
Till the eating cares of earth should depart,
And the peace of the scene pass into my heart;
And I envy thy stream, as it glides along
Through its beautiful banks in a trance of song.
Though forced to drudge for the dregs of men,
And scrawl strange words with the barbarous pen,
And mingle among the jostling crowd,
Where the sons of strife are subtle and loud--
I often come to this quiet place,
To breathe the airs that ruffle thy face,
And gaze upon thee in silent dream,
For in thy lonely and lovely stream
An image of that calm life appears
That won my heart in my greener years.
THE WEST WIND
Beneath the forest's skirt I rest,
Whose branching pines rise dark and high,
And hear the breezes of the West
Among the thread-like foliage sigh.
Sweet Zephyr! why that sound of woe?
Is not thy home among the flowers?
Do not the bright June roses blow,
To meet thy kiss at morning hours?
And lo! thy glorious realm outspread--
Yon stretching valleys, green and gay,
And yon free hill-tops, o'er whose head
The loose white clouds are borne away.
And there the full broad river runs,
And many a fount wells fresh and sweet,
To cool thee when the mid-day suns
Have made thee faint beneath their heat.
Thou wind of joy, and youth, and love;
Spirit of the new-wakened year!
The sun in his blue realm above
Smooths a bright path when thou art here.
In lawns the murmuring bee is heard,
The wooing ring-dove in the shade;
On thy soft breath, the new-fledged bird
Takes wing, half happy, half afraid.
Ah! thou art like our wayward race;--
When not a shade of pain or ill
Dims the bright smile of Nature's face,
Thou lov'st to sigh and murmur still.
"I BROKE THE SPELL THAT HELD ME LONG"
I broke the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet's idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more,
For Poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.
I broke the spell--nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.
Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget
Its causes were around me yet?
For wheresoe'er I looked, the while,
Was Nature's everlasting smile.
Still came and lingered on my sight
Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,
And glory of the stars and sun;--
And these and poetry are one.
They, ere the world had held me long,
Recalled me to the love of song.
A FOREST HYMN
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them--ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,
Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences
Which, from the stilly twilight of the place,
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why
Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect
God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least,
Here, in the shadow of this aged wood,
Offer one hymn--thrice happy, if it find
Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns, thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun,
Budded, and shook their green leaves in thy breeze,
And shot toward heaven. The century-living crow
Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches, till, at last, they stood,
As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark,
Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults,
These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride
Report not. No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works. But thou art here--thou fill'st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summit of these trees
In music; thou art in the cooler breath
That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes, scarcely felt; the barley trunks, the ground,
The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;--Nature, here,
In the tranquillity that thou dost love,
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around,
From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs
Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou halt not left
Thyself without a witness, in the shades,
Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace
Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated--not a prince,
In all that proud old world beyond the deep,
E'er wore his crown as loftily as he
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower,
With scented breath and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould,
Au emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think
Of the great miracle that still goes on,
In silence, round me--the perpetual work
Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed
Forever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die--but see again,
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses--ever gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors
Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch-enemy Death--yea, seats himself
Upon the tyrant's throne--the sepulchre,
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
The generation born with them, nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks
Around them;--and there have been holy men
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Retire, and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,
The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink
And tremble and are still. O God! when thou
Dost scare the world with tempest, set on fire
The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill,
With all the waters of the firmament,
The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the villages; when, at thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities--who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power,
His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by?
Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate,
In these calm shades, thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of thy works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread;
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang
In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood?
Alas! they all are in their graves, the gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours.
The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
But on the hills the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sun-flower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the
plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade,
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come,
To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home:
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill,
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died,
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief:
Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend of ours,
So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.
THE GLADNESS OF NATURE
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our mother Nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space
And their shadows at play on the bright-green vale,
And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles
On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray,
On the leaping waters and gay young isles;
Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven's own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean
O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com'st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue--blue--as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.
SONG OF MARION'S MEN
Our band is few but true and tried,
Our leader frank and bold;
The British soldier trembles
When Marion's name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood,
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us,
As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines,
Its glades of reedy grass,
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery
That little dread us near!
On them shall light at midnight
A strange and sudden fear:
When, waking to their tents on fire,
They grasp their arms in vain,
And they who stand to face us
Are beat to earth again;
And they who fly in terror deem
A mighty host behind,
And hear the tramp of thousands
Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release
From danger and from toil:
We talk the battle over,
And share the battle's spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout,
As if a hunt were up,
And woodland flowers are gathered
To crown the soldier's cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the pine-top grieves,
And slumber long and sweetly
On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads--
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
'Tis life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlight plain;
'Tis life to feel the night-wind
That lifts the tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp--
A moment--and away
Back to the pathless forest,
Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee,
Grave men with hoary hairs;
Their hearts are all with Marion,
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming,
With smiles like those of summer,
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms,
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton,
Forever, from our shore.
THE CROWDED STREET
Let me move slowly through the street,
Filled with an ever-shifting train,
Amid the sound of steps that beat
The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
How fast the flitting figures come!
The mild, the fierce, the stony face;
Some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some
Where secret tears have left their trace.
They pass--to toil, to strife, to rest;
To halls in which the feast is spread;
To chambers where the funeral guest
In silence sits beside the dead.
And some to happy homes repair,
Where children, pressing cheek to cheek,
These struggling tides of life that seem
With mute caresses shall declare
The tenderness they cannot speak.
And some, who walk in calmness here,
Shall shudder as they reach the door
Where one who made their dwelling dear,
Its flower, its light, is seen no more.
Youth, with pale cheek and slender frame,
And dreams of greatness in thine eye!
Go'st thou to build an early name,
Or early in the task to die?
Keen son of trade, with eager brow!
Who is now fluttering in thy snare!
Thy golden fortunes, tower they now,
Or melt the glittering spires in air?
Who of this crowd to-night shall tread
The dance till daylight gleam again?
Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead?
Who writhe in throes of mortal pain?
Some, famine-struck, shall think how long
The cold dark hours, how slow the light;
And some, who flaunt amid the throng,
Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
Each, where his tasks or pleasures call,
They pass, and heed each other not.
There is who heeds, who holds them all,
In His large love and boundless thought.
These struggling tides of life that seem
In wayward, aimless course to tend,
Are eddies of the mighty stream
That rolls to its appointed end.
Stand here by my side and turn, I pray,
On the lake below thy gentle eyes;
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
And dark and silent the water lies;
And out of that frozen mist the snow
In wavering flakes begins to flow;
Flake after flake
They sink in the dark and silent lake.
See how in a living swarm they come
From the chambers beyond that misty veil;
Some hover awhile in air, and some
Rush prone from the sky like summer hail.
All, dropping swiftly or settling slow,
West, and are still in the depths below;
Flake after flake
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.
Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night the milky way;
There broader and burlier masses fall;
The sullen water buries them all--
Flake after flake--
All drowned in the dark and silent lake.
And some, as on tender wings they glide
From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray,
Are joined in their fall, and, side by side,
Come clinging along their unsteady way;
As friend with friend, or husband with wife,
Makes hand in hand the passage of life;
Each mated flake
Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake.
Lo! While we are gazing, in swifter haste
Stream down the snows, till the air is white,
As, myriads by myriads madly chased,
They fling themselves from their shadowy height.
The fair, frail creatures of middle sky,
What speed they make, with their grave so nigh;
Flake after flake
To lie in the dark and silent lake!
I see in thy gentle eyes a tear;
They turn to me in sorrowful thought;
Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear,
Who were for a time, and now are not;
Like those fair children and cloud and frost,
That glisten for a moment and then are lost,
Flake after flake
All lost in the dark and silent lake.
Yet look again, for the clouds divide;
A gleam of blue on the water lies;
And far away, on the mountain-side,
A sunbeam falls from the opening skies,
But the hurrying host that flew between
The cloud and the water, no more is seen;