James Macfarlan: Poetical Works (1)
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THE WANDERER OF THE WEST.

-I-

 

On the dark soil of the City grew a tender
                     human flower
Watched by weeping winds that fed it in the
                     sunshine and the shower:
From the dungeon floor of Poverty, up climbing
                     in the night,
How it clasp'd the dew of love, and look'd in
                     prayer for holier light!
Till the Summer waved her golden wings and
                     fann'd it into bloom,
Little dreaming that its beauty would
                     illuminate the tomb.
Frowns were ever looming o'er it cast by many a
                     fiendish face,
And a frost of chilling features hung about
                     its hiding place;
Some were sad with secret sorrow, some were
                     stern with pinching pain,
While the cloud of pity o'er them oft dissolved
                     in healing rain.
And the smoky curtains closed it like a
                     thing in sickly sleep
That could only lie to dream of death, and
                     only wake to weep.
But it kept forever springing like a
                     river that will flow,
Or the heart of Summer beating 'neath a winter
                     shroud of snow,
Till the heavenly breath of Music in a dream
                     of beauty sung—
As Poesy, the flower of life, from that dark
                     crevice sprung!

 

-II-

And the flower of Poesy found a place
    In the heart of a bright-eyed boy,
And the red rose-leaf on his fervid face
    Was the seal of his secret joy.
In his desert of life still it bloom'd and burn'd
    Like a thing that could never die,
Till the heart and its flower were coldly spurn'd
    As the world went wildly by.
O little they dream of the thing they scorn,
    And less of the deed that's done,
As the leaves of the flower are cruelly torn
    And scatter'd one by one.

 

-III-

Mighty furnaces are flaring like a demon's
                      breath of fire,
Forges like great burning cities break in
                      many a crimson spire;
Tongues of eager flame are lapping all
                      the glory of the heaven,
While a blush of burning hectic o'er the midnight's
                      face is driven:
Peals the thunder throat of Labour, hark! the
                      deaf'ning anvils clash,
Like a thousand angry sabres in the battle's
                      headlong dash.
Hear the thorougfares of tumult like the mid-
                      night Ocean's roar
As in agony he clutches at the black heart of
                      the shore:
Toiling there the poor Boy-poet grimes within
                      a dismal den,
Piles the fire and wields the hammer,
                      jostled on by savage men.
Burns his life to mournful ashes, on a thank-
                      less hearth of gloom,
For a paltry pittance digging life from out an
                      early tomb:
And the soul is dwarfed within him that was
                      cast in Titan mould,
And the wealth of Heaven he loses for the
                      lack of human gold,
And he cannot see the stars arise in splendid
                      sheen of light—
Like angel watch fires gleaming on the cloudy
                      cliffs of night!

 

-IV-

Come sweet signs into the City of the tender
                      touch of Spring,
As some bird beside a prison gate one happy
                      lilt may sing:
One loud and glorious lilt of love that on the
                      sleeping strings
Of buried Life strikes out a tune on wild
                      melodious wings;
And, fluttering at the gates of bliss, there hovers
                      gladly round,
Till struck by wintry thought it sinks
                      upon the frozen ground.
O his dreams are with the Beautiful,
                      his soul is far abroad,
Where through long lanes of glorious light
                      it wanders up to God!
He feels unto his inner eyes a glorious
                      vision given
Of old Earth dimly dreaming in the
                      broad embrace of Heaven:
His spirit stands an hour entranced
                      beside the awful sea,
Like one who wakes from narrow life
                      to wide infinity!
He feels a wind of music stirring all his
                      being's chords,
Bright dreams of beauty striving for
                      a regal robe of words,
And each pulse of life is thrilling with a
                      mighty passion fraught
To scale the cliffs of song, and walk the
                      eagle-heights of Thought!

 

-V-

He climbs the ladder of life alone,
Eager to gain some bardic throne,
Beating his life on the anvil of toil,
Moleing for ever the gold-sanded soil:
With rarely a gleam of the warm sun of Love,
That falls on the flowers which are blooming above.
Dear flowers! like young eyes that are opening to see
The new Queen of Beauty abroad on the lea!
Hidden he lies as a gem in a cave,
Lighting a pathway that slopes to the grave.
While his soul is athirst for the wine of delight,
For the splendour of day, and the glories of night:
For the fountains that flash, for the blossoms that blow,
For the streams with their moon-flakes of silvery snow,
For or the hills and the glens, and the rocks, and the trees,
And the royal Queen-Rose on her throne of the breeze:
But they hear not, they heed not, he yearneth in vain,
From his dungeon of gloom like a spirit in pain,
And the Ghost-echoes glide with the dying refrain.

 

-VI-

Sweet music like a syren sings behind that
                      lighted pane
Where Wealth and Plenty revel
                      unmindful of the rain
Which beats the bare, black face
                      and many a homeless head
That aches with Tyrant thoughts of want mid
                      longs for any bed.
O God! 'tis hard to writhe in rags while
                      we have that within
Which, leaping up, for utt'rance pleads,
                      to Noblest souls akin
To feel that in our bosoms glow the holiest
                      fires of Heaven
And yet to see our lamp of Love to damning
                      darkness driven.
Surely these velvet paths of pride lead not
                      to bliss above,
Surely these Mammon hearts of hate can
                      never mate with Love,
The iron tongue of Torture, and the burning
                      scourge of fire
Shall lift the bleeding-hearted Poor
                      to holier realms and higher.
Then onward, Wanderer! beggar-robed, with
                      such a hope as this
The pang that shuts the door of Life
                      shall ope the gate of Bliss!

 

-VII-

Wet winds are dripping on the homeless heath,
He walks with Darkness and her brother Death,
Over that mournful moor long leagues they go,
While tearing winds from lands of tempest blow,
Trees wail tormented with their arms outcast,
In hopeless battle with the demon blast:
Flares the fierce lightning like the angry eye
Of an avenging, wrathful Deity.
The outcast wanderer on life's barren moor
Stands mute and mournful at the World's closed door.

 

-VIII-

Gone is the rainbow of my life
    'Neath which I stood a victor proud—
Around me, one wide stretch of gloom,
    Above me, one black, melting cloud.

While meagre minds that pass'd me by
    Sit crown'd on Fortune's golden cope,
I strive to warm a wintry heart
    O'er th' last embers of my hope.

Like one within a captive's cage
    I fret against the bars of grief,
And in the wind of discontent
    Shake wildly as a wither'd leaf.

All dreary as a midnight moor
    I see the years before me lie,
While like some night-bird Sorrow springs
    And wails across the moonless sky.

Thrust from the world by cruel hands,
    Froze to the soul by icy breath,
I tear apart the cords of life
    And dash into the arms of Death!

 

-IX-

Ye tearful sprites whose wings are spread
Like dewing clouds o'er Sorrow's head,
Weep! for the Beautiful is dead!

Ye mourning winds that shake the yews
And weep the cold, funereal dews,
O join the melancholy muse:

Ye airy sylphs who skim the floods,
Green-kirtled nymphs that warm the woods,
Hoar Guardians of all solitudes:

Ye lonely fowls that make your bed
Far 'mong the heathy gouts of red,
Weep! for the Beautiful is dead!

Dead! ere the green is on the tree,
Dead! ere the daisy lights the lea,
Dead! ere the frown has left the sea!

This soul has pass'd, a sunbeam, o'er
Our sea of life to some bright shore,
While we are weeping, "nevermore!"

 

-X-

Again the red and hasty hands of Dawn
Tear from the dreaming earth the tent of night;
The burning billows of her eager tide
Washing away bright worlds, till, broad and bare,
Morn like a golden banner fills the sky!
Larks rise in ether up the slopes of sun
To drop in song-dew all their founts of joy,
And sprinkle music on the face of Heaven!

Thus day wears on until its golden fire
Burns into sombre ashes of the night,
And in the husht hearts of the silent woods
The songs of birds are lock'd like dreams of heaven
That stir not in the quiet of their bliss!
O'er plains and swarthy sands divinely glows
The sunset West, like some most happy spot
Where God hath turned the glory of his gaze!

In the stern sunset of the Wanderer's life
Men saw his shadow lengthen on the world,
And marvel'd much that he whom they despised,
Who wore the thorny crown of their disdain,
And toiled on unrequited by their side,
Should thus grow great in death.  They came with prayers,
And paltry penitence that mocked the dead,
And tended him outside their gates who once
Moved scorned and unrespected in their midst.

Fain would they claim the jewel now it shone:
Unheeded lay the diamond in the light
And blaze of earthly splendour till it gleamed,
A burst of beauty in the dark of Death!
Ay! they would claim it, that which they despised:
But goodness only shows her offering once,
And now the Wanderer sought his grave, and Heaven
Again took back her own, and all was well!

 

________________________

 
INDUCTION TO CITY SONGS.

 

AGAIN upon the wing!   Yet once again
With feeble flutterings I attempt to soar
The star-hung heaven of song, the cloudless vast
That bends serenely o'er the heights of Fame!
Perchance to other minds no more am I
Than what some lonely beacon on a rock
Is to a midnight star.   So let it be!
That beacon may befriend the struggling ship
That grapples in the agony of storms,
Leading it into home and haven-calms;
And I, with lesser light, may lead some heart
Back to the haven of its early joy,
And send one gleam athwart the sea of life
That shall reward my toil!

                                               There is a time
When the Fame-phantom leads us on through life
In a wild race of joy.    Some hands can grasp
Her golden garments as she sweepeth past
On her broad path of triumph; and great souls
Cry out most stern, with ardour resolute,
"As Jacob wrestled with the thing of light
So with thee, Fame, I'll grapple, long and fierce,
Nor part with thee until a blessing falls
From thy proud lips and makes me glorious!"
Ambition met my young heart on its way,
But timidly that young heart turned aside,
As some shy peasant turns him from the walk
To let a great man pass.

                                              I may not strive
To fill with warmth the cold heart of the world.
To smooth the wrinkles on the brow of Time,
Nor bind the broken multitudes of men
Into one glorious brotherhood of love.
Such task awaits a mightier hand than mine—
A great soul that will shine upon our age,
Clothing it with all beauty, as the sun
Clothes the broad earth in royal robe of light!
Rare is the visit of great bards to earth,—
Homer but once—a Virgil in an age!
And our dear Shakspeare, whose clear vision scann'd
The hidden wealth or barrenness of souls—
Who stript the fine veneering off the world—
Left void the poet's throne, save him who came
Amid a stir of strife, the one bright star
Upon the dark crest of the Commonwealth!
There have been hearts that, crushed before their time,
Have left no records of their greatness save
Some songs (like blood-drops on the world's wide page)
Wrung from them in their sorrow.   Other souls—
Rich royal souls—have run themselves to waste,
Scattering their wealth of thought unheedingly,
Like kingly jewels, thrown by rebel hands
Into the streets of tumult.   Calmer minds
Have felt the joy that flows from Nature's fount,
And sang it while they walk'd through human life,
Most patient gleaners in the fields of hope.
With these my spirit fain would mate itself—
Be taught—that I might teach again in turn,
Change jarring life into a golden tune,
And build hope's rainbow o'er the gulf of grief.
Censure, perchance, may crowd upon my toils,
Or that unbroken silence, worse than scorn,
In which the worker darkly walks alone.
Yet, crowned or unrewarded, I shall rest
In the rich hope that some unknown heart feels
The happier for the echo it has caught;
And with a mind that calmly waits its doom,
Consoled and cheered by this joy-giving thought,
Surely the world should hear when he who sings
Hath brought his heart's wealth to enrich his song.

 

________________________

 
THE ASPIRANT.

 

O SUMMER stirs among the trees, and sunshine lights
        the hills,
And from their hearts, like gushing joys, leap out the
        happy rills;
But I cannot see the golden wealth that hangs on
        flower and spray:
I cannot hear the happy voice that calls my heart away.
Look up, look up unto the sun, the soul within me cries;
Alas!   I look to heaven, and then the sorrow shuts
        mine eyes.

And what is sun, and what is moon, and what are bliss-
        ful spheres
Seen thro' the darksome spirit-mist?   A watery glimpse
        of tears:
The morning streams of sunshine running down the hills
        of night
Flood a hundred glens and valleys with a golden tide of light;
The morning founts of music, springing upward from the
        earth,
Breaketh high amid the azure in a hundred showers
        of mirth!

O still the full-toned ocean breaks in thunder on the
        shore,
O still the forest throbs with song as sweetly as of yore;
Still lies the sunlight dreaming on rich summer's lap of
        leaves—
Still sits the affluent autumn crowned upon her throne
        of sheaves—
Still afar upon the moorland stands the day's blue
        bending arch,
Built by angel-hands in triumph o'er the sun's victorious
        march!—

Still the evening, rich and golden, glideth dimly into grey,
And the night, a sable mourner, weepeth o'er the dying
        day;
And hushed and hallowed is her grief, no sound the
        forest fills,
For star-crowned Silence king-like sits upon his throne
        of hills.
But O, among the weedy wilds, or flowers I may not
        tread,
For dust is dark beneath my feet, and smoke is overheard.

On my heart no song sits bird-like, and no sunshine
        lights my way,
But cared frost-featured opes the dawn, and sorrow shuts
        the day:
All friendships from my tree of life have fallen brown
        and sere,
And 'mid my wint'ry wo I stand all desolate and drear;
O love, that like a holy sun lights up our darkest hours!
O love, that like a summer turns our barren life to
        flowers!—

I long to feel thee in my heart like music in the strings,
To bear my soul up songward on thy free unsullied
        wings;
But mad as an ambitious soul that burns to rule a
        sphere,
Is this wild wish of mine to crown some sovereign
        music here:
To gem the brow of beauty with the starry wealth of
        song,
And turn life's march to music as it wildly heaves along:

To hang on Labour's tuneless lips a rich and flowery lay,
And close with Fancy's fairy tones the sterner toils of
        day!
What though I pant to claim a harp, will this weak voice
        be heard?
What though I yearn to strike the string, will one rich
        chord be stirred?
In vain, in vain, a mocking echo ringeth back "in vain,"
My spirit songward leapeth up, but falls to earth again!

No strain looks proudly through my gloom, like moun-
        tain through its mist,
That bares its forehead to the morn, by streaming sun-
        light kissed;
Once I skimmed the world of wonder, in a visioned mystic
        round,
Over weary wastes of water, Fancy's fair enchanted
        ground:
Revell'd richly in the noontide of voluptuous Indian
        hours,
Like a bird o'er stripes of cedar and the burning orient
        bowers.

Long I stood by wild Ni'gara—heard its thunder-boom
        below—
Trod the barren brown of deserts—saw the old Nile
        overflow—
But the fairy phantom faded, and alone, alone, I stand,
With a soul untouched by music, and a trembling harp-
        less hand!
But I burn to leave some melody afloat upon the world,
When in the long dull dream of death life's weary
        wings are furled!

 

________________________

 
A SUMMER SONG.

 

'Tis the reign of the flowers, and the green Earth is drest
    Like a bride in her beauty, a queen in her charms;
And the young summer smiling, and fain to be prest,
    Falls down in a dream of delight in her arms:
The cloud-shadows trail o'er the fields and the fens,
And the breezes are hushed in the hearts of the glens.

I long for the forests, I pant for the dells,
    And the odours that over the fresh fields are borne,
And the wild tide of music that surges and swells
    Where the east, like a maiden, has blushed with the
         morn.
Away to the woodlands, blithe spirit, away!
Thy soul in the sunshine shall revel to-day!

Past the broil of the town, past the long stony street,
    Past the suburbs that sink to a dim smoky haze;
O now the sweet grass groweth green at my feet,
    And I see the glad waters with light all a-blaze:
The town is behind, with its traffic and din,
Shrouded deep in its smoke, like a soul in its sin.

Morn climbs up the sky with her burden of gold,
    And the leaves and the blossoms are dipt in the dew;
And the joy of the earth in rich music is told,
    As she looks to the heaven with a smile ever new:
The sun, golden-armoured, comes up in his might,
And the lark is afloat in an ocean of light.

Deep joy in the woods that are throbbing with song;
    And a green light is glancing where rivulets run;
There's a wild leafy thrill the glad branches among,
    And the waters leap up to the kiss of the sun;
The dew-drops are dancing on flowers as I pass,
To leap from their couches and die in the grass.

O sweet are the sounds and the odours that start
    From the green earth, and pass like a life through the air;
And the melody, born in Summer's flower-heart,
    Like the power of a charm breaks the spell of despair:
O, my soul in this vision of beauty is still,
Like a sunbeam asleep on the breast of a hill!

Sing on, happy skylark! the summer is thine!
    No voice from the sunlight shall call thee away!
O weariness, trouble, and toiling are mine,
    My share of delight is the glimpse of a day.
Sing on! for to-morrow shall dawn on thee bright—
I go, and my gladness shall end with to-night!

 

________________________

 
THE STREET.

 

Flow on, dark Street!   I hear thee roar
    Throughout the noisy noon,
Louder than billows on the shore
    Beneath the muffled moon.
Flow on! each dusky human wave
Shall yet find silence in the grave.

Flow on! what faces line thy sides!
    What looks of care and crime
Swell out those hourly ebbing tides
    That fills the gaps of time!
At midnight, spectral sorrow stalks
Adown thy dark deserted walks.

To thee a solace Darkness lends—
    She stills thy weary wars;
And midnight, like a mother, bends
    Her beating heart of stars
O'er souls that sin, o'er eyes that weep,
O'er children smiling in their sleep.

Oft through thy silent mesh of homes
    A tingling terror flies,
The lightning-winged alarum comes
    In fire athwart the skies,
When, with a gush of smoky light
A conflagration scares the night.

The engines thunder down the Street,
    Sleep startles with a scream
To hear the onward flood of feet,
    And with that ghastly gleam,
We see, through curtains wildly drawn,
The midnight like a dismal dawn.

Dark Street!   I know thine inmost heart,
    In thee my years were nurst;
O could thy donjon lips dispart!
    O could thy cold heart burst!
What aching tales to earth were given—
Stern secrets held by thee and heaven!

And creeping oft, like some dark thought,
    Across thy dream of gain,
From sorrow's wailing chamber brought,
    Flows on a funeral train:
Grim jest upon this fleeting breath!
Pass—painful pageantry of death!

Oft have I watched thy windows blaze,
    Like pools of liquid gold,
When, in a shroud of fiery haze,
    The dying sun was rolled,
And from the golden-gated west,
Dun evening bared her burning breast.

Flow, Fashion, through thy channel flow!
    Roar, Commerce, down thy stream!
Roar on! a thousand years ago
    Thy being was a dream!
Another thousand, it may be—
But no, we dare not think of thee.

 

________________________

 
A DREAM CHILD.

 

FROM the sleep of the past comes a beautiful dream,
    And I walk like a spirit in light,
For again by the margin of ocean I seem
    With the star of my destiny's night.

It is she, who when sorrow rose darkling and wild
    Brought peace in the touch of her hand,
The fisherman's blue-eyed and beautiful child
    In her cottage below on the strand.

How oft on that shore would she gambol and deck
    Her fair brow with the wild blue bells,
Then hang round her delicate foam-white neck
    A circle of foam-beaten shells.

Over the beach she went bounding and fast,
    High over the ocean shocks:
O beautiful spirit! how brightly she passed
    Like a sunbeam among the rocks!

For lovely as light on a flowery slope
    Was the glow of her sunny cheek;
And her eyes that brightened and beamed with hope,
    Seemed eager of love to speak.

Her cottage lay low on the surgèd beach—
    Her life, like her beauty, was wild—
And we named her then in our homely speech,
    The Beautiful Ocean Child.

And still, through the lapse of the old years gone,
    Her beauty hath been to me
Like the gleaming dash of the rich round sun
    Thrown over the sullen sea.

 

________________________

 
THE WATCHER.

 

THE streets are smothered in the snow,
    The chill-eyed stars are cleaving keen
The frozen air, and, looming low,
    The white moon stares across the scene.

She waiteth by the fading fire—
    The gasping taper flickers low—
And drooping down, and rising higher,
    Her shadow wavers to and fro.

No foot disturbs the sleeping floor—
    No motion, save the breeze's breath,
That stealing through the crannied door
    Creeps coldly, as a thought of death.

It chills her with its airy stream—
    O cold and careless barren blast—
It wakes her, as her fevered dream
    Hath skimmed the sweetness of the past.

She stirs not yet.   The night hath drawn
    Its silent stream of stars away,
And now the infant streaks of dawn
    Begin to prophecy the day.

She stirs not yet.   Within her eye
    The half-crushed tear-drop lingers still:
She stirs not—and the smothered sigh
    Breaks wave-like on the rock of will.

O heart that will unheeding prove!
    O heart that will unheeded break!
How strong the zeal, how deep the love
    That burns for faithless folly's sake!

 

________________________

 
A TALE OF THE TOWN.

 

'MONG sunny plains or waving woods,
    Alas!   I was not born;
I never heard in solitudes
    The music of the morn;
I never nursed a poet's dream
Where raindrops dance upon the stream.

My home o'erhung a narrow lane
    Where wo and want were paired,
Where vice o'erflowing ebb'd again;
    And stealthy crime was laired;
And from my window stretched for miles
A dreary wilderness of tiles.

As some poor bird, within its wires,
    Knows when the spring is nigh,
And to the heaven of song aspires,
    So, in the city, I,
Immured amid the toiling throng,
Consoled my captive heart with song.

My walks were not upon the plains,
    Nor 'mong dew-heavy leaves,
But where amid the streets and lanes,
    The heart of tumult heaves;
And where the night-black river glides,
The sepulchre of suicides.

My sights were not the setting sun,
    Sowing with gold the sea,
But some new phase of vice begun—
    Some end of misery:
Or when through fog the red sun broke,
Seen faintly as a fire through smoke.

And oft at night I stood beside
    The glooming range of ships,
When to the quays rose high the tide,
    And laved their granite lips,
And saw the moon, as if through bars,
Check'd by the vessels' masts and spars.

I lived in hope that some bright hour
    Would spring from barren years,
A sunbeam on my path—a flower
    Long water'd by my tears.
At last there came a holiday,
Wild as a bird I dashed away:—

O! when I felt each weary limb
    Among the cooling grass,
And watched, until my sight grew dim,
    The fair cloud phantoms pass,
Methought that it were sweet to die
Beneath the clear and open sky.

Again upon my senses beat
    The city's wave-like din;
And, as in furrows, in each street
    Are sown the seeds of sin.
I'm in the streets: but that bright day
Has kept my heart in fields away!

 

________________________

 
SUNLIGHT IN THE LANE.

 

I LIVE amid the roar of streets,
The never-ending tide that beats
    On lofty dwellings dun;
For years my only joy has been
To watch this fluctuating scene
    Beneath the clouded sun.

O many a dreary year is past
Since I beheld the ocean last,
    Or heard the forest choirs;
Since last I trod the heather dell,
Ere I had come alone to dwell
    Amid the clanging spires.

The music of the mountain stream
Is like a dim dissolving dream
    Within a waking brain;
I hear the brawling of the brooks
From which the pictured forest looks,
    And I am young again.

I could not think to dwell alone
Amid this endless monotone,
    And nurse Self's barren brood,
Without some joy my soul to fill,
Teaching me in this sea of ill
    To find some pearls of good.

In dingy court, or alley dim,
The linnet's sweet and day-long hymn
    To me a pleasure yields;
And, in the sultry summer hours,
A dusty knot of fingered flowers
    Recalls the breezy fields.

A tuft of dull down-trodden grass,
In some still by-way where I pass,
    Brings summer to my heart;
And visions of blue violet plots,
White daisies, and forget-me-nots,
    Will from the pathway start.

The passing faces on the street,
The kindly talk when kindred meet,
    Have been a joy to me;
And though in crowds I dwell alone,
My heart has long familiar grown
    With all I hear and see.

And in the long dull dripping days,
When ne'er a gleam of sunshine strays
    Along the rainy roofs,
I hear, in some old song of arms,
The knightly frays, the loud alarms,
    The rush of ringing hoofs.

Thus, in the fairy realms of rhyme
My heart has found a golden clime
    With many a sylvan store
Of flowery cup, and trembling bell,
And leaning boughs, where warblers tell
    Of summer's leafy lore.

O let me still such day-dreams share,
Or, dwelling 'mid these caves of care,
    My toiling heart will break;
O let me hope that Love still brings
Some goodness from the meanest things
    For sovereign Beauty's sake!

 

________________________

 
THE POET'S PRAYER.

 

ALONE, upon a path of fairy flowers
    That drank wild light from dying day,
Like a calm thought across those sumptuous hours
    A poet held his way.

He had been one whose earnest spirit dreamed
    By misty mountains robed in rain,
Whose soul ran riot when the tempest streamed
    Athwart the moaning main.

He had borne much of wrong, had tasted crime,
    'Mong martyrs trod with bleeding brows:
And with strange minstrels of the olden time
    Held many a wild carouse.

He had stood oft 'mong ruins old, sublime,
    Whose classic memories enrich the globe;
Where old Decay, the sullen slave of Time,
    Sits in his ivy-robe.

His soul had wander'd thro' the paths of change,
    On to the doorways of the dead:
In many a flight of vision, mystic, strange,
    Through the spher'd night had fled.

He had found beauty on the snow-robed plain,
    And mountain stream struck dumb by frost,
And in the white skirts of the hurricane
    That swept the ragged coast.

Love he had felt in one wild rush of dawn,
    That, bright'ning, deepen'd into day;
Then slowly passed, o'er life's stern hills withdrawn,
    In sunset rich away.

With calm stern Nature in the wilds he trod—
    Felt the deep joy that awes and thrills,
When some wild sunburst, like the glance of God,
    Smote all the wond'ring hills.

Before him lay the sea; on either hand
    The gloomy mountain ranges hung;
While over many a dreary league of land
    The solemn sea-breeze sung.

Gilding with ghostly light the zone of stars
    All wilder'd, rose the white moon, large,
O'er the wild tumult of the rock-ribb'd bars,
    And oozy salt sea-marge.

There, knelt the poet.   Girt with holy fears,
    His voice in worship warbled loud,
Within that temple roofed with burning spheres
    And canopied with cloud.

"Spirit that fillest all yon bending blue—
    Who walk'st the thunder-voicèd deep;
Beneath Thy stars, upon the night-wept dew,
    To Thee this hour I'll keep!

"Thee do I worship in the opening light,
    The blush of dawn, the blaze of noon,
And when the cloudy tresses of the night
    Stream o'er the floating moon.

"In all of nature, all of earth, doth lie
    The mighty impress of Thy powers—
Thy terror in the boom that shakes the sky,
    Thy beauty in the flowers!

"When o'er the star-strewn glory of the sky
    The mellow moon in lustre shines,
And when the burning zodiac hangs on high
    Her bright and mystic signs!

"O grant me here one touch of living might,
    From whose broad blaze all doubt shall flee,
And as the moon turns passing clouds to light
    Shall hallow all to thee!

"One beam of wisdom from the source above;
    To trace the workings of the time;
To wake with one deep tone of living love
    The callous ear of Crime.

"One echo of Thy harp to me be given,
    An angel-echo, deep and strong;
Then let Thy child of music soar to heaven,
    Caught in a whirl of song."

He ceased, and purple morning brought the birth
    Of beauty to benighted souls;
A grand eternal epic swept the earth,
    And rang between the poles!

 

________________________

 
A PORTRAIT.

 

SHE came in beauty like the tender spring
In whose young buddings we discern with joy
The fruitful future in its infancy.
As young spring danceth on her path of flowers
So she trod joyously her path of life,
Wearing love's garland and hope's rainbow-wreath,
And brought a flood of sunshine where she stept.
Grief's withered flowers felt summer in her smile,
And toil took kinglier airs when passing her:
In her rich presence poverty had wealth,
And saw the angel thoughts serenely move
Within the grand Elysium of her eyes.

Love walks an angel in our path of pain,
But nought impure may know her, for she speaks
Unto the spirit only, and we feel
Her sweet mysterious presence in our souls
As feel the flowers when in their silken cores
Spring creepeth imperceptibly, and with
Rich beauty fills each tender vase:
So came young love to her.   In a sweet stream
It filled the secret channels of her heart,
And made her cup of life run o'er with joy.
Souls pained with sorrow, and hearts run to waste,
Kindled new being at her soul of love;
And, as Hope trims the sinking lamp of life,
Despair took courage in her affluent smile
And stept joy-crowned to take the throne of peace!
Men marvelled at the largess of her grace;
And sensual thoughts, the dross of human hearts,
Were turned as by a miracle to gold,
Through the alchymic touch of her pure soul!

Like a chance sunbeam on a winter day,
She cheered a moment the cold gloom of life,
And then went heavenward like a singing lark
In the rich dawn of her new spirit life.
Forever do the heart-wrung tears of grief
Put out our household fires and damp our hearths.
Yet through the sea of darkness, death, and gloom,
Her soul went safely o'er on faith's white wings
All purified, and from the earth she sped—
Her happy soul lost in the glorious gleam,
As midnight stars are lost again in day
When none may see them for excess of light.

Summer's bright name is writ again in flowers
On the green glorious tablet of the earth.
Yet she who walked our pilgrimage of pain,
Free-footed as a fawn, will see no more
A sunbeam, like God's sceptre, touch the earth
Into a blaze of beauty.   She no more
With soul as stainless as the summer blue
Of an unclouded heaven, will mark again
The smiling spring with her sweet kiss of love
Wake up the earth from dreamless winter sleep:
Her summer is more beautiful than ours—
The summer of the blest!

                                  Still the old tale.
Beauty and goodness dying in the world,
And all things barren left.   Green leaves fall off,
While stands the wintry baldness of the boughs:
The thorn outlives the flower, and kindly hearts
Fade soonest.   But our sorrow's darkest cloud
May bear Hope's brightest bow; and from the earth
Fresh flowers will leap like seraphs from the sod
At the first footstep of returning spring!

 

________________________

 
THE SYREN ISLE.

 

METHOUGHT I wander'd in an ancient wood,
    Swathed in a royal dream of other days;
In some old land of song and solitude,
    O'erflowing with the music-wine that strays
From many a green recess and covert dim
    Of leaf enwoven shades, where sweetest lays
    Steal out in dreams of dulcet harmonies.
And there I saw a lordly castle stand
Roof-deep in green, with pillars high and grand,
    O'er which the bulging bosom of a dome
Swelled high to heaven, and caught the latest gold
Of sunset as it melted o'er the trees.
And then I heard the sweetest melodies
    That ever issued from th' Elysian home
Of spher'd Appollo in his happiest mood.
And full before, I saw the barren brine
    Stretch to the sunset like a sheet of gold,
Ploughed by the breeze, in dimpling furrows fine,
    Then fall upon the shingles, fold on fold
    Of snow-white billows.   Then, anon, 'twas cold
    As Zembla's breath astray upon a gale.
Night grew like sadness, o'er the sea and sky,
    When up the chill wind came a full-blown sail,
A snowy speck upon the sunset's eye.
    And then with eager ears I paused and heard,
    Now deep, now like the carol of a bird,
    Sweet music linked to many a witching word!

A sneer is on the cold face of the seas,
    Faint fire is in the west;
There is a mournful moaning in the breeze
    As if it sighed for rest.
The weary waste is wide beneath the night,
    O weary-wide the sea and sky,
Rest! rest!   Here bloometh bowers of sweet delight,
    Wherein 'twere bliss to lie.

Curtains there are of fairest glossy green,
    Sun-fringed with gleamy gold,
Bathing the vision with a soothing sheen
    Of love-lights manifold.
All night the stars hang panting on our song,
    So sweet, they cease to breath their own,
But through the azure chasms of space prolong
    An endless monotone.

O rest! for never can ye find repose
    In such an isle as this;
O rest! while we your weary eyes will close
    With many a coral kiss!
The scaly mermaid sings beneath the sea,
    The mad fish tangle in her hair:
She sings so sweetly in the deep, yet we
    Are more divinely fair!

They ceased.   And then I felt like one alone
    In some still forest, when the nightingale
Forsakes her song, and, through the branches flown,
    Sheathes her clear carol in some bosky vale.
The vision faded; pale as mist, and fleet
    As the young wind.   The midnight sky was bared
    By hasty dawn; and, starting up, I heard
Tumultous morning fill the wakened street.

 

________________________

 
A SKETCH.

 

THE sunset streams, the hamlet spire
Gleams grandly, sheathed in evening fire,
    The river rolleth red;
The flowers are drenched in golden haze,
The churchyard brightens, and old days
    Seem smiling on the dead.

From pendent boughs, like drops of gold,
The peaches hang; the mansion old,
    From out its nest of green,
Looks joyful through its golden eyes
Back on the sunset-burnished skies,
    Smiling o'er all the scene.

The running child, whose golden hair
Takes from the sunset's level glare
    A purer, brighter tinge,
Rolls on the grass; the evening star,
Above yon streak of cloudy bar,
    Hangs on day's purple fringe.

Where latest sunshine slanting falls
Above the ivied orchard walls
    The tall tree shadows lean,
In waving lines of shade that nod,
Like dusky streams, across the road,
    With banks of light between.

The streams are gilt, the steady vane
Stands burnished, and the cottage pane
    Seems melting in the sun;
The last lark wavers down the sky,
The husky crow slides careless by—
    The golden day is done!

 

________________________

 
AN ANGEL'S VISIT.

 

AN Angel mutter'd, "I would see this world
Where men a little lower than ourselves
Live, love, and war with human ills, and die;
Whose moaning I can hear come up thro' night
On the white wings of prayer.   I will behold
This battle-ground of men."   And having will'd,
Through golden-gated Paradise she came,
Past burning planets to the green-haired Earth.
Downward she came, and lighted in a place
Where summer sat 'mong flowers, like drops of gold
Spilt from the sunset.   O'er the earth she sped
As silent as a sunbeam; but each step
Was marr'd with rugged wrongs that filled her path.
She heard pale Sorrow crying from its straw,
She saw gaunt Famine staring like a wolf.
Then leaping into crime, as to its den,
Growl out upon mankind.   She turned away,
Her sad tears falling on the wounded world.
She came to where a midnight city bared
Its forehead to the sky, and darkness sat
Like some strange bird of prey upon its roofs:—
She saw a lonely chamber filled with light
Shed from a sickly lamp, whose yellow flame,
In smoky spasms, with midnight rose and fell.
She enter'd through the silence; all was still,
Save the slow clock, that in its antique case
Beat like the heart of Time.   There sat a man
Above a blotted page, on which his tears
Fell faster than his words.   He could not write;
His songs like sunbeams ever sloped to heaven—
His soul had wrestled with the wrongs of life—
He felt death on him, while his tearful task
Stood ruined, incomplete.   He cried aloud,
And midnight, like a scared bird, flapp'd her wings,
Then flew back into silence.   He for power
Cried like a hungry child.   The Angel passed;
She touched him, and his nerves at once were strung
Into a mighty lyre, on which his heart
Beat out a glorious marching tune for time.

She saw within an alley, roofed with night,
And floored with silence, one who lay—a girl—
Across a doorstep, dying in the cold.
Night, like a ruffian's arm, had struck her down
Scorn, like a raven, hover'd o'er its prey.
Men passed her, for her soul was soiled with sin,
And lay beneath their feet a trampled flower,
Whose fragrance had been wasted on the world.
The Angel breathed upon that dying one,
And gave her visions of her purer past:
The brief thought of her pure and stainless day
Passed through the foulness of her later crime
Like a clear stream between its trampled banks;
Repentance, with a pale and tearful face,
Stood calm between her and that tiger, Sin.
At last her soul forsook its sheath of clay,
Piercing the still black night; while there alone
The Angel looked intent upon the heaven
To watch if that freed soul would enter in,
But could not see it through its mist of tears:
It may have entered, but she yet shall know.

She came to where a cloud was thick with eyes
That hungered for a glimpse of one poor wretch
Whose death gave them a holiday.   At length
They led him from the midnight of his cell
Into white shining day.   A painful pause
Hung o'er him like a cloud.   His heart ran out
To take its last embraces of the fields—
Its farewell of this world: the while his foot
Trembled upon the threshold of the next.
He bowed for death.   An arm uplifted dash'd
A thrill of pity through the watching heavens;
His life, condensed into a moment, ran
Like lightning 'cross his brain.   She stooped unseen,
And whispered in his vex'd ear, "Hope," and then
The arm descended, and she winged her way.

She saw a moorside cottage happ'd with thatch,
On which the angry winds beat like a sea.
She entered.   By a bed a mother watched
An infant wave of life go ebbing back
To the unfathom'd deep.   The child looked up;
Her gaze was shadow'd by the cloud of death
Like a tree-darken'd stream.   But, as a star
Lights up a stream, within her eye was born
A dawn of light, the hallowed light of prayer.
The Angel waited till that soul took wing,
Then said she "I will take this same child to God.
Let me not leave this world devoid of good—
Something of purity—a living flower
Gather'd upon the arid waste of earth."
And ere the opening east was flushed with dawn,
Her foot again had touched the halls of heaven.

 

________________________

 
THE LAST LAY.

 

OPEN the lattice! that I now may gain
    My last look of the stars.   I feel their light
Breaking out, dream-like, on my spirit's pain,
    With golden gifts from the most affluent night,
        And all the dim mute multitudes of thought.
Open the lattice! wild I am, though weak—
    Fain would I loiter in the moonlight cold,
When every flower upon the sod would speak
    Of some weird melody or distich old,
        From spirit-land or fairy regions brought.

Come Night, with all thy train of darkling dreams,
    Moon-lighted meadows breathing a deep calm;
Come with thy imaged beauty on the streams,
    And the light breezes, with their low-voiced psalm,
        In the lone temple of the silent woods!
Woods I have loved ye! and ye meadows green,
    I seem to kiss your summer face of flowers;
In Memory yet upon thy breast I lean;
    I see thy long grass sloped with summer showers;
        On beauty and deep night my soul in silence broods!

In many a moan and many a sad'ning swell
    The City's voice is round me.   High it heaves,
Here, where, alas! no autumn's faint farewell
    Comes rustling earthward in a whirl of leaves;
        No orchard odours round the casement creep—
Beauty is waning with the dying year,
    Yet what remains of her I cannot see;
The leafy lays, alas! I cannot hear—
    Nor what rich songs may in the woodlands be:
        Death, close those eyes that are too worn to weep!

 

________________________

 
A WILD VOICE.

 

BRING me the wine that is reddest and rarest—
bring me the flowers that are freshest and fairest;
Weave me, O weave me, a garland of blooms,
Ere my heart in the heat of its sorrow consumes!

But the wine is dashed down from my pale lips untasted—
The flowers in the dust of a dull life are wasted.
O God of the bountiful! why was I fashioned
With a heart full of love, and a spirit impassioned?
O why, if forever through poverty's pain
My heart will be rankling in misery's chain?

Lead me afar where the sweet Summer dwells,
Let me chase her, embrace her, in dim forest dells;
When the soft summer wind through the woodland rejoices,
And the hoar-headed waves lift their sonorous voices!

Where the tremulous stars in the blue night are throbbing:
Alas! I hear nought but life's winter rain sobbing.
O God of the beautiful! why was I fashioned
With a soul in the worship of nature impassioned?
O why, if life's bitterest cup I must drain,
Like a slave bound forever by misery's chain?

 

________________________

 
THE PROPHET.

 

WITH bleeding feet a prophet walked the land,
His great eyes flashing with an holy light,
And truths, like undug gems, deep in his soul;
But lo! the world was sleeping in the night
Of its own ignorance; it would not hear
The holy heralding of future times
Which swept unheeded o'er it, as the breeze
Sweeps o'er the rugged crown of Ararat.
Yet still he spoke: his mission was the same
Though mankind slept and would not choose to hear;
And thus he scattered, with wild eloquence,
The seeds of the divine eternal truth
That yet, perchance, may blossom on the earth
Into new Eden flowers.

                                                "Oh why in vain—
Why are my fountains poured upon the sand?
My words are useless as an anthem sung
Within Sahara, or a fervent prayer
Addressed unto a deity of stone!
I hold out precious jewels to the blind,
And cannot lure them from their sinful ease!
Yet is my mission holy; for I know
That Truth—the language of the Deity—
Finding one echo from a human heart,
Maketh the bright inhabitants of Heaven
Break into strains of joy.   Truth cannot die—
It cannot perish at the stake of hate,
Nor be consumed in falsehood's fiercer flames;
But, from the ashes of its martyrdom,
Rises up phoenix-like, on seraph-wings.
O foul corruptors of this holy truth—
Tares springing in the harvest-field of men—
Ye choke the growth of knowledge, and corrupt
The blessed text of truth—the joyful text,
Writ on the wide page of infinity:
Shown in the silent beauty of the stars—
God's hieroglyphics on the scroll of heaven—
The written marvels of the Almighty mind—
The angel-records of eternity.
But wherefore talk to such of truth, of heaven,
Who guess of heaven as blind men guess of light—
Who show to man the iron front of scorn,
The proud sin-strengthened attitude of wrong!
Yet who shall stem the onward rush of mind,
That sweeps the film of darkness from the world!
O cover up the pale face of the past
With dim oblivion's veil!   I see the end:
When God shall draw all souls unto himself
And leave the earth a dark and barren mass,
As when the sun withdraws from it his beams
And leaves it to the night.   Awake, O world!
Dawn's kingly purple sweeps the gates of morn!"

Thus died the prophet, his wild spirit quenched
In his own flood of tears.   He brought his heart,
A chalice formed by God, to earth's old fount
Of beauty, loveliness, and rarest hope;
But the sweet spring had erewhile all dried up,
Choked by the drifting sands of worldly thought:
And parched and thirsting there he laid him down,
And died where once young hearts had come to live.
But Hope had wreathed the gate of death with flowers,
And, hero-like, through a triumphal arch,
His conquering soul went proudly into heaven!

 

________________________

 
LOVE'S MISSION.

 

THE peaceful stars are singing to each other,
    And flowers the eternal law of love obey;
The ivy clings unto its stalwart brother,
    And streams with streams go singing on their way.

The moon leans lovingly unto the ocean,
    The spell-bound waves leap up unto her smile,
And in the day time, with a new devotion,
    Faint on the white breast of some sunny isle.

O cold our hearts more fully taste this feeling,
    Joy would o'erflow this dreariness and dearth;
There would be less of hate, and more of healing,
    For the deep wounds that furrow our green earth!

This life would then be left—all shadows fleeing—
    Brimful of beauty as the heart of June;
And in the future time, the soul, far-seeing,
    Would mark the great world moving to Love's tune.

The flowers of peace would spring in war's red furrow,
    Like summer's conquest o'er her winter foe;
And the seed sown to-day would spring to-morrow
    Into fresh fruits, and Love's eternal bow.

Wealth would no more hold absolute dominion,
    Nor worth in poverty be passed with scorn;
Nor cavils cramp the wide wings of Opinion
    That would leap up to hail the glorious morn!

The fair white palms of ease be forth extended
    To clasp the hardy sun-brown hand of toil;
And humble Merit find itself befriended,
    Though russet-clad, and smacking of the soil.

O call it not a vague and idle vision
    If we should dream the blissful coming time,
When man shall recognise Love's holy mission,
    And earth be void of cruelty and crime!

 

________________________

 
THE SPIRIT OF POESY.

 

WITH the young earth a spirit sprang coeval
    And stood meek-eyed by the eternal throne,
Then wandered joyous through the world primeval,
    All fancy-flower'd and girt with Hope's bright zone.
Her eyes like stars that blaze and burn together
    Clove with wild light the furthest depth of space,
Until the wond'ring angels crowded hither
    To dream about the beauty of her face.
She walked with gleaming feet the paths of Eden,
    And heard the thunders of the Eternal curse,
Till a new power rose from the earth, hope-laden,
    And she was named this power's eternal nurse,
    Which was to be a light unto the universe!

Then wove she glorious garments for her chosen,
    The texture of her own Elysian dreams,
And starred them o'er with glittering tear-drops frozen
    Under the clear cold light of Polar beams.
Then would she seize the poet's soul entrancèd;
    Hung from a whirlwind o'er a gulf of fear,
Until, in the extreme of dread, it fancied
    The din of the infernal shades to hear.
Then built she cities, delicate creations,
    Streets paved with sunshine, bridges of moonbeams,
Cloud castles on aerial elevations,
    And spirit-laden vessels on still streams,
    And lit the infant earth with rich and heavenly gleams.

Now looking downward on the world's great suffering,
    As pale as Pity, with her clouded eyes,
Giving to imperial man her tender offering
    Of holy hopes and heavenly sympathies:
Now with an eye of flame, and features frowning,
    As dark as Danger in his robe of storms,
In a wild deluge of invective drowning
    Fierce Tyranny in all his tiger-forms:
Now wild and lonely, as an eagle soaring
    In the clear vastness of his blue domain:
Now like a skylark, in its heaven-hall pouring
    The beauty and the rapture of its strain,
    Until the earth rings back with melody again!

Long tarried she in Greece, with song o'erflowing
    The blue Olympus, and the proud abodes
Of human thought, a heavenlier light bestowing
    On the immortal mansions of the gods!
Like sunrise, Greece awakened from her slumbers,
    By the deep thunders of an epic strain,
She threw her lightnings in the poet's numbers,
    And Glory kindled on the hills again!
But Glory paled at last, and Art grew hoary
    Till Rome was lighted at that sinking sun,
Then fled the Spirit to the new-born glory,
    And in her courts triumphant reign begun,
    Until the barb'rous hordes the Cæsar's land o'errun.

Long did she wander through the world benighted,
    Finding no human heart to make her home:
Freedom was fast in chains, and Art was blighted,
    While baleful blackness brooded over Rome.
She saw that all her fairest flowers had dwindled
    On the slave-trodden soil where once they bloomed:
Her home was filled by men whose vices kindled
    The fires of their own hell, and were consumed.
Nowhere she found to smooth her ruffled pinions,
    Till those dark clays like mist had left the world,
Then sank she moaning on her old dominions,
    While her last shaft at Ignorance was hurled,
    And over Arno's breast her banner was unfurled!

A giant child rose Albion of the ocean!
    On whose young cheek came warm the southern glow,
Until it filled her with a wild devotion,
    While her discovered springs began to flow.
And still the Spirit walks our island meadows,
    Linking the poet's heart to earth with flowers,
As her wild win, like some fair cloud o'ershadows
    The golden grandeur of our summer hours!
Her heart, a fountain, is forever gushing,
    And as the lightning cleaves the thunder-cloud,
So through all time is she forever rushing:
    And yet o'er man shall chant a requiem loud,
    And scatter flowers of hope on earth's chaotic shroud!

 

________________________

 
A NIGHT DIRGE.

 

Night closeth on the world, as hushed and still
    As if great nature on her bier lay dead;
The crown of sunset fadeth from the hill,
    And Eve furls darkness on her Titan head,
    While o'er the heath the furnace glimmers red.

Night bringeth thought.   The magic trains of dream
    March in dim pageants through our spirit-halls;
Strange floods of feeling through our bosoms stream,
    And memory, seer-like, from her depth recalls
    Some vision that the heart and brain appals.

O Night is sombre as the hues of grief
    That hang upon the urn of buried love!
O would some hope flash out with rich relief,
    As yon pale spheres make glad the blank above,
    Or to Life's ark return Joy's far-flown dove!

Slowly and sadly has the wan Moon clomb,
    Cold as a spectre, o'er the churchyard yews,
Up to the blue heights of her starry home,
    And a pale light her sickly beams diffuse
    As cold they glitter on the midnight dews.

I stand alone!   If one may be alone
    Amid a throng of thought.   Above, around,
All things, struck dumb by Night, have silent grown,
    Wearing, from shining sky to blacken'd ground,
    A hush like the eternal sleep of sound.

I stand alone!   Ay, lonely in my wo!
    For sorest hearts are most serenely sad;
And there is grief from which tears cannot flow,
    Though the crushed soul in darkest thought is clad,
    And reason lingers while we would be mad.

Smiles may not hide, and mirth may never mask
    The death-dark features of the grief I bear;
And would the world, in jest or pity, ask
    Where lay the secret of this calm despair,
    I would point out that grave, and answer—there!

 

________________________

 
SONNET.

 

VENT not thy spleen upon the world's old age—
A pour blind world, patched o'er with threadbare creeds!
He who would search the world aright must needs
Wander like one who turns a weary page,
Time after time, through many a yawning hour,
Till at the last, amid the acrid weeds,
His heart, struck joyful, flutters o'er a flower!
Let eyes, earth-weary, turn to heaven above:
The stars are clear as on Creation's morn—
Virtue in virtue's eye is ever sweet—
The light of Hope in human hearts is born—
Freedom, like some mysterious pulse, will beat—
Love still will find out Beauty's rich retreat,
And Beauty be forever crown'd with Love!

 

________________________

 
MAID MARGERY.

 

-I-


THE wind is roaring on the wold,
    The scatter'd clouds are drifting thin,
The dark'ning day is fiercely cold,
    But colder far the thoughts within.

The village soaked and streaming lies
    Bare, bleak, and wretched in the rain;
The smoke that flouts the angry skies
    Is dashed across the roofs again.

The churchyard whitens thro' the trees
    Where Death in steps of silence trod,
The church spire cleaves the rocking breeze,
    Faith's finger pointing up to God!

I stand beside her couch of clay
    Who rose the beacon of my life,
My being's girdling milky-way,
    Soul-moon that charmed the waves of strife.


-II-


O many a long and yearning year
    Before Thine Eden-beauty came,
Prophetic Love in accents dear
    Had taught my hungering heart thy name.

All wildly did my spirit hail
    The unfolding glory of thy charms,
As waiting islands greet a sail,
    Gold-flush'd from El Dorado's arms.

The tumult of my life was stilled,
    When first I hailed Hope's promised guest;
And starry strangers fluttering filled
    The cheerless chambers of my breast.

Her purer presence soothed my soul,
    And life sang round me like a sky
Where surging lark-lays heavenward roll
    To throb in morning melody.

O wild, O frail storm-batter'd dove,
    In grief's dark deluge coldly drench'd,
O holy altar lamp of love!
    In death's long moonless midnight quench'd.


-III-


I mind the merry morn we met,
    June danced unto a flowery close:
That angel memory haunts me yet,
    Like perfume round a rifled rose.

To summer's fairy land we sped,
    And sought the forest's cooling glooms,
The rose-tree blushed, the hawthorn spread,
    A milky mass of burden'd blooms.

Spray-feather'd fountains leaping clear
    Ran richly into fairy falls,
And Love himself might pause to hear
    Their silvery murmur'd madrigals.

We talked in Love's retirement sweet,
    Thro' many a wildly witching hour,
Till round our vernal-screened retreat
    Each leaflet whisper'd of a shower.

I led her o'er the yielding moss,
    A grotto on the shining slope,
One wreathing rainbow arch across
    On which a dove sat perched, like Hope,

Like Hope! ah, wherefore cheat the heart?
    False and delusive emblem thou,
I saw not death's flower-muffled dart,
    Nor read his signet on her brow.


-IV-


Stern Winter rushing on the world,
    With eyes of ice, and look distract,
O'er grinning mountain tusks had hurled
    White fury in the cataract.

While huddled round the chimney arch,
    'Neath which we noted spark on spark,
Winds worried at the tortured larch
    That soughed long hours across the dark.

Yet was I happy as a bird,
    Her sun-smile warmed the heart of home;
And all our sea of life was stirred
    To one wild dance of sparkling foam.

Sea legends born upon the brine
    Were ours to tell, such tales as light
Salt breeze and spray, and cold moonshine
    Of many a long and watchful night.

Rich were our gifts of bard and book,
    Songs flashing with old-world renown,
But richer, sweeter far, her look,
    The rarest jewel in Love's crown!


-V-


Full ripen'd on the tree of life,
    In beauty, nobleness, and love,
'Mid shower of blossoms rich and rife,
    They caught her to the feast above!

We watched her wave of life go back
    Sun-brighten'd to the golden land,
And leave across its shining track
    Rich jewels on our sordid strand.

When Death's dark hand had touched the maid,
    We scarce could dream our home bereft:
Such heavenly charms were still displayed,
    So much of bloom and beauty left.

We stood in our despairing dearth,
    And dust to dust was wildly given,
We hid the precious seed in earth,
    The flower of glory bloom'd in heaven!


-VI-


Farewell!   In vain for me the year
    Comes up her blue ethereal way,
And April's rainbow-wreaths appear,
    And flowery footprints of young May.

Spring burns and blushes o'er the earth,
    And seals a spirit in the rose,
And dances at the daisy's birth,
    And o'er her honied treasure glows.

The death-born verdure stirs again
    Around the grave of her I love;
And rosy nurslings of the rain
    Laugh into loving life above.

Blow breezes! richly wing'd with myrrh,
    O'er billowy upland's golden swell;
Trees in your pride of fruitage stir—
    But, fields of home, a long farewell!

The future spreads her mystic scroll,
    The banner of my fate's unfurled:
Ah!   Margery, thy sainted soul
    Shall light me o'er the desert world!

 

________________________

 
THE HILLS.

 

A giant warrior in the waste, the mountain sits divine,
His cloak the ebon thunder-cloud, his plume the breezy
        pine,
When the glory of the noontide, and the fire-blood of
        the day
Oozes in a flow of crimson down the burning west'ren
        way:

And the hurricane terrific cometh roaring up the sands,
With a thousand lightning arrows gleaming in his
        demon hands:
O, to see the monarch mountain rear his rocky crown
        unscathed,
With his mighty Titan shoulders in the fiery crimson
        bathed!

When Liberty was chased from towns she took her lone
        abode
Where none except the King of Storms in steps of
        thunder trod.
She reared her throne upon the rocks, her palace in the
        caves,
And moated all her stronghold round with daring
        despot's graves.

Slaves never breathe the mountain air, nor feel the
        mountain light,
Where Freedom like an eagle sits on every hoary
        height.
And O, if Gessler-foot dare tread upon the sacred rock,
God! how his heart would shiver in the reeling
        thunder-shock!

Like cataracts of valour leap the foremost of the free,
To quaff the wine of triumph in the battle's gory glee.
And wo betide the tyrant who would stretch a Canute
        hand
To stem a tide of Freedom breaking on the mountain
        strand!

The hills! the hills! the holy hills! proud altars of the
        free!
Where morning lights her incense fires to Nature's
        Deity!
When as the muffled hand of Death life's leaping
        tumult stills,
O lay me in a grave of heath among the mighty hills!

 

________________________

 
SEA-DAWN.

 

MORN breaking like a smile from heaven,
To mortal sight a moment given,
        Leans from her azure dome.
Star-sparkles gem the laughing sea,
Pale plumaged birds of liberty,
        Low skimming, fan the foam.

Long dazzling shafts their splendours pour,
And as they light the sleeping shore
        Each glen with glory fills.
Around the dim-discovered coast,
The white mist gliding like a ghost
        Dissolves among the hills!

When lulled in light the earth is blest,
And toil-worn spirits fain would rest
        In long Elysian sleep,
Some tall ship in the morning gleam
Crosses the sunshine like a dream
        Of wanderings on the deep.

O morn of God!   O glorious hour!—
O for a songful seraph's power—
        How can I tuneless stand?
When clamouring waves their joy would tell,
And every ocean-murmuring shell
        Lies singing on the sand!

 

________________________

 
A VISION OF THE FUTURE.

 

Ho!   Watchman on the tower of Hope, what speak'st
        thou of the night ?
Is dawn-tide breaking on the world in waves of blessèd
        light?
Are mountains streaked with silver in our God's
        Millennial smile,
And our old earth girt with glory, as the ocean girds
        an isle?
And the watchman's answer pealeth, and the echo floats
        afar,
"I see the golden rising of the mellow morning star!"

Ho! watchman on the tower of Hope, is proud oppres-
        sion crushed,
And the long, wild wail of suff'ring in her bleeding
        bosom hushed?
Dost thou see the battle-panthers couched upon the
        world in rest,
And the last long shaft of Freedom shiver'd on the
        tyrants breast?
And the watchman's answer pealeth, like the rush of
        seraph wings,
"I see the hill-tops glowing with the steps of holy things!"

Ho! watchman on the tower of Hope, but answer once
        again,
Is our promised crowning harvest glowing over land
        and main?
Are the blossoms of our faith made heavy with fulfil-
        ment's fruit,
And the foliage of the future waving o'er our hidden
        root?
And the watchman's answer riseth to a wild triumphant
        shriek—
"I am blinded by the glory of the things I cannot speak!"

Fades the watchman and the watch-tower in a dream of
        silver mist,
And the deep sky opes in blessing with a brow of
        amethyst;
And the old sea roars, rejoicing, with a wild and savage
        hymn,
And the mountains stand in prayer—wrapt in silence
        deep and dim:
And rising like a trumpet-blast breaks up the rounded
        morn,
And the earth hangs clear and lustrous in the glory newly
        born!

 

________________________

 
THE MINSTREL'S WIFE.

 

BY the God of the brave and true,
    At the altar of love thou hast sworn,
In hate's despite, and the cold world's slight,
    And the scorching hell of scorn;
To follow me, far and free,
    To the end, whate'er betide;
And bright is the brow as it crimsons now
    And speaks thee a minstrel's bride.

Thou hast pass'd with a noble scorn
    The tempter's flattering fruit,
And dashed aside with a regal pride
    The world for the lyre and lute:
But much shall thy spirit bear
    In the raining fire of strife,
And much of wrong, for the son of song
    Shall circle the minstrel's wife.

High heads shall be bent to thee,
    And proud hearts kneel at thy name:
And thy brow shall glow, like the broad sunbow,
    With the shadowy wreaths of fame.
Thy buoyant heart shall ford
    The darksome deeps of life,
And my breast shall be a heaven for thee,
    Proud soul of the minstrel's wife!

 

________________________

 
HARVEST HOME.

 

O 'TWAS harvest home when the patriarch dwelt
    On the fields that knew his care,
And at eve 'neath his own green fig tree knelt,
    As his soul rose high in prayer.
And he sat in the shade when his task was done,
    And his manhood passed away,
And smiled on his closing years as the sun
    Smiles back on the closing day.

It was harvest home when the dripping spears
    Were poised o'er a prostrate land,
And liberties nursed by a thousand years
    Were crushed in one red right hand.
When the steps of Cæsar shook the globe,
    And the Capitol reeled at Rome,
And Victory stalked in a purple robe,
    'Twas a blood-red harvest home.

But we wait the dawn of a happier time,
    A holier harvest home;
When triumphing Truth in a car sublime
    Through the midnight mist shall come.
And hope shall wake on that glorious morn
    To find her children free,
While the glad lands waving rich with corn
    Shall sing from sea to sea!

 

________________________

 
THE ATTIC.

 

IN the heart of a cold wide city,
    In the heart of its toil and care,
Forgotten, and still, and lonely,
    O'er the crushing thoroughfare,
Stood a poor unheeded attic,
    And a nameless bard dwelt there.

O! what proud ones passed that attic,
    Low down in the streaming street,
Where like a sound of sea-waves
    Came the rush of passing feet;
None dreamt of him above them,
    In the heaven of his retreat.

Yet he had guests this lone one,
    High guests! the great and good!
Sages and seers attended
    His lofty solitude:
'Neath the roof of that nameless poet
    The olden gods have stood!

There read and wrote that lone one,
    In his silent attic height,
In his dim and sacred attic,
    O'er the blazing city light:
Like a desolate lonely island
    In the ocean of the night.

And he saw the wide sky o'er him,
    Like the broad and boundless main,
And heard the night breeze dashing
    Like waves on the sloping pane:
While the shrill night breeze was piping
    To the music of the rain.

Still there he wrote and revelled,
    Like a god from morn till noon,
Till at midnight, high in heaven,
    Came forth the spectral moon:
Till his soul sank down luxurious
    In the lull of some golden tune.

 

________________________

 
ALONE.

 

LIKE cold arms that implore the sun
    Stretch the bare boughs of the tree—
And into earth's cold starless night
    I stretch my arms for thee.
All night I stretch these empty arms,
    Till I fill them with fond dreams
That die in the golden porch of dawn,
    Or melt in th' morning beams.
Spring paints the rose, and wooing birds
    Fly fluttering to their own,
And lillies dream o'er the blue-eved stream
    But I walk the world alone.

My heart is lone and sad, and cold:
    All cold as a ruined tower;
O that thy love in this ruined heart
    Might grow like a summer-flower!
I would nourish that flower with sweet dew tears,
    I would shield it from every blast,
And watching its beauty hour by hour
    Droop over its head at last.
But the spring will come, and joyful birds
    Fly fluttering to their own,
And the streams will dance in the sun's red glance
    While I walk the world alone.

 

________________________

 
THE TOWER OF TIME.

 

IN a desert dun and dreary
    Stands the mouldering tower of Time,
Doleful birds and phantoms eerie
Flit around the warders weary
    Where the serpent ivies climb.

From the tumbling turrets olden—
Star-emblazon'd, green, and golden—
A nation's hope, a people's trust—
Banners crumble into dust—
    Glory-roofs of many a field
When War arrayed his grim procession,
And the falchion of Oppression
    Shivered on young Freedom's shield.

Narrow stairways climbing steeply
    Curve in many a wasted winding
Into dungeons yawning deeply,
    Into halls with darkness blinding.

Centuries of gathered gloom
Weigh on each deserted room,
    Rooms where monarchs sat of old,
Rooms where minstrels deftly chanted:
    Queens in pomp of girdling gold.
    Knights in steel, and barons bold;
Now, dark places, owlet-haunted.

Higher up! the steps are worn
    By a thousand climbing feet—
Whither have those footsteps born
    Heads that planned and hearts that beat?
Nought their memory may recall
Save some rude words upon the wall:
Names of poets quaintly carved,
    Broken into sad disorder,
Names of heroes battled-nerved,
    Each have found some rude recorder.

Higher up! we reach the morning
In wild streams of glory burning,
    Through the azure fields of air—
On the height they toiling sought,
    Times extremest turret, where
Careless still of steps intruding,
O'er the wreck of ages brooding,
    Sits the solemn shadow—Thought!

 

________________________

 
ISABELLA.

 

O! beautiful and bright thou art!
    How beautiful and bright!
Thy voice is music of the heart,
    Thy looks are rarest light!
What time the silver dawn of dreams
    Lights up the dark of sleep,
As yon pale moon lights up the heaven
    With beauty clear and deep;
I see thee in the ebbing stars,
    I hear quaint voices swell,
And dim and phantom winds that come
    And whisper—Isabelle!

O! beautiful and bright thou art!
    How beautiful and bright!
Thy beauty hangeth o'er my heart
    Like rich star-crowded night;
As moonbeams silver on the wave
    Of some night-sadden'd river,
So on my lonesome life thy love
    Would lie in light for ever.
Yet wander on, O wander on,
    Cold river to the sea,
And weary life thy ocean gain—
    Undreamed Eternity!

In vain: the cruel curse of earth
    Hath torn our lives apart;
The man-made barriers of gold
    Weigh down the humble heart.
O hadst thou been a village maid,
    A simple wayside flower,
With nought to boast save honest worth
    And beauty all thy dower!
Such might have been, such should have been,
    But other lot befel:
I am the lowly son of toil,
    And thou proud Isabelle.

It ever seems to me that love
    Should level all degrees;
Pure honour and a stainless heart
    Are Nature's heraldries.
No scutcheon needs a noble soul:
    (Alas! how thinks the age?)
He is not poor who freedom hath
    For his broad heritage.
Then welcome sternest teacher, Toil,
    Vain dreams of youth, farewell,—
The future hath its duty's prize,
    The past, its Isabelle.

 

________________________

 
HOUSEHOLD GODS.

 

BUILT on Time's uneven sand,
    Hope's fair fabric soon is shatter'd,
Bowers adorn'd by Fancy's hand
    Torn in wandering leaves are scatter'd:
Perished, perished, lost and perished,
    Old affections fondly cherished.

All our blossoms wither soon,
    While we dream the flower will strengthen,
And across life's summer noon
    Death's dark shadow seems to lengthen:
In that mighty shadow perished
    All we lived for, all we cherished.

Dear ones loved are lost in night,
    O'er the world we wander lonely,
And the heart of all youth's light
    Holds one fading sunbeam only:
Old affections vainly cherished,
    All except the memory perished.

 

________________________

 
POOR COMPANIONS.

 

LOOK up, old friend! why hang thy head?
    The world is all before us,
Earth's wealth of flowers is at our feet,
    Heaven's wealth of worlds is o'er us.
Spring leans to us across the sea
    With affluent caressing;
And Autumn yet shall crown our toil
    With many a fruitful blessing.
Then why should we despair in spring,
    Who braved out wint'ry weather?
Let monarchs rule, but we shall sing
    And journey on together

You mourn that we are born so poor—
    I would not change our treasure
For all the thorn-concealing flowers
    That strew the path of pleasure.
God only searches for the soul;
    Nor heeds the outward building;
Believe me, friend, a noble heart
    Requires no aid of gilding.
Then never let us pine in spring,
    We've braved our wint'ry weather,
And yet may touch a sweeter string
    When toiling on together!

What though our blood be tinged with mud,
    My Lord's is simply purer;
'Twill scarce flow sixty years, nor make
    His seat in heaven surer.
But should the noble deign to speak,
    We'll hail him as a brother,
And trace respective pedigrees
    To Eve our common mother.
Then why should we despair in spring
    Who braved out wint'ry weather?
Let monarchs rule, we still shall sing,
    And journey on together!

 

________________________

 
THE BRAVE.

 

WE saw them pass through square and street—
    Our true, our bold defenders;
And nobly did each brave heart beat
    Beneath their ancient splendours:
We bless'd them for the names they bore
    We bless'd them for their bravery,
And—thinking on the days of yore—
    We dared not dream of slavery.
And let us bless those brave hearts now—
    In tears and triumph bless them;
Though death is sealed on many a brow,
    We'll in our hearts caress them!

When bursting through War's fiery porch
    Their valour seemed immortal,
And o'er the Main rose Fame's fair arch
    And shaded Death's dark portal.
They sleep within a foeman's soul,
    The clay is cold above them,
But noble triumph crowns their toil,
    And warm the hearts that love them.
So let us bless those brave ones now—
    In tears and triumph bless them;
Though death is seal'd on many a brow,
    We'll in our souls caress them!

 

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