A wain bound east met the hearse bound west,
Halted a moment, and paused abreast ;
And I verily think a stranger pair

Had never met on a thoroughfare,
Or a dim by-road, or anywhere;

The hearse as slim and glossy and still
As silken thread at a woman's will,
Who watches her work with tears unshed,
Broiders a grief with needle and thread,
Mourns in pansies and cypress the dead;

Spotless the steeds in a satin dress,

That run for two worlds the Lord's Express,—
Long as the route of Arcturus's ray,
Brief as the Publicans trying to pray,
No other steeds by no other way
Could go so far in a single day.

From wagon broad and heavy and rude
A group looking out from a single hood ;
Striped with the flirt of a heedless lash,
Dappled and dimmed with many a splash,
Gathered" behind like an old calash.


It made you think of a schooner's sail
Mildewed with weather, tattered by gale,
Down "by the run" from mizzen and main,—
That canvas mapped with stipple and stain
Of western earth and the prairie rain.

The watch-dog walked in his ribs between
The hinder wheels, with sleepy mien ;
A dangling pail to the axle slung;
Astern of the wain a manger hung,—
A schooner's boat by the davits swung.

The white-faced boys sat three in a row,
With eyes of wonder and heads of tow;
Father looked sadly over his brood;
Mother just lifted a flap of the hood;
All saw the hearse,--and two understood.

They thought of the one-eyed cabin small,
Hid like a nest in the grasses tall,
Where plains swept boldly off in the air,
Grooved into heaven everywhere,—
So near the stars' invisible stair

That planets and prairie almost met,-
Just cleared its edges as they set!
They thought of the level worlds "divide,"
And their hearts flowed down its other side
To the grave of the little girl that died.

They thought of childhood's neighborly hills,
With sunshine aprons and ribbons of rills,
That drew so near when the day went down,
Put on a crimson and golden crown,
And sat together in mantles brown;

The Dawn's red plume in their winter caps,
And Night asleep in their drowsy laps,

[ocr errors]

Lightening the load of the shouldered wood
By shedding the shadows as they could,
That gathered round where the homestead stood.

They thought, that pair in the rugged wain,
Thinking with bosom rather than brain ;
They'll never know till their dying day
That what they thought and never could say,
Their hearts throbbed out in an Alpine lay,
The old Waldensian song again;
Thank God for the mountains, and amen!

The wain gave a lurch, the hearse moved on,—
A moment or two, and both were gone;
The wain bound east, the hearse bound west,
Both going home, both looking for rest.
The Lord save all, and his name be blest!



I HAVE fancied sometimes, the old Bethel-bent beam,
That tumbled to earth in the Patriarch's dream,
Was a ladder of song in that wilderness rest
From the pillow of stone to the Blue of the Blest,
And the angels descending to dwell with us here,
"Old Hundred" and "Corinth" and China" and



All the hearts are not dead, nor under the sod, That those breaths can blow open to Heaven and


Ah, "Silver Street" leads by a bright golden road, -O, not to the hymns that in harmony flowed,— But those sweet human psalms in the old-fashioned choir,

To the girl that sang alto,—the girl that sang air! “Let us sing in His praise,” the good minister said, All the psalm-books at once fluttered open at "York,"

Sunned their long dotted wings in the words that he read,

While the leader leaped into the tune just ahead,
And politely picked up the key-note with a fork,
And the vicious old viol went growling along,
At the heels of the girls, in the rear of the song.

I need not a wing,-bid no genii come,

With a wonderful web from Arabian loom,
To bear me along up the river of Time,
Where the world was in rhythm and life was its
rhyme ;

Where the stream of the years flowed so noiseless and narrow,

That across it there floated the song of the sparrow;
For a sprig of green caraway carries me there,
To the old village church and the old village choir,
Where clear of the floor my feet slowly swung
And timed the sweet pulse of the praise as they sung
Till the glory aslant from the afternoon sun
Seemed the rafters of gold in God's temple begun!
You may smile at the nasals of old Deacon Brown,
Who followed by scent till he run the tune down,—

And dear sister Green, with more goodness than


Rose and fell on the tunes as she stood in her place,

And where " Coronation" exultantly flows,

Tried to reach the high notes on the tips of her toes!

To the land of the leal they have gone with their
Where the choir and the chorus together belong.
O, be lifted, ye Gates! Let me hear them again,
Blessed song, blessed Sabbath, forever Amen!


MAUD MULLER, on a summer's day,
Raked the meadow sweet with hay.

Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth
Of simple beauty and rustic health.

Singing, she wrought, and her merry glee
The mockbird echoed from his tree.

But, when she glanced to the far-off town,
White from its hillslope looking down,

The sweet song died, and a vague unrest
And a nameless longing fill'd her breast,—

« ForrigeFortsett »