« ForrigeFortsett »
of her song
If her power of expression was equal to the purity and clovation of her habits of thought and feeling, she would be a female Milton or a Christian Pindar."
WIDOW AT HER DAUGHTER'S BRIDAL.
Deal gently, thou, whose hand hath won
The young bird from its nest away,
Where, careless, 'neath a vernal sun,
She gayly caroll'd, day by day;
The haunt is lone, the heart must grieve,
From whence her timid wing doth soar,
They pensive list at hush of eve,
Yet hear her gushing song no more.
Deal gently with her: thou art dear,
Beyond what vestal lips have told,
And, like a lamb from fountains clear,
She turns confiding to thy fold;
She round thy sweet domestic bower
The wreath of changeless love shall twine,
Watch for thy step at vesper hour,
And blend her holiest prayer with thine.
Deal gently, thou, when, far away,
'Mid stranger scenes her foot shall rove,
Nor let thy tender care decay,--
The soul of woman lives in love:
And shouldst thou, wondering, mark a tear,
Unconscious, from her eyelids break,
Be pitiful, and soothe the fear
That man's strong heart may ne'er partake.
A mother yields her gem to thee,
On thy true breast to sparkle rare,
She places 'neath thy household tree
The idol of her fondest care;
And by thy trust to be forgiven
When judgment wakes in terror wild,
By all thy treasured hopes of heaven,
Deal gently with the widow's child.
Flow on forever, in thy glorious robe
Of terror and of beauty. Yes, flow on,
Unfathom’d and resistless. God hath set
His rainbow on thy forehead, and the cloud
Mantled around thy feet.--And he doth give
Thy voice of thunder power to speak of him
Eternally,-bidding the lip of man
Keep silence, and upon thy rocky altar pour
Incense of awe-struck praise.
And who can dare To lift the insect trump of earthly hope, Or love, or sorrow, 'mid the peal sublime Of thy tremendous hymn ?-Even Ocean shrinks Back from thy brotherhood, and his wild waves Retire abash'd.-For he doth sometimes seem To sleep like a spent laborer, and recall His wearied billows from their vexing play, And lull them to a cradle calm: but thou, With everlasting, undecaying tide, Doth rest not night or day.
The morning stars,
When first they sang o'er young creation's birth,
Heard thy deep anthem, -and those wrecking fires
That wait the archangel's signal to dissolve
The solid earth, shall find Jehovah's name
Graven, as with a thousand diamond spears,
On thine unfathom'd page.-Each leafy bough
That lifts itself within thy proud domain,
Doth gather greenness from thy living spray,
And tremble at the baptism.-Lo! yon birds
Do venture boldly near, bathing their wing
Amid thy foam and mist.—'Tis meet for them
To touch thy garment's hem,- --or lightly stir
The snowy leaflets of thy vapor wreath,-
Who sport unharm'd upon the fleecy cloud,
And listen at the echoing gate of heaven,
Without reproof.—But as for us,-it seems
Scarce lawful with our broken tones to speak
Familiarly of thee.--Methinks, to tint
Thy glorious features with our pencil's point,
Or woo thee to the tablet of a song,
Thou dost make the soul
A wondering witness of thy majesty ;
And while it rushes with delirious joy
To tread thy vestibule, dost chain its step,
And check its rapture with the humbling view
Of its own nothingness, bidding it stand
In the dread presence of the Invisible,
As if to answer to its God through thee.
A BUTTERFLY ON A CHILD'S GRAVE.
A butterfly bask'd on a baby's grave,
Where a lily had chanced to grow :
“Why art thou here, with thy gaudy dye,
When she of the blue and sparkling eye
Must sleep in the churchyard low ?"
Then it lightly soar'd through the sunny air,
And spoke from its shining track:
“I was a worm till I won my wings,
And she whom thou mourn'st, like a seraph sings:
Wouldst thou call the blest one back?"
Death found strange beauty on that polish'd brow,
And dash'd it out. There was a tint of rose
On check and lip. He touch'd the veins with ice,
And the rose faded. Forth from those blue eyes
There spake a wishful tenderness, a doubt
Whether to grieve or sleep, which innocence
Alone may wear. With ruthless haste he bound
The silken fringes of those curtaining lids
Forever. There had been a murmuring sound
With which the babe would claim its mother's ear,
Charming her even to tears. The spoiler set
The seal of silence. But there beam'd a smile,
So fix’d, so holy, from that cherub brow,
Death gazed, and left it there. He dared not steal
The signet-ring of leaven.
Meek dwellers ’mid yon terror-stricken cliffs !
With brows so pure, and incense-breathing lips,
Whence are ye? Did some white-wing'd messenger
On mercy's missions trust your timid germ
To the cold cradle of eternal snows?
Or, breathing on the callous icicles,
Bid them with tear-drops nurse ye?-
-Tree nor shrub
Dare that drear atmosphere; no polar pine
Uprears a veteran front; yet there ye stand,
Leaning your cheeks against the thick-ribb’d ice,
And looking up with brilliant eyes to Him
Who bids you bloom unblanch'd amid the waste
Of desolation. Man, who, panting, toils
O'er slippery steeps, or, trembling, treads the verge
Of yawning gulfs, o'er which the headlong plunge
Is to eternity, looks shuddering up,
And marks ye in your placid loveliness,
Fearless, yet frail,—and, clasping his chill hands,
Blesses your pencill'd beauty. 'Mid the pomp
Of mountain-summits rushing on the sky,
And chaining the rapt soul in breathless awe,
He bows to bind you drooping to his breast,
Inhales your spirit from the frost-wiug'd gale
And freer dreams of heaven.
Think'st thou the steed that restless roves
O’er rocks and mountains, fields and groves,
With wild, unbridled bound,
Finds fresher pasture than the bee,
On thymy bank or vernal tree,
Intent to store her industry
Within her waren round?
Think'st thou the fountain forced to turn
Through marble vase or sculptured urn
Affords a sweeter draught
Than that which, in its native sphere,
Perennial, undisturb'd and clear,
Flows the lone traveller's thirst to cheer,
And wake his grateful thought ?
Think'st thou the man whose mansions hold
The worldling's pomp and miser's gold
Obtains a richer prize
Than he who, in his cot at rest,
Finds heavenly peace a willing guest,
And bears the promise in his breast
Of treasure in the skies?
Toil on! toil on! ye ephemeral train,
Who build in the tossing and treacherous main;
Toil on--for the wisdom of man ye mock,
With your sand-based structures and domes of rock:
Your columns the fathomless fountains lave,
And your arches spring up to the crested wave;
Ye're a puny race, thus to boldly rear
A fabric so vast, in a realm so drear.
Ye bind the deep with your secret zone,
The ocean is seal'd, and the surge a stone;
Fresh wreaths from the coral pavement spring,
Like the terraced pride of Assyria's king;
The turf looks green where the breakers rollid;
O’er the whirlpool ripens the rind of gold;
The sea-snatch'd isle is the home of men,
And the mountains exult where the wave hath been.
But why do ye plant ’neath the billows dark
The wrecking reef for the gallant bark ?
There are snares enough on the tented field,
'Mid the blossom'd sweets that the valleys yield;
There are serpents to coil, ere the flowers are up;
There's a poison-drop in man's purest cup;
There are foes that watch for his cradle breath;
And why need ye sow the floods with death?
With mouldering bones the deeps are white,
From the ice-clad pole to the tropics bright;
The mermaid hath twisted her fingers cold
With the mesh of the sea-boy's curls of gold,
And the gods of ocean have frown'd to see
The mariner's bed in their halls of glee;
Hath earth no graves, that ye thus must spread
The boundless sea for the thronging dead ?
Ye build-ye build—but ye enter not in,
Like the tribes whom the desert devour'd in their sin;
From the land of promise ye fade and die,
Ere its verdure gleams forth on your weary eye;
As the kings of the cloud-crown'd pyramid,
Their noteless bones in oblivion hid,
Ye slumber unmark'd ’mid the desolate main,
While the wonder and pride of your works remain.
“Sweet are the uses of adversity."
A Lily said to a threatening Cloud
That in sternest garb array'd him,
“ You have taken my lord, the Sun, away,
And I know not where you have laid him."
It folded its leaves, and trembled sore
As the hours of darkness press'd it,
But at morn, like a bride, in beauty shone,
For with pearls the dews had dress'd it.
Then it felt ashamed of its fretful thought,
And fain in the dust would liide it,
For the night of weeping had jewels brought,
Which the pride of day denied it.
The aged, especially if their conquest of self is imperfect, are prone to underrate the advantages that remain. Their minds linger among depressing subjects, repining for what “time's effacing fingers” will never restore. Far better would it be to muse on their remaining privileges, to recount them, and to rejoice in them. Many instances have I witnessed, both of this spirit, and the want of it, which left enduring impressions.
I well remember an ancient dwelling, sheltered by lofty, umbrageous trees, and with all the appendages of rural comfort. A fair prospect of hill and dale, and broad river, and distant spire, cheered the vine-covered piazzas, through whose loop-holes, with the subdued cry of the steam-borne cars, the world's great Babel made a dash at the picture without coming too near. Traits of agricultural life, divested of its rude and sordid toils, were pleasantly visible. A smooth-coated and symmetrical cow ruminated over her clover-meal. A faithful borse, submissive to the gentlest