Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

And at her feet a lion and a lamb
Couch’d, side by side. Irresolute spring hath gone !
And summer comes like Psyche, zephyr-borne
To her sweet land of pleasures.

She is here!
Amid the distant vales she tarried long,
But she hath come, oh joy !-for I have heard
Her many-chorded harp the livelong day
Sounding from plains and meadows, where, of late,
Rattled the haiľs sharp arrows, and where came
The wild north wind careering like a steed
Unconscious of the rein. She hath gone forth
Into the forest, and its poised leaves
Are platform'd for the zephyr's dancing feet.
Under its green pavilions she hath rear'd
Most beautiful things; the spring's pale orphans lie
Shelter'd upon her breast ; the bird's loud song
At morn outsoars his pinion, and when waves
Put on night's silver harness, the still air
Is musical with soft tones. She hath baptized
Earth with her joyful weeping. She hath bless'd
All that do rest beneath the wing of Heaven,
And all that hail its smile. Her ministry
Is typical of love. She hath disdain'd
No gentle office, but doth bend to twine
The grape's light tendrils and to pluck apart
The heart-leaves of the rose. She doth not pass
Unmindful the bruised vine, nor scorn to lift
The trodden weed; and when her lowlier children
Faint by the wayside like worn passengers,
She is a gentle mother, all night long
Bathing their pale brows with her healing dews.
The hours are spendthrifts of her wealth ; the days
Are dower'd with her beauty.

THE COLORING OF HAPPINESS.

My heart is full of prayer and praise to-day,
So beautiful the whole world seems to me!
I know the morn has dawn'd as is its wont,
I know the breeze comes on no lighter wing,
I know the brook chimed yesterday that same
Melodious call to my unanswering thought ;
But I look forth with new-created eyes,
And soul and sense seem link'd and thrill alike,
And things familiar have unusual grown,
Taking my spirit with a fair surprise !
But yesterday, and life seemed tented round
With idle sadness. Not a bird sang out
But with a mournful meaning; not a cloud
And there were many—but in flitting past
Trail'd somewhat of its darkness o'er my heart,
And loitering, half becalm’d, unfreighted all,
Went by the leaven-bound hours.

But, oh! to-day Lie all harmonious and lovely things Close to my spirit, and a while it seems As if the blue sky were enough of Heaven! My thoughts are like tense chords that give their music At a chance breath; a thousand delicate hands Are harping on my soul! no sight, no sound, But stirs me to the keenest sense of pleasure,Be it no more than the wind's cautious tread, The swaying of a shadow, or a bough, Or a dove's flight across the silent sky. Oh, in this sunbright sabbath of the heart, How many a prayer puts on the guise of thought, An angel unconfess'd! Its rapid feet, That leave no print on memory's sands, tread not Less surely their bright path than choral hymns And litanies. I know the praise of worlds, And the soul's unvoiced homage, both arise Distinctly to His ear who holds all nature Pavilion'd by His presence; who has fashion'd With an impartial care, alike the star That keeps un piloted its airy circle, And the sun-quicken'd germ, or the poor moss The building swallow plucks to line her nest.

A POET'S LOVE. The stag leaps free in the forest's heart,

But thy step is lighter, my love, my bride!
Light as the quick-footed breezes that part

The plumy ferns on the mountain's side ;
Swift as the zephyrs that come and pass
O'er the waveless lake and the billowy grass.
I hear thy voice where the white wave gleams,
In the one-toned bells of the rippled streams,
In the silvery boughs of the aspen-tree,

In the wind that stirreth the shadowy pine,
In the shell that moans for the distant sea,

Never was voice so sweet as thine !
Never a sound through the even dim
Came half so soft as thy vesper hymn.
I have follow'd fast, from the lark's low nest,
Thy breezy step to the mountain crest.
The livelong day I have wander'd on,
Till the stars were up, and the twilight gone,
Ever unwearied where thou hast roved,
Fairest, and purest, and best-beloved !
I have felt thy kiss in the leafy aisle,

And thy breath astir in my floating hair;
I have met the light of thy haunting smile

In the deep still woods, and the sunny air; For thou lookest down from the bending skies, And the earth is glad with thy laughing eyes.

When my heart is sad, and my pulse beats low,
Whose touch so light on my aching brow?
Who cometh in dreams to my midnight sleep?

Who bendeth over my noonday rest ?
Who singeth me songs in the forest deep,

Laying my head to her gentle breast?
When life grows dim to my weary eye,
When joy departeth, and sorrow is nigh,
Who, 'neath the track of the stars, save thee,
Speaketh or singeth of hope to me?

There comes a time when the morn shall rise,
Yet charm no smile to thy filméd eyes.
There comes a time when thou liest low
With the roses dead on thy frozen brow,
With a pall hung over thy trancéd rest,
And the pulse asleep in thy silent breast.
There shall come a dirge through the valleys drear,
And a white-robed priest to thine icy bier.
His lips are cold, but his dim eyes weep,
And he maketh thy grave where the snow falls deep
Woe is me, when I watch and pray

For the lightest sound of thy coming foot,
For the softest note of thy summer lay,

For the faintest chord of thy vine-strung lute!
Woe is me, when the storms sweep by
And the mocking winds are my sole reply!

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.

This brilliant and fascinating writer, and graceful and eloquent orator, is the son of George Curtis, of Providence, Rhode Island, and was born in that city in 1824. At six years of age, he was placed at a school near Boston, and after being there five years, he returned to Providence, where he pursued his studies till he was fifteen, when his father removed to New York. Here he entered a large mercantile house; but, after remaining in it a year, he returned to his studies for two years, when, at eighteen, he joined the celebrated Association at Brook Farm, West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Here hu remained a year and a half, and then, after spending the winter in New York, being still enamored of the country, he went to Concord, Massachusetts, and lived in a farmer's family, working hard a portion of every day upon the farm, enjoying the society of Emerson, Hawthorne, and others of kindred literary tastes, and perfecting himself in various literary accomplishments.

In 1846, Mr. Curtis sailed for Europe, and after visiting, with a scholar's eye, all the Southern countries, went to Berlin, to pursue his studies, and, in 1848, matriculated at the University. After this, he travelled through Italy again, visited Sicily, Malta, and the East, and returned home in the summer of 1850. In the autumn of that year, he published the Nile Notes of a Horadji, a great part of which was written on the Nile. In 1852, The Howadji in Syria appeared, and also Lotus-Eating, a Summer Book; and the same year be became connected with “Putnam's Magazine," and wrote that series of brilliant satiric sketches of society called The Potiphar Papers, which were afterwards collected and published in a volume.

In the winter of 1853, Mr. Curtis entered the field as a lecturer, and was invited to lecture in different parts of the country. His success was all that his most ardent friends could desire; for, to a most graceful and finished style, a pure taste, and a fine fancy, he adds a gracefulness of delivery that gives to all his public efforts a charm that captivates his audience. In 1854, he delivered a poem before a literary society at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. In 1856, he took a very active part in the “Fremont campaign," speaking constantly, through the summer, with great effect. Those who had the good fortune to hear any of these addresses will not soon forget them, uniting as they did the soundest argument to a chaste and brilliant oratory. In August of that year, he delivered an oration before the literary societies of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, on The Duty of the American Scholar to Politics and the Times,

In the spring of 1856, Mr. Curtis did what it is never wise for a scholar to do,-risked all bis means in mercantile business. In November of the same year, he was married to the daughter of Francis G. Shaw, eldest son of the late Robert G. Shaw, of Boston. In the spring of 1857, the house with which he was connected became embarrassed, and he was obliged to take an active part in the management of its affairs. But it was too late : the ship was too leaky; and in August, just at the beginning of the crisis, she went down with all on board. He lost his all; but, like Milton, he

6 lid not bate One jot of heart or hope,”

but is now nobly recovering himself with his pen and living voice.

JERUSALEM OR ROME?

To any young man, or to any man in whose mind the glow of poetic feeling has not yet died into the light of common day,” the first view of a famous city is one of the memorable epochs of life. Even if you go directly from common-place New York to common-sense London, you will awake in the night with a hushed feeling of awe at being in Shakspeare's city, and Milton's, and Cromwell's. More agreeable to your mood is the heavy moulding of the banqueting-room of Whitehall than the crystal splendors of the palace in the park. Because over the former the dusk of historical distance is already stealing, removing it into the romantic and ideal realm.

But more profound, because farther removed from the criticism of contemporary experience, is the interest of the Italian cities. They represent characteristic epochs of human history. Rome, Florence, Venice, are not names merely, but ideas. They were the capitals of power that in various ways and degrees ruled the world.

Deeper still is the feeling that hallows the cities beyond Italy, --for beyond Italy are Athens and Jerusalem.

Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem,--the physical, the intellectual, and the moral, do we long doubt which is the greatest ?

The Art of Greece is still supreme. The Empire of Rome has never been rivalled. But the spirit which has inspired Art with a sentiment profounder than the Greek,—the Faith which has held sway subtler and more universal than the Roman,-are they not the spirit and the faith that make Jerusalem, El Khuds, or the holy, because they were best illustrated and taught by a life whose influence commenced there?

More cognate to ready sympathy, more appealing to the sensuous imagination, is the pomp of Imperial Rome, as, with camp-fires burning from the Baltic to the Euxine, and from farthest Euphrates to the Pillars of Hercules, its gorgeous confusion of barbaric splendor and Grecian elegance gleams athwart the past.

Fascinated by that splendor, as by auroral fires streaming through the sky,- recognising the forms of its law, its society, and its speech inherent in his own,-marking over all historic: lands and submerged in African solitudes the foot-prints of its triumphant march, the young student, revering in Rome the might of his own human genius, going out to possess the earth, reaches the gates of its metropolis with an ardor that merges in romance.

Hence were hurled the thunderbolts that shook the world, and whose vibrations tremble yet. Hither comes the poet, the philosopher, the statesman, the scholar; and in no city of the world was there ever assembled so much human genius in

every kind, and in every time, as in Rome.

Yet against the claims of its superb Italian rival, what has the Syrian city to show ?

Not Solomon in all his glory; for Hadrian was more magnificent, if less wise. Nor the visible career of the Jews, whose empire was greatest under Solomon, but was then only a part of a later Roman province. Jerusalem does not rival Rome with the imperial pomp of its recollections, nor by its artistic achievements, —for its only potable remains are part of the foundation of Solomon's Temple, while the most imposing ruins of Syria are the Roman relics of Palmyra and Baalbec. Nay, Romo came from Italy, and, scattering the Jews, destroyed Jerusalem.

To the myriads of men who throng whole centuries of history, -as Xerxes' army the plains of Greece,-headed by the eagle and asserting Rome, Jerusalem opposes a single figure, bearing a

« ForrigeFortsett »