« PreviousContinue »
Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;
Ivy crowns that brow supernal As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal. Round about him, fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses, Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante's
· Vineyards, sing delirious verses. Thus he won, through all the nations,
Bloodless victories, and the farmer Bore, as trophies and oblations,
Vines for banners, ploughs for armour. Judged by no o'erzealous rigour,
Much this mystic throng expresses : Bacchus was the type of vigour,
And Silenus of excesses. These are ancient ethnic revels,
Of a faith long since forsaken; Now the Satyrs, changed to devils,
Frighten mortals wine-o'ertaken. Now to rivulets from the mountains
Point the rods of fortune-tellers; Youth perpetual dwells in fountains,–
Not in flasks, and casks, and cellars. Claudius, though he sang of flagons
And huge tankards filled with Rhenish, From that fiery blood of dragons
Never would his own replenish. Even Redi, though he chaunted
Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys, Never drank the wine he vaunted
In his dithyrambic sallies. Then with water fill the pitcher
Wreathed about with classic fables;
Ne'er Falernian threw a richer
Light upon Lucullus' tables.
Come, old friend, sit down and listen !
As it passes thus between us,
How its wavelets laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus!
THE ARROW AND THE SONG.
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the leart of a friend.
THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS.
L'éternité est une pendule, dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux mots seulement, dans le silence des tombeaux: “ Toujours ! jamais ! Jamais ! *oujours !”-JACQUES BRIDÁINE.
SOMEWHAT back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat,
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar trees their shadows throw,
And from its station in the hall
An ancient timepiece says to all, —
Half-way up the stairs it stands,
And points and beckons with its hands
Froin its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs alas !
With sorrowful voice to all who pass,-
By day its voice is low and light;
But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep's fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say at each chamber-door,
Through days of sorrow and of mirth,
Through days of death and days of birth,
Through every swift vicissitude
Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood,
And as if, like God, it all things saw,
It calmly repeats those words of awe,-
In that mansion used to be
His great fires up the chimney rearea;
The stranger feasted at his board;
But, like the skeleton at the feast,
That warning timepiece never ceased, -
Never-forever!” There groups of merry children played, There youths and maidens dreaming strayed; O precious hours! O golden prime, And affluence of love and time! Even as a miser counts his gold, Those hours the ancient timepiece told,
Never-forever!" From that chamber, clothed in white, The bride came forth on her wedding night; There, in that silent room below, The dead lay in his shroud of snow; And in the hush that followed the prayer, Was heard the old clock on the stair,
All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
“Ah! when shall they all meet again?”
As in the days long-since gone by,
The ancient time-piece makes reply,--
Never here, forever there,
Where all parting, pain, and care,
And death, and time shall disappear: -
Forever there, but never here!
The horologe of Eternity
Sayeth this incessantly,
Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne, *
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain.
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o’erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!
Tuscan, that wanderest through the realıns of gloom,
With thoughtful pace, and sad majestic eyes,
Stern thoughts and awful from thy soul arise,
Like Farinata from his fiery tomb,
Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom;
Yet in thy heart what human sympathies,
What soft compassion glows, as in the skies
The tender stars their clouded lamps relume!
Methinks I see thee stard, with pallid cheeks,
By Fra Hilario in his diocese,
As up the convent-walls, in golden streaks,
The ascending sunbeams mark the day's decrease;
And, as he asks what there the stranger seeks,
Thy voice along the cloister whispers, “ Peace!"
Charlemagne may be called by pre-eminence the monarch of farmers. Ac. cording to the German tradition, in seasons of great abundance his spirit crosses the Rhine on a golden bridge at Bingen, and blesses the corn-fields and the vine. Sards. During his lifetime, he did not disdain, says Montesquieu, " to sell the eggs from the farmyards of his domains, and the superfluous vegetables of his gardens; while he distributed among his people the wealth of the Lombards, and the immense treasures of the Huns."
THE EVENING STAR.
Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines
Like a fair lady at her casement, shines
The Evening Star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.
O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus !
My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.