Page images

It was Autumn, and incessant

Piped the quails from shocks and sheaves ; And, like living coals, the apples

Burned among the withering leaves. Loud the clamorous bell was ringing

From its belfry gaunt and grim; 'Twas the daily call to labour,

Not a triumph meant for him. Not the less he saw the landscape,

In its gleaming vapour veiled; Not the less he breathed the odours

That the dying leaves exhaled. Thus, upon the village common,

By the school-boys he was found; And the wise men, in their wisdom,

Put him straightway into pound. Then the sombre village crier,

Ringing loud his brazen bell, Wandered down the street proclaiming

There was an estray to sell. And the curious country people,

Rich and poor, and young and old, Came in haste to see this wondrous

Winged steed, with mane of gold. Thus the day passed, and the evening

Fell, with vapours cold and dim ; But it brought no food nor shelter,

Brought no straw nor stall, for him. Patiently, and still expectant,

Looked he through the wooden bars, Saw the moon rise o'er the landscape,

Saw the tranquil, patient stars ;
Till at length the bell at midnight

Sounded from its dark abode,
And, from out a neighbouring farmyard,

Loud the cock Alectryon crowed.
Then, with nostrils wide distended,

Breaking from his iron chain, And unfolding far his pinions,

To those stars he soared again.
On the morrow, when the village

Woke to all its toil and care,
Lo! the strange steed had departed,

And they knew not when nor where.

But they found, upon the greensward

Where his struggling hoofs had trod, Pure and bright, a fountain flowing

From the hoof-marks in the sod. From that hour, the fount unfailing

Gladdens the whole region round, trengthening all who drink its waters, While it soothes then with its sound.

GASPAR BECERRA. By his evening fire the artist

Pondered o'er his secret shame; Baffled, weary, and disheartened,

Still he mused, and dreamed of fame 'Twas an image of the Virgin

That had tasked his utmost skill; But, alas! his fair ideal

Vanished and escaped him still. From a distant Eastern island

Had the precious wood been brought; Day and night the anxious master

Åt his toil untiring wrought; Till, discouraged and desponding,

Sat he now in shadows deep,
And the day's humiliation

Found oblivion in sleep.
Then a voice cried, “Rise, O master!

From the burning brand of oak
Shape the thought that stirs within thee !"

And the startled artist woke, Woke, and from the smoking embers

Seized and quenched the glowing wood; And therefrom he carved an image,

And he saw that it was good. O thou sculptor, painter, poet!

Take this lesson to thy heart: That is best which lieth nearest;

Shape from that thy work of art.

WITLAF, a king of the Saxons,

Ere yet his last he breathed,
To the merry monks of Croyland

His drinking-horn bequeathed, -

That, whenever they sat at their revels,

And drank from the golden bowl, They might remember the donor,

And breathe a prayer for his soul.
So sat they once at Christmas,

And bade the goblet pass;
In their beards the red wine glistened

Like dew-drops in the grass.
They drank to the soul of Witlaf,

They drank to Christ the Lord, And to each of the Twelve Apostles,

Who had preached his holy word. They drank to the Saints and Martyrs

of the dismal days of yore, And as soon as the horn was empty

They remembered one Saint more. And the reader droned from the pulpit,

Like the murmur of many bees,
The legend of good Saint Guthlac,

And Saint Basil's homilies ;
Till the great bells of the convent,
From their

prison in the tower, Guthlac and Bartholomæus,

Proclaimed the midnight hour.
And the Yule-log cracked in the chimney,

And the Abbot bowed his head,
And the flamelets flapped and flickered,

But the Abbot was stark and dead.
Yet still in his pallid fingers

He clutched the golden bowl, In which, like a pearl dissolving,

Had sunk and dissolved his soul.
But not for this their revels

The jovial monks forbore,
For they cried, “Fill high the goblet!

We must drink to one Saint more!”

I HEARD a voice, that cried,
“ Balder the Beautiful
Is dead, is dead!"
And through the misty air
Passed like the mournful cry
Of sunward-sailing cranes.

I saw the pallid corpse Of the dead sun Borne through the Northern sky, Blasts from Niffelheim Lifted the sheeted mists Around him as he passed. And the voice for ever cried, “Balder the Beautiful Is dead, is dead !" And died away Through the dreary night, In accents of despair. Balder the Beautiful, God of the summer sun, Fairest of all the Gods! Light from his forehead beamed, Runes were upon his tongue, As on the warrior's sword. All things in earth and air Bound were by magic spell Never to do him harm; Even the plants and stones; All save the mistletoe, The sacred mistletoe! Hæder, the blind old God, Whose feet are shod with silence, Pierced through that gentle breast With his sharp spear, by fraud Made of the mistletoe, The accursed mistietoe! They laid him in his ship, With horse and harness, As on a funeral pyre. Odin placed A ring upon his finger, And whispered in his ear. They launched the burning ship! It floated far away Over the misty sea, Till like the sun it seemed, Sinking beneath the waves. Balder returned no more! So perish the old Gods ! But out of the sea of Time Rises a new land of song, Fairer than the old. Over its meadows green Walk the young bards and sing.

Build it again,

Fairer than before!
Ye fathers of the new race,
Feed upon morning dew,
Sing the new Song of Love!
The law of force is dead!
The law of love prevails !
Thor, the thunderer,
Shall rule the earth no more,
No more, with threats,
Challenge the meek Christ.
Sing no more,
O ye bards of the North,
Of Vikings and of Jarls!
Of the days of Eld
Preserve the freedom only,
Not the deeds of blood !


God sent his Singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men,
And bring them back to heaven again.
The first, a youth, with soul of fire,
Held in his hand a golden lyre ;
Through groves he wandered, and by streams,
Playing the music of our dreams.
The second, with a bearded face,
Stood singing in the market-place,
And stirred with accents deep and loud
The hearts of all the listening crowd.
A gray, old man, the third and last,
Sang in cathedrals dim and vast,
While the majestic organ rolled
Contrition from its mouths of gold.
And those who heard the Singers three
Disputed which the best might be;
For still their music seemed to start
Discordant echoes in each heart.
But the great Master said, “I see
No best in kind, but in degree;
I gave a various gift to each,
To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

« PreviousContinue »