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By the fireside there are old men seated,
Seeing ruined cities in the ashes,

Asking sadly
Of the Past what it can ne'er restore them,
By the fireside there are youthful dreamers,
Building castles fair, with stately stairways,

Asking blindly
Of the Future what it cannot give them.
By the fireside tragedies are acted
In whose scenes appear two actors only,

Wife and husband,
And above them God the sole spectator.
By the fireside there are peace and comfort,
Wives and children, with fair, thoughtful faces,

Waiting, watching
For a well-known footstep in the passage.
Each man's chimney is his Golden Mile-stone;
Is the central point, from which he measures

Every distance
Through the gateways of the world around him.
In his farthest wanderings still he sees it;
Hears the talking flame, the answering night-wind,

As he heard them
When he sat with those who were, but are not.
Happy he whom neither wealth nor fashion,
Nor the march of the encroaching city,

Drives an exile
From the hearth of his ancestral homestead.

Te may build more splendid habitations,
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures,

But we cannot
Buy with gold the old associations !


How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,

Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,

At rest in all this moving up and down !
The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep

Waye their broad curtains in the south wind's breath, While underneath such leafy tents they keep

The long mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,

That pave with level flags their burial-place, Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down

And broken by Moses at the mountain's base. The very names recorded here are strange,

Of foreign accent, and of different climes; Alvares and Rivera interchange

With Abraham and Jacob of old times. 6 Blessed be God! for He created Death!"

The mourners said, “and Death is rest and peace;" Then added, in the certainty of faith,

“And giveth Life that never more shall cease.” Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

No Psalms of David now the silence break, No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

In the grand dialect the Prophets spake. Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

And not neglected; for a hand unseen, Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,

Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green. How came they here? What burst of Christian liate,

What persecution, merciless and blind, Drove o'er the sea--that desert desolate

These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind ? They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,

Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire; Taught in the school of patience to endure

l'he life of anguish and the death of fire. All their lives long, with the unleavened bread

And bitter herbs of exile and its fears, The wasting famine of the heart they fed,

And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears, Anathema maranatha! was the cry

That rang from town to town, from street to street; It every gate the accursed Mordecai

Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet, Pride and humiliation hand in hand

Walked with them through the world where'er they went; Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,

And yet unshaken as the continent.
For in the background figures vague and vast

Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,
And all the great traditions of the Past

They saw reflected in the coming time.

And thus for ever with reverted look

The mystic volume of the world they read,
Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,

Till life became a Legend of the Dead.
But ah! what once has been shall be no more.

The groaning earth in travail and in pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,

And the dead nations never rise again.

OLIVER BASSELIN. [Oliver Basselin, the “Père joyeux du Vaudeville,” flourished in the fifteenth century, and gave to his convivial songs the name of his native valleys, in which he sang them, Vaux-de-Vire. This name was afterwards corrupted into the modern Vaudeville.]

In the Valley of the Vire

Still is seen an vocient mill,
With its gables quaint and queer,
And beneath the window-sill,

On the stone,

These words alone:
“ Oliver Basselin lived here."
Far above it, on the steep,

Ruined stands the old Château;
Nothing but the donjon-keep
Left for shelter or for show.

Its vacant eyes

Stare at the skies,
Stare at the valley green aud deep.
Once a convent, old and brown,

Looked, but ah! it looks no more,
From the neighbouring hillside down
On the rushing and the roar

Of the stream

Whose sunny gleam
Cheers the little Norman town.
In that darksome mill of stone,

To the water's dash and din,
Careless, humble, and unknown,
Sang the poet Basselin

Songs that fill

That ancient mill
With a splendour of its own.
Never feeling of unrest

Broke the pleasant dream he dreamed;
Only made to be his nest,

All the lovely valley seemed;

No desire

Of soaring higher
Stirred or fluttered in his breast.
True, his songs were not divine;

Were not songs of that high art,
Which, as winds do in the pine,
Find an answer in each heart:

But the mirth

Of this green earth Laughed and revelled in his line. From the alehouse and the inn,

Opening on the narrow street Came the loud convivial din, Singing and applause of feet,

The laughing lays

That in those days
Sang the poet Basselin.
In the castle, cased in steel,

Knights, who fought at Agincourt, Watched and waited, spur on heel; But the poet sang for sport

Songs that rang

Another clang,
Songs that lowlier hearts could feel.
In the convent, clad in gray,

Sat the monks in lonely cells,
Paced the cloisters, knelt to pray,
And the poet heard their bells;

But his rhymes

Found other chimes, Nearer to the earth than they. Gone are all the barons bold,

Gone are all the knights and squires, Gone the abbot stern and cold, And the brotherhood of friars;

Not a name

Remains to fame,
From those mouldering days of old !
But the poet's memory here

Of the landscape makes a part;
Like the river, swift and clear,
Flows his song through many a heart;

Haunting still

That ancient mill, In the Valley of the Vire.



OTHERE, the old sea-captain,

Who dwelt in Helgoland,
To King Alfred, the Lover of Truth,
Brought a snow-white walrus-tooth,

Which he held in his brown right hand.
His figure was tall and stately,

Like a boy's his eye appeared ;
His hair was yellow as hay,
But threads of a silvery gray

Gleamed in his tawny beard.
Hearty and hale was Othere,

His cheek had the colour of oak;
With a kind of laugh in his speech,
Like the sea-tide on a beach,

As unto the King he spoke.
And Alfred, King of the Saxons,

Had a book upon his knees,
And wrote down the wondrous tale
Of him who was first to sail

Into the Arctic seas.
“So far I live to the northward,

No man lives north of me;
To the east are wild mountain-chains,
And beyond them meres and plains ;

To the westward all is sea.

“So far I live to the northward,

From the harbour of Skeringes-hale,
If you only sailed by day,
With a fair wind all the way,

More than a month would you sail.
I own six hundred reindeer,

With sheep and swine beside;
I have tribute from the Finns,
Whalebone and reindeer-skins,

And ropes of walrus-hide.
“I ploughed the land with horses,

But my heart was ill at ease,
For the old seafaring men
Came to me now and then,

With their sagas of the seas:

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