Page images
PDF
EPUB

485

EPIMETHEUS, OR THE POET'S AFTERTHOUGHT.

For Catawba wine

Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.

And this Song of the Vine,

This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver

To the Queen of the West,

In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.

EPIMETHEUS, OR THE POET'S AFTERTHOUGHT.

HAVE I dreamed? or was it real,

What I saw as in a vision,
When to marches hymeneal,
In the land of the ideal,

Moved my thought o'er fields Elysian?
What! are these the guests whose glances

Seemed like sunshine gleaming round me;
These the wild, bewildered fancies,
That with dithyrambic dances,

As with magic circles, bound me?
Ah! how cold are their caresses !

Pallid cheeks and haggard bosoms !
Spectral gleam their snow-white dresses,
And from loose, dishevelled tresses

Fall the hyacinthine blossoms!
O my songs! whose winsome measures

Filled my heart with secret rapture !
Children of my golden leisures !
Must even your delights and pleasures

Fade and perish with the capture?
Fair they seemed, those songs sonorous,

When they came to me unbidden;
Voices single, and in chorus,
Like the wild birds singing o'er us

In the dark of branches hidden.
Disenchantment! Disillusion !

Must each noble aspiration
Come at last to this conclusion,
Jarring discord, wild confusion,

Lassitude, renunciation ?
Not with steeper fall nor faster,

From the sun's serene dominions,
Not through brighter realms nor vaster,
In swift ruin and disaster

Icarus fell with shattered pinions !

Sweet Pandora! dear Pandora !

Why did mighty Jove create thee
Coy as Thetis, fair as Flora,
Beautiful as young Aurora,

If to win thee is to hate thee?
No, not hate thee! for this feeling

Of unrest and long resistance
Is but passionate appealing,
A prophetic whisper stealing

O'er the chords of our existence.
Him whom thou dost once enamour,

Thou, beloved, never leavest;
In life's discord, strife, and clamour,
Still he feels thy spell of glamour;

Him of hope thou ne'er bereavest.
Weary hearts by thee are lifted,

Struggling souls by thee are strengthened,
Clouds of fear asunder rifted,
Truth from falsehood cleansed and sifted,

Lives, like days in summer, lengthened.
Therefore art thou ever dearer,

O my Sibyl! my deceiver !
For thou makest each mystery clearer,
And the unattained seems nearer

When thou fillest my heart with fever!
Muse of all the Gifts and Graces!

Though the fields around us wither,
There are ampler realms and spaces,
Where no foot has left its traces;

Let us turn and wander thither.

THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ.

May 28, 1857.
It was fifty years ago,

In the pleasant month of May,
In the beautiful Pays de Vaud,

A child in its cradle lay.
And Nature, the old nurse, took

The child upon her knee,
Saying: “Here is a story-book

Thy Father has written for thee."
Come, wander with me," she said,

“Into regions yet untrod; And read what is still unread

In the manuscripts of God.”

And he wandered away and away

With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sang to him night and day

The rhymes of the universe.
And whenever the way seemed long,

Or his heart began to fail,
She would sing a more wonderful song,

Or tell a more marvellous tale. So she keeps him still a child,

And will not let him go, Though at times his heart beats wild

For the beautiful Pays de Vaud; Though at times he hears in his dreams

The Ranz des Vaches of old, And the rush of mountain streams

From glaciers clear and cold; And the mother at home says, “Hars:

For his voice I listen and yearn; It is growing late and dark,

And my boy does not return!"

Miscellaneous Poems.

1841-1846-1858.

THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITII. UNDER a spreading chestnut tree

The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,

His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,

He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,

For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,

You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,

With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,

When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school

Look in at the open door:
They love to see the flaming forge,

And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fiy

Like chaff from a threshing floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church,

And sits among his boys ;
He hears the parson pray and preach,

He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,

And makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,

Singing in Paradise !
He needs must think of her once more,

How in the grave she lies ;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes

A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, - rejoicing, --sorrowing,

Onward through life he goes ;
Each morning sees some task begin,

Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,

Has earned a night's repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought!

THE RAINY DAY.

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary ;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

ENDYMION.
THE rising moon has hid the stars;
Her level rays, like golden bars,

Lie on the landscape green,

With shadows brown between.
And silver white the river gleams,
As if Diana, in her dreams,

Had dropt her silver bow

Upon the meadows low.
On such a tranquil night as this
She woke Endymion with a kiss,

When, sleeping in the grove,
He dreamed not of her love.

« PreviousContinue »