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Of wandering and nomadic tribes of ants.
Ah, cruel little Tamerlane,
Who, with thy dreadful reign,
Dost persecute and overwhelm
These hapless Troglodytes of thy realm!
What! tired already! with those suppliant looks,
And voice more beautiful than a poet's books,
Or murmuring sound of water as it flows,
Thou comest back to parley with repose !
This rustic seat in the old apple-tree,
With its o'erhanging golden canopy
Of leaves illuminate with autumnal hues,
And shining with the argent light of dews,
Shall for a season be our place of rest.
Beneath us, like au oriole's pendent nest,
From which the laughing birds have taken wing,
By thee abandoned, hangs thy vacant swing.
Dream-like the waters of the rivers gleam;
A sailless vessel drops adown the stream,
And like it, to a sea as wide and deep,
Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep.
O child! O new-born denizen
Of life's great city! on thy head
The glory of the morn is shed,
Like a celestial benison!
Here at the portal thou dost stand,
And with thy little hand
Thou openest the mysterious gate
Into the future's undiscovered land.
I see its valves expand,
As at the touch of Fate!
Into those realms of love and hate,
Into that darkness blank and drear,
By some prophetic feeling taught,
I launch the bold, adventurous thought,
Freighted with hope and fear;
As upon subterranean streams,
In caverns unexplored and dark,
Men sometimes launch a fragile bark,
Laden with flickering fire,
And watch its swift-receding beams,
Until at length they disappear,
And in the distant dark expire.
By what astrology of fear or hope
Dare I to cast thy horoscope !
Like the new moon thy life appears
A little strip of silver light,
And widening outward into night
The shadowy disk of future years;
And yet upon its outer rim,
A luminous circle faint and dim,
And scarcely visible to us here,
Rounds and completes the perfect sphere,
A prophecy and intimation,
A pale and feeble adumbration,
Of the great world of light, that lies
Behind all human destinies.
Ah! if thy fate, with anguish frauglit,
Should be to wet the dusty soil
With the hot tears and sweat of toil, -
To struggle with imperious thought,
Until the overburdened brain,
Weary with labour, faint with pain,
Like a jarred pendulum, retain
Only its motion, not its power, —
Remember, in that perilous hour,
When most afflicted and oppressed,
From labour there shall come forth rest.
And if a more auspicious fate
On thy advancing steps await,
Still let it ever be thy pride
To linger by the labourer's side;
With words of sympathy or song
To cheer the dreary march along
Of the great army of the poor,
O’er desert sand, or dangerous moor.
Nor to thyself the task shall be
Without reward ; for thou shalt learn
The wisdom early to discern
True beauty in utility;
As great Pythagoras of yore,
Standing beside the blacksmith's door,
And hearing the hammers, as they smote
The anvils with a different note,
Stole from the varying tones, that hung
Vibrant on every iron tongue,
The secret of the sounding wire,
And formed the seven-chorded lyre.
Enough! I will not play the Seer;
I will no longer strive to ope
The mystic volume, where appear
The herald Hope, forcrunning Fear,
And Fear, the pursuivant of Hope.
Thy destiny remains untold;
For, like Acestes' shaft of old,
The swift thought kindles as it flies,
And burns to ashes in the skies.
I STOOD on the bridge at midnight,
As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the city,
Behind the dark church-tower. I saw her bright reflection
In the waters under me, Like a golden goblet falling
And sinking into the sea. And far in the hazy distance
Of that lovely night in June,
The blaze of the flaming furnace
Gleamed redder than the moon.
Among the long, black rafters
wavering shadows lay,
And the current that came from the ocean
Seemed to list and bear them away;
As, sweeping and eddying through them,
Rose the belated tide,
And, streaming into the moonlight,
The sea-weed floated wide.
And like those waters rushing
Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thoughts came o'er me
That filled my eyes with tears.
How often, O, how often,
In the days that had gone by,
I had stood on that bridge at midnight
And gazed on that wave and sky!
How often, 0, how often,
I had wished that the ebbing tide Would bear me away on its bosom
O'er the ocean wild and wide! For my heart was hot and restless,
And my life was full of care, And the burden laid upon me
Seemed greater than I could bear.
But now it has fallen from me,
It is buried in the sea ;
And only the sorrow of others
Throws its shadow over me.
Yet whenever I cross the river
On its bridge with wooden piers, Like the odour of brine from the ocean Comes the thought of other years.
And I think how many thousands
Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
Have crossed the bridge since then. I see the long procession
Still passing to and fro,
The young heart hot and restless,
And the old subdued and slow!
And forever and forever,
As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,
As long as life has woes;
The moon and its broken reflection
And its shadows shall appear,
As the symbol of love in heaven,
And its wavering image here.
Dealing its dole,
The Curfew Bell
Is beginning to toll.
Cover the embers,
And put out the light;
Toil comes with the morning,
And rest with the night.
Dark grow the windows,
And quenched is the fire;
Sound fades into silence,
All footsteps retire.
No voice in the chambers,
No sound in the hall !
Sleep and oblivion
Reign over all!
The book is completed,
And closed, like the day;
And the hand that has written it
Lays it away.
Dim grow its fancies,
Forgotten they lie ;
Like coals in the ashes,
They darken and die.
Song sinks into silence,
The story is told,
The windows are darkened,
The hearthstone is cold.
Darker and darker
The black shadows fall;
Sleep and oblivion
Reign over all.
My way is on the bright blue sea,
My sleep upon the rocky tide; And many an eye has followed me,
Where billows clasp the worn sea-side. My plumage bears the crimson blush,
When ocean by the sun is kissed ! When fades the evening's purple flush,
My dark wing cleaves the silver mist. Full many
fathom down beneath The bright arch of the splendid deep, My ear has heard the sea-shell breathe
O'er living myriads in their sleep. They rested by the coral throne, And by the
pearly diadem, Where the pale sea-grape had o'ergrown
The glorious dwelling made for them. At night upon my storm-drenched wing,
I poised above a helmless bark, And soon I saw the shattered thing
Had passed away and left no mark. And when the wind and storm had done,
A ship that had rode out the gale, Sunk down without a signal-gun,
And none was left to tell the tale. I saw the pomp of day depart
The cloud resign its golden crown, When to the ocean's beating heart
The sailor's wasted corse went down. Peace be to those whose graves are made
Beneath the bright and silver sea! Peace that their relics there were laid,
With no vain pride and pageantry.