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And so the dreadful massacre began;
O'er fields and orchards, and o'er woodland crests, The ceaseless fusillade of terror ran,
Dead fell the birds, with blood-stains on their breasts, Or wounded crept away from sight of man,
While the young died of famine in their nests;
The days were like hot coals; the very ground
Myriads of caterpillars, and around The cultivated fields and garden beds
Hosts of devouring insects crawled, and found No foe to check their march, till they had made The land a desert without leaf or shade. Devoured by worms, like Herod, was the town,
Because, like Herod, it had ruthlessly Slaughtered the Innocents. From the trees spun down
The canker-worms upon the passers-by,
Who shook them off with just a little cry;
Confessed their error, and would not complain,
When it is raining, is to let it rain.
It would not call the dead to life again;
Without the light of his majestic look,
The illumined pages of his Doom's-Day book.
And drowned themselves despairing in the brook,
A sight that never yet by bard was sung,
If some dumb animal had found a tongue! A wagon, overarched with evergreen,
Upon whose boughs were wicker cages hung, All full of singing birds, came down the street, Filling the air with music wild and sweet.
From all the country round these birds were brought,
By order of the town, with anxious quest,
In woods and fields the places they loved best,
Were satires to the authorities addressed,
Upon the morrow, for they seemed to know
And everywhere, around, above, below, When the Preceptor bore his bride away,
Their songs burst forth in joyous overflow, And a new heaven bent over a new earth Amid the sunny farms of Killingworth.
THE hour was late; the fire burned low,
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR. BETWEEN the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour. I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
And voices soft and sweet.
Descending the broad hall stair, Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair. A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
To take me by surprise.
A sudden raid from the hall !
They enter my castle wall! They climb
up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Because you have scaled the wall,
And will not let you depart,
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
And moulder in dust away!
UNDER Mount Etna he lies,
It is slumber, it is not death; For he struggles at times to arise, And above him the lurid skies
Are hot with his fiery breath.
The earth is heaped on his head;
Are heard, and he is not dead.
Are watching with eager eyes; They talk together and say, “Tomorrow, perhaps to-day,
Enceladus will arise!”
And the old gods, the austere
Oppressors in their strength, Stand aghast and white with fear At the ominous sounds they hear,
And tremble, and mutter, “At length!” Ah me! for the land that is sown
With the harvest of despair!
Enceladus, fill the air.
Over vineyard and field and town,
Of the crags that keep him down.
'Tis the glare of his awful eyes ! And the storm wind shouts through the pines Of Alps and of Apennines,
Ar anchor in Hampton Roads we lay,
On board of the Cumberland, sloop-of-war; And at times from the fortress across the bay
The alarum of drums swept past,
Or a bugle blast
A little feather of snow-white smoke, And we knew that the iron ship of our foes
Was steadily steering its course
To try the force
Down upon us heavily runs,
Silent and sullen, the floating fort; Then comes a puff of smoke from her guns,
And leaps the terrible death,
With fiery breath,
Defiance back in a full broadside!
Rebounds our heavier hail
From each iron scale Of the monster's hide. “Strike your flag!” the rebel cries,
In his arrogant old plantation strain. “Never!” our gallant Morris replies;
“It is better to sink than to yield !”
And the whole air pealed
She crushed our ribs in her iron grasp!
With a sudden shudder of death,
And the cannon's breath
Still floated our flag at the mainmast lead. Lord, how beautiful was thy day!
Every waft of the air
Was a whisper of prayer,