Page images

Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas!

Ye are at peace in the troubled stream. Ho! brave land! with hearts like these,

Thy flag, that is rent in twain,

Shall be one again,
And without a seam!

SNOW-FLAKES. Out of the bosom of the Air,

Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

Silent, and soft, and slow

Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take

Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,

The troubled sky reveals

The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air,

Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,

Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

O GIFT of God! O perfect day :
Whereon shall no man work, but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!
Through every fibre of my brain,
Through every nerve, through every vein,
I feel the electric thrill, the touch
Of life, that seems almost too much.
I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.
And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,
Where through a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,


Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Wnose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.
Slow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
The fiery blossoms of the peach !
O Life and Love! O happy throng
Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
O heart of man! canst thou not be
Blithe as the air is, and as free?



LABOUR with what zeal we will,

Something still remains undone,
Something uncompleted still

Waits the rising of the sun.
By the bedside, on the stair,

At the threshold, near the gates,
With its menace or its prayer,

Like a mendicant it waits;
Waits, and will not go away;

Waits, and will not be gainsaid.
By the cares of yesterday

Each to-day is heavier made;
Till at length the burden seems

Greater than our strength can bear;
Heavy as the weight of dreams,

Pressing on us everywhere.
And we stand from day to day,

Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
Who, as Northern legends say,

On their shoulders held the sky.


O LITTLE feet! that such long years
Must wander on through hopes and fears,

Must ache and bleed beneath your load;
I, nearer to the wayside inn
Where toil shall cease and rest begin,

Am weary, thinking of your road!

O little hands! that, weak or strong,
Have still to serve or rule so long,

Have still so long to give or ask;
I, who so much with book and pen
Have toiled among my fellow-men,

Am weary, thinking of your task. O little hearts ! that throb and beat With such impatient, feverish heat,

Such limitless and strong desires; Mine, that so long has glowed and burned, With passions into ashes turned,

Now covers and conceals its fires. O little souls! as pure and white And crystalline as rays of light

Direct from heaven, their source divine; Refracted through the mist of years, How red my setting sun appears,

How lurid looks this soul of mine!


BEAUTIFUL lily, dwelling by still rivers,

Or solitary mere,
Or where the sluggish meadow-brook delivers

Its waters to the weir !
Thou laughest at the mill, the whirr and worry

Of spindle and of loom,
And the great wheel that toils amid the hurry

And rushing of the flume.
Born to the purple, born to joy and pleasance,

Thou dost not toil nor spin,
But makest glad and radiant with thy presence

The meadow and the lin.
The wind blows, and uplifts thy drooping banner,

And round thee throng and run
The rushes, the green yeomen of thy manor,

The outlaws of the sun.
The burnished dragon-fly is thine attendant,

And tilts against the field,
And down the listed sunbeam rides resplendent

With steel-blue mail and shield.
Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest,

Who, armed with golden rod
And winged with the celestial azure, bearest

The message of some God.
Thou art the Muse, who far from crowded cities

Hauntest the sylvan streams,
Playing on pipes of reed the artless ditties

That come to us as dreams.
O flower-de-luce, bloom on, and let the river

Linger to kiss thy feet !
O flower of song, bloom on, and make for erer

The world more fair and sweet.

I rar upon the headland-height, and listened
To the incessant sobbing of the sea

In caverns under me, And watched the waves, that tossed and fled and gliste ucd. l'ntil the rolling meadows of amethyst

Velted away in mist.

Then snddenly, as one from sleep, I started;
For rounıl about me all the sunny capes

Seemed peopled with the shapes
Of those whom I had known in days departed,
Apparelled in the loveliness which gleams

On faces seen in dreams.
A moment only, and the light and glory
Faded away, and the disconsolate shore

Stood lonely as before ;
And the wild roses of the promontory
Around me shuddered in the wind, and shed

Their petals of pale red.
There was an old belief that in the embers
Of all things their primordial form exists,

And cunning alchemists
Could recreate the rose with all its members
From its own ashes, but without the bloom,

Without the lost perfume.
Ah me! what wonder-working, occult science
Can om the ashes in our hearts once more

The rose of youth restore ?
What craft of alchemy can bid defiance
To time and change, and for a single hour

Renew this phantom-flower ? "O, give me back !" I cried, “the vanished splendours, The breath of morn, and the exultant strife,

When the swift stream of life
Bounds o'er its rocky channel, and surrenders
The pond, with all its lilies, for the leap

Înto the unknown deep!"
And the sea answered, with a lamentation,
Like some old prophet wailing, and it said,

“Alas ! thy youth is dead!
It breathes no more, its heart has no pulsation ;
In the dark places with the dead of old

It lies for ever cold!"
Then said I, “From its consecrated cerements
I will not drag this sacred dust again,

Only to give me pain;
But, still remembering all the lost endearments,
Go on my way, like one who looks before,

And turns to weep no more.
Into what land of harvests, what plantations
Bright with autumnal foliage and the glow

Of sunsets burning loin.

« PreviousContinue »