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THE SUMMER SHOWER.
(Thomas Buchanan Read.)
Before the stout harvesters falleth the grain,
As when the strong storm-wind is reaping the
And loiters the boy in the briery lane ;
But yonder aslant comes the silvery rain,
Like a long line of spears brightly burnished and
Adown the white highway, like cavalry fleet,
It dashes the dust with its numberless feet;
Like a murmurless school, in their leafy retreat,
The wild birds sit listening the drops round them
beat, And the boy crouches close to the blackberry wall.
The swallows alone take the storm on their wing, And, taunting the tree-sheltered labourer, sing ; Like pebbles the rain breaks the face of the
spring, While a bubble darts up from each widening
ring, And the boy in dismay hears the loud shower fall.
But soon are the harvesters tossing the sheaves; The robin darts out from its bower of leaves; The wren peereth forth from the moss-covered
eaves; And the rain-spattered urchin now gladly per
ceives That the beautiful bow bendeth over them all.
THE DEATH OF ABSALOM.—(N. P. Willis.)
The waters slept. Night's silvery veil hung low
On Jordan's bosom, and the eddies curled
Their glassy rings beneath it, like the still,
Unbroken beating of the sleeper's pulse.
The reeds bent down the stream; the willow leaves,
With a sost cheek upon the lulling tide,
Forgot the lifting winds; and the long stems,
Whose flowers the water, like a gentle nurse,
Bears on its bosom, quietly gave way,
And leaned, in graceful attitudes, to rest.
How strikingly the course of nature tells,
By its light heed of human suffering,
That it was fashioned for a happier world !
King David's limbs were weary. He had fled
From far Jerusalem ; and now he stood,
With his faint people, for a little rest
Upon the shores of Jordan. The light wind
Of morn was stirring, and he bared his brow
To its refreshing breath ; for he had worn
The mourner's covering, and he had not felt
That he could see his people until now.
They gathered round him on the fresh green bank,
And spoke their kindly words; and, as the sun
Rose up in heaven, he knelt among them there,
And bowed his head upon his hands to pray.
Oh! when the heart is full—when bitter thoughts
Come crowding thickly up for utterance,
And the poor common words of courtesy
Are such an empty mockery-how much
The bursting heart may pour itself in prayer !
He prayed for Israel and his voice went up
Strongly and fervently. He prayed for those
Whose love had been his shield—and his deep tones
Grew tremulous. But oh! for Absalom-
For his estranged, misguided Absalom-
The proud, bright being, who had burst away
In all his princely beauty, to defy
The heart that cherished him--for him he poured
In agony that would not be controlled,
Strong supplication, and forgave him there,
Before his God, for his deep sinfulness.
The pall was settled. He who slept beneath
Was straighten'd for the grave; and, as the folds
Sank to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry of Absalom.
His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls
Were floating round the tassels as they swayed
To the admitted air, as glossy now
As when, in hours of gentle dalliance, bathing
The snowy fingers of Judæa's daughters.
His helm was at his feet; his banner, soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid
Reversed beside him ; and the jewelled hilt,
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,
Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow.
The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle; and their chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier,
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he fear'd the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade
As if a trumpet rang ; but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command,
In a low tone, to his few followers,
And left him with his dead. The king stood still
Till the last echo died; then, throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back
The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth
In the resistless eloquence of woe :
“Alas ! my noble boy! that thou shouldst die !
Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair !
That death should settle in thy glorious eye,
And leave his stillness in this clustering hair! How could he mark thee for the silent tomb !
My proud boy, Absalom! “Cold is thy brow, my son ! and I am chill,
As to my bosom I have tried to press thee ! How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill,
Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee, And hear thy sweet. My father!' from these dumb
And cold lips, Absalom ! “But death is on thee. I shall hear the gush
Of music, and the voices of the young; And life will pass me in the mantling blush,
And the dark tresses to the soft winds flung; But thou no more, with thy sweet voice, shalt come
To meet me, Absalom ! “And oh! when I am stricken, and my heart,
Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken, How will its love for thee, as I depart,
Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token ! It were so sweet, amidst death's gathering gloom,
To see thee, Absalom !
“And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up
With death so like a gentle slumber on thee; And thy dark sin !-Oh! I could drink the cup,
If from this woe its bitterness had won thee. May God have called thee, like a wanderer home,
My lost boy, Absalom !”
He covered up his face, and bowed himself
A moment on his child : then, giving him
A look of melting tenderness, he clasped
His hands convulsively, as if in prayer ;
And, as if strength were given him of God,
He rose up calmly, and composed the pall
Firmly and decently, and left him there,
As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.
AN ODE.—(Foseph Addison.)
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
The spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wond'rous tale,
And nightly, to the listening earth,
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars, that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence, all
Move round this dark, terrestrial ball ?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amidst their radiant orbs be found ?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing as they shine,
“ The hand that made us is Divine."