Page images
PDF
EPUB

Their bare arms stretched in prayer for the snows.
When first we met, his book was six months old,
And eagerly his name was buzzed abroad;
Praises fell thick on him. Men said, “This Dawn
Will widen to a clear and boundless Day;
And when it ripens to a sumptuous west
With a great sunset 't will be closed and crowned."
Lady! he was as far 'bove common men
As a sun-steed, wild-eyed and meteor-maned,
Neighing the reeling stars, is 'bove a hack
With sluggish veins of mud. More tremulous
Than the soft star that in the azure East
Trembles with pity o'er bright bleeding day,
Was his frail soul; I dwelt with him for years;
I was to him but Labrador to Ind;
His pearls were plentier than my pebble-stones.
He was the sun, I was that squab—the earth,
And basked me in his light until he drew
Flowers from my barren sides. Oh! he was rich,
And I rejoiced upon his shore of pearls,
A weak enamored sea. Once did he say,
“My Friendl a Poet must ere long arise,
And with a regal song sun-crown this age,
As a saint's head is with a halo crown'd.-
One who shall hallow poetry to God,
One, who shall fervent grasp the sword of song
As a stern swordsman grasps his keenest blade,
To find the quickest passage to the heart.
A mighty Poet whom this age shall choose
To be its spokesman to all coming times.
In the ripe full-blown season of his soul,
He shall go forward in his spirit's strength,
And grapple with the questions of all time,
And wring from them their meanings. As King Saul
Called up the buried prophet from his grave
To speak his doom, so shall this Poet-king
Call up the dead Past from its awful grave
To tell him of our future. As the air
Doth sphere the world, so shall his heart of love-
Loving mankind, not peoples. As the lake
Reflects the flower, tree, rock and bending heaven,
Shall he reflect our great humanity;
And as the young Spring breathes with living breath
On a dead branch till it sprouts fragrantly
Green leaves and sunny flowers, shall he breathe life
Through every theme he touch, making all Beauty
And Poetry forever like the stars."

12

All things are dark to sorrow; and the light And loveliness, and fragrant air were sad To the dejected Hagar. The moist earth Was pouring odors from its spicy pores, And the young birds were singing as if life Were a new thing to them; but oh! it came Upon her heart like discord, and she felt How cruelly it tries a broken heart, To see a mirth in any thing it loves. She stood at Abraham's tent. Her lips were press'd Till the blood started; and the wandering veins Of her transparent forehead were swellid out, As if her pride would burst them. Her dark eye Was clear and tearless, and the light of heaven, Which made its language legible, shot back, From her long lashes, as it had been flame. Her noble boy stood by her, with his hand Clasp'd her own, and his round delicate feet, Scarce train'd to balance on the tented floor, Sandall’d for journeying. He had look'd up Into his mother's face until he caught The spirit there, and his young heart was swelling Beneath his dimpled bosom, and his form Straightend up proudly in his tiny wrath, As if his light proportions would have swell'd, Had they but match'd his spirit, to the man.

Why bends the patriarch, as he cometh now
Upon his staff so wearily ? His beard
Is low upon his breast, and his high brow,
So written with the converse of his God,
Beareth the swollen vein of agony.
His lip is quivering, and his wonted step
Of vigor is not there; and, though the morn
Is passing fair and beautiful, he breathes
Its freshness as it were a pestilence.
Oh! man may bear with suffering; his heart
Is a strong thing, and godlike, in the grasp
of pain that wrings mortality; but tear
One chord affection clings to-part one tie
That binds him to a woman's delicate love
And his great spirit yieldeth like a reed.

He gave to her the water and the bread,
But spoke no word, and trusted not himself
To look upon her face, but laid his hand
In silent blessing on the fair-hair'd boy,
And left her to her lot of loneliness.

Should Hagar weep? May slighted woman turn And, as a vine the oak hath shaken off, Bend lightly to her leaning trust again? O no! by all her loveliness-by all

That makes life poetry and beauty, no!
Make her a slave; steal from her rosy cheek
By needless jealousies; let the last star
Leave her a watcher by your couch of pain;
Wrong her by petulance, suspicion, all
That makes her cup a bitterness—yet give
One evidence of love, and earth has not
An emblem of devotedness like hers.
But oh! estrange her once-it boots not how-
By wrong or silence—any thing that tells
A change has come upon your tenderness-
And there is not a feeling out of heaven
Her pride o'ermastereth not.
She went her way with a strong step and slow-
Her press'd lip arch'd, and her clear eye undimm'd
As if it were a diamond, and her forin
Borne proudly up, as if her heart breathed through.
Her child kept on in silence, though she press'd
His hand till it was pain'd; for he had caught,
As I have said, her spirit, and the seed
Of a stern nation had been breathed upon.

The morning pass’d, and Asia's sun rode up
In the clear heaven, and every beam was heat.
The cattle of the hills were in the shade,
And the bright plumage of the Orient lay
On beating bosoms in her spicy trees.
It was an hour of rest! but Hagar found
No shelter in the wilderness, and on
She kept her weary way, until the boy
Hung down his head, and open'd his parch'd lips
For water; but she could not give it him.
She laid him down beneath the sultry sky,
For it was better than the close, hot breath
Of the thick pines, -and tried to comfort him ;
But he was sore athirst, and his blue eyes
Were dim and bloodshot, and he could not know
Why God denied him water in the wild.
She sat a little longer, and he grew
Ghastly and faint, as if he would have died.
It was too much for her. She lifted him,
And bore him further on, and laid his head
Beneath the shadow of a desert shrub;
And, shrouding up her face, she went away,
And sat to watch, where he could see her not,
Till he should die; and, watching him, she mourn'd:-
“God stay thee in thine agony, my boy!
I cannot see thee die; I cannot brook

Upon thy brow to look,
And see death settle on my cradle joy.
How have I drunk the light of thy blue eye!

And could I see thee die ?

"I did not dream of this when thou wast straying,
Like an unbound gazelle, among the flowers ;

Or wiling the soft hours,
By the rich gush of water-sources playing,
Then sinking weary to thy smiling sleep,

So beautiful and deep.
"Oh no! and when I watch'd by thee the while,
And saw thy bright lip curling in thy dream,

And thought of the dark stream
In my own land of Egypt, the far Nile,
How pray'd I that my father's land might be

An heritage for thee!
And now the grave for its cold breast hath won thee!
And thy white, delicate limbs the earth will press;

And oh, my last caress
Must feel thee cold, for a chill hand is on thee.
How can I leave my boy, so pillow'd there

Upon his clustering hair!"
She stood beside the well her God had given
To gush in that deep wilderness, and bathed
The forehead of her child until he laugh'd
In his reviving happiness, and lisp'd
His infant thought of gladness at the sight
Of the cool plashing of his mother's hand.

THE BURNT AIGLE.—Mrs. S. C. HALL.

One of the most amusing and acute persons I rememberand in my very early days I knew him well—was a whiteheaded, lame old man, known in the neighborhood of Killaggin, by the name of Burnt Eagle, or, as the Irish peasants called him, “Burnt Aigle.” His descent proclaimed him an Irishman, but some of his habits were not characteristic of the country, for he understood the value of money, and that which makes money—Time. He certainly was not of the neighborhood in which he resided, for he had no “people,” no uncles, aunts, or cousins. What his real name was I never heard; but I remember him since I was a very little girl, just old enough to be placed by my nurse on the back of Burnt Eagle's donkey. At that time he lived in a neat, pretty little cottage, about a mile from our house : it contained two rooms; they were not only clean but well furnished; that is to say, well furnished for an Irish cottage.

The little patch of ground this industrious old man had, after incredible labor, succeeded in forming over the coat of sward that covered the sand, was in front of Crab Hall

. The donkey had done his best to assist a master who had never given him an unjust blow: the fence was formed round the little inclosure of gray granite, which some convulsion of nature had strewed abundantly on the strand; these stones the donkey drew up when his day's work was ended, three or four at a time. Even this inclosure was perfected, and a very neat gate of basket-work with a latch outside and a bolt in, hung opposite the cottage door, before Burnt Eagle had laid down either the earth or manure on his plot of ground.

“Why, thin, Burnt Aigle, dear,” said Mrs. Radford, the netmaker's wife, as, followed by seven lazy, dirty, healthy children, she strolled over the sand-hills one evening to see what the poor bocher* was doing at the place,” that was good enough for Corney, the crab-catcher, without alteration dacent man! for twenty years. Why, thin, Burnt Aigle, dear, what are ye slaving and fencin' at?”

Why, I thought I told ye, Mrs. Radford, when I taught ye the tight stitch for a shrimp-net, that I meant to make a garden here; I understand flowers, and the gentry's ready to buy them; and sure, when once the flowers are set, they'll grow of themselves, while I'm doing something else. Is'nt it a beautiful thing to think of that! how the Lord helps us to a great deal, if we only do a little toward it !”

“How do you make that out ?" inquired the net-maker.

Burnt Eagle pulled a seed-pod from a tuft of beautiful seapink. “ All that's wanted of us,” he said, “is to put such as this in the earth at first, and doesn't God's goodness do all the rest ???

“But it would be 'time enough, sure, to make the fence whin the ground was ready," said his neighbor, reverting to the first part of her conversation.

“ And have all the neighbors' pigs right through it the next morning ?" retorted the old man laughing; "no, no, that's not my way, Mrs. Radford.”

“Fair and aisy goes far in a day, Masther Aigle,” said the gossip, lounging against the fence, and taking her pipe out of her pocket.

“Do you want a coal for your pipe, ma'am ?” inquired Burnt Aigle.

* A lame man.

« PreviousContinue »