« PreviousContinue »
TO « THE DRIVING CLOUD.”
GLOOMY and dark art thou, O chief of the mighty Omawhaws;
of the prairies ? How canst thou breathe in this air, who hast breathed the sweet air
of the mountains? Ah! 'tis in vain that with lordly looks of disdain thou dost challenge Looks of dislike in return, and question these walls and these pavements, Claiming the soil for thy hunting-grounds, while downtrodden millions Starve in the garrets of Europe, and cry from its caverns that they too Have been created heirs of the earth, and claim its division ! Back, then, back to thy woods in the regions west of the Wabash! There as a monarch thou reignest. In autumn the leaves of the maple Pave the floors of thy palace-halls with gold, and in summer Pine-trees waft through its chambers the odorous breath of their
branches. There thou art strong and great, a hero, a tamer of horses! There thou chasest the stately stag on the banks of the Elk-horn, Or by the roar of the Running-Water, or where the Omawhaw Calls thee, and leaps through the wild ravine like a brave of the
Hark! what murmurs arise from the heart of those mountainous
deserts? Is it the cry of the Foxes and Crows, or the mighty Behemoth, Who, unharmed, on his tusks once caught the bolts of the thunder, And now lurks in his lair to destroy the race of the red man? Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the Crows and the Foxes Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the tread of Behemoth, Lo! the big thunder-canoe, that steadily breasts the Missouri's Merciless current! and yonder, afar on the prairies, the camp-fires Gleam through the night; and the cloud of dust in the gray of the
daybreak Marks not the buffalo's track, nor the Mandan's dexterous horse-race; It is a caravan, whitening the desert where dwell the Camanches ! Ha! how the breath of these Saxons and Celts, like the blast of the
east-wind, Drifts evermore to the west the scanty smokes of thy wigwams!
THE PHANTOM SHIP.
In Mather's Magnalia Christi,
Of the old colonial time,
That is here set down in rhyme.
And the keen and frosty airs, That filled her sails at parting,
Were heavy with good men's prayers. “ O Lord! if it be thy pleasure,”
Thus prayed the old divine, “ To bury our friends in the ocean,
Take them, for they are thine!” But Master Lamberton muttered
And under his breath said he
I fear our grave she will be !"
When the winter months were gone,
Nor of Master Lamberton.
This put the people to praying
That the Lord would let them hear What, in his greater wisdom,
He had done with friends so dear.
And at last their prayers were answered :
It was in the month of June,
Of a windy afternoon;
A ship was seen below,
Who sailed so long ago.
Right against the wind that blew,
The faces of the crew.
Hanging tangled in the shrouds,
And blown away like clouds.
And the masts, with all their rigging,
Fell slowly one by one,
As a sea-mist in the sun !
And the people who saw this marvel,
Each said unto his friend, That this was the mould of their vessel,
And thus her tragic end. And the pastor of the village
Gave thanks to God in prayer, That to quiet their troubled spirits
He had sent this Ship of Air.
THE LADDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE.
SAINT AUGUSTINE! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
All common things
each day's events, That with the hour begin and end ; Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend. The low desire--the base design,
That makes another's virtues less; The revel of the giddy wine,
And all occasions of excess.
The longing for ignoble things,
The strife for triumph more than truth, The hardening of the heart, that brings Irreverence
for the dreams of youth! All thoughts of ill—all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill, Whatever hinders or-impedes
The action of the nobler will!
All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain
The right of eminent domain!
We have not wings--we cannot soar
But we have feet to scale and climb
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs, When nearer seen and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs. The distant mountains, that uprear
Their frowning foreheads to the skies, Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise. The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight; But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night. Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes, We may discern, unseen before,
A path to higher destinies. Nor deem the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain, If rising on its wrecks, at last,
To something nobler we attain.
Dealing its dole,
Is beginning to toll.
Cover the embers,
And put out the light;
And rest with the night.
All footsteps retire.
No sound in the hall;
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 hearth-stone is cold.
Darker and darker
The black shadows fall; Sleep and oblivion
Reign over all