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Then with water fill the pitcher
Wreathed about with classic fables ;
Ne'er Falernian threw a richer
Light upon Lucullus' tables.
Come, old friend, sit down and listen!
As it passes thus between us,
How its wavelets laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus !
THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS.
SOMEWHAT back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country-seat;
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar trees their shadows throw,
And from its station in the hall
An ancient timepiece says to all,
Halfway up the stairs it stands,
And points and beckons with its hands
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs, alas!
With sorrowful voice to all who pass,-
For ever-never !
By day its voice is low and light;
But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep's fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say at each chamber-door,-
Through days of sorrow and of mirth,
Through days of death and days of birth,
Through every swift vicissitude
Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood,
And as if, like God, it all things saw,
It calmly repeats those words of awe,-
“For ever--never !
In that mansion used to be
His great fires up the chimney roared !
The stranger feasted at his board;
But, like the skeleton at the feast,
That warning timepiece never ceased, -
“For ever-never !
groups of merry children played,
There youths and maidens dreaming strayed ;
O precious hours ! O golden prime,
An affluence of love and time!
Even as a miser counts his gold,
Those hours the ancient timepiece told, -
From that chamber, clothed in white,
The bride came forth on her wedding night;
There, in that silent room below,
The dead lay in his shroud of snow;
And in the hush that followed the prayer,
Was heard the old clock on the stair,-.
All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
“Ah! when shall they all meet again,
As in the days long since gone by?”
The ancient timepiece makes reply,–
Never here, for ever there,
Where all parting, pain and care,
And death and time shall disappear,-
For ever there, but never here!
The horologe of Eternity
Sayeth this incessantly,–
THOU comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned.
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain.
Thy shield is the red harvest moon suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!
How many lives, made beautiful and sweet
By self-devotion and by self-restraint,
Whose pleasure is to run without complaint
On unknown errands of the Paraclete,
Wanting the reverence of unshodden feet,
Fail of the nimbus which the artists paint
Around the shining forehead of the saint,
And are in their completeness incomplete!
In the old Tuscan town stands Giotto's tower,
The lily of Florence blossoming in stone,-
A vision, a delight, and a desire,
The builder's perfect and centennial flower,
That in the night of ages bloomed alone,
But wanting still the glory of the spire.
DANTE. TUSCAN, that wanderest through the realms of gloom, With thoughtful pace, and sad majestic eyes, Stern thoughts and awful from thy soul arise, Like Farinata from his fiery tomb. Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom; Yet in thy heart what human sympathies, What soft compassion glows, as in the skies The tender stars their clouded lamps relume ! Methinks I see thee stand, with pallid cheeks, By Fra Hilario in his diocese, As up the convent-walls, in golden streaks, The ascending sunbeams mark the day's decrease; And as he asks what there the stranger seeks, Thy voice along the cloisters whispers, “Peace!"
'Tis late at night, and in the realm of sleep
My little lambs are folded like the flocks;
From room to room I hear the wakeful clocks
Challenge the passing hour, like guards that keep
Their solitary watch on tower and steep;
Far off I hear the crowing of the cocks,
And through the opening door that time unlocks
Feel the fresh breathing of To-morrow creep.
To-morrow! the mysterious, unknown guest,
Who cries to me: “Remember Barmecide,