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And tremble to be happy with the rest."
And I make answer: “I am satisfied;
I dare not ask; I know not what is best ;
God hath already said what shall betide."
Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines,
Like a fair lady at her casement shines
The Evening Star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.
O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus!
My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.
Oft have I seen at some cathedral door
A labourer, pausing in the dust and heat,
Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet
Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor
Kneel to repeat his paternoster o'er ;
Far off the noises of the world retreat ;
The loud vociferations of the street
Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
And leave my burden at this minster gate,
Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
To inarticulate murmurs dies
away, While the eternal ages watch and wait.
How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers!
This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves
Birds build their nests; while, canopied with leaves,
Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers;
And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers !
But fiends and dragons on the gargoyled eaves
Watch the dead Christ between the living thieves,
And, underneath, the traitor Judas lowers !
Ah! from what agonies of heart and brain,
What exultations trampling on despair,
What tenderness, what tears, what hate of wrong,
What passionate outcry of a soul in pain,
Uprose this poem of the earth and air,
This mediæval miracle of song!
I ENTER, and I see thee in the gloom
Of the long aisles, O poet saturnine !
And strive to make my steps keep pace with thine.
The air is filled with some unknown perfume;
The congregation of the dead make room
For thee to pass; the votive tapers shine;
Like rooks that haunt Ravenna's groves of pine
The hovering echoes fly from tomb to tomb.
From the confessionals I hear arise
Rehearsals of forgotten tragedies,
And lamentations from the crypts below;
And then a voice celestial, that begins
With the pathetic words, “Although your sins
As scarlet be," and ends with “as the snow."
IV. I lift mine eyes, and all the windows blaze With forms of saints and holy men who died, Here martyred and hereafter glorified; And the great Rose upon its leaves displays Christ's triumph, and the angelic roundelays With splendour upon splendour multiplied; And Beatrice again at Dante's side No more rebukes, but smiles her words of praise. And then the organ sounds, and unseen choirs Sing the old Latin hymns of peace and love, And benedictions of the Holy Ghost; And the melodious bells among the spires O'er all the house-tops and through heaven above Proclaim the elevation of the Host!
O star of morning and of liberty;
O bringer of the light whose splendour shines
Above the darkness of the Appenines,
Forerunner of the day that is to be!
The voices of the city and the sea,
The voices of the mountains and the pines,
Repeat thy song, till the familiar lines
Are footpaths for the thought of Italy!
Thy fame is blown abroad from all the heights,
Through all the nations, and a sound is heard,
As of a mighty wind, and men devout,
Strangers of Rome, and the new proselytes,
In their own language hear thy wondrous word,
And many are amazed and many doubt.
TO WILLIAM E. CHANNING. THE pages of thy book I read,
And as I closed each one, My heart, responding, ever said,
“Servant of God! well done!”
Well done! Thy words are great and bold;
At times they seem to me
Like Luther's, in the days of old,
Half-battles for the free.
Go on, until this land revokes
The old and chartered Lie,
The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes
A voice is ever at thy side,
Speaking in tones of might,
Like the prophetic voice, that cried,
To John in Patmos, “Write !"
Write! and tell out this bloody tale;
Record this dire eclipse,
This Day of Wrath, this endless Wail,
This dread Apocalypse !
Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
He saw his native land.
Wide through the landscape of his dreams
The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
Descend the mountain-road.
He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
They held him by the hand !
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids,
And fell into the sand.
And then at furious speed he rode
Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,
And, with a martial clank,
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
Smiting his stallion's flank. Before him, like a blood-red flag,
The bright flamingoes flew; From morn till night he followed their flight,
O'er plains where the tamarind grew, Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
And the ocean rose to view.