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Then within a prison-yard,
Faces fixed, and stern, and hard,
Laughter and indecent mirth;
Ah! it is the gallows-tree:
Breath of Christian charity,
Blow, and sweep it from the earth!
Then a schoolboy, with his kite
Gleaming in a sky of light,
And an eager, upward look:
Steeds pursued through lane and field;
Fowlers with their snares concealed;
And an angler by a brook.
Ships rejoicing in the breeze,
Wrecks that float o'er unknown seas,
Anchors dragged through faithless sand;
Sea-fog drifting overhead,
And with lessening line and lead,
Sailors feeling for the land.
All these scenes do I behold,
These, and many left untold,
In that building long and low;
While the wheel goes round and round,
With a drowsy, dreamy sound,
And the spinners backward go.
LEAFLESS are the trees: their purple branches
Spread themselves abroad, like reefs of coral,
In the Red Sea of the Winter sunset.
From the hundred chimneys of the village,
Like the Afreet in the Arabian story,
Tower aloft into the air of amber.
At the window winks the flickering firelight;
Here and there the lamps of evening glimmer,
Answering one another through the darkness.
On the hearth the lighted logs are glowing,
And like Ariel in the cloven pine-tree
For its freedom
Groans and sighs the air imprisoned in them.
By the fireside there are old men seated,
Seeing ruined cities in the ashes,
Of the Past what it can ne'er restore them.
By the fireside there are youthful dreamers,
Building castles fair, with stately stairways,
Of the Future what it cannot give them.
By the fireside tragedies are acted
In whose scenes appear two actors only,
Wife and husband,
And above them God the sole spectator.
By the fireside there are peace and comfort,
Wives and children, with fair, thoughtful faces,
For a well-known footstep in the passage.
Each man's chimney is his Golden Milestone,
Is the central point from which he measures
Through the gateways of the world around him.
In his farthest wanderings still he sees it;
Hears the talking flame, the answering night-wind,
As he heard them
When he sat with those who were, but are not.
Happy he whom neither wealth nor fashion,
Nor the march of the encroaching city,
Drives an exile
From the hearth of his ancestral homestead.
We may build more splendid habitations,
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures,
But we cannot
Buy with gold the old associations !
This song of mine
Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of wayside inns,
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.
It is not a song
Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel
And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys.
Nor the red Mustang,
Whose clusters hang
O'er the waves of the Colorado,
And the fiery flood
Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado.
For richest and best
Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River;
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.
And as hollow trees
Are the haunts of bees, For ever going and coming ;
So this crystal hive
Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.
Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
But Catawba wine
Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy,
There grows no vine
By the haunted Rhine, By Danube or Guadalquivir,
Nor on island or cape,
That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.
Drugged is their juice
For foreign use,
When shipped o'er the reeling Atlantic,
To rack our brains
With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic.
To the sewers and sinks
With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer ;
For a poison malign
Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil's Elixir.
While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.
And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.
A wind came up out of the sea,
And said, “O mists, make room for me."
It hailed the ships, and cried, “Sail on,
Ye mariners, the night is gone."
And hurried landward far away,
Crying, “Awake! it is the day."
It said unto the forest, “Shout!
Hang all your leafy banners out!"
It touched the wood-bird's folded wing,
And said, “O bird, awake and sing."
And o'er the farms, “O chanticleer,
Your clarion blow; the day is near.'