Page images
PDF
EPUB

»

It whispered to the fields of corn, “Bow down, and hail the coming morn. It shouted through the belfry-tower, “Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour." It crossed the churchyard with a sigh, And said, “ Not yet ! in quiet lie.”

SANTA FILOMENA. WHENE'ER a noble deed is wrought, Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,

Our hearts, in glad surprise,

To higher levels rise.
The tidal wave of deeper souls
Into our inmost being rolls,

And lifts us unawares

Out of all meaner cares. Honour to those whose words or deeds Thus help us in our daily needs,

And by their overflow

Raise us from what is low!
Thus thought I, as by night I read
Of the great army of the dead,

The trenches cold and damp,

The starved and frozen camp,The wounded from the battle-plain In dreary hospitals of pain,

The cheerless corridors,

The cold and stony floors.
Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And Ait from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss

Her shadow, as it falls

Upon the darkening walls.
As if a door in heaven should be
Opened and then closed suddenly,

The vision came and went,

The light shone and was spent.
On England's annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,

That light its rays shall cast

From portals of the past.
A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,

A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.

Nor even shall be wanting here
T'he palm, the lily, and the spear,

The symbols that of yore
Saint Filomena bore.

THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ.

MAY 28, 1857
It was fifty years ago,

In the pleasant month of May,
In the beautiful Pays de Vaud,

A child in its cradle lay.
And Nature, the old nurse, took

The child upon her knee,
Saying: “Here is a story-book

Thy Father has written for thee."

“Come, wander with me,” she said,

“Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread

In the manuscripts of God.”
And he wandered away and away

With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sang to him night and day

The rhymes of the universe.
And whenever the way seemed long,

Or his heart began to fail,
She would sing a more wonderful song,

Or tell a more marvellous tale.
So she keeps him still a child,

And will not let him go,
Though at times his heart beats wild

For the beautiful Pays de Vaud;
Though at times he hears in his dreams

The Ranz des Vaches of old,
And the rush of mountain streams

From glaciers clear and cold;
And the mother at home says,

For his voice I listen and yearn;
It is growing late and dark,

And my boy does not return!"

“ Hark!

THE DISCOVERER OF THE NORTH CAPE.

A LEAF FROM KING ALFRED'S OROSIUS.
Othere, the old sea-captain,

Who dwelt in Helgoland,
To King Alfred, the Lover of Truth,
Brought a snow-white walrus-tooth,

Which he held in his brown right hand.

His figure was tall and stately,

Like a boy's his eye appeared ;
His hair was yellow as hay,
But threads of a silvery grey

Gleamed in his tawny beard,

Hearty and hale was Othere,

His cheek had the colour of oak; With a kind of laugh in his speech, Like the sea-tide on a beach,

As unto the king he spoke.

And Alfred, King of the Saxons,

Had a book upon his knees,
And wrote down the wondrous tale
Of him who was first to sail

Into the Arctic seas,

“So far I live to the northward,

No man lives north of me; To the east are wild mountain-chains, And beyond them meres and plains;

To the westward all is sea.

So far I live to the northward,

From the harbours of Skeringes-hale, If you only sailed by day, With a fair wind all the way, More than a month would

you

sail.

I own six hundred reindeer,

With sheep and swine beside; I have tribute from the Finns, Whalebone and reindeer-skins,

And ropes of walrus-hide.

“I ploughed the land with horses,

But my heart was ill at ease, For the old seafaring men Came to me now and then,

With their sagas of the seas;

“Of Iceland and of Greenland,

And the stormy Hebrides, And the undiscovered deep;I could not eat nor sleep

For thinking of those seas.

“To the northward stretched the desert,

How far I fain would know ;
So at last I sallied forth,
And three days sailed due north,

As far as the whale-ships go.

"To the west of me was the ocean,

To the right the desolate shore,
But I did not slacken sail

For the walrus or the whale,
Till after three days more.

The days grew longer and longer,

Till they became as one,
And southward through the haze
I saw the sullen blaze

Of the red midnight sun.

And then uprose before me,

Upon the water's edge,
The huge and haggard shape
Of that unknown North Cape,

Whose form is like a wedge.

« PreviousContinue »