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“The sea was rough and stormy,
The tempest howled and wailed, And the sea-fog, like a ghost, Haunted that dreary coast,
But onward still I sailed.
“Four days I steered to eastward,
Four days without a night:
With red and lurid light.”
Here Alfred, King of the Saxons,
Ceased writing for a while; And raised his eyes from his book, With a strange and puzzled look,
And an incredulous smile.
But Othere, the old sea-captain,
He neither paused nor stirred,
“And now the land,” said Othere,
“Bent south ward suddenly, And I followed the curving shore, And ever southward bore
Into a nameless sea.
“And there we hunted the walrus,
The narwhal, and the seal;
Flew our harpoons of steel.
“There were six of us altogether,
Norsemen of Helgoland;
And dragged them to the strand !”
Here Alfred, the Truth-Teller,
Suddenly closed his book,
Depicted in their look.
And Othere, the old sea-captain,
Stared at him wild and weird,
His tawny, quivering beard.
And to the King of the Saxons,
In witness of the truth,
“ Behold this walrus-tooth!"
Come to me, O ye children!
For I hear you at your play,
Have vanished quite away.
Ye open the eastern windows,
That look towards the sun,
And the brooks of morning run.
In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklet's flow, But in mine is the wind of Autumn,
And the first fall of the snow.
Ah! what would the world be to us,
If the children were no more?
Worse than the dark before.
What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Have been hardened into wood,
That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.
Come to me,
In your sunny atmosphere.
For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books, When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks ?
Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said; For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.
Of the limitless realms of the air,-
Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?
With his feet on the ladder of light,
Alone in the desert at night? The Angels of Wind and of Fire Chant only one hymn, and expire
With the song's irresistible stress; Expire in their rapture and wonder, As harp-strings are broken asunder
By music they throb to express. But serene in the rapturous throng, Unmoved by the rush of the song,
With eyes unimpassioned and slow, Among the dead angels, the deathless Sandalphon stands listening breathless
To sounds that ascend from below;From the spirits on earth that adore, From the souls that entreat and implore
In the fervour and passion of prayer; From the hearts that are broken with losses, And weary with dragging the crosses
Too heavy for mortals to bear.
And he gathers the prayers as he stands, And they change into flowers in his hands,
Into garlands of purple and red;
Is wafted the fragrance they shed.
Of the ancient Rabbinical lore;
But haunts me and holds me the more. When I look from my window at night, And the welkin above is all white,
All throbbing and panting with stars,
His pinions in nebulous bars.
The frenzy and fire of the brain,
To quiet its fever and pain.
What I saw as in a vision,
Moved my thought o'er Fields Elysian ?