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And never more, on sea or shore,
Should Sir Humphrey see the light. He sat upon the deck,
The Book was in his hand; “Do not fear! Heaven is as near,
He said, “by water as by land!” In the first watch of the night,
Without a signal's sound, Out of the sea, mysteriously,
The fleet of Death rose all around. The moon and the evening star
Were hanging in the shrouds; Every mast, as it passed,
Seemed to rake the passing clouds. They grappled with their prize,
At midnight black and cold ! As of a rock was the shock;
Heavily the ground-swell rolled. Southward, through day and dark,
They drift in close embrace, With mist and rain, to the Spanish
Main; Yet there seems no change of place. Southward, for ever southward,
They drift through dark and day; And like a dream, in the Gulf-stream
Sinking, vanish all away.
Not one alone; from each projecting cape And perilous reef along the ocean's
verge, Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape, Holding its lantern o'er the restless
surge. Like the great giant Christopher it
stands Upon the brink of the tempestuous
wave, Wading far out among the rocks and
sands, The night-o'ertaken mariner to save. And the great ships sail outward and
return, Bending and bowing o'er the billowy
swells, And ever joyful, as they see it burn, They wave their silent welcomes and
farewells. They come forth from the darkness,
and their sails Gleam for a moment only in the blaze, And eager faces, as the light unveils, Gaze at the tower, and vanish while
they gaze. The mariner remembers when a child, On his first voyage, he saw it fade
and sink; And when, returning from adventures
wild, He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink. Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same Year after year, through all the
silent night Burns on for evermore that quenchless
flame, Shines on that inextinguishable light! It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss
of peace; It sees the wild winds lift it in their
grasp, And hold it up, and shake it like a
fleece. The startled waves leap over it; the
storm Smites it with all the scourges of the
rain, And steadily against its solid form
Press the great shoulders of the hurri
THE LIGHTHOUSE. THE rocky ledge runs far into the sea, And on its outer point, some miles
away, The Lighthouse lifts its massive
masonry, A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by
day. Even at this distance I can see the
tides, Upheaving, break unheard along its
base, A speechless wrath, that rises and sub
sides In the white lip and tremor of the face.
bright, Through the deep purple of the twi
light air, Beams forth the sudden radiance of its
lights With strange, unearthly splendour in
its glare !
The sea-bird wheeling round it, with The first slight swerving of the heart, the din
That words are powerless to express, Of wings and winds and solitary cries, And leave it still unsaid in part, Blinded and maddened by the light Or say it in too great excess. within,
The very tones in which we spake Dashes himself against the glare, and
Had something strange, I could but dies.
mark; A new Prometheus, chained upon the The leaves of memory seemed to make rock,
A mournful rustling in the dark. Still grasping in his hand the fire of Oft died the words upon our lips, Jove,
As suddenly, from out the fire It does not hear the cry, nor heed the Built of the wreck of stranded ships, shock,
The flames would leap and then But hails the mariner with words of
And, as their splendour flashed and “ Sail on!” it says, sail on, ye stately
failed, ships !
We thought of wrecks upon the And with your floating bridge the
main, ocean span;
Of ships dismasted, that were hailed Be mine to guard this light from all And sent no answer back again. eclipse,
The windows, rattling in their frames, Be yours to bring man nearer unto
The ocean, roaring up the beach, —
blast,-ihe bickering flames,
All mingled vaguely in our speech; THE FIRE OF DRIFTWOOD.
Until they made themselves a part We sat within the farmhouse old,
Of fancies floating through the Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
brain, Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold,
The long-lost ventures of the heart, An easy entrance, night and day.
That send no answer back again. Not far away we saw the port,
O flames that glowed! O hearts that The strange, old-fashioned, silent
They were indeed too much akin, The lighthouse,-the dismantled fort,- The driftwood fire without that burned, The wooden houses, quaint and
The thoughts that burned and glowed brown.
within. We sat and talked until the night,
Descending, filled the little room;
BY THE FIRESIDE.
RESIGNATION. Of what we once had thought and THERE is no flock, however watched said,
and tended, Of what had been, and might have been, But one dead lamb is there! And who was changed, and who was There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended, dead;
But has one vacant chair! And all that fills the hearts of friends, The air is full of farewells to the dying,
When first they feel, with secret pain, And mournings for the dead; Their lives thenceforth have separate The heart of Rachel, for her children ends,
crying, And never can be one again;
Will not be comforted !
Let us be patient! These severe afflic- And though at times impetuous with tions
emotion Not from the ground arise,
And anguish long suppressed, But oftentimes celestial benedictions The swelling heart heaves moaning like Assume this dark disguise.
That cannot be at rest, We see but dimly through the mists and vapours,
We will be patient, and assuage the Amid these earthly damps;
feeling What seem to us but sad, funereal We may not wholly stay; tapers,
By silence sanctifying, not concealing, May be heaven's distant lamps.
The grief that must have way.
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time: Whose portal we call death.
Some with massive deeds and great, She is not dead,--the child of our affec- Some with ornaments of rhyme. tion,
Nothing useless is, or low; But gone unto that school
Each thing in its place is best; Where she no longer needs our poor And what seems but idle show protection,
Strengthens and supports the rest. And Christ himself doth rule.
For the structure that we raise, In that great cloister's stillness and Time is with materials filled; seclusion,
Our to-days and yesterdays By guardian angels led,
Are the blocks with which we build. Safe from temptation, safe from sin's
Truly shape and fashion these ; pollution,
Leave no yawning gaps between; She lives, whom we call dead.
Think not, because no man sees, Day after day we think what she is Such things will remain unseen. doing
In the elder days of Art, In those bright realms of air;
Builders wrought with greatest care Year after year, her tender steps pur- Each minute and unseen part; suing,
For the Gods see everywhere. Behold her grown more fair.
Let us do our work as well, Thus do we walk with her, and keep
Both the unseen and the seen; unbroken
Make the house, where Gods may dwell, The bond which nature gives,
Beautiful, entire, and clean. Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
Else our lives are incomplete, May reach her where she lives.
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet Not as a child shall we again behold
Stumble as they seek to climb. her; For when with raptures wild
Build to-day, then, strong and sure, In our embraces we again enfold her,
With a firm and ample base; She will not be a child;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place. But a fair maiden, in her Father's
Thus alone can we attain mansion, Clothed with celestial grace ;
To those turrets, where the eye And beautiful with all the soul's expan
Sees the world as one vast plain, sion
And one boundless reach of sky. Shall we behold her face.
SONNET ON MRS. KEMBLE'S READINGS FROM
SHAKSPEARE. O PRECIOUS evenings! all too swiftly
sped! Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages Of all the best thoughts of the greatest
sages, And giving tongues unto the silent dead! How our hearts glowed and trembled
as she read, Interpreting by tones the wondrous
pages Of the great poet who foreruns the ages, Anticipating all that shall be said ! O happy Reader! having for thy text The magic book, whose Sibylline leaves
have caught The rarest essence of all human thought! O happy Poet! by no critic vext! How must thy listening spirit now
rejoice To be interpreted by such a voice !
Or anchorites beneath Engaddi's palms
Pacing the Dead Sea beach, And singing slow their old Armenian
psalms In half-articulate speech; Or caravans, that from Bassora's gate
With westward steps depart; Or Mecca's pilgrims, confident of Fate,
And resolute in heart; These have passed over it, or may have
passed! Now in this crystal tower Imprisoned by some curious hand at
last, It counts the passing hour. And as I gaze, these narrow walls ex
pand; Before my dreamy eye Stretches the desert with its shifting
sand, Its unimpeded sky. And borne aloft by the sustaining blast,
This little golden thread
A form of fear and dread.
Across the boundless plain, The column and its broader shadow run,
Till thought pursues in vain. The vision vanishes! These walls again
Shut out the lurid sun, Shut out the hot, immeasurable plain;
The half-hour's sand is run !
SAND OF THE DESERT IN AN
HOUR-GLASS. A HANDFUL of red sand, from the hot
clime Of Arab deserts brought, Within this glass becomes the spy of
Time, The minister of Thought. How many weary centuries has it been
About these deserts blown! How many strange vicissitudes has seen How many
histories known! Perhaps the camels of the Ishmaelite
Trampled and passed it o'er, When into Egypt from the patriarch's
sight His favourite son they bore. Perhaps the feet of Moses, burnt and
bare, Crushed it beneath their tread; Or Pharaoh's flashing wheels into the
air Scattered it as they sped; Or Mary, with the Christ of Nazareth
Held close in her caress,
I hear the beat
They seek a southern lea.
But their forms I cannot see.
Come not from wings of birds.
Seeking a warmer clime.
With the murmuring sound of rhyme.
PEGASUS IN POUND. Once into a quiet village,
Without haste and without heed, In the golden prime of morning,
Strayed the poet's winged steed. It was Autumn, and incessant Piped the quails from shocks and
sheaves; And, like living coals, the apples
Burned among the withering leaves. Loud the clamorous bell was ringing
From its belfry gaunt and grim; 'Twas the daily call to labour,
Not a triumph meant for him. Not the less he saw the landscape,
In its gleaming vapour veiled; Not the less he breathed the odours
That the dying leaves exhaled. Thus, upon the village common,
By the school-boys he was found, And the wise men, in their wisdom,
Put him straightway into pound. Then the sombre village crier,
Ringing loud his brazen belí, Wandered down the street proclaiming
There was an estray to sell. And the curious country people,
Rich and poor, and young and old, Came in haste to see this wondrous
Winged steed, with mane of gold. Thus the day passed, and the evening
Fell, with vapours cold and dim; But it brought no food nor shelter,
Brought no straw nor stall, for him. Patiently, and still expectant,
Looked he through the wooden bars, Saw the moon rise o'er the landscape,
Saw the tranquil, patient stars; Till at length the bell at midnight
Sounded from its dark abode, And, from out a neighbouring farmyard,
Loud the cock Alectryon crowed. Then, with nostrils wide distended,
Breaking from his iron chain, And unfolding far his pinions,
To those stars he soared again. On the morrow, when the village
Woke to all its toil and care, Lo! the strange steed had departed,
And they knew not when nor where.
THE OPEN WINDOW. The old house by the lindens
Stood silent in the shade, And on the gravelled pathway.
The light and shadow played.
Wide open to the air;
They were no longer there.
Was standing by the door ;
Who would return no more.
They played not in the hall;
Were hanging over all.
With sweet, familiar tone;
Will be heard in dreams alone! And the boy that walked beside me,
He could not understand Why closer in mine, ah! closer,
I pressed his warm, soft hand!