Page images

open doors

A ship sailed from New Haven,

HAUNTED HOUSES. And the keen and frosty airs,

ALL houses wherein men have lived That filled her sails at parting,

and died Were heavy with good men's prayers. Are haunted houses. Through the “O Lord ! if it be thy pleasure”Thus prayed the old divine

The harmless phantoms on their errands “To bury our friends in the ocean,

glide, Take them, for they are thine!”

With feet that make no sound upon But Master Lamberton muttered,

the floors. And under his breath said he,

We meet them at the doorway, on the “This ship is so crank and walty,

stair, I fear our grave she will be !

Along the passages they come and go, And the ships that came from England Impalpable impressions on the air,

When the winter months were gone, A sense of something moving to and Brought no tidings of this vessel,

fro. Nor of Master Lamberton.

There are more guests at table than This put the people to praying

the hosts That the Lord would let them hear Invited; the illuminated hall What in his greater wisdom

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive He had done with friends so dear.

ghosts, And at last their prayers were an

As silent as the pictures on the wall. swered:

The stranger at my fireside cannot see It was in the month of June,

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds An hour before the sunset

I hear; Of a windy afternoon,

He but perceives what is; while unto When, steadily steering landward, A ship was seen below,

All that has been is visible and clear. And they knew it was Lamberton,

We have no title-deeds to house or Master,

lands; Who sailed so long ago.

Owners and occupants of earlier dates On she came, with a cloud of canvas, From graves forgotten stretch their Right against the wind that blew,

dusty hands, Until the eye could distinguish

And hold in mortmain still their old The faces of the crew.

estates. Then fell her straining topmasts, The spirit-world around this world of

Hanging tangled in the shrouds; And her sails were loosened and lifted,

Floats like an atmosphere, and everyAnd blown away like clouds.

where And the masts, with all their rigging, Wafts through these earthly mists and Fell slowly, one by one;

vapours dense And the hulk dilated and vanished,

A vital breath of more ethereal air.. As a sea-mist in the sun !

Our little lives are kept in equipoise And the people who saw this marvel By opposite attractions and desires! Each said unto his friend,

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys, That this was the mould of their vessel, And the more 'noble instinct that And thus her tragic end.

aspires. And the pastor of the village

These perturbations, this perpetual jar Gave thanks to God in prayer,

Ofearthly wants and aspirations high, That, to quiet their troubled spirits, Come from the influence of an unseen He had sent this Ship of Air.

star, An undiscovered planet in our sky.



And lowliness and humility,

The richest and rarest of all dowers? Who shall tell us? No one speaks ; No colour shoots into those cheeks,

Either of anger or of pride, At the rude question we have asked ; Nor will the mystery be unmasked

By those who are sleeping at her side. Hereafter?

And do you think to look On the terrible pages of that Book

To find her failings, faults, and errors? Ah, you will then have other cares, In your own short-comings and despairs, In

your own secret sins and terrors!

And as the moon from some dark gate

of cloud Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge

of light, Across whose trembling planks our

fancies crowd Into the realm of mystery and night,So from the world of spirits there de

scends A bridge of light, connecting it with

this, O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways

and bends, Wander our thoughts above the dark

abyss. DAYLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT. In broad daylight, and at noon, Yesterday I saw the moon Sailing high, but faint and white, As a schoolboy's paper kite. In broad daylight, yesterday, I read a Poet's mystic lay; And it seemed to me at most As a phantom or a ghost. But at length the feverish day Like a passion died away, And the night, serene and still, Fell on village, vale, and hill. Then the moon, in all her pride, Like a spirit glorified, Filled and overflowed the night With revelations of her light. And the Poet's song again Passed like music through my brain; Night interpreted to me All its grace and mystery.

THE EMPEROR'S BIRD'S NEST. Once the Emperor Charles of Spain,

With his swarthy, grave commanders, I forget in what campaign, Long besieged, in mud and rain,

Some old frontier town of Flanders. Up and down the dreary camp,

In great boots of Spanish leather, Striding with a measured tramp, These Hidalgos, dull and damp, Cursed the Frenchmen, cursed the

weather. Thus as to and fro they went,

Over upland and through hollow, Giving their impatience vent, Perched upon the Emperor's tent

In her nest they spied a swallow. Yes, it was a swallow's nest,

Built of clay and hair of horses, Mane, or tail, or dragoon's crest, Found on hedge-rows east and west,

After skirmish of the forces. Then an old Hidalgo said,

As he twirled his gray mustachio, “Sure this swallow overhead Thinks the Emperor's tent a shed,

And the Emperor but a Macho!”* Hearing his imperial name

Coupled with those words of malice, Half in anger, half in shame, Forth the great campaigner came

Slowly from his canvas palace.

* Macho, in Spanish, signifies a mule. Golondrina is the feminine form of Golondrino, a swallow, and also a cant name for a deserter.


CAMBRIDGE. In the village churchyard she lies, Dust is in her beautiful eyes, No more she breathes, nor feels, nor

stirs; At her feet and at her head Lies a slave to attend the dead,

But their dust is white as hers. Was she a lady of high degree, So much in love with vanity

And foolish pomp of this world of ours? Or was it Christian charity,

“Let no hand the bird molest,”.

Said he solemnly, “nor hurt her!” Adding then, by way of jest, Golondrina is my guest,

'Tis the wife of some deserter!” Swift as bowstring speeds a shaft, Through the camp was spread the

rumour, And the soldiers, as they quaffed Flemish beer at dinner, laughed

At the Emperor's pleasant humour. So unharmed and unafraid

Sat the swallow still and brooded, Till the constant cannonade Through the walls a breach had made, And

the siege was thus concluded. Then the army, elsewhere bent,

Struck its tents as if disbanding,
Only not the Emperor's tent,
For he ordered, ere he went,

Very curtly, “Leave it standing !” So it stood there all alone,

Loosely flapping, torn and tattered, Till the brood was fledged and flown, Singing o'er those walls of stone

Which the cannon-shot had shattered.

By the fireside there are old men seated, Seeing ruined cities in the ashes,

Asking sadly Of the Past what it can ne'er restore

them. By the fireside there are youthful

dreamers, Building castles fair, with stately stair


Asking blindly 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, thought

ful faces,

Waiting, watching For a well-known footstep in the pas

sage. Each man's chimney is his Golden

Mile-stone; Is the central point, from which he

Every distance Through the gateways of the world

around him. In his farthest wanderings still he sees it; Hears the talking flame, the answering


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 home

stead. We may build more splendid habita

tions, Fill our rooms with paintings and with


But we cannot
Buy with gold the old associations !


THE GOLDEN MILE-STONE. LEAFLESS are the trees; their purple

branches Spread themselves abroad, like reefs of


Rising silent In the Red Sea of the Winter sunset. From the hundred chimneys of the vil

lage, Like the Afreet in the Arabian story,

Smoky columns Tower aloft into the air of amber. At the window winks the flickering fire

light; Here and there the lamps of evening


Social watch-fires 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


THE JEWISH CEMETERY AT How came they here? What burst of NEWPORT.

Christian hate, How strange it seems! These Hebrews What persecution, merciless and blind, in their graves,

Drove o'er the sea--that desert deso

lateClose by the street of this fair seaport

These Ishmaels and Hagars of mantown,

kind? Silent beside the never-silent waves,

At rest in all this moving up and down! They lived in narrow streets and lanes The trees are white with dust, that o'er

obscure, their sleep

Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and

mire; Wave their broad curtains in the south wind's breath,

Taught in the school of patience to

endure While underneath such leafy tents they keep

The life of anguish and the death of

fire. The long mysterious Exodus of Death.

All their lives long, with the unleavened

bread And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,

And bitter herbs of exile and its fears, That with level flags their

The wasting famine of the heart theyfed, pave

And slaked its thirst with marah of burial-place,

their tears. Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down

Anathema maranatha! was the cry And broken by Moses at the moun- That rang from town to town, from tain's base.

street to street;

At every gate the accursed Mordecai The very names recorded here are

Was mocked and jeered, and spurned strange,

by Christian feet. Of foreign accent, and of different climes ;

Pride and humiliation hand in hand Alvares and Rivera interchange

Walked with them through the world With Abraham and Jacob of old

where'er they went; times.

Trampled and beaten were they as the

sand, “ Blessed be God! for He created

And yet unshaken as the continent. Death!”

For in the background figures vague The mourners said, “and death is

and vast rest and peace; Then added, in the certainty of faith,

Of patriarchs and of prophets rose

sublime, And giveth Life that never more shall cease.”

And all the great traditions of the Past

They saw reflected in the coming time. Closed are the portals of their Syna- And thus for ever with reverted look gogue,

The mystic volume of the world they No Psalms of David now the silence

read, break,

Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

book, In the grand dialect the Prophets Till life became a Legend of the Dead. spake.

But ah! what once has been shall be Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

And not neglected; for a head unseen, The groaning earth in travail and in Scattering its bounty, like a summer

pain rain,

Brings forth its races, but does not Still keeps their graves and their re

restore, membrance green.

And the dead nations never rise again.

no more.

OLIVER BASSELIN.* In the Valley of the Vire

Still is seen an ancient mill, With its gables quaint and queer, And beneath the window-sill,

On the stone,

These words alone:
“Oliver Basselin lived here."
Far above it, on the steep,

Ruined stands the old Château;
Nothing but the donjon-keep
Left for shelter or for show.'

Its vacant eyes

Stare at the skies,
Stare at the valley green and deep.
Once a convent, old and brown,

Looked, but ah ! it looks no more, From the neighbouring hillside down On the rushing and the roar

Of the stream

Whose sunny gleam
Cheers the little Norman town.
In that darksome mill of stone,

To the water's dash and din,
Careless, humble, and unknown,
Sang the poet Basselin

Songs that fill

That ancient mill With a splendour of its own. Never feeling of unrest Broke the pleasant dream he

dreamed ; Only made to be his nest, All the lovely valley seemed ;

No desire

Of soaring higher
Stirred or fluttered in his breast.
True, his songs were not divine;

Were not songs of that high art,
Which, as winds do in the pine,
Find an answer in each heart:

But the mirth

Of this green earth
Laughed and revelled in his line.

* Oliver Basselin, the Père joyeux du Vaudeville," flourished in the fifteenth century, and gave to his convivial songs the name of his native valleys, in which he sang them, Vauxde-Vire. This name was afterwards corrupted into the modern Vaudeville.

From the alehouse and the inn,

Opening on the narrow street, Came the loud convivial din, Singing and applause of feet,

The laughing lays

That in those days
Sang the poet Basselin.
In the castle, cased in steel,

Knights, who fought at Agincourt, Watched and waited, spur on heel; But the poet sang for sport

Songs that rang

Another clang, Songs that lowlier hearts could feel. In the convent, clad in gray,

Sat the monks in lonely cells, Paced the cloisters, knelt to pray, And the poet heard their bells;

But his rhymes

Found other chimes, Nearer to the earth than they. Gone are all the barons bold,

Gone are all the knights and squires, Gone the abbot stern and cold, And the brotherhood of friars;

Not a name

Remains to fame, From those mouldering days of old! Bu

poet's memory here Of the landscape makes a part; Like the river, swift and clear, Flows his song through many a heart;

Haunting still

That ancient mill,
In the Valley of the Vire.



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

His figure was tall and stately,

Like a boy's his eye appeared ;
His hair was yellow as hay,
But threads of a silvery gray
Gleamed in his tawny beard.

« PreviousContinue »