Слике страница
PDF
ePub

XXV

I GRIEVE not that ripe Knowledge takes

away The charm that Nature to my childhood

wore, For, with that insight, cometh, day by day, A greater bliss than wonder was before; The real doth not clip the poet's wings, To win the secret of a weed's plain heart Reveals some clue to spiritual things, And stumbling guess becomes firm-footed

art: Flowers are not flowers unto the poet's

eyes, Their beauty thrills him by an inward

sense; He knows that outward seemings are but

lies, Or, at the most, but earthly shadows,

whence The soul that looks within for truth may

guess The presence of some wondrous heavenli

That sorrow in our happy world must be
Love's deepest spokesman and interpreter:
But, as a mother feels her cbild first stir
Under her heart, so felt I instantly
Deep in my soul another bond to thee
Thrill with that life we saw depart from

her; O mother of our angel child ! twice dear ! Death knits as well as parts, and still, I

wis, Her tender radiance shall infold us here, Even as the light, borne up by inward bliss, Threads the void glooms of space without

a fear, To print on farthest stars her pitying kiss.

L'ENVOI

ness.

XXVI

have grown

TO J. R. GIDDINGS GIDDINGS, far rougher names than thine Smoother than honey on the lips of men; And thou shalt aye be honorably known, As one who bravely used his tongue and pen, As best befits a freeman, even for those To whom our Law's unblushing front de

nies A right to plead against the lifelong woes Which are the Negro's glimpse of Free

dom's skies: Fear nothing, and hope all things, as the

Right Alone may do securely; every hour The thrones of Ignorance and ancient

Night Lose somewhat of their long - usurpëd

power, And Freedom's lightest word can make

them shiver With a base dread that clings to them for

WHETHER my heart hath wiser grown or

not, In these three years, since I to thee in

scribed, Mine own betrothed, the firstlings of my

muse, Poor windfalls of unripe experience, Young buds plucked hastily by childish

hands Not patient to await more full-blown flow

ers, At least it hath seen more of life and men, And pondered more,

and grown a shade more sad; Yet with no loss of hope or settled trust In the benignness of that Providence Which shapes from out our elements awry The grace and order that we wonder at, The mystic harmony of right and wrong, Both working out His wisdom and our

good: A trust, Beloved, chiefly learned of thee, Who hast that gift of patient tenderness, The instinctive wisdom of a woman's heart.

ever.

They tell us that our land was made for

song, With its huge rivers and sky-piercing

peaks, Its sealike lakes and mighty cataracts, Its forests vast and hoar, and prairies wide, And mounds that tell of wondrous tribes

extinct. But Poesy springs not from rocks and

woods; Her womb and cradle are the human heart,

XXVII I THOUGHT our love at full, but I did err; Joy's wreath drooped o'er mine eyes; I

could not see

And she can find a nobler theme for song Which stretch far upward into heaven itIn the most loathsome man that blasts the

self, sight

And give such widespread and exulting Than in the broad expanse of sea and shore

view Between the frozen deserts of the poles. Of hope, and faith, and onward destiny, All nations have their message from on That shrunk Parnassus to a molebill high,

dwindles. Each the messiah of some central thought, Our new Atlautis, like a morning-star, For the fulilment and delight of Man: Silvers the mirk face of slow-yielding One has to teach that labor is divine;

Night, Another Freedom; and another Mind; The herald of a fuller truth than yet And all, that God is open-eyed and just, Hath gleamed upon the upraised face of The happy centre and calm heart of all.

Man

Since the earth glittered in her stainless Are, then, our woods, our mountains, and prime, our streams,

Of a more glorious sunrise than of old Needful to teach our poets how to sing ? Drew wondrous melodies from Memnon O maiden rare, far other thoughts were ours, huge, When we have sat by ocean’s foaming Yea, draws them still, though now he sit marge,

waist-deep And watched the waves leap roaring on the In the ingulfing flood of whirling sand, rocks,

And look across the wastes of endless gray, Than young

Leander and his Hero bad, Sole wreck, where once his hundred-gated Gazing from Sestos to the other shore.

Thebes The nioon looks down and ocean worships Pained with her mighty hum the calm, her,

blue heaven: Stars rise and set, and seasons come and go Shall the dull stone pay grateful orisons, Even as they did in Homer's elder time, And we till noonday bar the splendor ont, But we behold them not with Grecian eyes: Lest it reproach and chide our sluggard Then they were types of beauty and of hearts, strength,

Warm-nestled in the down of Prejudice, But now of freedom, unconfined and pure, And be content, though clad with angelSubject alone to Order's higher law.

wings, What cares the Russian serf or Southern Close-clipped, to hop about from perch to slave

perch, Though we should speak as man spake In paltry cages of dead men's dead never yet

thoughts ? Of gleaming Hudson's broad magnificence, Oh, rather, like the skylark, soar and sing, Or green Niagara's never-ending roar ? And let our gushing songs befit the dawn Our country hath a gospel of her own And sunrise, and the yet unshaken dew To preach and practise before all the Brimming the chalice of each full-blown world,

hope, The freedom and divinity of man,

Whose blithe front turns to greet the The glorious claims of human brother- growing day! hood,

Never had poets such high call before, Which to pay nobly, as a freeman should, Never can poets hope for higher one, Gains the sole wealth that will not fly And, if they be but faithful to their trust, away,

Earth will remember them with love and joy, And the soul's fealty to none but God. And oh, far better, God will not forget. These are realities, which make the shows For he who settles Freedom's principles Of outward Nature, be they ne'er so grand, Writes the death-warrant of all tyranny; Seem small, and worthless, and contempti- Who speaks the truth stabs Falsehood to ble.

the heart, These are the mountain-summits for our And his mere word makes despots tremble Than ever Brutus with his dagger could. Could make apostles, yea, with tongues of Wait for no hints from waterfalls or

bards,

more

fire, woods,

Of hearts half-darkened back again to Nor dream that tales of red men, brute clay! and fierce,

'T is the soul only that is national, Repay the finding of this Western World, And he who pays true loyalty to that Or needed half the globe to give them Alone can claim the wreath of patriotism.

birth: Spirit supreme of Freedom ! not for this Beloved ! if I wander far and oft Did great Columbus tame his eagle soul From that which I believe, and feel, and To jostle with the daws that perch in know, courts;

Thou wilt forgive, not with a sorrowing Not for this, friendless, on an unknown sea,

heart, Coping with mad waves and more mutin- But with a strengthened hope of better ous spirits,

things; Battled he with the dreadful ache at heart Knowing that I, though often blind and Which tempts, with devilish subtleties of

false doubt,

To those I love, and oh, more false than The hermit of that loneliest solitude,

all The silent desert of a great New Thought; | Unto myself, have been most true to thee, Though loud Niagara were to-day struck And that whoso in one thing hath been dumb,

true Yet would this cataract of boiling life Can be as true in all. Therefore thy hope Rush plunging on and on to endless deeps, May yet not prove unfruitful, and thy love And utter thunder till the world shall Meet, day by day, with less unworthy cease,

thanks, A thunder worthy of the poet's song, Whether, as now, we journey hand in hand, And which alone can fill it with true life. Or, parted in the body, yet are one The high evangel to our country granted In spirit and the love of holy things.

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS

[ocr errors]

WHEN Lowell published his second volume, tain oracle of the verdict of Posterity,- the Poems, in 1843, he opened it with A Legend of anerring tribunal where Genius is at last alBrittany, and dedicated it in the following let- lowed the right of trial by its peers, and to ter to the painter, William Page :

which none but sincere and real Greatness can

appeal with an unwavering heart. There the MY DEAR FRIEND,

false witnesses of to-day will be unable to apThe love between us, which can now look pear, being fled to some hospitable Texas in back upon happy years of still enlarging con- the realms of Limbo, beyond the sphere of its fidence, and forward, with a sure trust in its jurisdiction and the summons of its apparitors. own prophecy of yet deeper and tenderer sym- I have never seen the works of the Great pathies, as long as life shall remain tous, Masters of your Art, but I have studied their stands in no need, I am well aware, of so poor lives, and sure I am that no nobler, gentler, or a voucher as an Epistle Dedicatory. True, it purer spirit than yours was ever anointed by is one of Love's chiefest charms, that it must the Eternal Beauty to bear that part of her still take special pains to be superfluous in divine message which it belongs to the Great seeking out ways to declare itself, — but for Painter to reveal. The sympathy of sister these it demands no publicity, and wishes no pursuits, of an agreeing artistic faith, and, yet acknowledgment. But the admiration which more, of a common hope for the final destiny one soul feels for another loses half its worth, of man, has not been wanting to us, and now if it let slip any opportunity of making itself you will forgive the pride I feel in having this heard and felt by that strange Abbot of Un- advantage over you, namely, of telling that adreason which we call the World. For the miration in public which I have never stinted humblest man's true admiration is no uncer- to utter in private. You will believe, that, as your winning that fadeless laurel, which you even, who are yet side by side with us, no deserve, and which will one day surely be longer send back to us an answering cheer, we yours, can never heighten my judgment of you, are drawn the more closely to those that reso nothing that is not in your own control will main, and I would fain hope that this joining ever lower it, and that I shall think as simply of our names will always be one of our not of you when the World's opinion has overtaken least happy memories. my own, as now.

with all best wishes, As the swiftly diverging channels of Life

I remain always your friend, bear wider and wider apart from us the friends

J. R. LOWELL. who hoisted sail with us as fellow-mariners, CAMBRIDGE, December 15, 1843. when we cast off for the voyage, and as some,

And so,

III

A LEGEND OF BRITTANY As one may see a dream dissolve and

break Lowell was in high spirits when he was at Out of his grasp when he to tell it stirs, work on A Legend oj Brittany. “I am now Like that sad Dryad doomed no more to at work,” he writes to G. B. Loring, under

bless date of June 15, 1843, “ on a still longer poem The mortal who revealed her loveliness. (than Prometheus) in the ottava rima, to be the first in my forthcoming volume. I feel more and more assured every day that I shall yet do something that will keep my name (and per

She dwelt forever in a region bright, haps my body) alive. My wings were never so Peopled with living fancies of her own, light and strong as now.'

Where naught could come but visions of A Legend of Brittany and most of the other delight, poems in the volume which it opened belong Far, far aloof from earth's eternal moan: in the category referred to by him in his Prefa- | A summer cloud thrilled througb with rosy tory Note, of pieces which he “would gladly

light, suppress or put into the Coventry of smaller

Floating beneath the blue sky all alone, print in an appendix.” Their value is chiefly in the record they contain of his poetic devel

Her spirit wandered by itself, and won opment and his temperament.

A golden edge from some unsetting sun.

IV

PART FIRST

I

set:

The heart grows richer that its lot is poor,
God blesses want with larger sympa-

thies, FAIR as a summer dream was Margaret, Love enters gladliest at the humble door, Such dream as in a poet's soul might And makes the cot a palace with his start,

eyes; Musing of old loves while the moon doth So Margaret's heart a softer beauty wore,

And grew in gentleness and patience Her hair was not more sunny than her

wise, heart,

For she was but a simple herdsman's child, Though like a natural golden coronet A lily chance-sown in the rugged wild. It circled her dear head with careless

V art, Mocking the sunshine, that would fain There was no beauty of the wood or field have lent

But she its fragrant bosom-secret knew, To its frank grace a richer ornament. Nor any but to her would freely yield

Some grace that in her soul took root His loved one's eyes could poet ever speak, Natnre to her shone as but now revealed, So kind, so dewy, and so deep were All rosy-fresh with innocent morning hers, –

dew, But, while be strives, the choicest phrase, And looked into her heart with dim, sweet too weak,

eyes Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs; That left it full of sylvan memories.

and grew:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ПретходнаНастави »