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GIDDINGS, far rougher names than thine have grown
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 denies
A right to plead against the lifelong woes Which are the Negro's glimpse of Freedom's skies:
Fear nothing, and hope all things, as the
Alone may do securely; every hour
Lose somewhat of their long- usurped power,
And Freedom's lightest word can make them shiver
With a base dread that clings to them for
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
But Poesy springs not from rocks and
Her womb and cradle are the human heart,
The herald of a fuller truth than yet
Since the earth glittered in her stainless prime,
Of a more glorious sunrise than of old Drew wondrous melodies from Memnon huge,
Yea, draws them still, though now he sit waist-deep
In the ingulfing flood of whirling sand,
Pained with her mighty hum the calm, blue heaven:
Shall the dull stone pay grateful orisons, And we till noonday bar the splendor out, Lest it reproach and chide our sluggard hearts,
Warm-nestled in the down of Prejudice, And be content, though clad with angelwings,
Close-clipped, to hop about from perch to perch,
In paltry cages of dead men's dead thoughts?
Oh, rather, like the skylark, soar and sing, And let our gushing songs befit the dawn And sunrise, and the yet unshaken dew Brimming the chalice of each full-blown hope,
Whose blithe front turns to greet the growing day!
Never had poets such high call before,
And his mere word makes despots tremble
Than ever Brutus with his dagger could. Wait for no hints from waterfalls or woods,
Nor dream that tales of red men, brute and fierce,
Repay the finding of this Western World, Or needed half the globe to give them birth:
Spirit supreme of Freedom! not for this Did great Columbus tame his eagle soul To jostle with the daws that perch in courts;
Not for this, friendless, on an unknown sea, Coping with mad waves and more mutinous spirits,
Battled he with the dreadful ache at heart Which tempts, with devilish subtleties of doubt,
The hermit of that loneliest solitude,
Yet would this cataract of boiling life
Could make apostles, yea, with tongues of fire,
Of hearts half-darkened back again to clay!
'Tis the soul only that is national, And he who pays true loyalty to that Alone can claim the wreath of patriotism.
Beloved! if I wander far and oft From that which I believe, and feel, and know,
Thou wilt forgive, not with a sorrowing heart,
But with a strengthened hope of better things;
Knowing that I, though often blind and
To those I love, and oh, more false than
Unto myself, have been most true to thee, And that whoso in one thing hath been true
Can be as true in all. Therefore thy hope
Whether, as now, we journey hand in hand,
The love between us, which can now look back upon happy years of still enlarging confidence, and forward, with a sure trust in its own prophecy of yet deeper and tenderer sympathies, as long as life shall remain to us, stands in no need, I am well aware, of so poor a voucher as an Epistle Dedicatory. True, it is one of Love's chiefest charms, that it must still take special pains to be superfluous in seeking out ways to declare itself, but for these it demands no publicity, and wishes no acknowledgment. But the admiration which one soul feels for another loses half its worth, if it let slip any opportunity of making itself heard and felt by that strange Abbot of Unreason which we call the World. For the humblest man's true admiration is no uncer
tain oracle of the verdict of Posterity.-the unerring tribunal where Genius is at last allowed the right of trial by its peers, and to which none but sincere and real Greatness can appeal with an unwavering heart. There the false witnesses of to-day will be unable to appear, being fled to some hospitable Texas in the realms of Limbo, beyond the sphere of its jurisdiction and the summons of its apparitors. I have never seen the works of the Great Masters of your Art, but I have studied their lives, and sure I am that no nobler, gentler, or purer spirit than yours was ever anointed by the Eternal Beauty to bear that part of her divine message which it belongs to the Great Painter to reveal. The sympathy of sister pursuits, of an agreeing artistic faith, and, yet more, of a common hope for the final destiny of man, has not been wanting to us, and now you will forgive the pride I feel in having this advantage over you, namely, of telling that admiration in public which I have never stinted to utter in private. You will believe, that, as
your winning that fadeless laurel, which you deserve, and which will one day surely be yours, can never heighten my judgment of you, so nothing that is not in your own control will ever lower it, and that I shall think as simply of you when the World's opinion has overtaken my own, as now.
As the swiftly diverging channels of Life bear wider and wider apart from us the friends who hoisted sail with us as fellow-mariners, when we cast off for the voyage, and as some,
A LEGEND OF BRITTANY
Lowell was in high spirits when he was at work on A Legend of Brittany. "I am now at work," he writes to G. B. Loring, under date of June 15, 1843, on a still longer poem [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 perhaps my body) alive. My wings were never so light and strong as now."
A Legend of Brittany and most of the other poems in the volume which it opened belong in the category referred to by him in his Prefatory Note, of pieces which he "would gladly suppress or put into the Coventry of smaller print in an appendix." Their value is chiefly in the record they contain of his poetic development and his temperament.
FAIR as a summer dream was Margaret, Such dream as in a poet's soul might start,
Musing of old loves while the moon doth
Her hair was not more sunny than her heart,
Though like a natural golden coronet
It circled her dear head with careless art, Mocking the sunshine, that would fain have lent
To its frank grace a richer ornament.
His loved one's eyes could poet ever speak, So kind, so dewy, and so deep were hers,
But, while he strives, the choicest phrase, too weak,
Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs;