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Rest your slippers on me," beamed the
fender, “I brighten at touch of your feet.” “ We know the practised finger,"
Said the books,“ that seems like brain;”. And the shy page rustled the secret
It had kept till I came again.
Sang the pillow, “My down once quivered
On nightingales' throats that flew Through moonlit gardens of Hafiz
To gather quaint dreams for you."
Ah me, where the Past sowed heart's-ease,
The Present plucks rue for us men ! I come back : that scar unhealing
Was not in the churchyard then.
I go to the ridge in the forest
But, I think, the house is unaltered,
I will go and beg to look At the rooms that were once familiar
To my life as its bed to a brook.
Unaltered! Alas for the sameness
That makes the change but more ! 'Tis a dead man I see in the mirrors,
'Tis his tread that chills the floor!
To learn such a simple lesson,
Need I go to Paris and Rome, That the many make the household,
But only one the home ?
To me 't is not cheer thou art singing:
'T was just a womanly presence,
An influence unexprest, But a rose she had worn, on my grave
sod Were more than long life with the rest ! 'T was a smile, 't was a garment's rustle,
'T was nothing that I can phrase, But the whole dumb dwelling grew con
scious, And put on her looks and ways. Were it mine I would close the shutters,
Like lids when the life is fled, And the funeral fire should wind it,
This corpse of a home that is dead. For it died that autumn morning
When she, its soul, was borne To lie all dark on the hillside
That looks over woodland and corn.
As thou musest still of the ocean
The voyage's struggle and strife, And safe as stars in all men's memories.
Cold as the sea, grandly compassionless;
mocked. THE VOYAGE TO VINLAND Nay, broad awake, they would not let him
be; In the letter to Mr. Norton, quoted at the They shaped themselves gigantic in the beginning of this section, reference is made to
mist, The Voyage to Vinland, which Lowell had some They rose far-beckoning in the lamps of thought of making the title-poem of the vol
heaven, In the same letter he says further regarding it: “Part of (this poem), you remem
They whispered invitation in the winds,
And breath came from them, mightier than ber, was written eighteen years ago. I meant to have made it much longer, but maybe it
the wind, is better as it is. I clapt a beginning upon
To strain the lagging sails of his resolve, it, patched it in the middle, and then got to Till that grew passion which before was what has always been my favorite part of the
wish, plan. This was to be a prophecy by Gudrida, And youth seemed all too costly to be a woman who went with them, of the future
staked America. I have written in an unrhymed On the soiled cards wherewith men played alliterated measure, in very short verse and stanzas of five lines each. It does not aim at following the law of the Icelandic alliterated Letting Time pocket up the larger life,
Lost with base gain of raiment, food, and stave, but hints at it and also at the asonante, without being properly either. But it runs
roof. well and is melodious, and we think it pretty
“What helpeth lightness of the feet ?” good here, as does also Howells. Well, after they said, that, of course, I was all for alliteration." The “ Oblivion runs with swifter foot than poem had apparently first borne the title of
they; Leif's Voyage, as he writes of that poem to Mr. Or strength of sinew ? New men come as Briggs in 1850.
And those sleep nameless; or renown in BIÖRN'S BECKONERS
Swords grave no name on the long-memNow Biörn, the son of Heriulf, bad ill days
oried rock Because the heart within hin seethed with But moss shall hide it; they alone who blood
wring That would not be allayed with any toil, Some secret purpose from the unwilling Whether of war or hunting or the oar,
gods But was auhungered for some joy untried: Survive in song for yet a little while For the brain grew not weary with the To vex, like us, the dreams of later men, limbs,
Ourselves a dream, and dreamlike all we But, while they slept, still hammered like a did.”
And by his thought the more discomforted, Denied all foothold. But the dream re- Till Eric Thurlson kept his Yule-tide feast: mained,
And thither came he, called among the rest, And every night with yellow-bearded kings Silent, lone-minded, a church-door to mirth: His sleep was haunted, — mighty men of But, ere deep draughts forbade such seriold,
ons song. Once yonng as he, now ancient like the
grave Skald might chant nor after gods,
Then Eric looked at Thorwald where he sat From circumstance untoward feathers Mute as a cloud amid the stormy hall,
plucks And said: “O Skald, sing now an olden Crumpled and cheap; and barbs with iron song,
will: Such as our fathers heard who led great The hour that passes is her quiver-boy: lives;
When she draws bow, 't is not across the And, as the bravest on a shield is borne
wind, Along the waving host that shouts him king, Nor 'gainst the sun her haste - snatched So rode their thrones upon the thronging arrow sings,
For sun and wind have plighted faith to Then the old man arose; white-haired he
Ere men have heard the sinew twang, beWhite-bearded, and with eyes that looked
In the butt's heart her trembling messenFrom their still region of perpetual snow, Beyond the little smokes and stirs of men: His head was bowed with gathered flakes “The song is old and simple that I sing;
But old and simple are despised as cheap, As winter bends the sea-foreboding pine, Though hardest to achieve of human things: But something triumphed in his brow and Goud were the days of yore, when men eye,
were tried Which whoso saw it could not see and By ring of shields, as now by ring of words; crouch:
But while the gods are left, and hearts of Loud rang the emptied beakers as he mused, men, Brooding his eyried thoughts; then, as an And wide-doored ocean, still the days are eagle
good. Circles smooth - winged above the wind- Still o'er the earth hastes Opportunity, vexed woods,
Seeking the hardy soul that seeks for her. So wheeled his soul into the air of song Be not abroad, nor deaf with household High o'er the stormy hall; and thus he sang:
That chatter loudest as they mean the “ The fletcher for his arrow-shaft picks out
least; Wood closest - grained, long - seasoned, Swift-willed is thrice - willed; late means straight as light;
nevermore; And from a quiver full of such as these Impatient is her foot, nor turns again.” The wary bowman, matched against his He ceased; upon his bosom sank his beard peers,
Sadly, as one who oft had seen her pass Long doubting, singles yet once more the Nor stayed her: and forthwith the frothy best.
tide Who is it needs such flawless shafts as Of interrupted wassail roared along. Fate ?
But Biörn, the son of Heriulf, sat apart What archer of his arrows is so choice, Musing, and, with his eyes upon the fire, Or hits the white so surely? They are men, Saw shapes of arrows, lost as soon as seen. The chosen of her quiver; nor for her “A ship,” he muttered, “is a wingëd bridge Will every reed suffice, or cross-grained That leadeth every way to man's desire, stick
And ocean the wide gate to manful luck." At random from life's vulgar fagot plucked: And then with that resolve his heart was Such answer household ends; but she will bent, have
Which, like a humming shaft, through Souls straight and clear, of toughest fibre, many a stripe sound
Of day and night, across the unpathwayed Down to the heart of heart; from these she strips
Shot the brave prow that cut on Vinland All needless stuff, all sapwood; seasons
The first rune in the Saga of the West.
Men from the Northland,
Dark hair and fair hair, Red blood and blue blood, There shall be mingled; Force of the ferment Makes the New Man.
Pick of all kindreds,
GUDRIDA'S PROPHECY Four weeks they sailed, a speck in sky-shut
seas, Life, where was never life that knew itself, But tumbled lubber-like in blowing whales; Thought, where the like had never been
before Since Thought primeval brooded the abyss; Alone as men were never in the world. They saw the icy foundlings of the sea, White cliffs of silence, beautiful by day, Or looming, sudden-perilous, at night In monstrous hush; or sometimes in the dark The waves broke ominous with paly gleams Crushed by the prow in sparkles of cold fire. Then came green stripes of sea that prom
ised land But brought it not, and on the thirtieth day Low in the west were wooded shores like
cloud. They shouted as men shout with sudden
hope; But Biörn was silent, such strange loss
there is Between the dream's fulfilment and the
dream, Such sad abatement in the goal attained. Then Gudrida, that was a prophetess, Rapt with strange influence from Atlantis,
Sang: Her words: the vision was the dreaming
Them waits the New Land;
Leaving their sons' sons