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And stairs to Sin and Famine known

Sing with the welcome of their feet; The den they enter grows a shrine,

The grimy sash an oriel burns, Their cup of water warms like wine, Their speech is filled from heavenly urns.

About their brows to me appears

An aureole traced in tenderest light, The rainbow-gleam of smiles through tears In dying eyes, by them made bright, Of souls that shivered on the edge

Of that chill ford repassed no more, And in their mercy felt the pledge

And sweetness of the farther shore.



BEAUTY on my hearth-stone blazing!
To-night the triple Zoroaster
Shall my prophet be and master:
To-night will I pure Magian be,
Hymns to thy sole honor raising,
While thou leapest fast and faster,
Wild with self-delighted glee,
Or sink'st low and glowest faintly
As an aureole still and saintly,
Keeping cadence to my praising
Thee! still thee! and only thee!


Elfish daughter of Apollo !

Thee, from thy father stolen and bound
To serve in Vulcan's clangorous smithy,
Prometheus (primal Yankee) found,
And, when he had tampered with thee,
(Too confiding little maid!)
In a reed's precarious hollow
To our frozen earth conveyed:
For he swore I know not what;
Endless ease should be thy lot,
Pleasure that should never falter,
Lifelong play, and not a duty
Save to hover o'er the altar,
Vision of celestial beauty,

Fed with precious woods and spices;
Then, perfidious! having got
Thee in the net of his devices,
Sold thee into endless slavery,
Made thee a drudge to boil the pot,
Thee, Helios' daughter, who dost bear
His likeness in thy golden hair;

Thee, by nature wild and wavery,
Palpitating, evanescent

As the shade of Dian's crescent,
Life, motion, gladness, everywhere!


Fathom deep men bury thee
In the furnace dark and still,
There, with dreariest mockery,
Making thee eat, against thy will,
Blackest Pennsylvanian stone;
But thou dost avenge thy doom,
For, from out thy catacomb,
Day and night thy wrath is blown
In a withering simoom,
And, adown that cavern drear,
Thy black pitfall in the floor,
Staggers the lusty antique cheer,
Despairing, and is seen no more!


Elfish I may rightly name thee;
We enslave, but cannot tame thee;
With fierce snatches, now and then,
Thou pluckest at thy right again,
And thy down-trod instincts savage
To stealthy insurrection creep
While thy wittol masters sleep,
And burst in undiscerning ravage:
Then how thou shak'st thy bacchant locks!
While brazen pulses, far and near,
Throb thick and thicker, wild with fear
And dread conjecture, till the drear
Disordered clangor every steeple rocks!


But when we make a friend of thee,
And admit thee to the hall
On our nights of festival,
Then, Cinderella, who could see

In thee the kitchen's stunted thrall ?
Once more a Princess lithe and tall,
Thou dancest with a whispering tread,
While the bright marvel of thy head
In crinkling gold floats all abroad,
And gloriously dost vindicate
The legend of thy lineage great,
Earth-exiled daughter of the Pythian god!
Now in the ample chimney-place,
To honor thy acknowledged race,
We crown thee high with laurel good,
Thy shining father's sacred wood,
Which, guessing thy ancestral right,
Sparkles and snaps its dumb delight,
And, at thy touch, poor outcast one,

Feels through its gladdened fibres go The tingle and thrill and vassal glow Of instincts loyal to the sun.


O thou of home the guardian Lar,
And, when our earth hath wandered far
Into the cold, and deep snow covers
The walks of our New England lovers,
Their sweet secluded evening-star!
'T was with thy rays the English Muse
Ripened her mild domestic hues;
'Twas by thy flicker that she conned
The fireside wisdom that enrings
With light from heaven familiar things;
By thee she found the homely faith
In whose mild eyes thy comfort stay’th,
When Death, extinguishing his torch,
Gropes for the latch-string in the porch;
The love that wanders not beyond
His earliest nest, but sits and sings
While children smooth his patient wings;
Therefore with thee I love to read

Our brave old poets: at thy touch how stirs

Life in the withered words! how swift recede

Time's shadows! and how glows again Through its dead mass the incandescent

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And, as her incense floats and curls
In airy spires and wayward whirls,
Or poises on its tremulous stalk
A flower of frailest revery,
So winds and loiters, idly free,
The current of unguided talk,
Now laughter-rippled, and now caught
In smooth, dark pools of deeper thought.
Meanwhile thou mellowest every word,
A sweetly unobtrusive third;
For thou hast magic beyond wine,
To unlock natures each to each;
The unspoken thought thou canst divine;
Thou fill'st the pauses of the speech
With whispers that to dream-land reach
And frozen fancy-springs unchain
In Arctic outskirts of the brain :
Sun of all inmost confidences,
To thy rays doth the heart unclose
Its formal calyx of pretences,
That close against rude day's offences,
And open its shy midnight rose !

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With me year-long, and make intense
To boyhood's wisely vacant days
Their fleet but all-sufficing grace

Of trustful inexperience,

While soul could still transfigure sense, And thrill, as with love's first caress, At life's mere unexpectedness.

Days when my blood would leap and run As full of sunshine as a breeze, Or spray tossed up by Summer seas That doubts if it be sea or sun! Days that flew swiftly like the band That played in Grecian games at strife, And passed from eager hand to hand The onward-dancing torch of life!

Wing-footed! thou abid'st with him

Who asks it not; but he who hath Watched o'er the waves thy waning path, Shall nevermore behold returning Thy high-heaped canvas shoreward yearning!

Thou first reveal'st to us thy face Turned o'er the shoulder's parting grace, A moment glimpsed, then seen

more, Thou whose swift footsteps we can trace Away from every mortal door.

Nymph of the unreturning feet,

How may I win thee back? But no, I do thee wrong to call thee so; 'Tis I am changed, not thou art fleet: The man thy presence feels again, Not in the blood, but in the brain, Spirit, that lov'st the upper air Serene and passionless and rare,

Such as on mountain heights we find And wide-viewed uplands of the mind; Or such as scorns to coil and sing Round any but the eagle's wing

Of souls that with long upward beat Have won an undisturbed retreat Where, poised like winged victories, They mirror in relentless eyes


The life broad-basking 'neath their


Man ever with his Now at strife,
Pained with first gasps of earthly air,
Then praying Death the last to spare,
Still fearful of the ampler life.

Not unto them dost thou consent

Who, passionless, can lead at ease
A life of unalloyed content

A life like that of land-locked seas,
Who feel no elemental gush
Of tidal forces, no fierce rush

Of storm deep-grasping scarcely spent
"Twixt continent and continent.
Such quiet souls have never known
Thy truer inspiration, thou
Who lov'st to feel upon thy brow
Spray from the plunging vessel thrown
Grazing the tusked lee shore, the cliff
That o'er the abrupt gorge holds its breath,
Where the frail hair-breadth of an if
Is all that sunders life and death:
These, too, are cared for, and round these
Bends her mild crook thy sister Peace;

These in unvexed dependence lie,
Each 'neath his strip of household sky;
O'er these clouds wander, and the blue
Hangs motionless the whole day through;
Stars rise for them, and moons grow

And lessen in such tranquil wise
As joys and sorrows do that rise

Within their nature's sheltered marge; Their hours into each other flit

Like the leaf-shadows of the vine
And fig-tree under which they sit,
And their still lives to heaven incline
With an unconscious habitude,

Unhistoried as smokes that rise
From happy hearths and sight elude
In kindred blue of morning skies.

Wayward! when once we feel thy lack,
"T is worse than vain to woo thee back!
Yet there is one who seems to be
Thine elder sister, in whose eyes
A faint far northern light will rise
Sometimes, and bring a dream of thee;
She is not that for which youth hoped,

But she hath blessings all her own,
Thoughts pure as lilies newly oped,

And faith to sorrow given alone:
Almost I deem that it is thou
Come back with graver matron brow,

With deepened eyes and bated breath, Like one that somewhere hath met Death: But "No," she answers, "I am she Whom the gods love, Tranquillity;

That other whom you seek forlorn Half earthly was; but I am born Of the immortals, and our race Wears still some sadness on its face:

He wins me late, but keeps me long,
Who, dowered with every gift of passion,
In that fierce flame can forge and fashion
Of sin and self the anchor strong;
Can thence compel the driving force
Of daily life's mechanic course,
Nor less the nobler energies

Of needful toil and culture wise;
Whose soul is worth the tempter's lure
Who can renounce, and yet endure,
To him I come, not lightly wooed,
But won by silent fortitude."



WAIT a little: do we not wait?
Louis Napoleon is not Fate,
Francis Joseph is not Time;
There's One hath swifter feet than Crime;
Cannon-parliaments settle naught;
Venice is Austria's, whose is Thought ?
Minié is good, but, spite of change,
Gutenberg's gun has the longest range.
Spin, spin, Clotho, spin!

Lachesis, twist! and, Atropos, sever!
In the shadow, year out, year in,
The silent headsman waits forever.

Wait, we say: our years are long;
Men are weak, but Man is strong;
Since the stars first curved their rings,
We have looked on many things;
Great wars come and great wars go,
Wolf-tracks light on polar snow;
We shall see him come and gone,
This second-hand Napoleon.
Spin, spin, Clotho, spin!

Lachesis, twist! and, Atropos, sever!
In the shadow, year out, year in,
The silent headsman waits forever.

We saw the elder Corsican,
And Clotho muttered as she span,
While crowned lackeys bore the train,

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