Слике страница
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

With eddying dust before their time turn

gray, Pining for rain, to me thy dust is

dear; It glorifies the eve of summer day, And when the westering sun half

sunken bnrns, The mote-thick air to deepest orange

turns, The westward horseman rides through

clouds of gold away,

That portion of my life more choice to (Though brief, yet in itself so round and

whole) Than all the imperfect residue can

be; — The Artist saw his statue of the soul Was perfect; so, with one regretful

stroke, The earthen model into fragments

broke, And without her the impoverished seasons




True part of the landscape as sea, land, and THE GROWTH OF THE LEGEND

air; For it grew in good times, ere the fashion

it was

To force these wild births of the woods A LEGEND that grew in the forest's hush

under glass, Slowly as tear-drops gather and gush, And so, if 't is told as it should be told, When a word some poet chanced to say Though 't were sung under Venice's moonAges ago, in his careless way,

light of gold, Brings our youth back to us out of its You would hear the old voice of its mother, shroud

the pine, Clearly as under


Murmur sealike and northern through I see that white sea-gull. It grew and

every line, grew,

And the verses should grow, self-sustained From the pine-trees gathering a sombre

and free, hue,

Round the vibrating stem of the melody, Till it seems a mere murmur out of the Like the lithe moonlit limbs of the parent vast

tree. Norwegian forests of the past; And it grew itself like a true Northern Yes, the pine is the mother of legends; pine,

what food First a little slender line,

For their grim roots is left when the thouLike a mermaid's green eyelash, and then sand-yeared wood,

The dim-aisled cathedral, whose tall arches A stem that a tower might rest upon,

spring Standing spear-straight in the waist-deep Light, sinewy, graceful, firm-set as the moss,

wing Its bony roots clutching around and across, From Michael's white shoulder, is hewn and As if they would tear up earth's heart in


By iconoclast axes in desperate waste, Ere the storm should uproot them or make And its wrecks seek the ocean it prophesied them unclasp;

long, Its cloudy boughs singing, as suiteth the Cassandra-like, crooning its mystical song? pine,

Then the legends go with them, even yet To snow-bearded sea-kings old songs of the

on the sea brine,

A wild virtue is left in the touch of the tree, Till they straightened and let their staves And the sailor's night-watches are thrilled fall to the floor,

to the core Hearing waves moan again on the perilous With the lineal offspring of Odin and Thor.

shore Of Vinland, perhaps, while their prow Yes, wherever the pine-wood has never let

groped its way 'Twixt the frothed gnashing tusks of some Since the day of creation, the light and the ship-crunching bay.


Of manifold life, but has safely conveyed So, pine-like, the legend grew, strong- From the midnight primeval its armful of limbed and tall,

shade, As the Gypsy child grows that eats crusts And has kept the weird Past with its childin the hall;

faith alive It sucked the whole strength of the earth Mid the hum and the stir of To-day's busy and the sky,

hive, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, all brought There the legend takes root in the ageit supply:

gathered gloom, 'Twas a natural growth, and stood fear- And its murmurous boughs for their saga lessly there,

find room.

their grasp


In those who everything did lack, The poor, the outcast and the black.

Pride held his hand before mine eyes,

The world with flattery stuffed mine ears ; I looked to see a monarch's guise, Nor dreamed thy love would knock for

years, Poor, naked, fettered, full of tears.

Yet, when I sent my love to thee,

Thou with a smile didst take it in, And entertain'dst it royally, Though grimed with earth, with hunger

thin, And leprous with the taint of sin.

Now every day thy love I meet,

As o'er the earth it wanders wide, With weary step and bleeding feet,

Still knocking at the heart of pride And offering grace, though still denied.

Where Aroostook, far-heard, seems to sob

as he goes Groping down to the sea 'neath his moun

tainous snows; Where the lake's frore Sahara of never

tracked white, When the crack shoots across it, complains

to the night With a long, lonely moan, that leagues

northward is lost, As the ice shrinks away from the tread of

the frost; Where the lumberers sit by the log-fires

that throw Their own threatening shadows far round

o'er the snow, When the wolf howls aloof, and the waver

ing glare Flashes out from the blackness the eyes of

the bear, When the wood's huge recesses, half

lighted, supply A canvas where Fancy her mad brush may

try, Blotting in giant Horrors that venture not

down Through the right-angled streets of the

brisk, whitewashed town, But skulk in the depths of the measureless

wood Mid the Dark's creeping whispers that

curdle the blood, When the eye, glanced in dread o'er the

shoulder, may dream, Ere it shrinks to the camp-fire's companion

ing gleam, That it saw the fierce ghost of the Red

Man crouch back To the shroud of the tree-trunk's invincible

black; There the old shapes crowd thick round

the pine-shadowed camp, Which shun the keen gleam of the scholarly

lamp, And the seed of the legend finds true Nor

land ground, While the border-tale's told and the can

teen flits round.


Go! leave me, Priest; my soul would be

Alone with the consoler, Death; Far sadder eyes than thine will see

This crumbling clay yield up its breath; These shrivelled hands have deeper stains

Than holy oil can cleanse away, Hands that have plucked the world's coarse

gains As erst they plucked the flowers of May. Call, if thou canst, to these gray eyes Some faith from youth's traditions

wrung; This fruitless husk which dustward dries

Hath been a heart once, hath been young; On this bowed head the awful Past

Once laid its consecrating bands; The Future in its purpose vast

Paused, waiting my supreme commands.


But look ! whose shadows block the door ?

Who are those two that stand aloof ? See ! on my hands this freshening gore

Writes o'er again its crimson proof ! My looked-for death-bed guests are met; There my dead Youth doth wring its

hands, And there, with eyes that goad me yet,

The ghost of my Ideal stands !

The love thou sentest oft to me,

And still as oft I thrust it back; Thy messengers I could not see


God bends from out the deep and says,

“I gave thee the great gift of life; Wast thou not called in many ways

? Are not my earth and heaven at strife ? I gave

thee of my seed to sow, Bringest thou me my hundred-fold ?” Can I look up with face aglow,

And answer, “ Father, bere is gold ” ?

Mine held them once; I flung away

Those keys that might have open set The golden sluices of the day,

But clutch the keys of darkness yet; I hear the reapers singing go

Into God's harvest; I, that might With them have chosen, here below

Grope shuddering at the gates of night. O glorious Youth, that once wast mine !

O high Ideall all in vain Ye enter at this ruined shrine

Whence worship ne'er shall rise again; The bat and owl inhabit here,

The snake nests in the altar-stone, The sacred vessels moulder near,

The image of the God is gone.

[blocks in formation]


Christ still was wandering o'er the earth

Without a place to lay his head; He found free welcome at my hearth,

He shared my cup and broke my bread: Now, when I hear those steps sublime,

That bring the other world to this, My snake-turned nature, sunk in slime,

Starts sideway with defiant hiss.

Upon the hour when I was born,

God said, “ Another man shall be,”
And the great Maker did not scorn

Out of himself to fashion me;
He sunned me with his ripening looks,

And Heaven's rich instincts in me grew, As effortless as woodland nooks

Send violets up and paint them blue.

WHAT gnarlëd stretch, what depth of

shade, is his ! There needs no crown to mark the for

est's king; How in his leaves outshines full summer's

bliss ! Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their trib

ute bring, Which be with such benignant royalty

Accepts, as overpayeth what is lent; All nature seems his vassal proud to be,

And cunning only for his ornament. How towers he, too, amid the billowed

snows, An unqnelled exile from the summer's

throne, Whose plain, uncinctured front more kingly

shows, Now that the obscuring courtier leaves

are flown. His boughs make music of the winter air, Jewelled with sleet, like some cathedral

front Where clinging snow-flakes with quaint art

repair The dints and furrows of time's envious



Yes, I who now, with angry tears,

Am exiled back to brutish clod,
Have borne unqnenched for fourscore years

A spark of the eternal God;
And to what end? How yield I back

The trust for such high uses given ? Heaven's light hath but revealed a track

Whereby to crawl away from heaven.
Men think it is an awful sight

To see a soul just set adrift
On that drear voyage from whose night

The ominous shadows never lift;
But 't is more awful to behold

A helpless infant newly born, Whose little hands unconscious hold

The keys of darkness and of morn.

How doth his patient strength the rude

March wind Persuade to seem glad breaths of sum

mer breeze, And win the soil that fain would be unkind,

To swell his revenues with proud in- With diet spare and raiment thin crease !

He shielded himself from the father of sin; He is the gem; and all the landscape wide With bed of iron and scourgings oft,

(So doth his grandeur isolate the sense) His heart to God's hand as wax made soft. Seems but the setting, worthless all beside, An empty socket, were he fallen thence. Through earnest prayer and watchings

long So, from oft converse with life's wintry He sought to know 'tween right and wrong, gales,

Much wrestling with the blessed Word Should man learn how to clasp with To make it yield the sense of the Lord, tougher roots

That he might build a storm-proof creed The inspiring earth; how otherwise avails To fold the flock in at their need. The leaf - creating sap that sunward shoots ?

At last he builded a perfect faith, So every year that falls with noiseless Fenced round about with The Lord thus flake

saith; Should fill old scars up on the storm- To himself be fitted the doorway's size, ward side,

Meted the light to the need of his eyes, And make hoar age revered for age's sake, And knew, by a sure and inward sign,

Not for traditions of youth's leafy pride. That the work of his fingers was divine. So, from the pinched soil of a churlish fate, Then Ambrose said, “ All those shall die True hearts compel the sap of sturdier The eternal death who believe not as I;" growth,

And some were boiled, some burned in fire, So between earth and heaven stand simply Some sawn in twain, that his heart's desire, great,

For the good of men's souls might be satisThat these shall seem but their attend

fied ants both;

By the drawing of all to the righteous side. For nature's forces with obedient zeal

Wait on the rooted faith and oaken will; One day, as Ambrose was seeking the truth As quickly the pretender's cheat they feel, In his lonely walk, he saw a youth And turn mad Pucks to flout and mock Resting himself in the shade of a tree; him still.

It had never been granted him to see

So shining a face, and the good man Lord ! all thy works are lessons; each con

thought tains

'T were pity he should not believe as he Some emblem of man's all-containing ought.

soul; Shall he make fruitless all thy glorious So he set himself by the young man's side, pains,

And the state of his soul with questions Delving within thy grace an eyeless tried; mole ?

But the heart of the stranger was hardened Make me the least of thy Dodona-grove,

indeed, Cause me some message of thy truth to Nor received the stamp of the one true bring,

creed; Speak but a word through me, nor let thy And the spirit of Ambrose waxed sore to love

find Among my boughs disdain to perch and Such features the porch of so narrow a sing.



“ As each beholds in cloud and fire
The shape that answers his own desire,
So each," said the youth, “ in the Law shall

The figure and fashion of his mind;

NEVER, surely, was holier man
Than Ambrose, since the world began;

« ПретходнаНастави »