Слике страница
PDF
ePub

"

II

near

And to each in his mercy hath God allowed Come up, and feel what health there is His several pillar of fire and cloud.”

In the frank Dawn's delighted eyes,

As, bending with a pitying kiss, The soul of Ambrose burned with zeal The night-shed tears of Earth she dries ! And holy wrath for the young man's weal: “ Believest thou then, most wretched The Lord wants reapers: oh, mount up, youth,”

Before night comes, and says, “Too Cried he, “a dividual essence in Truth ?

late ! I fear me thy heart is too cramped with sin Stay not for taking scrip or cup, To take the Lord in his glory in.”

The Master hungers while ye wait;

'T is from these heights alone your eyes Now there bubbled beside them where they The advancing spears of day can see, stood

That o'er the eastern hill-tops rise, A fountain of waters sweet and good;

To break your long captivity. The youth to the streamlet's brink drew Saying, “ Ambrose, thou maker of creeds, Lone watcher on the mountain-height, look here !"

It is right precious to behold Six vases of crystal then he took,

The first long surf of climbing light And set them along the edge of the brook. Flood all the thirsty east with gold;

But we, who in the shadow sit, “ As into these vessels the water I pour,

Know also when the day is nigh, There shall one hold less, another more,

Seeing thy shining forehead lit
And the water unchanged, in every case,

With his inspiring prophecy.
Shall put on the figure of the vase;
O thou, who wouldst unity make through

Thou hast thine office; we have ours;
strife,

God lacks not early service here,
Canst thou fit this sign to the Water of

But what are thine eleventh hours
Life ?

He counts with us for morning cheer;

Our day, for Him, is long enough, When Ambrose looked up, he stood alone,

And when He giveth work to do, The youth and the stream and the vases

The bruised reed is amply tough were gone;

To pierce the shield of error through. But he knew, by a sense of humbled grace, He had talked with an angel face to face,

But not the less do thou aspire And felt his heart change inwardly,

Light's earlier messages to preach; As he fell on his knees beneath the tree. Keep back no syllable of fire,

Plunge deep the rowels of thy speech.

Yet God deems not thine aeried sight
ABOVE AND BELOW

More worthy than our twilight dim;
For meek Obedience, too, is Light,

And following that is finding Him. O DWELLERS in the valley-land,

Who in deep twilight grope and cower,
Till the slow mountain's dial-hand

THE CAPTIVE
Shorten to noon's triumphal hour,
While ye sit idle, do ye think

It was past the hour of trysting,
The Lord's great work sits idle too?

But she lingered for him still ; That light dare not o'erleap the brink

Like a child, the eager streamlet Of morn, because 't is dark with you? Leaped and laughed adown the hill,

Happy to be free at twilight
Though yet your valleys skulk in night,

From its toiling at the mill.
In God's ripe fields the day is cried,
And reapers, with their sickles bright, Then the great moon on a sudden

Troop, singing, down the mountain-side : Ominous, and red as blood,

I

a

Startling as a new creation,

O'er the eastern hilltop stood, Casting deep and deeper shadows

Through the mystery of the wood.

Like a cloud-shade flitting eastward,

Wandered she o'er sea and land; And her footsteps in the desert

Fell like cool rain on the sand.

Soon, beneath the palm-tree's shadow,

Knelt she at the postern low; And thereat she knocked full gently,

Fearing much the warder's no; All her heart stood still and listened,

As the door swung backward slow.

There she saw no surly warder

With an eye like bolt and bar; Through her soul a sense of music

Throbbed, and, like a guardian Lar, On the threshold stood an angel,

Bright and silent as a star.

Dread closed vast and vague about her,

And her ghts turned fearfully To her heart, if there some shelter

From the silence there might be, Like bare cedars leaning inland

From the blighting of the sea. Yet he came not, and the stillness

Dampened round her like a tomb; She could feel cold eyes of spirits

Looking on her through the gloom, She could hear the groping footsteps

Of some blind, gigantic doom.
Suddenly the silence wavered

Like a light inist in the wind,
For a voice broke gently through it,

Felt like sunshine by the blind,
And the dread, like mist in sunshine,

Furled serenely from her mind. Once my love, my love forever,

Flesh or spirit, still the same, If I failed at time of trysting,

Deem thou not my faith to blame; I, alas, was made a captive,

As from Holy Land I came.

Fairest seemed he of God's seraphs,

And her spirit, lily-wise, Opened when he turned upon her

The deep welcome of his eyes, Sending upward to that sunlight

All its dew for sacrifice.

Then she heard a voice come onward

Singing with a rapture new,
As Eve heard the songs in Eden,

Dropping earthward with the dew; Well she knew the happy singer,

Well the happy song she knew.

“On a green spot in the desert,

Gleaming like an emerald star, Where a palm-tree, in lone silence,

Yearning for its mate afar, Droops above a silver runnel,

Slender as a scimitar,

Forward leaped she o'er the threshold,

Eager as a glancing surf;
Fell from her the spirit's languor,

Fell from her the body's scurf; 'Neath the palm next day some Arabs

Found a corpse upon the turf.

THE BIRCH-TREE

“ There thou 'lt find the humble postern

To the castle of my foe;
If thy love burn clear and faithful,

Strike the gateway, green and low, Ask to enter, and the warder

Surely will not say thee no."

Slept again the aspen silence,

But her loneliness was o'er; Round her soul a motherly patience

Clasped its arms forevermore; From her heart ebbed back the sorrow,

Leaving smooth the golden shore. Donned she now the pilgrim scallop,

Took the Pilgrim staff in hand;

RIPPLING through thy branches goes the

sunshine, Among thy leaves that palpitate forever; Ovid in thee a pining Nymph had pris

oned, The soul once of some tremulous inland

river, Quivering to tell her woe, but, ah! dumb,

dumb forever !

While all the forest, witched with slum

berous moonshine,

Holds up its leaves in happy, happy still- Or

up the chimney crinkled, ness,

While embers dropped like falling stars, Waiting the dew, with breath and pulse And in the ashes tinkled.

suspended, I hear afar thy whispering, gleamy islands, I sat and mused; the fire burned low, And track thee wakeful still amid the And, o'er my senses stealing, wide-hung silence.

Crept something of the ruddy glow

That bloomed on wall and ceiling; On the brink of some wood-nestled lakelet, | My pictures (they are very few, Thy foliage, like the tresses of a Dryad, The heads of ancient wise men) Dripping round thy slim white stem, whose Smootbed down their knotted fronts, and shadow

grew Slopes quivering down the water's dusky As rosy as excisemen.

quiet, Thou shrink'st as on her bath's edge would My antique high-backed Spanish chair some startled Naiad.

Felt thrills through wood and leather,

That had been strangers since whilere, Thou art the go-between of rustic lovers; Mid Andalusian heather, Thy white bark has their secrets in its The oak that built its sturdy frame keeping;

His happy arms stretched over Reuben writes here the happy name of Pa- The ox whose fortunate hide became tience,

The bottom's polished cover. And thy lithe boughs hang murmuring and weeping

It came out in that famous bark, Above her, as she steals the mystery from That brought our sires intrepid, thy keeping

Capacious as another ark

For furniture decrepit;
Thou art to me like my belovëd maiden, For, as that saved of bird and beast
So frankly coy, so full of trembly confi- A pair for propagation,
dences;

So bas the seed of these increased
Thy shadow scarce seems shade, thy pat- And furnished half the nation.

tering leaflets Sprinkle their gathered sunshine o'er my Kings sit, they say, in slippery seats; senses,

But those slant precipices And Nature gives me all her summer con

Of ice the northern voyager meets fidences.

Less slippery are than this is;

To cling therein would pass the wit
Whether my heart with hope or sorrow Of royal man or woman,
tremble,

And whatsoe'er can stay in it
Thou sympathizest still; wild and unquiet, Is more or less than human.
I fling me down; thy ripple, like a river,
Flows valleyward, where calmness is, and I offer to all bores this perch,
by it

Dear well-intentioned people My heart is floated down into the land of With heads as void as week-day church, quiet.

Tongues longer than the steeple;

To folks with missions, whose gaunt eyes AN INTERVIEW WITH MILES

See golden ages rising,

Salt of the earth! in what queer Guys
STANDISH

Thou ’rt fond of crystallizing !
I sat one evening in my room,
In that sweet hour of twilight

My wonder, then, was not unmixed
When blended thoughts, half light, half With merciful suggestion,
gloom,

When, as my roving eyes grew fixed
Throng through the spirit's skylight; Upon the chair in question,
The flames by fits curled round the bars, I saw its trembling arms enclose

Mere

pegs to hang an office on Such stalwart men as these are."

A figure grim and rusty,
Whose doublet plain and plainer hose

Were something worn and dusty.
Now even such men as Nature forms

Merely to fill the street with, Once turned to ghosts by hungry worms,

Are serious things to meet with; Your penitent spirits are no jokes,

And, though I'm not averse to A quiet shade, even they are folks

One cares not to speak first to.

“Good sir,” I said, “you seem much

stirred;
The sacred compromises
“Now God confound the dastard word !

My gall thereat arises:
North ward it hath this sense alone,

That you, your conscience blinding,
Shall bow your fool's nose to the stone,

When slavery feels like grinding.

66

a

Who knows, thought I, but he has come,

By Charon kindly ferried, To tell me of a mighty sum

Behind my wainscot buried ?
There is a buccaneerish air

About that garb outlandish
Just then the ghost drew up his chair

And said, “ My name is Standish.
“I come from Plymouth, deadly bored

With toasts, and songs, and speeches, As long and flat as my old sword,

As threadbare as my breeches: They understand us Pilgrims ! they,

Smooth men with rosy faces, Strength's knots and gnarls all pared away,

And varnish in their places !
“ We had some toughness in our grain,

The eye to rightly see us is
Not just the one that lights the brain

Of drawing-room Tyrtæuses:
They talk about their Pilgrim blood,

Their birthright high and holy !
A mountain-streanı that ends in mud

Methinks is melancholy.

[ocr errors]

“ 'T is shame to see such painted sticks

In Vane's and Winthrop's places,
To see your spirit of Seventy-six

Drag humbly in the traces,
With slavery's lash upon her back,

And herds of office-holders
To shout applause, as, with a crack,

It peels her patient shoulders.
“We forefathers to such a rout!

No, by my faith in God's word ! ” Half rose the ghost, and half drew out

The ghost of his old broadsword,
Then thrust it slowly back again,

And said, with reverent gesture,
No, Freedom, no! blood should not stain

The hem of thy white vesture. “I feel the soul in me draw near

The mount of prophesying; In this bleak wilderness I hear

A John the Baptist crying; Far in the east I see upleap

The streaks of first forewarning, And they who sowed the light shall reap

The golden sheaves of morning. “ Child of our travail and our woe,

Light in our day of sorrow, Throngh my rapt spirit I foreknow

The glory of thy morrow;
I hear great steps, that through the shade

Draw nigher still and nigher,
And voices call like that which bade

The prophet come up higher.”
I looked, no form mine eyes could find,

I heard the red cock crowing,
And through my window-chinks the wind

A dismal tune was blowing; Thought I, My neighbor Buckingham

Hath somewhat in him gritty,

“ He had stiff knees, the Puritan,

That were not good at bending; The homespun dignity of man

He thought was worth defending; He did not, with his pinchbeck ore,

His country's shame forgotten, Gild Freedom's coffin o'er and o’er,

When all within was rotten.

« These loud ancestral boasts of yours,

How can they else than vex us? Where were your dinner orators

When slavery grasped at Texas ? Dumb on his knees was every one

That now is bold as Cæsar;

Some Pilgrim-stuff that hates all sham,

And he will print my ditty.

Though we break our fathers' promise, we

have nobler duties first; The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most

accursed; Man is more than Constitutions; better rot

beneath the sod, Than be true to Church and State while we

are doubly false to God !

a

ON THE CAPTURE OF FUGITIVE

SLAVES NEAR WASHINGTON

In a letter to Edward M. Davis written from Elmwood July 24, 1845, Lowell says: “I blew another dolorous and jarring blast' in the Courier the other day, which you will probably see in the Liberator of this week or next. I was impelled to write by the account of the poor fugitives who were taken near Washington. I think it has done some good. At any rate, it has set two gentlemen together by the ears about Dissolution, and they are hammering away at each other in the Courier." The blast was the following stanzas.

We owe allegiance to the State; but deeper,

truer, more, To the sympathies that God hath set within

our spirit's core; Our country claims our fealty; we grant it

so, but then Before Man made us citizens, great Nature

made us men.

[blocks in formation]
« ПретходнаНастави »