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The sunshine seems blown off by the bleak wind,
Gropes to the sea the river dumb and blind;
Show pearly breakers combing o'er their lee,
White crests as of some just enchanted sea, Checked in their maddest leap and hanging poised vidway.
But when the eastern blow, with rain aslant, From mid-sea's prairies green and rolling plains
Drives in his wallowing herds of billows gaunt, And the roused Charles remembers in his veins
Old Ocean's blood and snaps his gyves of frost,
That tyrannous silence on the shores is tost In dreary wreck, and crumbling desolation reigns.
Edgewise or flat, in Druid-like device, With leaden pools between or gullies bare,
The blocks lie strewn, a bleak Stonehenge of ice; No life, no sound, to break the grim despair,
Sare sullen plunge, as through the sedges stiff
Down crackles riverward some thaw-sapped cliff, Or when the close-wedged fields of ice crunch here and there.
But let me turn from fancy-pictured scenes To that whose pastoral calm before me lies :
Here nothing harsh or rugged intervenes ; The early evening with her misty dyes
Smooths off the ravelled edges of the nigh,
Relieves the distant with her cooler sky, And tones the landscape down, and soothes the wearied eyes.
There gleams my native village, dear to me, Though higher change's waves each day are seen,
Whelming fields famed in boyhood's history, Sanding with houses the diminished green;
There, in red brick, which softening time defies,
Stand square and stiff the Muses' factories ;How with my life knit up is every well-known scene! Flow on, dear river! not alone you
Fed from the mystic springs of long-ago,
Grow dim, dear marshes, in the evening's gray!
Before my inner sight ye stretch away,
Its cloudy boughs singing, as suiteth the pine,
With a long, lonely moan, that leagues northward is lost,
And still as oft I thrust it back;
In those who every thing did lack-
poor, the outcast, and the black.
The world with flattery stuffed mine ears ;
Nor dreamed thy love would knock for years,
Poor, naked, fettered, full of tears.
Thou with a smile didst take it in,
Though grimed with earth, with hunger thin,
And leprous with the taint of sin.
As o'er the earth it wanders wide,
Still knocking at the heart of pride
Alone with the consoler, Death;
This crumbling clay yield up its breath; These shrivelled hands hare deeper stains
Than holy oil can cleanse awayHands that have plucked the world's coarse gains
As erst they plucked the flowers of May. Call, if thou canst, to those gray eyes
Some faith from youth's traditions wrung; This fruitless husk which dustward dries
Has been a heart once, has been young; On this bowed head the awful Past
Once laid its consecrating hands; 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?
Writes o'er again its crimson proof!
There my dead Youth doth wring its hands,
The ghost of my Ideal stands !
'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, here is gold ?'
When first this wasted life began,
Than I with every brother-man:
When this fast-ebbing breath shall part ? What bands of love and service bind
This being to the world's sad heart ?
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,'
Out of himself to fashion me;
And Heaven's rich instincts in me grew, As effortless as woodland nooks
Send violets up and paint them blue. Yes, I who now, with angry tears,
Am exiled back to brutish clod,
A spark of the eternal God;
The trust for such high uses giren ?
Whereby to crawl away from Heaven.
To see a soul just set adrift
The ominous shadows never lift;
A helpless infant newly born, Whose little hands unconscious hold
The keys of darkness and of morn. 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 Ideal! all in vain Ye enter at this ruined shrine
Whence worship ne'er shall rise again;