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The bat and owl inhabit here,
The snake nests in the altar stone,
The image of the God is gone.
What gnarled stretch, what depth of shade, is his!
There needs no crown to mark the forest's king; How in his leaves outshines full summer's bliss !
Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their tribute bring, Which he with such benignant royalty
Accepts, as overpayeth what is lent;
And cunning only for his ornament.
An unquelled exile from the summer's throne,
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 brunt. How doth his patient strength the rude March wind
Persuade to seem glad breaths of summer breeze, And win the soil that fain would be unkind,
To swell his revenues with proud increase ! He is the gem; and all the landscape wide
(So doth his grandeur isolate the sense) Seems but the setting, worthless all beside,
An empty socket, were he fallen thence. So, from oft converse with life's wintry gales,
Should man learn how to clasp with tougher roots The inspiring earth ;-how otherwise avails
The-leaf-creating sap that sunward shoots ? So every year that falls with noiseless flake
Should fill old scars up on the stormward side,
Not for traditions of youth's leafy pride.
For nature's forces with obedient zeal
Wait on the rooted faith and oaken will; As quickly the pretender's cheat they feel,
And turn mad Pucks to flout and mock him still. Lord! all thy works are lessons-each contains
Some emblem of man's all-containing soul ; Shall he make fruitless all thy glorious pains,
Delving within thy grace an eyeless mole? Make me the least of thy Dodona-grove,
Cause me some message of thy truth to bring, Speak but a word through me, nor let thy lore Among my boughs disdain to perch and sing.
AMBROSE. NEVER, surely, was holier man Than Ambrose, since the world began ; With diet spare and raiment thin, He shielded himself from the father of sin; With bed of iron and scourgings oft, His heart to God's hand as wax made soft. Through earnest prayer and watchings long He sought to know 'twixt right and wrong, Much wrestling with the blessed Word To make it yield the sense of the Lord, That he might build a storm-proof creed To fold the flock in at their need. At last he builded a perfect faith, Fenced round about with The Lord thus saith; To himself he fitted the doorway's size Meted the light to the need of his eyes And knew, by a sure and inward sign, That the work of his fingers was divine, Then Ambrose said, 'All those shall die The eternal death who believe not as I;' And some were boiled, some burned in fire, Some sawn in twain, that his heart's desire, For the good of men's souls, might be satisfied, By the drawing of all to the righteous side. One day, as Ambrose was seeking the truth In his lonely walk, he saw a youth Resting himself in the shade of a tree; It had never been given him to see So shining a face, and the good man thought 'Twere pity he should not believe as he ought.
So he set himself by the young man's side, And the state of his soul with questions tried ; But the heart of the stranger was hardened indeed, Nor received the stamp of the one true creed, And the spirit of Ambrose waxed sore to find Such face the porch of so narrow a mind. • As each beholds in cloud and fire The shape that answers his own desire, So each,' said the youth, 'in the Law shall find The figure and features of his mind; And to each in His mercy hath God allowed His several pillar of fire and cloud.' The soul of Ambrose burned with zeal And holy wrath for the young man's weal: • Believest thou then, most wretched youth,' Cried he, a dividual essence in Truth? I fear me thy heart is too cramped with sin To take the Lord in His glory in.' Now there bubbled beside them where they stood, A fountain of waters sweet and good ; The youth to the streamlet's brink drew near Saying, “ Ambrose, thou maker of creeds, look here!' Six vases of crystal then he took, And set them along the edge of the brook. •As into these vessels the water I pour,
Ι There shall one hold less, another more, And the water unchanged, in every case, Shall put on the figure of the vase ; O thou, who wouldst unity make through strife, Canst thou fit this sign to the Water of Life ? When Ambrose looked up, he stood alone, The youth and the stream and the vases were gone; But he knew, by a sense of humbled grace, He had talked with an angel face to face, And felt his heart change inwardly, As he fell on his knees beneath the tree.
ABOVE AND BELOW.
O DWELLERS in the valley-land,
Who in deep twilight grope and cower,
Shortens to noon's triumphal hour, —
While ye sit idle, do ye think
The Lord's great work sits idle too? That light dare not o'erleap the brink
Of morn, because 'tis dark with you ? Though yet your valleys skulk in night,
In God's ripe fields the day is cried, And reapers with their sickles bright,
Troop, singing, down the mountain side: Come up, and feel what health there is
In the frank Dawn's delighted eyes, As, bending with a pitying kiss,
The night-shed tears of Earth she dries ! The Lord wants reapers: 0, mount up,
Before night comes, and says,—Too late!' Stay not for taking scrip or cup,
The Master hungers while ye wait; 'Tis from these heights alone your eyes
The advancing spears of day can see, Which o’er the eastern hill-tops rise,
To break your long captivity.
Lone watcher on the mountain-height !
It is right precious to behold
Flood all the thirsty east with gold ;
Know also when the day is nigh,
With his inspiring prophecy.
God lacks not early service here,
He counts with us for morning cheer; Our day, for Him, is long enough,
And when he giveth work to do, The bruised reed is amply tough
To pierce the shield of error through. But not the less do thou aspire
Light's earlier messages to preach; Keep back po syllable of fire,
Plunge deep the rowels of thy speech. Yet God deems not thine aëried sight
More worthy than our twilight dim, For meek obedience, too, is Light,
And following that is finding Him.
Fell from her the spirit's languor,
Fell from her the body's scurf;-
Found a corpse upon the turf.
THE BIRCH-TREE. RIPPLING through thy branches goes the sunshine, Among thy leaves that palpitate for ever; Ovid in thee a pining Nymph had prisoned, The soul once of some tremulous inland river, Quivering to tell her woe, but, ah! dumb, dumb for ever! While all the forest, witched with slumberous moonshine, Holds up its leaves in happy, happy silence, Waiting the dew, with breath and pulse suspendedI hear afar thy whispering, gleamy islands, And track thee wakeful still amid the wide hung silence. Upon the brink of some wood-nestled lakelet, Thy foliage, like the tresses of a Dryad, Dripping about thy slim white stem, whose shadow Slopes quivering down the water's dusky quiet, Thou shrink'st as on her bath's edge would some startled Dryad. Thou art the go-between of rustic lovers ; Thy white bark has their secrets in its keeping; Reuben writes here the happy name of Patience, And thy lithe boughs hang murmuring and weeping Above her, as she steals the mystery from thy keeping. Thou art to me like my beloved maiden, So frankly coy, so full of trembly confidences; Thy shadow scarce seems shade, thy pattering leaflets Sprinkle their gathered sunshine o'er my senses, And Nature gives me all her summer confidences. Whether heart with hope or sorrow tremble, Thou sympathizest still; wild and unquiet, I fling me down; thy ripple, like a river, Flows valleyward, where calmness is, and by it My heart is floated down into the land of quiet.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MILES STANDISH.
I sat one evening in my room,
In that sweet hour of twilight
Throng through the spirit's skylight;