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When this unbounded possibility
Into the outer silence is withdrawn.
Ah, in this world, where every guiding thread
Ends suddenly in the one sure centre, Death,
The visionary hand of Might-have-been
Alone can fill Desire's cup to the brim!
How changed, dear friend, are thy part and thy child's !
He bends above thy cradle now, or holds
His warning finger out to be thy guide ;
Thou art the nurseling now; he watches thee
Slow learning, one by one, the secret things
Which are to him used sights of every day;
He smiles to see thy wondering glances con
The grass and pebbles of the spirit world,
To thee miraculous; and he will teach
Thy knees their due observances of prayer.
Children are God's apostles, day by day
Sent forth to preach of love, and hope, and peace;
Nor hath thy babe his mission left undone.
To me, at least, his going hence hath given
Serener thoughts and nearer to the skies,
And opened a new fountain in my heart
For thee, my friend, and all: and, O, if Death
More near approaches meditates, and clasps
Even now some dearer, more reluctant hand,
God, strengthen Thou my faith, that I may see
That 'tis Thine angel, who, with loving haste,
Unto the service of the inner shrine
Doth waken Thy beloved with a kiss !
HEAVEN's cup held down to me I drain,
The sunshine mounts and spurs my brain;
Bathing in grass, with thirsty eye
I suck the last drop of the sky;
With each hot sense I draw to the lees
The quickening out-door influences,
And empty to each radiant comer
A supernaculum of summer:
Not, Bacchus, all thy grosser juice
Could bring enchantment so profuse,
Though for its press each grape-bunch had
The white feet of an Oread.
Through our coarse art gleam, now and then,
The features of angelic men;
'Neath the lewd Satyr's veiling paint
Glows forth the Sibyl, Muse, or Saint;
The dauber's botch no more obscures
The mighty Master's portraitures.
And who can say what luckier beam
The hidden glory shall redeem,
For what chance clod the soul may wait
To stumble on its nobler fate,
Or why, to his unwarned abode,
Still by surprises comes the God ?
Some moment, nailed on sorrow's cross,
May mediate a whole youth's loss,
Some windfall joy, we know not whence,
Redeem a lifetime's rash expense,
And, suddenly wise, the soul may mark,
Stripped of their simulated dark,
Mountains of gold that pierce the sky,
Girdling its valleyed poverty.
I feel ye, childhood's hopes, return,
With olden heats, my pulses burn, -
Mine be the self-forgetting sweep,
The torrent impulse swift and wild,
Wherewith Taghkanic's rockborn child
Dares gloriously the dangerous leap,
And, in his sky-descended mood,
Transmutes each drop of sluggish blood,
By touch of bravery's simple wand,
To amethyst and diamond,
Proving himself no bastard slip,
But the true granite-cradled one,
Nursed with the rock’s primeval drip,
The cloud-embracing mountain's son!
Prayer breathed in vain! no wish's sway
Rebuilds the vanished yesterday;
For plated wares of Sheffield stamp
We gave the old Aladdin's lamp;
'Tis we are changed; ah, whither went
That undesigned abandonment,
That wise, unquestioning content,
Which could erect its microcosm
Out of a weed's neglected blossom,
Could call up Arthur and his peers
By a low moss's clump of spears,
Or, in its shingle trireme launched,
Where Charles in some green inlet branched,
Could venture for the golden fleece
And dragon-watched Hesperides,
Or, from its ripple-shattered fate,
Ulysses' chances recreate ?
When, heralding life's every phase,
There glowed a goddess-veiling haze,
A plenteous, forewarning grace,
Like that more tender dawn that flies
Before the full moon's ample rise ?
Methinks thy parting glory shines
Through yonder grove of singing pines ;
At that elm-vista's end I trace
Dimly thy sad leave-taking face,
Eurydice ! Eurydice!
The tremulous leaves repeat to me
Eurydice! Eurydice !
No gloomier Orcus swallows thee
Than the unclouded sunset's glow;
Thine is at least Elysian woe;
Thou hast Good's natural decay,
And fadest like a star away
Into an atmosphere whose shine
With fuller day o'ermasters thine,
Entering defeat as 'twere a shrine;
For us,—we turn life's diary o'er
To find but one word,—Nevermore.
SHE CAME AND WENT. As a twig trembles, which a bird Lights
on to sing, then leaves unbent, So is my memory thrilled and stirred ;
I only know she came and went.
As clasps some lake, by gusts unriven,
The blue dome's measureless content,
So my soul held that moment's heaven ;-
I only know she came and went.
As, at one bound, our swift spring heaps
The orchards full of bloom and scent,
So clove her May my wintry sleeps ;--
I only know she came and went. An angel stood and met my gaze,
Through the low doorway of my tent;
The tent is struck, the vision stays;-
I only know she came and went.
O, when the room grows slowly dim,
And life's last oil is nearly spent,
One gush of light these eyes will brim,
Only to think she came and went.
THE CHANGELING. I HAD a little daughter,
And she was given to me To lead me gently backward
To the Heavenly Father's knee, That I, by the force of nature,
Might in some dim wise divine The depth of his infinite patience
To this wayward soul of mine. I know not how others saw her,
But to me she was wholly fair, And the light of the heaven she came from
Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
For it was as wavy and golden,
And as many changes took,
As the shadows of sun-gilt ripples
On the yellow bed of a brook.
To what can I liken her smiling,
Upon me, her kneeling lover,
How it leaped from her lips to her eyelids,
And dimpled her wholly over,
Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
And I almost seeined to see
The very heart of her mother
Sending sun through her veins to me! She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
And it hardly seemed a day, When a troop of wandering angels
Stole my little daughter away; Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
But loosed the hampering strings,
And when they had opened her cage-door,
My little bird used her wings.
But they left in her stead a changeling,
A little angel child,
That seems like her bud in full blossom,
And smiles as she never smiled:
When I wake in the morning, I see it
Where she always used to lie, And I feel as weak as a violet
Alone 'neath the awful sky. As weak, yet as trustful also;
For the whole year long I see
All the wonders of faithful Nature
Still worked for the love of me;
Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,
Rain falls, suns rise and set,
Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
A poor little violet.
This child is not mine as the first was,
I cannot sing it to rest,
I cannot lift it up fatherly
And bliss it upon my breast;
Yet it lies in my little one's cradle
And sits in my little one's chair,
And the light of the heaven she's gone to
Transfigures its golden hair.
What man would live coffined with brick and stone,
Imprisoned from the influences of air,
And cramped with selfish land-marks everywhere, When all before him stretches, furrowless and lone,
The unmapped prairie none can fence or own?
What man would read and read the selfsame faces,
And, like the marbles which the windmill grinds,
Rub smooth for ever with the same smooth minds, This year retracing last year's, every year's, dull traces, When there are woods and un-man-stifled places ? What man o'er one old thought would pore and pore,
Shut like a book between its covers thin
For erery fool to leave his dog's-ears in,
When solitude is his, and God for erermore,
Just for the opening of a paltry door?
What man would watch life's oozy element
Creep Letheward for ever, when he might
Down some great river drift beyond men's sight,
To where the undethroned forest's royal tent
Broods with its hush o'er half a continent ?
What man with men would push and altercate,
Piecing out crooked means for crooked ends,
When he can have the skies and woods for friends, Snatch back the rudder of his undismantled fate,
And in himself be ruler, church, and state ?
Cast leares and feathers rot in last year's nest,
The winged brood, flown thence, new dwellings plan;
The serf of his own Past is not a man;