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Then the excitement of the strife,
The crimsoned waves,-ah, this is life
But, the dead plunder once secured
And safe beside the vessel moored,
All that had stirred the blood before
Is so much blubber, nothing more,
(I mean no pun, nor image so
Mere ser.timental verse, you know,)
And all is tedium, smoke, and soil,
In trying-out the noisome oil.
Yes, this is life! And so the bard
Through briny deserts, never scarred
Since Noah's keel, a subject seeks,
And lies upon the watch for weeks ;
That once harpooned and helpless lying,
What follows is but weary trying.
Now I've a notion, if a poet
Beat up for themes, his verse will show it ;
I wait for subjects that hunt me,
By day or night won't let me be,
And hang about me like a curse,
Till they have made me into verse,
From line to line my fingers tease
Beyond my knowledge, as the bees
Build no new cell till those before
With limpid summer-sweet run o'er ;
Then, if I neither sing nor shine,
Is it the subject's fault, or mine ?

AN EMBER PICTURE.

How strange are the freaks of memory !

The lessons of life we forget, While a trifle, a trick of colour,

In the wonderful web is set,Set by some mordant of fancy,

And, spite of the wear and tear
Of time or distance or trouble,

Insists on its right to be there.
A chance had brought us together ;

Our talk was of matters-of-course;
We were nothing, one to the other,

But a short half-hour's resource.

We spoke of French acting and actors,

And their easy, natural way: Of the weather, for it was raining

As we drove home from the play. We debated the social nothings

We bore ourselves so to discuss ; The thunderous rumours of battle

Were silent the while for us.
Arrived at her door, we left her

With a drippingly hurried adieu
And our wheels went crunching the gravel

Of the oak-darkened avenue,
As we drove away through the shadow,

The candle she held in the door
From rain-varnished tree-trunk to tree-trunk

Flashed fainter, and flashed no more ;--
Flashed fainter, then wholly faded

Before we had passed the wood ; But the light of the face behind it

Went with me and stayed for good. The vision of scarce a moment,

And hardly marked at the time, It comes unbidden to haunt me,

Like a scrap of ballad-rhyme. Had she beauty ? Well, not what they call so;

You may find a thousand as fair ; And yet there's her face in my memory

With no special claim to be there. As I sit sometimes in the twilight,

And call back to life in the coals Old faces and hopes and fancies

Long buried, (good rest to their souls !)
Her face shines out in the embers ;

I see her holding the light,
And hear the crunch of the gravel

And the sweep of the rain that night. 'Tis a face that can never grow older,

That never can part with its gleam, 'Tis a gracious possession for ever,

For is it not all a dream?

TO H. W. LONGFELLOW.
ON HIS BIRTHDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 1867.
I NEED not praise the sweetness of his song,

Where limpid verse to limpid verse succeeds Smooth as our Charles, when, fearing lest he wrong The new moon's mirrored skiff, he slides along,

Full without noise, and whispers in his reeds.
With loving breath of all the winds his name

Is blown about the world, but to his friends
A sweeter secret hides behind his fame,
And love steals shyly through the loud acclaim

To murmur a God bless you! and there ends.
As I muse backward up the checkered years

Wherein so much was given, so much was lost, Blessings in both kinds, such as cheapen tears, --But hush! this is not for profaner ears ;

Let them drink molten pearls nor dream the cost. Some suck up poison from a sorrow's core,

As naught but nightshade grew upon earth's ground Love turned all his to heart's-ease, and the more Fate tried his bastions, she but forced a door

Leading to sweeter manhood and more sound. Even as a wind-waved fountain's swaying shade

Seems of mixed race, a gray wraith shot with sun, So through his trial faith translucent rayed Till darkness, half disnatured so, betrayed

A heart of sunshine that would fain o'errun.
Surely if skill in song the shears may stay

And of its purpose cheat the charmed abyss,
If our poor life be lengthened by a lay,
He shall not go, although his presence may,

And the next age in praise shall double this.
Long days be his, and each as lusty-sweet

As gracious natures find his song to be ; May Age steal on with softly-cadenced feet Falling in music, as for him were meet

Whose choicest verse is harsher-toned than he !

THE NIGHTINGALE IN THE STUDY. “Come forth !” my catbird calls to me,

And hear me sing a cavatina

That, in this old familiar tree,

Shall hang a garden of Alcina. “These buttercups shall brim with wine

Beyond all Lesbian juice or Massic ; May not New England be divine ?

My ode to ripening summer classic ? Or, if to me you will not hark,

By Beaver Brook a thrush is ringing Till all the alder-coverts dark

Seem sunshine-dappled with his singing. “Come out beneath the unmastered sky,

With its emancipating spaces,
And learn to sing as well as I,

Without premeditated graces.
What boot your many-volumed gains,

Those withered leaves for ever turning,
To win, at best, for all your pains,

A nature mummy-wrapt in learning ? “The leaves wherein true wisdom lies

On living trees the sun are drinking ; Those white clouds, drowsing through the skies,

Grew not so beautiful by thinking. Come out! with me the oriole cries,

Escape the demon that pursues you !
And, hark, the cuckoo weatherwise,

Still hiding, farther onward wooes you."
Alas, dear friend, that, all my days,

Has poured from that syringa thicket
The quaintly discontinuous lays

To which I hold a season-ticket, “ A season-ticket cheaply bought

With a dessert of pilfered berries, And who so oft my soul has caught

With morn and evening voluntaries, “Deem me not faithless, if all day

Among my dusty books I linger, No pipe, like thee, for June to play

With fancy-led, half-conscious finger. “A bird is singing in my brain

And bubbling o'er with mingled fancies, Gay, tragic, rapt, right heart of Spain

Fed with the sap of old romances.

“I ask no ampler skies than those

His magic music rears above me, No falser friends, no truer foes,

And does not Doña Clara love me? “Cloaked shapes, a twanging of guitars,

A rush of feet, and rapiers clashing, Then silence deep with breathless stars,

And overhead a white hand flashing. O music of all moods and climes,

Vengeful, forgiving, sensuous, saintly, Where still, between the Christian chimes,

The moorish cymbal tinkles faintly? O life borne lightly in the hand,

For friend or foe with grace Castilian ! O valley safe in Fancy's land,

Not tramped to mud yet by the million ! “Bird of to-day, thy songs are stale

To his, my singer of all weathers, My Calderon, my nightingale,

My Arab soul in Spanish feathers. Ah, friend, these singers dead so long,

And still, God knows, in purgatory, Give its best sweetness to all song,

To Nature's self her better glory.”

IN THE TWILIGHT.

Men say the sullen instrument,

That, from the Master's bow,

With pangs of joy or woe, Feels music's soul through every fibre sent,

Whispers the ravished strings
More than he knew or meant ;

Old summers in its memory glow ;
The secrets of the wind it sings ;
It hears the April-loosened springs;

And mixes with its mood
All it dreamed when it stood
In the murmurous pine wood

Long ago!
The magical moonlight then

Steeped every bough and cone ;

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