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They flit across the ear;
For what makes manhood dear.
How poor their outworn coronets,
Through whose desert a rescued Nation sets
With vain resentments and more vain regrets !
Not in anger, not in pride,
Still with heart and voice renewed,
Lofty be its mood and grave,
By his country's victories great,
But the pith and marrow of a Nation
Pulsing it again through them,
How could poet ever tower,
Boom, cannon, boom to all the winds and waves !
And from every mountain-peak
Katahdin tell Monadnock, White-face he,
Till the glad news be sent
Across a kindling continent, Making earth feel more firm and air breathe braver : “Be proud ! for she is saved, and all have helped to save her!
She that lifts up the manhood of the poor,
She calls her children back, and waits the morn
Thy God, in these distempered days,
Hath taught thee the sure wisdom of His ways,
Bow down prayer and praise !
And letting thy set lips,
Freed from wrath's pale eclipse,
What were our lives without thee?
We will not dare to doubt thee,
TO THE MUSE.
WHITHER? Albeit I follow fast,
In all life's circuit I but find,
Sweet beckoner, more fleet than wind !
With soft brown silence carpeted,
Peace I o'ertake, but thou art fled!
All Nature with thy parting thrills,
Thy passage hill and hollow fills
Just, just beyond, for ever burn
Upon thy shade I plant my foot,
And through my frame strange raptures shoot ; All of thee but thyself I grasp ;
I seem to fold thy luring shape,
Thou lithé, perpetual Escape !
Sometimes with flooded ear I list,
And hear thee, wondrous organist,
History an organ-grin 'er's thrum,
For thou hast slipt from it and me
Most mutable Perversity !
Their cramped ideal soaring free; 'Twas thou didst bear the fire about,
That, like the springing of a mine Sent up to heaven the street-long shout; Full well I know that thou wast here, It was thy breath that brushed my ear ; But vainly in the stress and whirl I dive for thee, the moment's pearl. Through every shape thou well canst run, Proteus, 'twixt rise and set of sun, Well pleased with logger-camps in Maine
As where Milan's pale Duomo lies A stranded glacier on the plain,
Its peaks and pinnacles of ice
Melted in many a quaint device, And sees, above the city's din, Afar its silent Alpine kin : I track thee over carpets deep To wealth's and beauty's inmost keep ; Across the sand of bar-room floors 'Mid the stale reek of boosing boors ; Where drowse the hay-field's fragrant heats, Or the flail-heart of Autumn beats ; I dog thee through the market's throngs To where the sea with myriad tongues Laps the green edges of the pier, And the tall ships that eastward steer, Curtsey their farewells to the town, O'er the curved distance lessening down ; I follow allwhere for thy sake, Touch thy robe's hem, and ne'er o’ertake,
Find where, scarce yet unmoving, lies,
Whirls humming by the open door,
Sets the wide chimney in a roar, Close-nestled by the tinkling hearth, It modulates the household mirth With that sweet serious undertone Of duty, music all her own ; Still as of old she sits and spins Our hopes, our sorrows, and our sins ; With equal care she twines the lates Of cottages and mighty states; She spins the earth, the air, the sea, The maiden's unschooled fancy free, The boy's first love, the man's first grief, The budding and the fall o' the leaf ; The piping west-wind's snowy care For her their cloudy fleeces spare, Or from the thorns of evil times She can glean wool to twist her rhymes ; Morning and noon and eve supply To her their fairest tints for dye, But ever through her twirling thread There spires one line of warmest red, Tinged from the homestead's genial heart, The stamp and warrant of her art; With this Time's sickle she outwears, And blunts the Sisters' baffled shears. “Harass her not : thy heat and stir But greater coyness breed in her ; Yet thou mayst find, ere Age's frost, Thy long apprenticeship not lost, Learning at last that Stygian Fate Unbends to him that knows to wait. The Muse is womanish, nor deigns Her love to him that pules and plains ; With proud, averted face she stands To him that wooes with empty hands.