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It is not like our furs and stores of corn,
Whereto we claim sole title by our toil,
But the Great Spirit plants it in our hearts,
And waters it, and gives it sun, to be
The common stock and heritage of all :
Therefore be kind to Sheemah, that yourselves
May not be left deserted in your need.'
Alone, beside a lake, their wigwam stood,
Far from the other dwellings of their tribe i
And, after many moons, the loneliness
Wearied the elder brother, and he said,
Why should I dwell here all alone, shut out
From the free, natural joys that fit my age ?
Lo, I am tall and strong, well skilled to hunt,
Patient of toil and hunger, and not yet
Have seen the danger which I dared not look
Full in the face; what hinders me to be
A mighty Brave and Chief among my kin ?'
So, taking up his arrows and his bow,
As if to hunt, he journeyed swiftly on,
Until he gained the wigwams of his tribe,
Where, choosing out a bride, he soon forgot,
In all the fret and bustle of new life,
The little Sheemah and his father's charge.
Now when the sister found her brother gone, And that, for many days, he came not back, She wept for Sheemah more than for herself; For Love bides longest in a woman's heart, And flutters many times before he flies, And then doth perch so nearly, that a word May lure him back, as swift and glad as light; And Duty lingers even when Love is gone, Oft looking out in hope of his return; And, after Duty hath been driven forth, Then Selfishness creeps in the last of all, Warming her lean hands at the lonely hearth, And crouching o'er the embers, to shut out Whatever paltry warmth and light are left, With avaricious greed, from all beside. So, for long months, the sister hunted wide, And cared for little Sheemah tenderly; But, daily more and more, the loneliness Grew wearisome, and to herself she sighed, • Am I not fair ? at least the glassy pool, That hath no cause to flatter, tells me so; But, o, how flat and meaningless the tale,
Unless it tremble on a lover's tongue!
Beauty hath no true glass, except it be
In the sweet privacy of loving eyes.'
Thus deemed she idly, and forgot the lore
Which she had learned of nature and the woods,
That Beauty's chief reward is to itself,
And that the eyes of Love reflect alone
The inward fairness, which is blurred and lost
Unless kept clear and white by Duty's care.
So she went forth and sought the haunts of men,
And, being wedded, in her household cares,
Soon, like the elder brother, quite forgot
The little Sheemah and her father's charge.
But Sheemah, left alone within the lodge,
Waited and waited, with a shrinking heart,
Thinking each rustle was his sister's step,
Till hope grew less and less, and then went out,
And every sound was changed from hope to fear.
Few sounds there were :—the dropping of a nut,
The squirrel's chirrup, and the jay's harsh scream,
Autumn's sad remnants of blithe Summer's cheer,
Heard at long intervals, seemed but to make
The dreadful void of silence silenter.
Soon what small store his sister left was gone,
And, through the autumn, he made shift to live
On roots and berries, gathered in much fear
Of wolves, whose ghastly howl he heard ofttimes,
Hollow and hungry, at the dead of night.
But Winter came at last, and, when the snow,
Thick-heaped for gleaming leagues o'er hill and plain,
Spread its unbroken silence over all,
Made bold by hunger, he was fain to glean
(More sick at heart than Ruth, and all alone),
After the barrest of the merciless wolf,
Grim Boaz, who, sharp-ribbed and gaunt, yet feared
A thing more wild and starving than himself;
Till, by degrees, the wolf and he grew friends,
And shared together all the winter through.
Late in the Spring, when all the ice was gone,
The elder brother, fishing in the lake,
UJpon whose edge his father's wigwam stood,
Heard a low moaning noise upon the shore :
Half like a child it seemed, half like a wolf,
And straightway there was something in his heart
That said, 'It is thy brother Sheeman's voice.'
So, paddling swiftly to the bank, he saw,
Within a little thicket close at hand,
A child that seemed fast changing to a wolf,
From the neck downward, gray with shaggy hair,
That still crept on and upward as he looked.
The face was turned away, but well he knew
That it was Sheemah's, even his brother's face.
Then with his trembling bands he hid his eyes,
And bowed his head, so that he might not see
The first look of his brother's eyes, and cried,
•0, Sheemah! O, my brother, speak to me!
Dost thou not know me, that I am thy brother?
Come to me, little Sheemah, thou shalt dwell
With me henceforth, and know no care or want!'
Sheemah was silent for a space, as if
'Twere hard to summon up a human voice,
And, when he spake, the sound was of a wolf's :
•I know thee not, nor art thou what thou say'st ;
I have none other brethren than the wolves,
And, till thy heart be changed from what it is,
Thou art not worthy to be called their kin.'
Then groaned the other, with a choking tongue,
* Alas! my heart is changed right bitterly ;
'Tis shrunk and parched within me even now!'
And, looking upward fearfully, he saw
Only a wolf
that shrank away and ran, Ugly and fierce, to hide among the woods.
MEN! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave ?
If we do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain,
Are yo not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed ?
Women! who shall one day bear
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains,
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free ?
Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankiud a debt?
No! true Freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!
They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.
The cordage creaks and rattles in the wind,
With freaks of sudden hush; the reeling sea
Now thumps like solid rock beneath the stern,
Now leaps with clumsy wrath, strikes short, and, falling
Crumbled to whispery foam, slips rustling down
The broad backs of the waves, which jostle and crowd
To fling themselves upon that unknown shore,
Their used familiar since the dawn of time,
Whither this foredoomed life is guided on
To sway on triumph's hushed, aspiring poise
One glittering moment, then to break
How lonely is the sea's perpetual swing,
The melancholy wash of endless waves,
The sigh of some grim monster undescried,
Fear-painted on the canvas of the dark,
Shifting on his uneasy pillow of brine!
Yet night brings more companions than the day
To this drear waste; new constellations burn,
And fairer stars, with whose calm height my soul
Finds nearer sympathy than with my herd
Of earthen souls, whose vision's scanty ring
Makes me its prisoner, to beat my wings
Against the cold bars of their unbelief,
Knowing in vain my own free heaven beyond.
Q God! this world, so crammed with eager life,
That comes and goes and wanders back to silence
Like the idle wind, which yet man's shaping mind
Can make his drudge to swell the longing sails
Of highest endeavour—this mad, unthrift world,
Which, every hour, throws life enough away
To make her deserts kind and hospitable,
Lets her great destinies be waved aside
By smooth, lip-reverent, formal infidels,
Who weigh the God they not believe with gold,
And find no spot in Judas, save that he,
Driving a duller bargain than he ought,
Saddled his guild with too cheap precedent.
O Faith! if thou art strong, thine opposite
Is mighty also, and the dull fool's sneer
Hath ofttimes shot chill palsy through the arm
Just lifted to achieve its crowning deed,
And made the firm-based heart, that would have quailed
The rack or fagot, shudder like a leaf
Wrinkled with frost, and loose upon its stem.
The wicked and the weak, by some dark law,
Have a strange power to shut and rivet down
Their own horizon round us, to unwing
Our heaven-aspiring visions, and to blur
With surly clouds the Future's gleaming peaks,
Far seen across the brine of thankless years.
If the chosen soul could never be alone
In deep mid-silence, open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done;
Among dull hearts a prophet nerer grew;
The nurse of full-grown souls is solitude.
The old world is effete; there man with man
Jostles, and, in the brawl for means to live,
Life is trod under foot-Life, the one block
Of marble that's vouchsafed wherefrom to carve
Our great thoughts, white and godlike, to shine down
The future-Life, the irredeemable block,
Which one o'er hasty chisel-dint oft mars,
Scanting our room to cut the features out
Of our full hope, so forcing us to crown
With a mean head the perfect limbs, or leave
The god's face glowing o'er a satyr's trunk,
Failure's brief epitaph.
Yes, Europe's world,
Reels on to judgment; there the common need,
Losing God's sacred use, to be a bond
'Twixt Me and Thee, sets each one scowlingly