Слике страница
PDF
ePub

'Twas morning, and the old man lay alone.
No friend had closed his eyelids, and his lips,
Open and ashy pale, the expression wore
Of his death-struggle. His long silvery hair
Lay on his hollow temples thin and wild,

frame was wasted, and his features wan
And haggard as with want, and in his palm
His nails were driven deep, as if the throe
Of the last agony had wrung him sore.

The storm was raging still. The shutters swung
Screaming as harshly in the fitful wind,
And all without went on-as aye it will,
Sunshine or tempest, reckless that a heart
Is breaking, or has broken, in its change.

The fire beneath the crucible was out;
The vessels of his mystic art lay round,
Useless and cold as the ambitious hand
That fashioned them, and the small rod,
Familiar to his touch for threescore years,
Lay on the alembic's rim, as if it still
Might vex the elements at its master's will.

And thus had pass’d from its unequal frame
A soul of fire-a sun-bent eagle stricken
From his high soaring down-an instrument
Broken with its own compass. Oh how poor
Seems the rich gift of genius, when it lies,
Like the adventurous bird that hath outflown
His strength upon the sea, ambition-wreck'd-
A thing the thrush might pity, as she sits
Brooding in quiet on her lowly nest!

Willis's ability in the path of bright, fanciful, and sug gestive versification we hang on the sweet lyric,

TO A CITY PIGEON.

STOOP to my window, thou beautiful dove!
Thy daily visits have touched my love.
I watch thy coming, and list the note
That stirs so loud in thy mellow throat,

And my joy is high
To catch the glance of thy gentle eye.

Why dost thou sit on the heated eaves,
And forsake the wood with its freshen'd leaves ?
Why dost thou haunt the sultry street,
When the paths of the forest are cool and sweet?

How canst thou bear
This noise of people—this sultry air?

Thou alone of the feather'd race
Dost look unscared on the human face,
Thou alone, with a wing to flee,
Dost love with man in his haunts to be;

And the “gentle dove”
Has become a name for trust and love.

A holy gift is thine, sweet bird !
Thou’rt named with childhood's earliest word'
Thou’rt link'd with all that is fresh and wild
In the prison'd thoughts of the city child;

And thy glossy wings
Are its brightest image of moving things.

It is no light chance. Thou art set apart,
Wisely by Him who has tamed thy heart,
To stir the love for the bright and fair
That else were seal'd in this crowded air;

I sometimes dream
Angelic rays from thy pinions stream.

Come, then, ever when daylight leaves
The page I read, to my humble eaves,
And wash thy breast in the hollow spout,
And murmur thy low sweet music out!

I hear and see
Lessons of heaven, sweet bird, in thee!

15.

SAXE.

John G. SAXE was born at Highgate, Franklin County, Vermont, June 2, 1816. He graduated at Middlebury Col. lege in 1839, and, turning his attention to law, was, four years later, admitted to the Bar, and began practice at St. Alban's in his native State. In 1850 he removed to Bur. lington, and for five years conducted The Sentinel there.

Saxe's longest poems have been introduced to the public in the guise of lectures delivered, from year to year, under the auspices mainly of library and literary associations. Of these the best known are Progress: a Sutire, 1846; The Rape of the Lock, 1847; The Proud Miss McBride, 1818; The Times, 1849; The Money-King, 1854; Literature and the Times, 1855; and The Press, 1855.

Under the title of Humorous and Satirical Poems was published at Boston, in 1850, a complete edition of his writings up to that date. Later editions have succeeded in the following order: The Money-King, and Other Poems, in 1859; The Flying Dutchman; or, The Wrath of Herr Von Stoppelnoze, in 1862; Clerer Stories of Many Nations rendered in Rhyme, in 1864; The Masquerade, and other Poems, in 1966; Fables and Legends of Many Countries, in 1872.

The following extracts are from

PROGRESS: A SATIRE.

Nor less, O Progress, are thy newest rules
Enforced and honored in the “Ladies' Schools ;".
Where Education, in its nobler sense,
Gives place to Learning's shallowest pretence;
Where hapless inaids, in spite of wish or taste,
On vain accomplishments their moments waste;
By cruel parents here condemned to wrench
Their tender throats in mispronouncing French;

Here doomed to force, by unrelenting knocks,
Reluctant music from a tortured box;
Here taught, in inky shades and rigid lines,
To perpetrate equivocal "designs;"
* Drawings” that prove their title plainly true,
By showing Nature “drawn” and “quartered” too!
In ancient times, I've heard my grandam tell,
Young maids were taught to read, and write, and spell;
(Neglected arts ! once learned by rigid rules,
As prime essentials in the common schools;")
Well taught beside in many a useful art
To niend the manners and improve the heart;
Nor yet unskilled to turn the busy wheel,
To ply the shuttle, and to twirl the reel,
Could thrifty tasks with cheerful grace pursuie,
Themselves "accomplished,” and their duties too.
Of tongues, each maiden had but one, 'tis said,
(Enough, 'twas thought, to serve a lady's head,)
But that was Exglish,-great and glorious tongrie
That CHATHAM spoke, and Milton, SHAKSPEARE sung!
Let thoughts too idle to be fitly dressed
In sturdy Saxon, be in French expressed;
Let Invers breathe Italian,-like, in sooth,
Its singers, soft, emasculate, and smooth;
But for a tongue whose ample powers embrace
Beauty and force, sublimity and grace,
Ornate or plain, harmonious, yet strong,
And formed alike.for eloquence and song,
Give me the English,-aptcst tonguc to paint
A sage or dunce, il villain or a saint,
To spur the slothful, counsel the distressed,
To lash the oppressor, and to soothe the oppressed,
To lend fantastic Humor freest scope
To marshal all his laughter-moving troop,
Give Pathos power, and Fancy lightest wings,
And Wit his merriest whims and keenest stings!

[blocks in formation]

In closest girdle, O reluctant Muse,
In scantiest skirts, and lightest-stepping shoes,
Prepare to follow Fashion's gay'advance,
And thread the mazes of her motley dance;

And marking well each momentary hue,
And transient form, that meets the wondering view,
In kindred colors, gentle Muse, essay
Her Protean phases fitly to portray.

To-day, she slowly drags a cumbrous trail,
And “Ton” rejoices in its length of tail;
To-morrow, changing her capricious sport,
She trims her flounces just as much too short;
To-day, right jauntily, a hat she wears
That scarce affords a shelter to her ears;
Tomorrow, haply, searching long in vain,
You spy her features down a Leghorn lane;
To-day, she glides along with queenly grace,
To-morrow ambles in a mincing pace.
To-day, erect, she loves a martial air,
And envious train-bands emulate the fair;
To-morrow, changing as her whim may serve,
"She stoops to conquer” in a “Grecian curve.”
To-day, with careful negligence arrayed
In scanty folds of woven zephyrs made,
She moves like Dian in her woody bowers,
Or Flora floating o'er a bed of flowers;
To-morrow, laden with a motley freight,
Of startling bulk and formidable weight,
She waddles forth, ambitious to amaze
The vulgar crowd, who giggle as they gaze!

[ocr errors]

THE MONEY-KING (EXTRACTS).
He wears no crown upon his royal head,
But many millions in his purse, instead;
He keeps no halls of state, but holds his court
In dingy rooms where greed and thrift resort;
In iron chests his wondrous wealth he hoards;
Banks are his parlors; brokers are his lords ;
Bonds, bills, and mortgages, his favorite books,
Gold is his food, and coiners are his cooks;
Ledgers his records; stock-reports his news;
Merchants his yeomen, and his bondsmen Jews;
Kings are his subjects, gamblers are his knaves,
Spendthrifts his fools, and misers are his slaves !

« ПретходнаНастави »