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But I have learned to love thee now
Without the helm upon thy gleaming brow,
A maiden mild and undefiled
Like her who bore the world's redeeming child;
And surely never did thy altars glance
With purer fires than now in France;
While, in their bright white flashes,
Wrong's shadow, backward cast,
Waves cowering o'er the ashes
Of the dead, blaspheming Past,
O'er the shapes of fallen giants,
His own unburied brood,
Whose dead hands clench defiance
At the overpowering Good :
And down the happy future runs a flood
Of prophesying light;
It shows an Earth no longer stained with blood,
Blossom and fruit where now we see the bud
Of Brotherhood and Right.
Said Christ our Lord, 'I will go and see
How the men, my brethren, believe in me.'
He passed not again through the gate of birth,
But made himself known to the children of earth.
Then said the chief priests, and rulers, and kings,
Behold, now, the Giver of all good things;
Go to, let us welcome with pomp and state
Him who alone is mighty and great.'
With carpets of gold the ground they spread
Wherever the Son of Man should tread,
And in palace-chambers lofty and rare
They lodged him, and served him with kingly fare.
Great organs surged through arches dim
Their jubilant floods in praise of him,
And in church and palace, and judgment-ball,
He saw his image high over all.
But still, wherever his steps they led,
The Lord in sorrow bent down his head,
And from under the heavy foundation-stones,
The son of Mary heard bitter groans.
And in church and palace, and judgment-hall,
He marked great fissures that rent the wall,
And opened wider and yet more wide
As the living foundation heaved and sighed.
• Have ye founded your thrones and altars, then,
On the bodies and souls of living men ?
And think ye that building shall endure,
Which shelters the noble and crushes the poor?
With gates of silver and bars of gold,
Ye have fenced my sheep from their Father's fold:
I have heard the dropping of their tears
In heaven, these eighteen hundred years.'
O Lord and Master, not ours the guilt,
We build but as our fathers built;
Behold thine images, how they stand,
Sovereign and sole, through all our land.
Our task is hard,—with sword and flame
To hold thy earth forever the same,
And with sharp crooks of steel to keep
Still, as thou leftest them, thy sheep.'
Then Christ sought out an artisan,
A low-browed, stunted, haggard man,
And a motherless girl, whose fingers thin
Pushed from her faintly want and sin.
These set he in the midst of them,
And as they drew back their garment-hem,
For fear of defilement, 'Lo, here,' said he,
• The images ye have made of me!'
WRITTEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE
COCHITUATE WATER INTO THE CITY OF BOSTON.
My name is Water: I have sped
Through strange, dark ways, untried before,
By pure desire of friendship led,
He sends four royal gifts by me:
Long life, health, peace, and purity.
I'm Ceres' cup-bearer; I pour,
For flowers and fruits and all their kin,
Her crystal vintage, from of yore
Stored in old Earth's selectest bin,
Flora's Falernian ripe, since God
The wine-press of the deluge trod.
o that far isle whence, iron-willed,
The New World's sires their bark unmoored,
The fairies' acorn-cups I filled
Upon the toadstool's silver board,
And, 'neath Herne's oak, for Shakspeare's sight,
Strewed moss and grass with diamonds bright.
No fairies in the Mayflower came,
And, lightsome as I sparkle here,
For Mother Bay-State, busy dame,
I've toiled and drudged this many a year,
Throbbed in her engines' iron veins,
Twirled myriad spindles for her gains.
I, too, can weave; the warp I set
Through which the sun his shuttle throws,
And, bright as Noah saw it, yet
For you the arching rainbow glows,
A sight in Paradise denied
To unfallen Adam and his bride.
When Winter held me in his grip,
You seized and sent me o'er the wave,
Ungrateful! in a prison-ship;
But I forgive, not long a slave,
For, soon as summer south-winds blew,
Homeward I fled, disguised as dew.
For countless services I'm fit,
Of use, of pleasure, and of gain,
But lightly from all bonds I fit,
Nor lose my mirth, nor feel a stain;
From mill and wash-tub I escape,
And take in heaven my proper shape.
So, free myself, to-day, elate
I come from far o'er hill and mead,
And here, Cochituate's envoy, wait
To be your blithesome Ganymede,
And brim your cups with nectar true
That never will make slaves of you.
SUGGESTED BY THE GRAVES OF TWO ENGLISH SOLDIERS
ON CONCORD BATTLE-GROUND.
The same good blood that now refills
The dotard Orient's shrunken veins,
The same whose vigour westward thrills,
Bursting Nevada's silver chains,
Poured here upon the April grass,
Freckled with red the herbage new;
On reeled the battle's trampling mass,
Back to the ash the bluebird flew.
Poured here in vain ;-that sturdy blood
Was meant to make the earth more green,
But in a higher, gentler mood
Than broke this April noon serene;
Two graves are here; to mark the place,
At head and foot, an unhewn stone,
O'er which the herald lichens trace
The blazon of Oblivion.
These men were brave enough, and true
To the hired soldier's bull-dog creed ;
What brought them here they never knew,
They fought as suits the English breed;
They came three thousand miles, and died,
To keep the Past upon its throne;
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.
The turf that covers them no thrill
Sends up to fire the heart and brain;
No stronger purpose nerves the will,
No hope renews its youth again :
From farm to farm the Concord glides,
And trails my fancy with its flow;
O’erlead the balanced henhawk slides,
Twinned in the river's heaven below.
But go, whose Bay State bosom stirs,
Proud of thy birth and neighbor's right,
Where sleep the heroic villagers
Borne red and stiff from Concord fight;
Thought Reuben, snatching down his
Or Seth, as ebbed the life away,
What earthquake rifts would shoot and run
World-wide from that short April fray ?
What then? With heart and hand they wrought,
According to their village light;
'Twas for the Future that they fought,
Their rustic faith in what was right.
Upon earth's tragic stage they burst
Unsummoned, in the humble sock;
Theirs the fifth act; the curtain first
Rose long ago on Charles's block.
Their graves have voices; if they threw
Dice charged with fates beyond their ken,
Yet to their instincts they were true,
And had the genius to be men.
Fine privilege of Freedoin's host,
Of even foot-soldiers for the Right !
For centuries dead, ye are not lost,
Your graves send courage forth, and might.
We, too, have autumns, when our leaves
Drop loosely through the dampened air, When all our good seems bound in sheaves,
And we stand reaped and bare. Our seasons have no fixed returns,
Without our will they come and go ;
At noon our sudden summer burns,
Ere sunset all is snow.
But each day brings less summer cheer,
Crimps more our ineffectual spring,
And something earlier every year
Our singing birds take wing. As less the olden glow abides,
And less the chillier heart aspires,
With drift-wood beached in past spring-tides
We light our sullen fires.
By the pinched rushlight's starving beam
We cower and strain our wasted sight,
To stitch youth's shroud up seam by seam,
In the long arctic night.
It was not so—we once were young-
When Spring, to womanly Summer turning, Her dew-drops on each grass-blade strung,
In the red sunrise burning.
We trusted then, aspired, believed
That earth could be remade to-morrow ;-
Ah, why be ever undeceived ?
Why give up faith for sorrow?
O thou, whose days are yet all spring,
Faith, blighted once, is past retrieving ;
Experience is a dumb, dead thing;
The victory's in believing.