Sheen and Shade (1)
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THE TRINITY OF LIFE.

PROEM.

 

What is Death—Sin's son and heir?
Time, his kinsman, must declare!
What is Life?   A Trinity—
Faith, and Hope, and Charity;
Wanting these, Life nothing were
But Death-Doubt, Selfhood, and Despair!
Love to Life its lustre gives;
Hope makes Death's dark visage shine;
The fire of both in Faith's heart lives,
And makes her mission thrice divine!

________________

 

RING OUT, my humble harp!   Exalt
    Faith, Hope, and Charity,
Who o'er the gloomy Gulf of Death
    Have built a bridge for me.
As deepest draughts of sorrow prove
    The source of sweetest song,
So darkest shades of doubt may serve
    To make our faith more strong.
In early youth, Ambition bade
    Me range the Realm of Mind;
With Reason for my guide, I left
    Religion far behind.
The lovely land of Liberty,
    Through which, our journey lay,
Inspired a wish to war with all
    That stood in Freedom's way.
We foiled full many Fallacies
    And routed mighty Wrongs,
To Cant and Custom "gave the lie
    "As deep as to the lungs,"
Blew up the forts of Ignorance,
    Until at length we came
To Controversy's citadel,
    Our birthright there to claim.
That province of Opinion,
    Which Concord ought to rule,
Was governed by old Anarchy—
    A heterogeneous fool!
Its atmosphere—a murky haze,
    Through which all objects seemed
Not what they were, but what men wished
    With crude Chimeras teemed.
To free the lordly Intellect
    From Superstition's sway,
My soul, like some proud battle-steed,
    Stood panting for the fray.
Dark clouds of Persecution broke
    In thunder o'er my head,
And Hate's infernal lightnings flashed
    A fierce and fiery red.
At creeds and codes, at priests and kings,
    My keenest curse I hurled;
With my unerring guide, I swore
    To face the frowning world.
"Then," softly said Self-Interest,
    "Take Silence for thy friend;"
But Honesty exclaimed, "Speak out,
    "And Conscience will commend!"
Foreboding Prudence cried, "Go back!
    "Brook not the fatal frown
"Of Bigotry!"   But Valour led,
    Till Envy hissed me down.
Then Slander came, with serpent slime,
    And smeared me o'er and o'er;
And Cowardice came forth to kick
    My face while on the floor;
And Insolence applauded him,
    Till Honor shouted, "Shame!"
But Shame refused to show her face,
    Or answer to her name.
Then Party-Zeal, and Enmity,
    Out thundered, "Victory!"
But from the dust my soul was raised
    By mild Humility.
While foul Defeat was charging Chance
    With his untimely birth,
Mild Mercy's heavenly countenance
    Outshone the eyes of Mirth:
While Cruelty was cursing Luck,
    And Wrong upbraiding Right,
Tired Strife with Peace a bargain struck,
    Made Malice roar for Spite!
I bade farewell to Vanity,
    But passionately pressed
Sincerity and Duty to
    My overburdened breast.
Suspicion whispered in my ear,
    "Young Man, your guide is blind!"
I looked, and lo! he had one eye,
    But that was placed behind!
And, like Experience, he saw,
    Not Cause, but Consequence
Less fit to lead the heavenly Soul
    Than serve the earthly Sense.
Remorse held up dark Sorrow's Cup,
    And bade me deeply quaff,
When Scorn, with Pride close by his side,
    Set up a sneering laugh.
Despair brought me a rusty sword,
    And smiling, said, "Be brave!
"Take leave of Life—there's nought but Fear
    "Between thee and the Grave!
"As years increase, Joy's fountains cease
    "To flow!   Whate'er fools deem,
"Yon Eden-robe which wraps the globe
    "Is but Youth's golden dream!
"Why in the House of Discontent
    "Wilt thou remain a guest,
"And press the burning Bed of Pain,
    "When here thou might'st meet Rest?"
Down to the wormy Vault of Death
    I would have gone with Gladness,
Rather than meet a fiend I saw,
    And feared—his name was Madness!
A band of ruffians seized me then;
    I knew not what to do,
For each one cried, "I am thy guide!"
    And looked like Reason too.
Like some tall ship, which Tempest hath
    Dismasted and unhelmed,
My fainting soul by fighting Facts
    Was blinded and o'erwhelmed:
As if the sea of Night should burst
    The golden banks of Day,
Truth's sun went out, yet Thought's blind world
    Went darkling on its way;
The Earth grew dark as Erebus,
    And Heaven, without its God,
Seemed but an Eidolon of Earth—
    Wild Fancy's weird abode!
While through the dusty Realm of Doubt
    My spirit-robes were trailed,
The Muse held up the Lamp of Love,
    But Reason's rushlight failed.
To Faery halls of Poesy
    For succour soon I fled,
And crossed her burning threshold, by
    Three unseen Angels led;
And there a-swoon, till Wonder's moon
    Had waned, and Will seemed dead,
In the arms of Awe I lay, nor saw,
    Nor heard, till o'er my head
Shone a crown as bright as the arrowy light
    That wreathes the ebon brow
Of that Phantom-Queen of Shade and Sheen,
    Called Night by men below!
I felt that Faith was with me, though
    I might not see her face,
Nor look upon those lineaments
    Of more than mortal grace.
Anon, her sister Hope exclaimed,
    "Sweet Spirit, fear no ill!"
I groped—and grasped the Hand of God—
    And both were with me still.
Then came their kinsmate Charity,
    That Angel of the Earth,
And touched my heart, and all grew bright—
    The World bloomed as at birth!
And when my soul waxed strong and whole,
    My harp rang out this theme
"This Eden-robe that girds the globe
    "Is not a glittering dream!"
Faith said, "We Three have rescued thee
    "From that ferocious band
"Of Phantoms bold and Thoughts death-cold
    "That revel in Doubt's dark land;
"And placed thee here in Beauty's Sphere,
    "Where Love and Light preside,
"To prosper long in the Land of Song,
    "And make the Muse thy bride!
"Here diamond seas and golden sands,
    "Star-flowers on emerald sod,
"And sapphire sky, sunned by His Eye,
    "Glow redolent of God!
"Let earthly Wisdom worship at
    "Religion's heavenly shrine,
"Let men see darkness in their souls,
    "And God's light there shall shine!"
'Tis thus Faith, Hope, and Charity,
    Through Passion's blinding haze,
From Folly's fane have led me forth
    To walk in Wisdom's ways.
Then let my lays be loud in praise
    Of Life's blest Trinity,
For pointing out the light-paved path
    Of Paradise to me!
Let those bright Three for ever be
    The burden of my rhyme,
Until the fatal Sisters sing
    The funeral ode of Time!

 


____________________

 
AN HOUR WITH NATURE
AND WITH NIGHT.

 

I STOOD upon a steep cloud-haunted hill,
When clear and cloudless was the evening sky;
As bliss fills Heaven, did sacred silence fill
The wide-womb'd welkin; universal space
Throbbed with o'erfulness of the Deity;
The circumspheral Air, which doth embrace
The World, was hushed in worship mute and still;
Like spirit-beacons, star by star, apace
The constellations kindled—Earth did lie
In glory-trance beneath the Sun-god's eye,
Whose ardent love-gaze grew more mild and dim,
As though a flood of jealous tears did swim
Down his bright cheeks, at leaving her green breast

To Night's embrace, while he unmated sank to rest.


A range of giant hills enringed me round,
Like statues round a monument, that keep
Untiring watch while Time sweeps past age-crown'd,
And, bowed in homage, ever watch and weep;
As Ocean to the Moon, my heart did leap
With tidal impulse surging up to Heaven;
I fell his spirit-home is in the deep
Dim starry distance, maugre man's earth-leaven.
'Neath burning, cloud-built battlements, which flanked
Earth's utmost boundary like a wall of fire,
With golden towers and lightning-bastions pranked,
And castles kinged with many a flaming spire,
Through rosy light old Ocean's visage shone,

Like Lucifer's bright brow, when flushed with reddening dawn.


And when the Sea had rocked the Sun to rest,
And Earth, in dew, poured forth her farewell tears,
The queenly Moon arose, crowned with a crest
Of white and wavy flame; from east to west,
The darkened heavens were flushed with flaming spheres,
As dewdrops numberless!   And God, the God
Of earth, is God of all those dark and bright
Unfathomable deeps, where wildest flight
Of human fancy fails!   This mundane clod—
Man's temporal home—how infinitely small
Compared with Night whom world-starred robes invest!
Nor would our little Solar System's fall
E're dim the lustre of his crown of light,

For Night is God's own Bard—Oh! how I envy Night!

 


____________________

 
THE WORLD OF DREAMS.

 

THE world of dreams is strange, and I, a dreamer,
A strange and dreamy story now relate;
Yet marvel not, though fitful as the streamer
That dances round the pole, the nimble gait
Of Faery Fancy seem;—what, though she prate
In numbers idle as the babbling brook,
There may be music in them to create
A spirit-charm, whose mystery may look

Like that sweet voice which sings in Echo's hollow nook.


What though the Muse's wildly-chiming numbers
May only seem faint echoes of a heart
Possessed by silent thousands, where Thought slumbers,
And wants but winged language to impart
Life to her hopes—nursed by the tuneful Art
To live for ages in the Land of Song—
Yet, lightning-like, perchance her glance may dart
A gleam of light amid the mute-souled throng,

To those whose feelings far transcend their feeble tongue.


What though her words, like love-looks launched by ladies,
May work sweet woe—she seeks to cure, not kill;
What though fantastic as the foam-crowned eddies
That reel and dance adown the dashing rill
On some green mountain's breast—fair Fancy will
Yield homage to the throne of Intellect,
He that hath ears to hear may listen till
In numbers strange, perchance, he may detect

The language of the gods, however imperfect.


A Thought—a Sound—a Tear—a Dream—a Vision
Is deified when Fancy deigns to speak;
A wandering Thought, bound on a heavenly mission,
Knocked at the windows of my Soul at break
Of Reason's day, before one gloomy streak
Of worldly wisdom tinged with sombre hue
Life's cloudless welkin, where Truth's lofty peak
Rose like a crystal pyramid to view,

Amid the groves of Happiness where Hope and Virtue
            grew—


For Hope and Virtue are the fairest flowers
That bloom in meadows of the infant mind,
Where Innocence sits in Love's hallowed bowers
With puerile Reason, whom the world deems blind;
And, with her alabaster cheek reclined
Upon his breast, despises Fear and Guile;
By Youth protected from the withering wind
Of prudent Forethought, and the snaky coil

Of Care, whose blue scales sparkling gleam through
            Manhood's smile.


This messenger from Paradise did enter
The presence-chamber of my soul, to tell
Why forth she fared upon this wild adventure
Through regions where Queen Phantasy doth dwell—
That dim and dreamy land of Charm and Spell,
On all sides bounded by the mighty main
Of pure Imagination, where the swell
Of spirit-winds helps Fancy's bark to gain

The port of fabled Truth, which Fact pants for in vain.


She bade me search the abyss of my spirit,
Exclaiming, "There fit symbols do abound
"For all the hopes and fears that men inherit;
"Sensations born of Feeling, Sight, or Sound
"Lie on the surface—from the Soul's profound
"Abysmal deeps still deeper truth up-gleams—
"Truth which, by Fiction robed and Fancy crowned,
"With Bards alone hath birth in fable-themes,

"For soul-truths ever travel in the Land of Dreams."


With that she ceased.   As when a falling star
Sinks in the hollow bosom of the Night,
Gleaming through gulfs of gloom—men mark afar
Its flaming passage by a line of light
Left in the wake, while it eludes their sight,
And Fancy follows it through worlds of wonder—
So fled that Angel, and the glory bright
Of her pure presence, lightning-like, asunder

Clove Mystery's cloud-realm, whence leapt Truth's living
            thunder!


No poet's pen, though dipped in flame, what then
Was heard and seen may seek to fitly phrase;
A golden pier was thronged with souls of men—
The great, the wise and good of former days,
And bards crowned with God's glory, as with bays,
To burning beacons beckoned, scroll in hand,
To light the lonely mariner, who strays
O'er Life's rude billows, towards that lovely land

Where Genius sits enthroned o'erlooking Time's dull strand.


Futurity forewent her wonted pride—
Unveiled her beauty-beaming face, which shone
On the gray Past, who claimed her for his bride,
Albeit his daughter—kissing her, anon
Their melting features mingled into one
Familiar face—the Present, who gan preach,
"Mortal! be bold! this is Fame's fort—press on!
"Shake hands with those Eternals, all and each,

"Then plant another beacon-light on Time's broad beach!"


Since then, within the Palace of my Soul
Hath dwelt a Thought which will not be expressed,
But, queen-like, o'er my heart usurps control,
And like a patient hen-bird on her nest,
Sits hatching Hopes in brilliant plumage dressed,
Whose blinding lustre blots the world from sight;
And "Ah!" she singeth, "wherefore wilt thou rest,
"Since Heaven through me commandeth thee to write,

"And leave the sons of Toil a legacy of light?"


I dare no longer disobey that voice
Which through my spirit thrilleth, as if God
Had uttered every accent, robbing Choice
Of crown and kingdom;—henceforth will I plod
With Poesy through tracts as yet untrod,
By soul-dream haunted groves of deathless bloom;
A garland I may gather on the road,
Or twine a wreath of laurels round my tomb,

Whose leaves, perchance, shall fade not till the day of
            doom.


I'll set aside the sophistry of sages,
Led on by Faith to fight in Freedom's van;
I'll war with the philosophy of ages
When it wars with the spirit-growth of man;
Though bravery abridge life's brittle span,
I'll woo, and win, and wed the maiden Truth!
A world of wealth with me would weigh less than
The single thought that I had staked my youth

To snatch her lovely limbs from Time's corrosive tooth.


Though none may hope to "rein the rearing world,"
Where millions worship at fell Mammon's shrine—
Where clouds of incense, round his altar curled,
And blazing pomp in bright refulgence shine,
Proclaiming him a deity divine
Throned in the Age's heart;—that Judas-creed
I will oppose, nor yet dejected pine,
Though Resolution's iron heart should bleed

To witness giant Effort bring forth dwarfish Deed.


I will put on Love's adamantine armour,
Baptize my infant Muse in martyrs' blood,
Nor dine with Pleasure, lest that dainty charmer
Mix sloth, like poison, with my spirit's food;
But stem the stream of Falsehood's fatal flood,
Though waves of Error work me worldly scath;
Cut Virtue's way through Vice's tangled wood,
While Hope, whose light my inspiration hath

Been, holds her angel-lamp to pioneer my path.


Thou, who hast never looked beyond the cold
Dull realm of Matter and Utility,
Mayst rail, if rail thou wilt, yet must be told,
Like flame in flint, Truth dwells in Mystery!
And dreams are fraught with a philosophy
Which, to the waking sense, is never shown
Except through symbols by sweet Poesy,
Who in the Land of Dreams hath built her throne,

Where she, like God in Heaven, reigns peerless and
            alone!

 


____________________

 
POESY.

 

As the bud is to the bee,
Or the blossom to the tree,
As the summer to the woods,
Or the fountain to the floods,
Or as Heaven is to the soul,
Its beginning, guide and goal,

So is Poesy to my heart's Passion-Story!

Though a star-inwoven vest
Veils the beauty of her breast,
Where Love's burning Heart is set
In Thought's brightest jewels, yet,
Like a Palace of sweet Dreams,
Her unshrouded forehead beams

Love and beauty, truth and grandeur, grace and glory.


As a flower that is kissed
Into blushes by the mist
Of the morning, while the streams
Of Apollo's golden beams,
That are struggling and would nest
In its dewdrop jewell'd breast,

Cannot enter for the close-enveiling vapour,

So the Heaven within her eye—
Haloed by a spirit-sky,
Formed by Purity and Youth,
Joy and Sorrow, Love and Truth,
Which her golden guard compose—
As an altar-flame aye glows,

At which Hope in vain attempts to light his taper.


As the wind does with the cloud,
Or as Custom with the crowd,
As the King does with the court,
Or as Death with life doth sport,
As yon sovereign orb the Sun
Rules the rest which round him run,

Dispensing warmth and lustre, life and motion,

So her beauty o'er my soul
Hath a limitless control;
And her image from my heart
Never—never can depart,
But will burn and brighten there
'Neath the billows of Despair,

Like a pearl within the purple heart of Ocean.


Though I woo her for my wife,
To be dowered with my life,
Yet when Hope, o'ercoming Fear,
Leads the lovely Vision near—
When the Glory I would clasp,
Fate flings Ruin in my grasp,

And Death bids me lean on his scythe and slumber!

Yet Death, perchance, but seems,
And his slumbers may be dreams;
When the spirit, freed from clay,
Through Eternity shall stray,
Then the passions that on earth
In his bosom sprang to birth

May increase his pangs beyond the sea-sands' number.


Then let me live, nor sleep,
But a life-long vigil keep,
Nor ever turn mine eyes
From that blooming Paradise,
Which in Pleasure's lap was lost,
Till the burning marl be crossed

Of Toil and Woe, whereby Hope may regain it!

And if the God that made me
With approving smile will aid me,
All the seasons as they roll
Shall add vigour to my soul,
And the close of every year
See the gleaming goal more near—

Fame's pinion cannot fail if Faith sustain it!

 


____________________

 
THE VOICE OF SPRING.

 

"I COME," said the voice of the Spring,
    "To banish the frost and the snow,
To dethrone hoary Winter, the king
    Of cold nights and dull days—let him go!
Let him flee to the ice-belted pole,
    And there with his consort, the Bear,
Let him dally till Summer's bright soul
    Quits the corpse of the bloom-faded Year."

"I come to shed light o'er the land,
    To blossom the bush and the tree,
To make human spirits expand,
    And hearts leap like waves in the sea!
To fling a green garb o'er the earth
    And awaken the voice of the woods,
To call countless beings to birth
    In the live air and life-teeming floods.

"I come to make winds from their wings
    Shed the blessings of health where they blow,
To give tongues to inanimate things,
    To make rivers sing psalms as they flow,
To quicken the heart-beats of Love,
    To brighten the rainbow of Hope,
And to smile into joy all that move
    Under Heaven's bright bliss-brooding cope.

"First, the Primrose, with petals moon-pale,
    Peeping forth from the moss-mantled bank,
Shall, in spite of the wind, rain, and hail,
    Spread her star of green leaves, rich and rank;
While the Daisy, blithe archer, upstarts
    Like young Cupid or bold Robin Hood,
With his sun-quiver dialled with darts
    That are stained with Queen Flora's heart's blood.

"While the Snowdrop looks up from the sod
    On the brink of some wood-darkened dell,
Like a penitent praying to God
    As he hangs o'er the abyss of Hell,
The Daffodil proudly shall wave
    His flag in some rude rocky hold
Whose base silver streamlets aye lave
    Whence he drinks with his goblet of gold.

"The Violet, modest and meek;
    In the leaf-shrouded coppice will lie,
With a beautiful bloom on her cheek
    Only rivalled by Heaven's blue eye,
Forming fancies to madden the Muse
    In the mind of some lord of the lyre
Who will swear that she won her bright hues
    Whence the Titan of old filched his fire.

"The Woodbine shall wind through the grove,
    The Lily and Rose shall shake hands,
Like Purity meeting with Love
    When at Hymen's chaste altar he stands;
The garden shall blossom and blush,
    And all hues of the rainbow unfold,
Like clouds, through which sun-fountains gush,
    Flaming ruby, and purple, and gold.

"The life-blood that warms my green heart
    Shall embrace both the branches and roots
In the orchard, where apple-trees start
    Into bright crimson buds and green shoots;
The birds shall be mated, and nest
    In the shade 'neath a dome of green leaves,
Until Heaven's full blessing shall rest
    On the Earth, crowned with ripe harvest-sheaves.

"Then Winter may come if he list,
    For I shall not meet Death in Time's tomb,
But, while hill-tops with snow-clouds are kissed,
    Shall be dreaming of beauty and bloom;
And, in spite of the frost-winds that blow,
    And the ice that seals up Nature's womb,
I will burst Winter's barriers of snow
    As a star cleaves Night's ocean of gloom!

"And in spite of the monarch Decay,
    Who reigns o'er the children of Time,
Though I bow now and then to his sway,
    I shall bate not a jot of my prime!
I will fold her fair form to my breast,
    Kiss the bride my free spirit holds dear,
Lead the Earth, in her Eden-robes drest,
    To the altar of Love every year!"

 


____________________

 
A WOODLAND WALK.

 

I WANDERED forth to watch the infant Day
Sow diamonds over plain and woodland copse;
The Sun, just glancing o'er the mountains gray,
With slanting beams, illumed their grassy slopes;
Though bright and buoyant as the golden hopes
Of sanguine Youth in its serenest hour,
My spirit bowed in homage to that Power
Which caused the buds to burst—the birds to sing
With melody, which made that woodland ring—
Its echo-haunted caverns sweetly moan!
The speckled Lark, borne on sky-sweeping wing
Above the clouds, his matin strains did pour;
The loud-tongued Throstle's half familiar tone

Seemed fraught with secrets which the soul ere birth had
            known.


The snowy locks of Winter, being smote
By Spring's rose-wreathëd wand, had disappeared,
His feeble feet seemed sinking in the tomb,
The icicles had fallen from his beard,
The Primrose on the bank began to bloom,
The Redbreast sang in the unblossomed broom,
The Blackbird's deep and mellow-sounding note
Rang through the bosky dingle's hollow throat
And, wave-like rippling, mocked the vocal stream,
While overhanging trees did listening seem
To catch those strains which down that stream did float;
The very rocks and knolls appeared to dream
Of rapture! the still air seemed full of thought!

And Heaven's blue bell above with God-smiles interwrought.


And "This is Nature! this!" I loudly cried,
"So often nicknamed Stepdame by the rude
"And impious, who observe but her night-side—
"Whose hare-eyed vision glimmers but one way,
"Which doth the light of Deity exclude,
"As bats and owls beneath the blaze of day
"Grow blind in uncongenial light, so they
"Find earth a 'Vale of Tears'—a solitude!
"Hence, their world-theories desolate and crude,
"And blasphemous.   When 'Man was made to mourn'
"Becomes the watchword, FREEDOM sighs forlorn,
"And HOPE becomes an outcast, seldom viewed;
"Truth's flowers are trampled—and though Earth
            displayed

"The pride of Eden's prime, Man's rose of bliss would fade!"

 


____________________

 
MAY-DAY MORN.

 

THE morning sun was hid behind the mountains,
    A sea of light came surging up the skies,
A purple pall of mist obscured the fountains,
    And brooks, and valleys;—dipped in rainbow dyes,
Aurora, slowly over hill and spire,

Did trail her cloudy robes with sweeping flounce of fire.


Like dainty fruit on the unblossomed boughs
    The sky-reflecting, crystal dew-globes hung,
The wanton Winds sung mystic metres, whose
    Deep lore of love from dreams of beauty sprung,
While May, led by the golden-wingëd Hours,

From Paradise did come to crown the Earth with flowers.


The cold Earth, kindled by her amorous kiss,
    Confessed her rapture in a blush of blooms,
Her very insect tribes felt angels' bliss
    And walked the wind—Love lent them starry plumes,
While bird and beast felt music-pulses play

Within their breasts a tune—'twas "Welcome lovely May!"


Green buds burst through the willows' scaly rind,
    As stars peer through the curtains of the dark;
Sun-singëd Snowdrops trembled in the wind,
    Like fainting birds of passage; 'neath the bark,
The oaks' sap-fountains flung their jets on high

To flash out in green leaves, and screen them from the sky.


The slumberous Mountains waved their load of trees,
    As if Hyperion, piercing through their dark
And stony hearts, to action like the Seas
    Had roused his Titan-brothers,—you might mark
A falcon from their midst soar to the sky,

Like some swift herald sent Jove's thunder to defy?


The Sea looked up to Heaven above, and smiled,
    As angels smile, with calm and earnest grace,
Though gently roused, or as a rosy child,
    Waked by her kiss, smiles in its mother's face;
The brooding Heaven seemed bending east and west,

The green Earth to enfold, within her azure breast!


Such was the radiant dawn of that May-day,
    When, on the wood-crowned summit of a hill,
The bard sate listening to the Skylark's lay,
    Whose melody the dome of heaven did fill,
While Earth and Air and Ocean seemed to seek

Joy-utterance from his Muse, who thus their thoughts would
            speak.

 


____________________

 
THOU ART COMING, FRUITFUL
SUMMER.

 

THOU art coming fruitful Summer
    Down the starry steep of Time,
And the vision makes my spirit
    Burst unbidden into rhyme!
Thou art coming, robed in splendour,
    Like a bridegroom to his bride,
And the Earth, crowned with Spring-blossoms,
    Fain would smile thee to her side.

Thou art coming, in thy brightness,
    Down the steep and starry slope
Of the dim prophetic Future,
    By the golden gate of Hope
She is watching to behold thee
    In thy ripe and ruddy charms,
Skies are waiting to enfold thee
    In their world-embracing arms.
As the mariner a-slumber,
    'Mid the Ocean-billows' roar,
Dreams of meeting with his true love
    On some dear and distant shore,
She has hungered for thy presence
    When her hills were hid in snow,
And in dreams beheld thy glory
    When bleak Boreas did blow;
She has borne the blasts of Winter,
    She has felt the frozen breath
Of that King of Desolation—
    Hoary kinsman of dark Death!
But thou comest in thy brightness
    To embrace the Earth again,
Like a sunburst on the meadows
    After days of drenching rain.

Thou art peering through Spring-shadows,
    And thy chastened glory gleams
Like the presence of the angels
    Through an infant's Eden-dreams,
Like the sun of joy and gladness
    Through rich rain of happy tears,
Or the memory of childhood
    Through the mantling mist of years.

In the rosy flush of morning,
    Or the crimson glow of eve,
Or the dimness of the twilight,
    When the yellow moth doth leave
His leaf-palace in the thicket,
    And, on wings of moonlight spread,
Seeks his bride, turned to a field-flower,
    And flies circling round her bed
To unwind the witching charm-web
    Which had lured her from her nest,
While he rings her with love-lustre—
    Folds her beauty to his breast,
We shall feel thy radiant spirit
    Brooding o'er us like a dove,
Full of mystery and glory,
    Full of beauty and of love!
For as Jove came down to Danć,
    To embrace the Earth again,
Thou art coming down from Heaven
    In a shower of golden grain;
Thou wilt fill her cup of being
    With the fiery wine of life,
She will walk the Heights of Rapture
    When thou takest her to wife.

Like some bright embodied Splendour,
    Or the Spirit of the Noon
Clad in leaf-enwoven kirtle,
    Crimson scarf, and "golden shoon,"
Thou wilt hold the sleeping Thunder
    In the hollow of thy hand,
Whilst the lightning's fiery fountains
    Overflow at thy command!
Thou wilt raise the human spirit,
    Rouse and renovate the sod,
Making Earth look more like Heaven,
    Making man more like his God,
Shewing shadows of lost Eden
    When the dim-red moon doth rise,
Flashing Heaven through rich sunsets
    On the bard's adoring eyes!
Thou art coming swathed in glory
    Down the starry steep of Time,
And the pageant makes my spirit
    Burst unbidden into rhyme;
For I see thy sunbright sceptre,
    And thy sanguine-cintured zone,
And thy crown of purple fruitage,
    And thy green and golden throne!

 


____________________

 
RECOLLECTIONS OF CHILDHOOD,

SUGGESTED BY BEING PRESENTED WITH A HONEYSUCKLE FROM
MY BIRTHPLACE.

 

INHABITANT of mine own native vale,
Sweet-scented consort of the red wild-rose
Which pours its perfume on the summer's gale,
As thou dost upon every breeze that blows,
When morning smiles, or when the day doth close
In fiery grandeur flaming from the west,
O! how I long to drink the tide that flows
Like nectar-streams through thy ambrosial breast,

With feelings such as once my infant heart possessed.


When in my father's cottage I did dwell,
Ere seven summers since my birth had fled,
Death's fatal summons broke the fairy spell
That bound my heart, and o'er my youthful head
A halo of enjoyment ever shed,
Inspiring hopes of bliss through future years:
Yes—laid a father sleeping with the dead,
And turned those hopes and joys to sighs and tears,

And taught how much an infant's heart unbroken bears.


For in that cot, of which I mention made,
The happiest hours of life's long day were spent;
The morning of existence there I played
Away in ceaseless joy and merriment;
And still the scenes, which I then did frequent,
Are truly mirrored in my memory's glass,
Though Fortune's ruthless hand hath long since rent
Me from their much-loved presence, and, alas!

Instilled the hopeless wish to be what then I was.


To wander in the woods, as once I did,
And listen to the music of the grove;
To view the towering pine, or pyramid
Of rocks, glassed in the torrent, from above
While heaven's blue to earth's deep centre drove
Its bending arch, and on my wondering eye
Flashed images of beauty—stars that move
In harmony through ether's realms on high,

Deep-tossing in the gulf of an inverted sky.


My heart beat with a sense of love and beauty
That dwelt in every sylvan sound I heard,
The woodland walk I made my daily duty,
And to all other pleasures, I preferred
To list and learn the song of every bird
Whose love-notes echoed from each flowery nook,
Till loud, hoarse bleatings of the lowing herd,
Mixed with the bubbling music of the brook,

Sang farewell to the day as Sol the west forsook.


Then to the top of an adjacent hill,
To watch the setting sun, when clouds of splendour
And fire-flushed light the western skies did fill,
And upward streams of sunbeams bright did render
Their skirts transparent, piercing them with slender
Sharp shafts of gold and flame, whose tints did seem
Than lovely Flora's cheeks more soft and tender—
They faded like the drapery of a dream,

When Ocean swallowed Phśbus and his fiery team.


Then slowly down the steep hill's flowery side
With cautious steps the winding ways I wended,
To view the roses veil their blushing pride
And hang their heads as evening's dew descended—
Contract their petals, which had been extended
From morn till eve, to sip the solar ray,
Till, as dun Night her sable throne ascended,
All bathed in tears upon the thorny spray,

Seemed shrunk within themselves to mourn the absent day.


But scenes like these have vanished long ago
And other objects entered in their room,
My mirthful heart, a magazine of woe
Hath now become.   The beauty and the bloom
Of boyhood now lie buried in the tomb
Of Memory; and, yet, I am but young!
My task is now to tend the labouring loom,
And work the woof, yet needs must ply my tongue,

Impelled by heart and head, and sorrow is my song.

 


____________________

 
BEAUTY.

 

LET us sing the praise of Beauty,
    For the earth is beautiful,
And the stars are full of beauty
    And the skies of stars are full.
As the Day treads out the Darkness,
    In the earth's diurnal round,
So the tame is trodden underfoot
    While Beauty's brow is bound:
And still Life's river rushes on,
    And still the world goes round,
And Homeliness still hides her head,
    And ever is Beauty crowned.

The beautiful in action,
    And the beautiful in speech
Tread Virtue's path to Glory's goal,
    For Beauty reigns in each.
'Tis thus the bard his garland gains,
    Thus heroes are renowned,
For the beauties both of thought and deed
    To Virtue's praise redound:
And still the stream of Time rolls by,
    And still the world goes round,
And aye the Homely hides her head,
    And ever is Beauty crowned.

 


____________________

 
WHERE BOTH BEAUTY DWELL?

 

    WHERE, O where doth Beauty dwell?
        On the pure and polished brows
        Of maidenhood; in cheeks where glows
The rose of health; in love-lights breaking
From sweet eyes whence soul is speaking
        Language that the heart well knows;
In brave lives, by sorrow shaded,
Breasting Fortune's stream unaided,
        Heedless of its ebbs and flows;
    There doth royal Beauty dwell!

    Where, O where doth Beauty dwell?
        In the purple flush of morn;
        Flashing out amid the corn,
In harvest fields of God's own gilding;
In green boughs where birds a-building
        Nest beneath the blossomed thorn;
In the meadows filled with flowers;
By the woodland banks and bowers,
        Where the sylvan gods were born;
    There doth rural Beauty dwell!

    Where, O where doth Beauty dwell?
        By the brooks where fishes lave,
        Bravely bright and brightly brave,
Their lovely forms with lustre gleaming,
Rainbow light through crystal streaming—
        Sight to make the poet rave!
Where they flash, and dart, and darkle,
Whilst their scales of silver sparkle
        Lightning through the limpid wave,
    There doth living Beauty dwell!

    Where, O where doth Beauty dwell?
        In the jewelled deeps of Night,
        Burning where the wildest flight
Of human fancy yet hath soared not,
Through skies fair Science hath explored not,
        Dim or golden, dark or bright;
Where the swift-winged Comets sweeping
Trail their wakes of fire, unsleeping,
        Robed with wonder—terror—might—
    Crowned with awe doth Beauty dwell!

    Where, O where doth Beauty dwell?
        In the wild and lone retreats
        Where Solitude with Silence meets;
Regioned high amid the mountains,
By the waterfalls and fountains,
        Where the heart of Nature beats;
On the bright blue tumbling Ocean,
In the Sea of Life's commotion,
        Beauty hath ten thousand seats!
    Everywhere doth beauty dwell!

 


____________________

 
A DIRGE.

 

'TIS midnight's still, mysterious noon!
Earth sleeps.   The silver-mantled moon,
    With maiden aspect cold and clear,
    Looks down upon this dreamy sphere,
Which my sad soul must flee from soon.

Yon mystic lights which burn above,
Emblems of universal love,
    And whether watch-fires or huge globes
    By distance wrapt in flaming robes,
Like planets round sun-centres move,

Still are they lovely to behold
As showers of heavenly fire and gold,
    Or, as may seem to Fancy's eye,
    The guardian Angels of the sky
Darting quick flames down, keen but cold.

And thou, pale Queen of night, who art
The lover's load-star, wan and swart
    Enchantress, who dost fill thine horn
    With spirit-fires, yet canst not burn
The ice of death out of my heart,

I love thy dim and silvery reign,
But here, alas! must not remain,
    For at the windows of my soul
    The twilight ill-foreboding owl
Hath flapped his wizard wings again.

My life is withered ere it bloomed,
My soul-fruit blasted, hopes entombed;
    I feel my steadfast spirit shake,
    Like stony towers when an earthquake
Gapes underneath.   'Tis God hath doomed.

I feel that I am forced to quit
This life.   Relentless Fate hath writ
    The summons, and, though planets fall,
    Though earth should sink, he seeks his goal,
And God, the changeless, sanctions it.

And can the soul, whose thoughts aspire
To Heaven, fail before the Sire
    Of Heaven, who ordained its birth,
    While yon pale planet bathes this earth
With freezing floods of crystal fire?

Could earth remain for ever green,
Be daily washed with solar sheen,
    And change its tenants year by year,
    Though but a dull and lifeless sphere,
If man had not immortal been?

No! that were to place Mind below
Mere Matter, to make Spirit bow
    To Body.   Oh!   Doubt is the rope
    That strangles Will.   Yet will I hope
To live as long as star-fires glow!

My bark but waits the rising gale,
My boatswain, Hope, spreads every sail,
    Though poorly freighted, she may ride
    Serenely over Death's dark tide:
Faith for her pilot, can she fail?

Lo! thus equipped, she quits the strand
Of this dull globe, bound for the land
    Of spirits, bearing one weak soul,
    A part that seeks its parent whole,
A straggler from the Angel-band,

A drop from Being's reservoir,
A spark of Mind's immortal fire,
    A meteor from that spirit-world
    Which, cloud-like, round God's throne is,
            curled,
A child that fain would see its Sire.

 


____________________

 
WILT THOU NOT WEEP FOR ME?

 

COMPANION of my early days,
    Bright angel of my heart,
We've lived and loved through sheen and
            shade,
    Alas! that we should part!
We've trod the daisied breast of June,
    And sat in cool retreat
Where roses bloomed above our heads,
    And violets at our feet;
We've heard the mellow cuckoo sing,
    The throstle clear and loud,
And drank the breeze streamed through the
            trees,
    Like sunshine through the cloud;
We've felt the fiery pulse of love,
    And pictured o'er and o'er
A happy home and years of bliss,
    Hearts trembling to the core;
We've had our youthful breasts o'erbrimmed
    With boundless joy and gladness,
And keenly know how near akin
    Are ecstacy and madness;
We've seen the summer's sun go down,
    And yielded to the charms
Of the dim mysterious twilight hour,
    Locked in each other's arms;
We know that night comes after day,
    That Winter treads the track
Of Summer; days and years go round,
    But youth will not come back;
'Tis brief as bright, soon snatched by Time,
    And Sorrow fills the cup
Where Joy was wont to sparkle; and
    Experience drinks it up.
In heart I am an infant yet,
    A child's affections too
Are mine, though manhood sage hath set
    Its seal upon my brow.
Though joys have fled as time hath sped,
    And death is drawing near,
Yet memories of the golden Past
    Will gild the gloomy bier.
Since Fortune's ruthless hand did rend
    Our youthful hearts in twain,
And gold, the god of this wise world,
    Broke friendship's brittle chain,
I've bowed to other beauties, love,
    But, oh! it could not be
That toil, or time, or chance, or change,
    Could wean my heart from thee.
I know thou art not happy, but
    I know thy pride too well
To deem thou wouldst confess the fact,
    Though pained with pangs of hell!
For I am but of humble birth,
    And thou of high degree,
Then, oh! how were it possible
    To grant thou couldst love me?
Since thou wert made a merchandise
    Down Fashion's stream to glide,
Like the wreck of some proud vessel at
    The mercy of the tide,
As I through Life's lone wilderness
    Have sighed and sought for thee,
When I am cold and coffined, love,
    Wilt thou not weep for me?

 


____________________

 
WOULD I WERE NO MORE!

 

FROM worlds of bliss for ever cleft,
    To know no hope, to feel no fear,
So sad and lonely, so bereft
    Of all my doating heart held dear,
For me there now is nothing left
    To cause a smile, or claim a tear;
The cup of joy, once brimming o'er,
Is broken!   Would I were no more!

The green moss withers on the wall,
    The trees their load of leaves have shed,
The Earth wears Autumn's funeral pall,
    The fairest of the flowers are dead,
The skies have lost their lustre, all
    The light of life has from me fled;
But Death, dark angel, shuns my door,
O would to Heaven I were no more!

Love sate on Ruin's broken sphere,
    And smiled above the boiling brink
Of Passion; troth was held more dear
    Than life; from death I did not shrink!
But fate hath chained my spirit here
    To dust, with adamantine link;
My heart is calcined to the core!
O would to Heaven I were no more!

Through Life's bleak Wilderness of Care
    With Sorrow hand in hand I go;
As Atlas once the world did bear,
    Have I not borne a world of woe,
And wrestled long with dark Despair,
    And hugged the fiend I could not throw?
But now my spirit, faint and frore,
Is weary!   Would I were no more!

 


____________________

 
APOSTROPHE TO HOPE.

 

PURE, Sun, which round my darkened orb of being
Once poured a flood of sanctifying light,
Whose sacred presence makes the soul far-seeing,
Whose absence plunges in Despair's dark night
The fainting spirit—Mildness robed in might—
God-gazing Angel—Pilot of the soul,
Whose course is Godward as the eagle's flight
Is sunward!   When beneath thy sweet control
My life-stream ran rejoicing in its bed,
Thy light was like the Moon's mild glory shed
Upon the midnight Ocean to console
His dark unrest.   Bright Seraph, who canst soar
Through Death-glooms swift as, ere the thunder's roar,
Red lightning leaps the cloud-gulfs, wherefore fled
Art thou to Heaven, thine origin and goal,

As earth-imprisoned streams to parent oceans roll?


Wilt thou not, like the Summer, come again
And hang bright blossoms on our Tree of Life?
Wilt thou not be our trusty boatswain when
Our struggling bark shall breast the waves of strife?
Our helmsman, when Misfortune's tempest blows?
Our captain, when the Truth to battle goes?
When dark-browed Doubt shall raise his rusty knife
To murder Faith, wilt thou not interpose
Thy golden shield to ward the baneful blows?
When Pride would tread God's image in the mire,
Will not thy falchion smite the Demon down,
Lest Peace should perish, and a world of woes
Wage war within the mind, till Hate and Ire,
Like Lust and Havoc armed with steel and fire,
By tyrants sent to waste some conquered town,

Have banished Bliss, and reft Love's jewel from Life's
            crown?


Lo! from sad Sorrow's darkest, deepest glooms,
Where pale Despondency sits throned and crowned,
To thee I call, whose cheek for ever blooms
Blushed with the hues of Heaven's primeval dawn,
Whose beamy brow, by Love and Virtue bound,
Rays forth the living light of Deity,
Untinged by Time or Mutability,
Belting the dusky Future with a zone
Of burning splendour, gilding Fancy's plumes,
Sweet Hope! rain down that radiance which once
        shone
Upon my path, now lustreless and lone,
And in my heart, now loveless as the Tomb's,
Then will I wrestle down the demon Fear.
'Tis done! thy glory floods my Soul's dim sky,
Thy dawn-light falls upon her death-dark sphere,

Like sudden Summer on the Winter-withered Year!



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