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     Or the low sound that sometimes springs,
Like murmurous clash of unseen wings,
     Moaning from trees or vines, or both,
In the swift struggle of their growth--
     A strange commingling of all tones,
Or sweet or sad, that Nature owns.
     The old man rests again, and seems
To gather up anew his dreams.
     From 'neath his mantle, gray and torn,
He draws a book, with pages worn,
     And turning o'er its leaves so thin
With frequent seconds entered in,
     He strives all eagerly to find
Some thought peculiar to his mind,
     As one may take from dusty shelf
Some precious tome, as dear as self,
     And turning o'er, with lingering touch,
The leaves full freighted, holding much
     Of earnest thought, and won desire,
That kindle passion into fire--
     Read here and there some loving rhyme;
Some echo of a far-off time;
     Some thought entrapped in mystic words,
(A fowler's mesh holds struggling birds;)
     And note, with acquiescent smile,
The working of the poet's wile:
     So, here and there, the old man reads
Of grand endeavor, toil, and deeds;
     Of purposes of high surprise--
Of visions granted to the wise--
     Of struggles long, and victories won--
Of wonders wrought, and labor done--
     Of men who rule the age of gold,
Possessing treasures manifold--
     Of life and death — of war and peace--
Loud bursts of song in many keys,
     And mournful wails of low regret--
Of graves that yawn uncovered yet--
     Till we who list are fain to think
That Memory gives him gall to drink.

He reads the wooing of the Spring,
     When, in the meadows wandering,
He met the maid, her work begun,
     And found her fair to look upon.
He reads the flitting of the May,
     That bore his maiden-bride away;
And sighs, in mem'ry of the hour
     When first he trod her vacant bower,
(Its slender pillars twined across
     With orange lichens and green moss,)
And found her buds, no more subdued,
     Decking with bloom their solitude.
He murmurs o'er the self-same tune
     Hie heard the south wind play in June,
And finds some lingering of the haze
     That tangled in its misty maze
The falling leaves and blossoms sweet,
     Beneath the Indian Summer's feet.

“Oh! sweet as Love, but dearer far,”
     The old man sighs, “these memories are;
But sadder still, with longing pain,
     For they may never come again!
But one short June my life may know--
     May see its roses blush and blow--
Its lilies whiten to the sky,
     And then in conscious splendor die;
But with no dream of smiling hope,
     That when, o'er yonder snowy slope,
The Summer flitteth down, that she
     Will bring those blossoms back to me!”

But now he reads a darker page--
     With records stained of hate and rage--
Of hosts drawn up in brave array
     To fight each other's lives away!
Of clash of sword and noise of gun--
     Of corpses stiffening in the sun--
Of hissing shot and booming shell,
     Confusion like to that of hell!
Of men, whom mothers once wept o'er,
     To devils turned — like men no more I
Of the dread silence afterward,
     That steals along the trodden sward,
And settles down o'er.faces white,
     That never more shall greet the light;
Of passions maddened to excess--
     Of blood that flowed in plenteousness--
Of all the hopes and treasures lost,
     To crown the dreadful holocaust!

“O shrine of Death!” the old man cries,
     “Whose greedy flames in triumph rise,
Fed by the dread Iconoclast,
     Who, heralded by trumpet blast,
Has drained our land of hopes and cheers,
     And sowed its fallow ground with tears,
The bleaching bones of dead desires,
     The ashes of Ambition's fires,
The royal wine of human life
     Spilled over in unholy strife--
The vilest passions 'neath the sun,
     Whose work of evil just begun
May never more on earth be done--
     A harvest dread of blood and groans,
These are thy temple's altar-stones!”

Again he reads — of lofty rooms
     Where warm airs tremble with perfumes;
Where music answers beauty's laugh,
     And red wine waits for all to quaff;
Where roses, blushing with delight,
     Press closer to the carpet white
In dumb, red passion, faint and sweet,
     Beneath the tread of dancing feet;
Where costly flowers, in blooming bands,
     Drop fragrance on the jasper stands;
Where pictures deck the broad, high walls,
     And curtains, in their silken falls,
Brush marble forms that hold, like saints,
     Life's semblance in their cold restraints--
So pure, so holy, that they seem
     The incarnation of a dream!

“What matters it,” the old man sighs,
     “If lamps flash radiance o'er young eyes;
What matters it, if fires be warm,
     And music drowns the shrieking storm,
That the cold winter night without
     Waves its white, frozen wings about,
And pallid in its icy wrath
     The swift snow hurries o'er the path,
And strives with eager haste to meet
     Some weary, faint, and haggard feet--
That it may drain some veins of life,
     And ease some aching heart of strife!”

Another page he turneth o'er,
     And reads, more sadly than before--
Within the shadows floating wide
     From yon high palaces of pride,
Are lowly cots, all bare and black,
     Gaping with many a wide-mouthed crack;

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