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Earlier poems.


The Madonna di San Sisto.

[These verses, written and published at the age of nineteen, are here preserved, partly from their association with my dear old friend and college teacher, Professor Longfellow, who liked them well enough to include them in his “Estray,” in 1847.]

look down into my heart,
Thou holy Mother, with thy holy Son!
Read all my thoughts, and bid the doubts depart,
And all the fears be done.

I lay my spirit bare,
O blessed ones! beneath your wondrous eyes,
And not in vain; ye hear my heartfelt prayer,
And your twin-gaze replies.

What says it? All that life
Demands of those who live, to be and do,--
Calmness, in all its bitterest, deepest strife;
Courage, till all is through. [72]

Thou Mother! in thy sight
Can aught of passion or despair remain?
Beneath those eyes' serene and holy light
The soul is bright again.

Thou Son! whose earnest gaze
Looks ever forward, fearless, steady, strong;
Beneath those eyes no doubt or weakness stays,
Nor fear can linger long.

Thanks, that to my weak heart
Your mingled powers, fair forms, such counsel give.
Till I have learned the lesson ye impart,
I have not learned to live.

And oh, till life is done
Of your deep gaze may ne'er the impression cease!
Still may the dark eyes whisper, “Courage! On!”
The mild eyes murmur, “Peace!”



[These three hymns were written at the age of twenty-two, and were published anonymously in a collection edited by my friends

Samuel Longfellow and Samuel Johnson. They are here inserted mainly because they have secured for themselves a semblance of permanent vitality in hymn-books, and are not always correctly printed.]

I will arise and go unto my father.

To Thine eternal arms, O God,
Take us, Thine erring children, in;
From dangerous paths too boldly trod,
From wandering thoughts and dreams of sin.

Those arms were round our childish ways,
A guard through helpless years to be;
Oh leave not our maturer days,
We still are helpless without Thee!

We trusted hope and pride and strength:
Our strength proved false, our pride was vain, [74]
Our dreams have faded all at length,--
We come to Thee, 0 Lord, again!

A guide to trembling steps yet be!
Give us of Thine eternal powers!
So shall our paths all lead to Thee,
And life smile on like childhood's hours.

Ii. The hope of man.

The Past is dark with sin and shame,
The Future dim with doubt and fear;
But, Father, yet we praise Thy name,
Whose guardian love is always near.

For man has striven, ages long,
With faltering steps to come to Thee,
And in each purpose high and strong
The influence of Thy grace could see.

He could not breathe an earnest prayer,
But Thou wast kinder than he dreamed,
As age by age brought hopes more fair,
And nearer still Thy kingdom seemed. [75]

But never rose within his breast
A trust so calm and deep as now;
Shall not the weary find a rest?
Father, Preserver, answer Thou!

'T is dark around, 't is dark above,
But through the shadow streams the sun;
We cannot doubt Thy certain love;
And Man's true aim shall yet be won!

Iii. Pantheism and theism.

No human eyes Thy face may see,
No human thought Thy form may know;
But all creation dwells in Thee,
And Thy great life through all doth flow!

And yet, O strange and wondrous thought!
Thou art a God who hearest prayer,
And every heart with sorrow fraught
To seek Thy present aid may dare. [76]

And though most weak our efforts seem
Into one creed these thoughts to bind,
And vain the intellectual dream
To see and know the Eternal Mind,--

Yet Thou wilt turn them not aside
Who cannot solve Thy life divine,
But would give up all reason's pride
To know their hearts approved by Thine.

So, though we faint on life's dark hill,
And thought grow weak, and knowledge flee,
Yet faith shall teach us courage still,
And love shall guide us on to Thee!

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