next
[9]

Personal Poems


A lament.

“The parted spirit,
Knoweth it not our sorrow? Answereth not
Its blessing to our tears?”

the circle is broken, one seat is forsaken,
One bud from the tree of our friendship is shaken;
One heart from among us no longer shall thrill
With joy in our gladness, or grief in our ill.

Weep! lonely and lowly are slumbering now
The light of her glances, the pride of her brow;
Weep! sadly and long shall we listen in vain
To hear the soft tones of her welcome again.

Give our tears to the dead! For humanity's claim
From its silence and darkness is ever the same;
The hope of that world whose existence is bliss
May not stifle the tears of the mourners of this.

For, oh! if one glance the freed spirit can throw
On the scene of its troubled probation below,
Than the pride of the marble, the pomp of the dead,
To that glance will be dearer the tears which we shed.

[10] Oh, who can forget the mild light of her smile,
Over lips moved with music and feeling the while,
The eye's deep enchantment, dark, dream-like, and clear,
In the glow of its gladness, the shade of its tear.

And the charm of her features, while over the whole
Played the hues of the heart and the sunshine of soul;
And the tones of her voice, like the music which seems
Murmured low in our ears by the Angel of dreams!

But holier and dearer our memories hold
Those treasures of feeling, more precious than gold.
The love and the kindness and pity which gave
Fresh flowers for the bridal, green wreaths for the grave!

The heart ever open to Charity's claim,
Unmoved from its purpose by censure and blame,
While vainly alike on her eye and her ear
Fell the scorn of the heartless, the jesting and jeer.

How true to our hearts was that beautiful sleeper!
With smiles for the joyful, with tears for the weeper!
Yet, evermore prompt, whether mournful or gay,
With warnings in love to the passing astray.

For, though spotless herself, she could sorrow for them
Who sullied with evil the spirit's pure gem; [11]
And a sigh or a tear could the erring reprove,
And the sting of reproof was still tempered by love.

As a cloud of the sunset, slow melting in heaven,
As a star that is lost when the daylight is given,
As a glad dream of slumber, which wakens in bliss,
She hath passed to the world of the holy from this.

1834.


To the memory of Charles B. Storrs,

Late President of Western Reserve College, who died at his post of duty, overworn by his strenuous labors with tongue and pen in the cause of Human Freedom.

thou hast fallen in thine armor,
     Thou martyr of the Lord!
With thy last breath crying ‘Onward!’
     And thy hand upon the sword.
The haughty heart derideth,
     And the sinful lip reviles,
But the blessing of the perishing
     Around thy pillow smiles!

When to our cup of trembling
     The added drop is given,
And the long-suspended thunder
     Falls terribly from Heaven,—
When a new and fearful freedom
     Is proffered of the Lord
To the slow-consuming Famine,
     The Pestilence and Sword!

[12] When the refuges of Falsehood
     Shall be swept away in wrath,
And the temple shall be shaken,
     With its idol, to the earth,
Shall not thy words of warning
     Be all remembered then?
And thy now unheeded message
     Burn in the hearts of men?

Oppression's hand may scatter
     Its nettles on thy tomb,
And even Christian bosoms
     Deny thy memory room;
For lying lips shall torture
     Thy mercy into crime,
And the slanderer shall flourish
     As the bay-tree for a time.

But where the south-wind lingers
     On Carolina's pines,
Or falls the careless sunbeam
     Down Georgia's golden mines;
Where now beneath his burthen
     The toiling slave is driven;
Where now a tyrant's mockery
     Is offered unto Heaven;

Where Mammon hath its altars
     Wet o'er with human blood,
And pride and lust debases
     The workmanship of God,—
There shall thy praise be spoken,
     Redeemed from Falsehood's ban, [13]
When the fetters shall be broken,
     And the slave shall be a man!

Joy to thy spirit, brother!
     A thousand hearts are warm,
A thousand kindred bosoms
     Are baring to the storm.
What though red-handed Violence
     With secret Fraud combine?
The wall of fire is round us,
     Our Present Help was thine.

Lo, the waking up of nations,
     From Slavery's fatal sleep;
The murmur of a Universe,
     Deep calling unto Deep!
Joy to thy spirit, brother!
     On every wind of heaven
The onward cheer and summons
     Of Freedom's voice is given!

Glory to God forever!
     Beyond the despot's will
The soul of Freedom liveth
     Imperishable still.
The words which thou hast uttered
     Are of that soul a part,
And the good seed thou hast scattered
     Is springing from the heart.

In the evil days before us,
     And the trials yet to come. [14]
In the shadow of the prison,
     Or the cruel martyrdom,—
We will think of thee, O brother!
     And thy sainted name shall be
In the blessing of the captive,
     And the anthem of the free.

1834.


Lines

On the death of S. Oliver Torrey, Secretary or the Boston young men's Anti-Slavery Society.

gone before us, O our brother,
     To the spirit-land!
Vainly look we for another
     In thy place to stand.
Who shall offer youth and beauty
     On the wasting shrine
Of a stern and lofty duty,
     With a faith like thine?

Oh, thy gentle smile of greeting
     Who again shall see?
Who amidst the solemn meeting
     Gaze again on thee?
Who when peril gathers o'er us,
     Wear so calm a brow?
Who, with evil men before us,
     So serene as thou?

Early hath the spoiler found thee,
     Brother of our love! [15]
Autumn's faded earth around thee,
     And its storms above!
Evermore that turf lie lightly,
     And, with future showers,
O'er thy slumbers fresh and brightly
     Blow the summer flowers!

In the locks thy forehead gracing,
     Not a silvery streak;
Nor a line of sorrow's tracing
     On thy fair young cheek;
Eyes of light and lips of roses,
     Such as Hylas wore,—
Over all that curtain closes,
     Which shall rise no more!

Will the vigil Love is keeping
     Round that grave of thine,
Mournfully, like Jazer weeping
     Over Sibmah's vine;1
Will the pleasant memories, swelling
     Gentle hearts, of thee,
In the spirit's distant dwelling
     All unheeded be?

If the spirit ever gazes,
     From its journeyings, back;
If the immortal ever traces
     O'er its mortal track;
Wilt thou not, O brother, meet us
     Sometimes on our way,
And, in hours of sadness, greet us
     As a spirit may?

[16] Peace be with thee, O our brother,
     In the spirit-land!
Vainly look we for another
     In thy place to stand.
Unto Truth and Freedom giving
     All thy early powers,
Be thy virtues with the living,
     And thy spirit ours!

1837.


To——--

With a Copy of Woolman's Journal.

‘Get the writings of John Woolman by heart.’ —Essays of Elia.

maiden! with the fair brown tresses
     Shading o'er thy dreamy eye,
Floating on thy thoughtful forehead
     Cloud wreaths of its sky.

Youthful years and maiden beauty,
     Joy with them should still abide,—
Instinct take the place of Duty,
     Love, not Reason, guide.

Ever in the New rejoicing,
     Kindly beckoning back the Old,
Turning, with the gift of Midas,
     All things into gold.

And the passing shades of sadness
     Wearing even a welcome guise, [17]
As, when some bright lake lies open
     To the sunny skies,

Every wing of bird above it,
     Every light cloud floating on,
Glitters like that flashing mirror
     In the self-same sun.

But upon thy youthful forehead
     Something like a shadow lies;
And a serious soul is looking
     From thy earnest eyes.

With an early introversion,
     Through the forms of outward things,
Seeking for the subtle essence,
     And the hidden springs.

Deeper than the gilded surface
     Hath thy wakeful vision seen,
Farther than the narrow present
     Have thy journeyings been.

Thou hast midst Life's empty noises
     Heard the solemn steps of Time,
And the low mysterious voices
     Of another clime.

All the mystery of Being
     Hath upon thy spirit pressed,—
Thoughts which, like the Deluge wanderer,
     Find no place of rest:

[18] That which mystic Plato pondered,
     That which Zeno heard with awe,
And the star-rapt Zoroaster
     In his night-watch saw.

From the doubt and darkness springing
     Of the dim, uncertain Past,
Moving to the dark still shadows
     O'er the Future cast,

Early hath Life's mighty question
     Thrilled within thy heart of youth,
With a deep and strong beseeching:
     What and where is Truth?

Hollow creed and ceremonial,
     Whence the ancient life hath fled,
Idle faith unknown to action,
     Dull and cold and dead.

Oracles, whose wire-worked meanings
     Only wake a quiet scorn,—
Not from these thy seeking spirit
     Hath its answer drawn.

But, like some tired child at even,
     On thy mother Nature's breast,
Thou, methinks, art vainly seeking
     Truth, and peace, and rest.

O'er that mother's rugged features
     Thou art throwing Fancy's veil,
Light and soft as woven moonbeams,
     Beautiful and frail!

[19] O'er the rough chart of Existence,
     Rocks of sin and wastes of woe,
Soft airs breathe, and green leaves tremble,
     And cool fountains flow.

And to thee an answer cometh
     From the earth and from the sky,
And to thee the hills and waters
     And the stars reply.

But a soul-sufficing answer
     Hath no outward origin;
More than Nature's many voices
     May be heard within.

Even as the great Augustine
     Questioned earth and sea and sky,2
And the dusty tomes of learning
     And old poesy.

But his earnest spirit needed
     More than outward Nature taught;
More than blest the poet's vision
     Or the sage's thought.

Only in the gathered silence
     Of a calm and waiting frame,
Light and wisdom as from Heaven
     To the seeker came.

Not to ease and aimless quiet
     Doth that inward answer tend,
But to works of love and duty
     As our being's end;

[20] Not to idle dreams and trances,
     Length of face, and solemn tone,
But to Faith, in daily striving
     And performance shown.

Earnest toil and strong endeavor
     Of a spirit which within
Wrestles with familiar evil
     And besetting sin;

And without, with tireless vigor,
     Steady heart, and weapon strong,
In the power of truth assailing
     Every form of wrong.

Guided thus, how passing lovely
     Is the track of Woolman's feet!
And his brief and simple record
     How serenely sweet!

O'er life's humblest duties throwing
     Light the earthling never knew,
Freshening all its dark waste places
     As with Hermon's dew.

All which glows in Pascal's pages,
     All which sainted Guion sought,
Or the blue-eyed German Rahel
     Half-unconscious taught:

Beauty, such as Goethe pictured,
     Such as Shelley dreamed of, shed
Living warmth and starry brightness
     Round that poor man's head.

[21] Not a vain and cold ideal,
     Not a poet's dream alone,
But a presence warm and real,
     Seen and felt and known.

When the red right-hand of slaughter
     Moulders with the steel it swung,
When the name of seer and poet
     Dies on Memory's tongue,

All bright thoughts and pure shall gather
     Round that meek and suffering one,—
Glorious, like the seer-seen angel
     Standing in the sun!

Take the good man's book and ponder
     What its pages say to thee;
Blessed as the hand of healing
     May its lesson be.

If it only serves to strengthen
     Yearnings for a higher good,
For the fount of living waters
     And diviner food;

If the pride of human reason
     Feels its meek and still rebuke,
Quailing like the eye of Peter
     From the Just One's look!

If with readier ear thou heedest
     What the Inward Teacher saith,
Listening with a willing spirit
     And a childlike faith,—

[22] Thou mayst live to bless the giver,
     Who, himself but frail and weak,
Would at least the highest welfare
     Of another seek;

And his gift, though poor and lowly
     It may seem to other eyes,
Yet may prove an angel holy
     In a pilgrim's guise.

1840.


Leggett's Monument.

William Leggett, who died in 1839 at the age of thirty-seven, was the intrepid editor of the New York Evening Post and afterward of The Plain Dealer. His vigorous assault upon the system of slavery brought down upon him the enmity of political defenders of the system.

‘Ye build the tombs of the prophets.’ —Holy Writ.

Yes, pile the marble o'er him! It is well
     That ye who mocked him in his long stern strife,
And planted in the pathway of his life
     The ploughshares of your hatred hot from hell,
Who clamored down the bold reformer when
     He pleaded for his captive fellow-men,
Who spurned him in the market-place, and sought
     Within thy walls, St. Tammany, to bind
In party chains the free and honest thought,
     The angel utterance of an upright mind,
Well is it now that o'er his grave ye raise
     The stony tribute of your tardy praise, [23]
For not alone that pile shall tell to Fame
     Of the brave heart beneath, but of the builders' shame!

1841.


To a friend,

On her return from Europe.

How smiled the land of France
     Under thy blue eye's glance,
Light-hearted rover!
     Old walls of chateaux gray,
Towers of an early day,
     Which the Three Colors play
Flauntingly over.

Now midst the brilliant train
     Thronging the banks of Seine:
Now midst the splendor
     Of the wild Alpine range,
Waking with change on change
     Thoughts in thy young heart strange,
Lovely, and tender.

Vales, soft Elysian,
     Like those in the vision
Of Mirza, when, dreaming,
     He saw the long hollow dell,
Touched by the prophet's spell,
     Into an ocean swell
With its isles teeming.

[24] Cliffs wrapped in snows of years,
     Splintering with icy spears
Autumn's blue heaven:
     Loose rock and frozen slide,
Hung on the mountain-side,
     Waiting their hour to glide
Downward, storm-driven!

Rhine-stream, by castle old,
     Baron's and robber's hold,
Peacefully flowing;
     Sweeping through vineyards green,
Or where the cliffs are seen
     O'er the broad wave between
Grim shadows throwing.

Or, where St. Peter's dome
     Swells o'er eternal Rome.
Vast, dim, and solemn;
     Hymns ever chanting low,
Censers swung to and fro,
     Sable stoles sweeping slow
Cornice and column!

Oh, as from each and all
     Will there not voices call
Evermore back again?
     In the mind's gallery
Wilt thou not always see
     Dim phantoms beckon thee
O'er that old track again?

New forms thy presence haunt,
     New voices softly chant, [25]
New faces greet thee!
     Pilgrims from many a shrine
Hallowed by poet's line,
     At memory's magic sign,
Rising to meet thee.

And when such visions come
     Unto thy olden home,
Will they not waken
     Deep thoughts of Him whose hand
Led thee o'er sea and land
     Back to the household band
Whence thou wast taken?

While, at the sunset time,
     Swells the cathedral's chime,
Yet, in thy dreaming,
     While to thy spirit's eye
Yet the vast mountains lie
     Piled in the Switzer's sky,
Icy and gleaming:

Prompter of silent prayer,
     Be the wild picture there
In the mind's chamber,
     And, through each coming day
Him who, as staff and stay,
     Watched o'er thy wandering way,
Freshly remember.

So, when the call shall be
     Soon or late unto thee,
As to all given, [26]
     Still may that picture live,
All its fair forms survive,
     And to thy spirit give
Gladness in Heaven!

1841.


Lucy Hooper.

Lucy Hooper died at Brooklyn, L. I., on the 1st of 8th mo., 1841, aged twenty-four years.

they tell me, Lucy, thou art dead,
     That all of thee we loved and cherished
Has with thy summer roses perished;
     And left, as its young beauty fled,
An ashen memory in its stead,
     The twilight of a parted day
Whose fading light is cold and vain,
     The heart's faint echo of a strain
Of low, sweet music passed away.
     That true and loving heart, that gift
Of a mind, earnest, clear, profound,
     Bestowing, with a glad unthrift,
Its sunny light on all around,
     Affinities which only could
Cleave to the pure, the true, and good;
     And sympathies which found no rest,
Save with the loveliest and best.
     Of them—of thee—remains there naught
But sorrow in the mourner's breast?
     A shadow in the land of thought?
No! Even my weak and trembling faith
     Can lift for thee the veil which doubt [27]
And human fear have drawn about
     The all-awaiting scene of death.

Even as thou wast I see thee still;
     And, save the absence of all ill
And pain and weariness, which here
     Summoned the sigh or wrung the tear,
The same as when, two summers back,
     Beside our childhood's Merrimac,
I saw thy dark eye wander o'er
     Stream, sunny upland, rocky shore,
And heard thy low, soft voice alone
     Midst lapse of waters, and the tone
Of pine-leaves by the west-wind blown,
     There's not a charm of soul or brow,
>Of all we knew and loved in thee,
     But lives in holier beauty now,
Baptized in immortality!
     Not mine the sad and freezing dream
Of souls that, with their earthly mould,
     Cast off the loves and joys of old,
Unbodied, like a pale moonbeam,
     As pure, as passionless, and cold;
Nor mine the hope of Indra's son,
     Of slumbering in oblivion's rest,
Life's myriads blending into one,
     In blank annihilation blest;
Dust-atoms of the infinite,
     Sparks scattered from the central light,
And winning back through mortal pain
     Their old unconsciousness again.
No! I have friends in Spirit Land,
     Not shadows in a shadowy band, [28]
Not others, but themselves are they.
     And still I think of them the same
As when the Master's summons came;
     Their change,—the holy morn-light breaking
Upon the dream-worn sleeper, waking,—
     A change from twilight into day.

They've laid thee midst the household graves,
     Where father, brother, sister lie;
Below thee sweep the dark blue waves,
     Above thee bends the summer sky.
Thy own loved church in sadness read
     Her solemn ritual o'er thy head,
And blessed and hallowed with her prayer
     The turf laid lightly o'er thee there.
That church, whose rites and liturgy,
     Sublime and old, were truth to thee,
Undoubted to thy bosom taken,
     As symbols of a faith unshaken.
Even I, of simpler views, could feel
     The beauty of thy trust and zeal;
And, owning not thy creed, could see
     How deep a truth it seemed to thee,
And how thy fervent heart had thrown
     O'er all, a coloring of its own,
And kindled up, intense and warm,
     A life in every rite and form,
As, when on Chebar's banks of old,
     The Hebrew's gorgeous vision rolled,
A spirit filled the vast machine,
     A life ‘within the wheels’ was seen.

Farewell! A little time, and we
     Who knew thee well, and loved thee here, [29]
One after one shall follow thee
     As pilgrims through the gate of fear,
Which opens on eternity.
     Yet shall we cherish not the less
All that is left our hearts meanwhile;
     The memory of thy loveliness
Shall round our weary pathway smile,
     Like moonlight when the sun has set,
A sweet and tender radiance yet.
     Thoughts of thy clear-eyed sense of duty,
Thy generous scorn of all things wrong,
     The truth, the strength, the graceful beauty
Which blended in thy song.
     All lovely things, by thee beloved,
Shall whisper to our hearts of thee;
     These green hills, where thy childhood roved,
Yon river winding to the sea,
     The sunset light of autumn eves
Reflecting on the deep, still floods,
     Cloud, crimson sky, and trembling leaves
Of rainbow-tinted woods,
     These, in our view, shall henceforth take
A tenderer meaning for thy sake;
     And all thou lovedst of earth and sky,
Seem sacred to thy memory.

1841.


Follen.

On Reading his Essay on the ‘Future State.’

Charles Follen, one of the noblest contributions of Germany to American citizenship, was at an early age driven from his professorship in the University of Jena, and compelled to seek shelter from official prosecution in Switzerland, on account of his liberal political opinions. He became Professor of Civil Law in the University [30] of Basle. The governments of Prussia, Austria, and Russia united in demanding his delivery as a political offender; and, in consequence, he left Switzerland, and came to the United States. At the time of the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society he was a Professor in Harvard University, honored for his genius, learning, and estimable character. His love of liberty and hatred of oppression led him to seek an interview with Garrison and express his sympathy with him. Soon after, he attended a meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. An able speech was made by Rev. A. A. Phelps, and a letter of mine addressed to the Secretary of the Society was read. Whereupon he rose and stated that his views were in unison with those of the Society, and that after hearing the speech and the letter, he was ready to join it, and abide the probable consequences of such an unpopular act. He lost by so doing his professorship. He was an able member of the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He perished in the ill-fated steamer Lexington, which was burned on its passage from New York, January 13, 1840. The few writings left behind him show him to have been a profound thinker of rare spiritual insight.

friend of my soul! as with moist eye
     I look up from this page of thine,
Is it a dream that thou art nigh,
     Thy mild face gazing into mine?

That presence seems before me now,
     A placid heaven of sweet moonrise,
When, dew-like, on the earth below
     Descends the quiet of the skies.

The calm brow through the parted hair,
     The gentle lips which knew no guile,
Softening the blue eye's thoughtful care
     With the bland beauty of their smile.

Ah me! at times that last dread scene
     Of Frost and Fire and moaning Sea [31]
Will cast its shade of doubt between
     The failing eyes of Faith and thee.

Yet, lingering o'er thy charmed page,
     Where through the twilight air of earth,
Alike enthusiast and sage,
     Prophet and bard, thou gazest forth,

Lifting the Future's solemn veil;
     The reaching of a mortal hand
To put aside the cold and pale
     Cloud-curtains of the Unseen Land;

In thoughts which answer to my own,
     In words which reach my inward ear,
Like whispers from the void Unknown,
     I feel thy living presence here.

The waves which lull thy body's rest,
     The dust thy pilgrim footsteps trod,
Unwasted, through each change, attest
     The fixed economy of God.

Shall these poor elements outlive
     The mind whose kingly will they wrought?
Their gross unconsciousness survive
     Thy godlike energy of thought?

Thou livest, Follen! not in vain
     Hath thy fine spirit meekly borne
The burthen of Life's cross of pain,
     And the thorned crown of suffering worn.

[32] Oh, while Life's solemn mystery glooms
     Around us like a dungeon's wall,
Silent earth's pale and crowded tombs,
     Silent the heaven which bends o'er all!

While day by day our loved ones glide
     In spectral silence, hushed and lone,
To the cold shadows which divide
     The living from the dread Unknown;

While even on the closing eye,
     And on the lip which moves in vain,
The seals of that stern mystery
     Their undiscovered trust retain;

And only midst the gloom of death,
     Its mournful doubts and haunting fears,
Two pale, sweet angels, Hope and Faith,
     Smile dimly on us through their tears;

Tis something to a heart like mine
     To think of thee as living yet;
To feel that such a light as thine
     Could not in utter darkness set.

Less dreary seems the untried way
     Since thou hast left thy footprints there,
And beams of mournful beauty play
     Round the sad Angel's sable hair.

Oh! at this hour when half the sky
     Is glorious with its evening light,
And fair broad fields of summer lie
     Hung o'er with greenness in my sight;

[33] While through these elm-boughs wet with rain
     The sunset's golden walls are seen,
With clover-bloom and yellow grain
     And wood-draped hill and stream between;

I long to know if scenes like this
     Are hidden from an angel's eyes;
If earth's familiar loveliness
     Haunts not thy heaven's serener skies.

For sweetly here upon thee grew
     The lesson which that beauty gave,
The ideal of the pure and true
     In earth and sky and gliding wave.

And it may be that all which lends
     The soul an upward impulse here,
With a diviner beauty blends,
     And greets us in a holier sphere.

Through groves where blighting never fell
     The humbler flowers of earth may twine;
And simple draughts from childhood's well
     Blend with the angel-tasted wine.

But be the prying vision veiled,
     And let the seeking lips be dumb,
Where even seraph eyes have failed
     Shall mortal blindness seek to come?

We only know that thou hast gone,
     And that the same returnless tide
Which bore thee from us still glides on,
     And we who mourn thee with it glide.

[34] On all thou lookest we shall look,
     And to our gaze erelong shall turn
That page of God's mysterious book
     We so much wish yet dread to learn.

With Him, before whose awful power
     Thy spirit bent its trembling knee;
Who, in the silent greeting flower,
     And forest leaf, looked out on thee,

We leave thee, with a trust serene,
     Which Time, nor Change, nor Death can move,
While with thy childlike faith we lean
     On Him whose dearest name is Love!

1842.


To J. P.

John Pierpont, the eloquent preacher and poet of Boston.

not as a poor requital of the joy
     With which my childhood heard that lay of thine,
Which, like an echo of the song divine
     At Bethlehem breathed above the Holy Boy,
Bore to my ear the Airs of Palestine,—
     Not to the poet, but the man I bring
In friendship's fearless trust my offering:
     How much it lacks I feel, and thou wilt see,
Yet well I know that thou hast deemed with me
     Life all too earnest, and its time too short
For dreamy ease and Fancy's graceful sport; [35]
     And girded for thy constant strife with wrong,
Like Nehemiah fighting while he wrought
     The broken walls of Zion, even thy song
Hath a rude martial tone, a blow in every thought!

1843.


Chalkley Hall.

Chalkley Hall, near Frankford, Pa., was the residence of Thomas Chalkley, an eminent minister of the Friends' denomination. He was one of the early settlers of the Colony, and his Journal, which was published in 1749, presents a quaint but beautiful picture of a life of unostentatious and simple goodness. He was the master of a merchant vessel, and, in his visits to the West Indies and Great Britain, omitted no opportunity to labor for the highest interests of his fellow-men. During a temporary residence in Philadelphia, in the summer of 1838, the quiet and beautiful scenery around the ancient village of Frankford frequently attracted me from the heat and bustle of the city. I have referred to my youthful acquaintance with his writings in Snow-Bound.

How bland and sweet the greeting of this breeze
     To him who flies
From crowded street and red wall's weary gleam,
     Till far behind him like a hideous dream
The close dark city lies!

Here, while the market murmurs, while men throng
     The marble floor
Of Mammon's altar, from the crush and din
     Of the world's madness let me gather in
My better thoughts once more.

Oh, once again revive, while on my ear
     The cry of Gain [36]
And low hoarse hum of Traffic die away,
     Ye blessed memories of my early day
Like sere grass wet with rain!

Once more let God's green earth and sunset air
     Old feelings waken;
Through weary years of toil and strife and ill,
     Oh, let me feel that my good angel still
Hath not his trust forsaken.

And well do time and place befit my mood:
     Beneath the arms
Of this embracing wood, a good man made
     His home, like Abraham resting in the shade
Of Mamre's lonely palms.

Here, rich with autumn gifts of countless years,
     The virgin soil
Turned from the share he guided, and in rain
     And summer sunshine throve the fruits and grain
Which blessed his honest toil.

Here, from his voyages on the stormy seas,
     Weary and worn,
He came to meet his children and to bless
     The Giver of all good in thankfulness
And praise for his return.

And here his neighbors gathered in to greet
     Their friend again,
Safe from the wave and the destroying gales,
     Which reap untimely green Bermuda's vales,
And vex the Carib main.

[37] To hear the good man tell of simple truth,
     Sown in an hour
Of weakness in some far-off Indian isle,
     From the parched bosom of a barren soil,
Raised up in life and power:

How at those gatherings in Barbadian vales,
     A tendering love
Came o'er him, like the gentle rain from heaven,
     And words of fitness to his lips were given,
And strength as from above:

How the sad captive listened to the Word,
     Until his chain
Grew lighter, and his wounded spirit felt
     The healing balm of consolation melt
Upon its life-long pain:

How the armed warrior sat him down to hear
     Of Peace and Truth,
And the proud ruler and his Creole dame,
     Jewelled and gorgeous in her beauty came,
And fair and bright-eyed youth.

Oh, far away beneath New England's sky,
     Even when a boy,
Following my plough by Merrimac's green shore,
     His simple record I have pondered o'er
With deep and quiet joy.

And hence this scene, in sunset glory warm,—
     Its woods around,
Its still stream winding on in light and shade, [38]
     Its soft, green meadows and its upland glade,—
To me is holy ground.

And dearer far than haunts where Genius keeps
     His vigils still;
Than that where Avon's son of song is laid,
     Or Vaucluse hallowed by its Petrarch's shade,
Or Virgil's laurelled hill.

To the gray walls of fallen Paraclete,
     To Juliet's urn,
Fair Arno and Sorrento's orange-grove,
     Where Tasso sang, let young Romance and Love
Like brother pilgrims turn.

But here a deeper and serener charm
     To all is given;
And blessed memories of the faithful dead
     O'er wood and vale and meadow-stream have shed
The holy hues of Heaven!

1843.


Gone.

another hand is beckoning us,
     Another call is given;
And glows once more with Angel-steps
     The path which reaches Heaven.

Our young and gentle friend, whose smile
     Made brighter summer hours,
Amid the frosts of autumn time
     Has left us with the flowers.

[39] No paling of the cheek of bloom
     Forewarned us of decay;
No shadow from the Silent Land
     Fell round our sister's way.

The light of her young life went down,
     As sinks behind the hill
The glory of a setting star,
     Clear, suddenly, and still.

As pure and sweet, her fair brow seemed
     Eternal as the sky;
And like the brook's low song, her voice,—
     A sound which could not die.

And half we deemed she needed not
     The changing of her sphere,
To give to Heaven a Shining One,
     Who walked an Angel here.

The blessing of her quiet life
     Fell on us like the dew;
And good thoughts where her footsteps pressed
     Like fairy blossoms grew.

Sweet promptings unto kindest deeds
     Were in her very look;
We read her face, as one who reads
     A true and holy book:

The measure of a blessed hymn,
     To which our hearts could move; [40]
The breathing of an inward psalm,
     A canticle of love.

We miss her in the place of prayer,
     And by the hearth-fire's light;
We pause beside her door to hear
     Once more her sweet “Good-night!”

There seems a shadow on the day,
     Her smile no longer cheers;
A dimness on the stars of night,
     Like eyes that look through tears.

Alone unto our Father's will
     One thought hath reconciled;
That He whose love exceedeth ours
     Hath taken home His child.

Fold her, O Father! in Thine arms,
     And let her henceforth be
A messenger of love between
     Our human hearts and Thee.

Still let her mild rebuking stand
     Between us and the wrong,
And her dear memory serve to make
     Our faith in Goodness strong.

And grant that she who, trembling, here
     Distrusted all her powers,
May welcome to her holier home
     The well-beloved of ours.

1845.


[41]

To Ronge.

This was written after reading the powerful and manly protest of Johannes Ronge against the ‘pious fraud’ of the Bishop of Treves. The bold movement of the young Catholic priest of Prussian Silesia seemed to me full of promise to the cause of political as well as religious liberty in Europe. That it failed was due partly to the faults of the reformer, but mainly to the disagreement of the Liberals of Germany upon a matter of dogma, which prevented them from unity of action. Ronge was born in Silesia in 1813 and died in October, 1887. His autobiography was translated into English and published in London in 1846.

strike home, strong-hearted man! Down to the root
Of old oppression sink the Saxon steel.
Thy work is to hew down. In God's name then
Put nerve into thy task. Let other men
Plant, as they may, that better tree whose fruit
The wounded bosom of the Church shall heal.
Be thou the image-breaker. Let thy blows
Fall heavy as the Suabian's iron hand,
On crown or crosier, which shall interpose
Between thee and the weal of Fatherland.
Leave creeds to closet idlers. First of all,
Shake thou all German dream-land with the fall
Of that accursed tree, whose evil trunk
Was spared of old by Erfurt's stalwart monk.
Fight not with ghosts and shadows. Let us hear
The snap of chain-links. Let our gladdened ear
Catch the pale prisoner's welcome, as the light
Follows thy axe-stroke, through his cell of night.
Be faithful to both worlds; nor think to feed
Earth's starving millions with the husks of creed.
Servant of Him whose mission high and holy
Was to the wronged, the sorrowing, and the lowly, [42]
Thrust not his Eden promise from our sphere,
Distant and dim beyond the blue sky's span;
Like him of Patmos, see it, now and here,
The New Jerusalem comes down to man!
Be warned by Luther's error. Nor like him,
When the roused Teuton dashes from his limb
The rusted chain of ages, help to bind
His hands for whom thou claim'st the freedom of the mind!

1846.


Channing.

The last time I saw Dr. Channing was in the summer of 1841, when, in company with my English friend, Joseph Sturge, so well known for his philanthropic labors and liberal political opinions, I visited him in his summer residence in Rhode Island. In recalling the impressions of that visit, it can scarcely be necessary to say. that I have no reference to the peculiar religious opinions of a man whose life, beautifully and truly manifested above the atmosphere of sect, is now the world's common legacy.

not vainly did old poets tell,
     Nor vainly did old genius paint
God's great and crowning miracle,
     The hero and the saint!

For even in a faithless day
     Can we our sainted ones discern;
And feel, while with them on the way,
     Our hearts within us burn.

And thus the common tongue and pen
     Which, world-wide, echo Channing's fame,
As one of Heaven's anointed men,
     Have sanctified his name.

[43] In vain shall Rome her portals bar,
     And shut from him her saintly prize,
Whom, in the world's great calendar,
     All men shall canonize.

By Narragansett's sunny bay,
     Beneath his green embowering wood,
To me it seems but yesterday
     Since at his side I stood.

The slopes lay green with summer rains,
     The western wind blew fresh and free,
And glimmered down the orchard lanes
     The white surf of the sea.

With us was one, who, calm and true,
     Life's highest purpose understood,
And, like his blessed Master, knew
     The joy of doing good.

Unlearned, unknown to lettered fame,
     Yet on the lips of England's poor
And toiling millions dwelt his name,
     With blessings evermore.

Unknown to power or place, yet where
     The sun looks o'er the Carib sea,
It blended with the freeman's prayer
     And song of jubilee.

He told of England's sin and wrong,
     The ills her suffering children know,
The squalor of the city's throng,
     The green field's want and woe.

[44] O'er Channing's face the tenderness
     Of sympathetic sorrow stole,
Like a still shadow, passionless,
     The sorrow of the soul.

But when the generous Briton told
     How hearts were answering to his own,
And Freedom's rising murmur rolled
     Up to the dull-eared throne,

I saw, methought, a glad surprise
     Thrill through that frail and pain-worn frame,
And, kindling in those deep, calm eyes,
     A still and earnest flame.

His few, brief words were such as move
     The human heart,—the Faith-sown seeds
Which ripen in the soil of love
     To high heroic deeds.

No bars of sect or clime were felt,
     The Babel strife of tongues had ceased,
And at one common altar knelt
     The Quaker and the priest.

And not in vain: with strength renewed,
     And zeal refreshed, and hope less dim,
For that brief meeting, each pursued
     The path allotted him.

How echoes yet each Western hill
     And vale with Channing's dying word!
How are the hearts of freemen still
     By that great warning stirred!

[45] The stranger treads his native soil.
     And pleads, with zeal unfelt before,
The honest right of British toil,
     The claim of England's poor.

Before him time-wrought barriers fall,
     Old fears subside, old hatreds melt,
And, stretching o'er the sea's blue wall,
     The Saxon greets the Celt.

The yeoman on the Scottish lines,
     The Sheffield grinder, worn and grim,
The delver in the Cornwall mines,
     Look up with hope to him.

Swart smiters of the glowing steel,
     Dark feeders of the forge's flame,
Pale watchers at the loom and wheel,
     Repeat his honored name.

And thus the influence of that hour
     Of converse on Rhode Island's strand
Lives in the calm, resistless power
     Which moves our fatherland.

God blesses still the generous thought,
     And still the fitting word He speeds
And Truth, at His requiring taught,
     He quickens into deeds.

Where is the victory of the grave?
     What dust upon the spirit lies?
God keeps the sacred life he gave,—
     The prophet never dies!

1844.


[46]

To my friend on the death of his Sister.

Sophia Sturge, sister of Joseph Sturge, of Birmingham, the President of the British Complete Suffrage Association, died in the 6th month, 1845. She was the colleague, counsellor, and ever-ready helpmate of her brother in all his vast designs of beneficence. The Birmingham Pilot says of her: ‘Never, perhaps, were the active and passive virtues of the human character more harmoniously and beautifully blended than in this excellent woman.’

thine is a grief, the depth of which another
     May never know;
Yet, o'er the waters, O my stricken brother!
     To thee I go.

I lean my heart unto thee, sadly folding
     Thy hand in mine;
With even the weakness of my soul upholding
     The strength of thine.

I never knew, like thee, the dear departed;
     I stood not by
When, in calm trust, the pure and tranquil-hearted
     Lay down to die.

And on thy ears my words of weak condoling
     Must vainly fall:
The funeral bell which in thy heart is tolling,
     Sounds over all!

I will not mock thee with the poor world's common
     And heartless phrase, [47]
Nor wrong the memory of a sainted woman
     With idle praise.

With silence only as their benediction,
     God's angels come
Where, in the shadow of a great affliction,
     The soul sits dumb!

Yet, would I say what thy own heart approveth:
     Our Father's will,
Calling to Him the dear one whom He loveth,
     Is mercy still.

Not upon thee or thine the solemn angel
     Hath evil wrought:
Her funeral anthem is a glad evangel,—
     The good die not!

God calls our loved ones, but we lose not wholly
     What He hath given;
They live on earth, in thought and deed, as truly
     As in His heaven.

And she is with thee; in thy path of trial
     She walketh yet;
Still with the baptism of thy self-denial
     Her locks are wet.

Up, then, my brother! Lo, the fields of harvest
     Lie white in view!
She lives and loves thee, and the God thou servest
     To both is true.

[48] Thrust in thy sickle! England's toilworn peasants
     Thy call abide;
And she thou mourn'st, a pure and holy presence,
     Shall glean beside!

1845.


Daniel Wheeler.

Daniel Wheeler, a minister of the Society of Friends, who had labored in the cause of his Divine Master in Great Britain, Russia, and the islands of the Pacific, died in New York in the spring of 1840, while on a religious visit to this country.

O dearly loved!
     And worthy of our love! No more
Thy aged form shall rise before
     The hushed and waiting worshipper,
In meek obedience utterance giving
     To words of truth, so fresh and living,
That, even to the inward sense,
     They bore unquestioned evidence
Of an anointed Messenger!
     Or, bowing down thy silver hair
In reverent awfulness of prayer,
     The world, its time and sense, shut out
The brightness of Faith's holy trance
     Gathered upon thy countenance,
As if each lingering cloud of doubt,
     The cold, dark shadows resting here
In Time's unluminous atmosphere,
     Were lifted by an angel's hand,
And through them on thy spiritual eye
     Shone down the blessedness on high,
The glory of the Better Land!

[49] The oak has fallen!
     While, meet for no good work, the vine
May yet its worthless branches twine,
     Who knoweth not that with thee fell
A great man in our Israel?
     Fallen, while thy loins were girded still,
Thy feet with Zion's dews still wet,
     And in thy hand retaining yet
The pilgrim's staff and scallop-shell!
     Unharmed and safe, where, wild and free,
Across the Neva's cold morass
     The breezes from the Frozen Sea
With winter's arrowy keenness pass;
     Or where the unwarning tropic gale
Smote to the waves thy tattered sail,
     Or where the noon-hour's fervid heat
Against Tahiti's mountains beat;
     The same mysterious Hand which gave
Deliverance upon land and wave,
     Tempered for thee the blasts which blew
Ladaga's frozen surface o'er,
     And blessed for thee the baleful dew
Of evening upon Eimeo's shore,
     Beneath this sunny heaven of ours,
Midst our soft airs and opening flowers
     Hath given thee a grave!

His will be done,
     Who seeth not as man, whose way
Is not as ours! Tis well with thee!
     Nor anxious doubt nor dark dismay
Disquieted thy closing day,
     But, evermore, thy soul could say, [50]
‘My Father careth still for me!’
     Called from thy hearth and home,—from her,
The last bud on thy household tree,
     The last dear one to minister
In duty and in love to thee,
     From all which nature holdeth dear,
Feeble with years and worn with pain,
     To seek our distant land again,
Bound in the spirit, yet unknowing
     The things which should befall thee here,
Whether for labor or for death,
     In childlike trust serenely going
To that last trial of thy faith!

Oh, far away,
     Where never shines our Northern star
On that dark waste which Balboa saw
     From Darien's mountains stretching far,
So strange, heaven-broad, and lone, that there,
     With forehead to its damp wind bare,
He bent his mailed knee in awe;
     In many an isle whose coral feet
The surges of that ocean beat,
     In thy palm shadows, Oahu,
And Honolulu's silver bay,
     Amidst Owyhee's hills of blue,
And taro-plains of Tooboonai,
     Are gentle hearts, which long shall be
Sad as our own at thought of thee,
     Worn sowers of Truth's holy seed,
Whose souls in weariness and need
     Were strengthened and refreshed by thine.
For blessed by our Father's hand
     Was thy deep love and tender care, [51]
Thy ministry and fervent prayer,—
     Grateful as Eshcol's clustered vine
To Israel in a weary land!

And they who drew
     By thousands round thee, in the hour
Of prayerful waiting, hushed and deep,
     That He who bade the islands keep
Silence before Him, might renew
     Their strength with His unslumbering power,
They too shall mourn that thou art gone,
     That nevermore thy aged lip
Shall soothe the weak, the erring warn,
     Of those who first, rejoicing, heard
Through thee the Gospel's glorious word,
     Seals of thy true apostleship.
And, if the brightest diadem,
     Whose gems of glory purely burn
Around the ransomed ones in bliss,
     Be evermore reserved for them
Who here, through toil and sorrow, turn
     Many to righteousness,
May we not think of thee as wearing
     That star-like crown of light, and bearing,
Amidst Heaven's white and blissful band,
     Tha unfading palm-branch in thy hand;
And joining with a seraph's tongue
     In that new song the elders sung,
Ascribing to its blessed Giver
     Thanksgiving, love, and praise forever!

Farewell!
     And though the ways of Zion mourn
When her strong ones are called away, [52]
     Who like thyself have calmly borne
The heat and burden of the day,
     Yet He who slumbereth not nor sleepeth
His ancient watch around us keepeth;
     Still, sent from His creating hand,
New witnesses for Truth shall stand,
     New instruments to sound abroad
The Gospel of a risen Lord;
     To gather to the fold once more
The desolate and gone astray,
     The scattered of a cloudy day,
And Zion's broken walls restore;
     And, through the travail and the toil
Of true obedience, minister
     Beauty for ashes, and the oil
Of joy for mourning, unto her!
     So shall her holy bounds increase
With walls of praise and gates of peace:
     So shall the Vine, which martyr tears
And blood sustained in other years,
     With fresher life be clothed upon;
And to the world in beauty show
     Like the rose-plant of Jericho,
And glorious as Lebanon!

1847.


To Fredrika Bremer.

It is proper to say that these lines are the joint impromptus of my sister and myself. They are inserted here as an expression of our admiration of the gifted stranger whom we have since learned to love as a friend.

Seeress of the misty Norland,
     Daughter of the Vikings bold, [53]
Welcome to the sunny Vineland,
     Which thy fathers sought of old!

Soft as flow of Silja's waters,
     When the moon of summer shines,
Strong as Winter from his mountains
     Roaring through the sleeted pines.

Heart and ear, we long have listened
     To thy saga, rune, and song;
As a household joy and presence
     We have known and loved thee long.

By the mansion's marble mantel,
     Round the log-walled cabin's hearth,
Thy sweet thoughts and northern fancies
     Meet and mingle with our mirth.

And o'er weary spirits keeping
     Sorrow's night-watch, long and chill,
Shine they like thy sun of summer
     Over midnight vale and hill.

We alone to thee are strangers,
     Thou our friend and teacher art;
Come, and know us as we know thee;
     Let us meet thee heart to heart!

To our homes and household altars
     We, in turn, thy steps would lead,
As thy loving hand has led us
     O'er the threshold of the Swede.

1849.


[54]

To Avis Keene.

On Receiving a basket of sea-mosses.

thanks for thy gift
     Of ocean flowers,
Born where the golden drift
     Of the slant sunshine falls
Down the green, tremulous walls
     Of water, to the cool, still coral bowers,
Where, under rainbows of perpetual showers,
     God's gardens of the deep
His patient angels keep;
     Gladdening the dim, strange solitude
With fairest forms and hues, and thus
     Forever teaching us
The lesson which the many-colored skies,
     The flowers, and leaves, and painted butterflies,
The deer's branched antlers, the gay bird that flings
     The tropic sunshine from its golden wings,
The brightness of the human countenance,
     Its play of smiles, the magic of a glance,
Forevermore repeat,
     In varied tones and sweet,
That beauty, in and of itself, is good.

O kind and generous friend, o'er whom
     The sunset hues of Time are cast,
Painting, upon the overpast
     And scattered clouds of noonday sorrow
The promise of a fairer morrow,
     An earnest of the better life to come; [55]
The binding of the spirit broken,
     The warning to the erring spoken,
The comfort of the sad,
     The eye to see, the hand to cull
Of common things the beautiful,
     The absent heart made glad
By simple gift or graceful token
     Of love it needs as daily food,
All own one Source, and all are good!
     Hence, tracking sunny cove and reach,
Where spent waves glimmer up the beach,
     And toss their gifts of weed and shell
From foamy curve and combing swell,
     No unbefitting task was thine
To weave these flowers so soft and fair
     In unison with His design
Who loveth beauty everywhere;
     And makes in every zone and clime,
In ocean and in upper air,
     ‘All things beautiful in their time.’

For not alone in tones of awe and power
     He speaks to man;
The cloudy horror of the thunder-shower
     His rainbows span;
And where the caravan
     Winds o'er the desert, leaving, as in air
The crane-flock leaves, no trace of passage there,
     He gives the weary eye
The palm-leaf shadow for the hot noon hours,
     And on its branches dry
Calls out the acacia's flowers;
     And where the dark shaft pierces down [56]
Beneath the mountain roots,
     Seen by the miner's lamp alone,
The star-like crystal shoots;
     So, where, the winds and waves below,
The coral-branched gardens grow,
     His climbing weeds and mosses show,
Like foliage, on each stony bough,
     Of varied hues more strangely gay
Than forest leaves in autumn's day;—
     Thus evermore,
On sky, and wave, and shore,
     An all-pervading beauty seems to say:
God's love and power are one; and they,
     Who, like the thunder of a sultry day,
Smite to restore,
     And they, who, like the gentle wind, uplift
The petals of the dew-wet flowers, and drift
     Their perfume on the air,
Alike may serve Him, each, with their own gift,
     Making their lives a prayer!

1850.


The hill-top.

the burly driver at my side,
     We slowly climbed the hill,
Whose summit, in the hot noontide,
     Seemed rising, rising still.
At last, our short noon-shadows hid
     The top-stone, bare and brown,
From whence, like Gizeh's pyramid,
     The rough mass slanted down.

[57] I felt the cool breath of the North;
     Between me and the sun,
O'er deep, still lake, and ridgy earth,
     I saw the cloud-shades run.
Before me, stretched for glistening miles,
     Lay mountain-girdled Squam ;
Like green-winged birds, the leafy isles
     Upon its bosom swam.

And, glimmering through the sun-haze warm,
     Far as the eye could roam,
Dark billows of an earthquake storm
     Beflecked with clouds like foam,
Their vales in misty shadow deep,
     Their rugged peaks in shine,
I saw the mountain ranges sweep
     The horizon's northern line.

There towered Chocorua's peak; and west,
     Moosehillock's woods were seen,
With many a nameless slide-scarred crest
     And pine-dark gorge between.
Beyond them, like a sun-rimmed cloud,
     The great Notch mountains shone,
Watched over by the solemn-browed
     And awful face of stone!

‘A good look-off!’ the driver spake:
     “About this time, last year,
I drove a party to the Lake,
     And stopped, at evening, here.
Twas duskish down below; but all
     These hills stood in the sun, [58]
Till, dipped behind yon purple wall,
     He left them, one by one.

A lady, who, from Thornton hill,
     Had held her place outside,
And, as a pleasant woman will,
     Had cheered the long, dull ride,
Besought me, with so sweet a smile,
     That—though I hate delays—
I could not choose but rest awhile,—
     (These women have such ways!)

On yonder mossy ledge she sat,
     Her sketch upon her knees,
A stray brown lock beneath her hat
     Unrolling in the breeze;
Her sweet face, in the sunset light
     Upraised and glorified,—
I never saw a prettier sight
     In all my mountain ride.

As good as fair; it seemed her joy
     To comfort and to give;
My poor, sick wife, and cripple boy,
     Will bless her while they live! “
The tremor in the driver's tone
     His manhood did not shame:
‘I dare say, sir, you may have known’ —
     He named a well-known name.

Then sank the pyramidal mounds,
     The blue lake fled away; [59]
For mountain-scope a parlor's bounds,
     lighted hearth for day!
From lonely years and weary miles
     The shadows fell apart;
Kind voices cheered, sweet human smiles
     Shone warm into my heart.

We journeyed on; but earth and sky
     Had power to charm no more;
Still dreamed my inward-turning eye
     The dream of memory o'er.
Ah! human kindness, human love,—
     To few who seek denied;
Too late we learn to prize above
     The whole round world beside!

1850.


Elliott.

Ebenezer Elliott was to the artisans of England what Burns was to the peasantry of Scotland. His Corn-law Rhymes contributed not a little to that overwhelming tide of popular opinion and feeling which resulted in the repeal of the tax on bread. Well has the eloquent author of The Reforms and Reformers of Great Britain said of him, ‘Not corn-law repealers alone, but all Britons who moisten their scanty bread with the sweat of the brow, are largely indebted to his inspiring lay, for the mighty bound which the laboring mind of England has taken in our day.’

hands off! thou tithe-fat plunderer! play
     No trick of priestcraft here!
Back, puny lordling! darest thou lay
     A hand on Elliott's bier?
Alive, your rank and pomp, as dust,
     Beneath his feet he trod: [60]
He knew the locust swarm that cursed
     The harvest-fields of God.

On these pale lips, the smothered thought
     Which England's millions feel,
A fierce and fearful splendor caught,
     As from his forge the steel.
Strong-armed as Thor, a shower of fire
     His smitten anvil flung;
God's curse, Earth's wrong, dumb Hunger's ire,
     He gave them all a tongue!

Then let the poor man's horny hands
     Bear up the mighty dead,
And labor's swart and stalwart bands
     Behind as mourners tread.
Leave cant and craft their baptized bounds,
     Leave rank its minster floor;
Give England's green and daisied grounds
     The poet of the poor!

Lay down upon his Sheaf's green verge
     That brave old heart of oak,
With fitting dirge from sounding forge,
     And pall of furnace smoke!
Where whirls the stone its dizzy rounds,
     And axe and sledge are swung,
And, timing to their stormy sounds,
     His stormy lays are sung.

There let the peasant's step be heard,
     The grinder chant his rhyme; [61]
Nor patron's praise nor dainty word
     Befits the man or time.
No soft lament nor dreamer's sigh
     For him whose words were bread;
The Runic rhyme and spell whereby
     The foodless poor were fed!

Pile up the tombs of rank and pride,
     O England, as thou wilt!
With pomp to nameless worth denied,
     Emblazon titled guilt!
No part or lot in these we claim;
     But, o'er the sounding wave,
A common right to Elliott's name,
     A freehold in his grave!

1850.


Ichabod.

This poem was the outcome of the surprise and grief and forecast of evil consequences which I felt on reading the seventh of March speech of Daniel Webster in support of the ‘compromise,’ and the Fugitive Slave Law. No partisan or personal enmity dictated it. On the contrary my admiration of the splendid personality and intellectual power of the great Senator was never stronger than when I laid down his speech, and, in one of the saddest moments of my life, penned my protest. I saw, as I wrote, with painful clearness its sure results,—the Slave Power arrogant and defiant, strengthened and encouraged to carry out its scheme for the extension of its baleful system, or the dissolution of the Union, the guaranties of personal liberty in the free States broken down, and the whole country made the hunting-ground of slave-catchers. In the horror of such a vision, so soon fearfully fulfilled, if one spoke at all, he could only speak in tones of stern and sorrowful rebuke.

But death softens all resentments, and the consciousness of a [62] common inheritance of frailty and weakness modifies the severity of judgment. Years after, in The Lost Occasion I gave utterance Go an almost universal regret that the great statesman did not live to see the flag which he loved trampled under the feet of Slavery, and, in view of this desecration, make his last days glorious in defence of ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable.’

So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn
     Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
     Forevermore!

Revile him not, the Tempter hath
     A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
     Befit his fall!

Oh, dumb be passion's stormy rage,
     When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
     Falls back in night.

Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark
     A bright soul driven,
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark,
     From hope and heaven!

Let not the land once proud of him
     Insult him now,
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim,
     Dishonored brow.

But let its humbled sons, instead,
     From sea to lake, [63]
A long lament, as for the dead,
     In sadness make.

Of all we loved and honored, naught
     Save power remains;
A fallen angel's pride of thought,
     Still strong in chains.

All else is gone; from those great eyes
     The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
     The man is dead!

Then, pay the reverence of old days
     To his dead fame;
Walk backward, with averted gaze,
     And hide the shame!

1850.


The lost Occasion.

some die too late and some too soon,
At early morning, heat of noon,
Or the chill evening twilight. Thou,
Whom the rich heavens did so endow
With eyes of power and Jove's own brow,
With all the massive strength that fills
Thy home-horizon's granite hills,
With rarest gifts of heart and head
From manliest stock inherited,
New England's stateliest type of man,
In port and speech Olympian; [64]
Whom no one met, at first, but took
A second awed and wondering look
(As turned, perchance, the eyes of Greece
On Phidias' unveiled masterpiece);
Whose words in simplest homespun clad,
The Saxon strength of Cae;dmon's had,
With power reserved at need to reach
The Roman forum's loftiest speech,
Sweet with persuasion, eloquent
In passion, cool in argument,
Or, ponderous, falling on thy foes
As fell the Norse god's hammer blows,
Crushing as if with Talus' flail,
Through Error's logic-woven mail,
And failing only when they tried
The adamant of the righteous side,—
Thou, foiled in aim and hope, bereaved
Of old friends, by the new deceived,
Too soon for us, too soon for thee,
Beside thy lonely Northern sea,
Where long and low the marsh-lands spread,
Laid wearily down thy august head.

Thou shouldst have lived to feel below
Thy feet Disunion's fierce upthrow;
The late-sprung mine that underlaid
Thy sad concessions vainly made.
Thou shouldst have seen from Sumter's wall
The star-flag of the Union fall,
And armed rebellion pressing on
The broken lines of Washington!
No stronger voice than thine had then
Called out the utmost might of men, [65]
To make the Union's charter free
And strengthen law by liberty.
How had that stern arbitrament
To thy gray age youth's vigor lent,
Shaming ambition's paltry prize
Before thy disillusioned eyes;
Breaking the spell about thee wound
Like the green withes that Samson bound;
Redeeming in one effort grand,
Thyself and thy imperilled land!
Ah, cruel fate, that closed to thee,
O sleeper by the Northern sea,
The gates of opportunity!
God fills the gaps of human need,
Each crisis brings its word and deed.
Wise men and strong we did not lack;
But still, with memory turning back,
In the dark hours we thought of thee,
And thy lone grave beside the sea.

Above that grave the east winds blow,
And from the marsh-lands drifting slow
The sea-fog comes, with evermore
The wave-wash of a lonely shore,
And sea-bird's melancholy cry,
As Nature fain would typify
The sadness of a closing scene,
The loss of that which should have been.
But, where thy native mountains bare
Their foreheads to diviner air,
Fit emblem of enduring fame,
One lofty summit keeps thy name. [66]
For thee the cosmic forces did
The rearing of that pyramid,
The prescient ages shaping with
Fire, flood, and frost thy monolith.
Sunrise and sunset lay thereon
With hands of light their benison,
The stars of midnight pause to set
Their jewels in its coronet.
And evermore that mountain mass
Seems climbing from the shadowy pass
To light, as if to manifest
Thy nobler self, thy life at best!

1880.


Wordsworth.

Written on a blank leaf of his Memoirs.

dear friends, who read the world aright,
     And in its common forms discern
A beauty and a harmony
     The many never learn!

Kindred in soul of him who found
     In simple flower and leaf and stone
The impulse of the sweetest lays
     Our Saxon tongue has known,—

Accept this record of a life
     As sweet and pure, as calm and good,
As a long day of blandest June
     In green field and in wood.

[67] How welcome to our ears, long pained
     By strife of sect and party noise,
The brook-like murmur of his song
     Of nature's simple joys!

The violet by its mossy stone,
     The primrose by, the river's brim,
And chance-sown daffodil, have found
     Immortal life through him.

The sunrise on his breezy lake,
     The rosy tints his sunset brought,
World-seen, are gladdening all the vales
     And mountain-peaks of thought.

Art builds on sand; the works of pride
     And human passion change and fall;
But that which shares the life of God
     With Him surviveth all.

1851.


To——.

Lines written after a summer day's Excursion.

fair Nature's priestesses to whom,
     In hieroglyph of bud and bloom,
Her mysteries are told;
     Who, wise in lore of wood and mead,
The seasons' pictured scrolls can read,
     In lessons manifold!

[68] Thanks for the courtesy, and gay
     Good-humor, which on Washing Day
Our ill-timed visit bore;
     Thanks for your graceful oars, which broke
The morning dreams of Artichoke,
     Along his wooded shore!

Varied as varying Nature's ways,
     Sprites of the river, woodland fays,
Or mountain nymphs, ye seem;
     Free-limbed Dianas on the green,
Loch Katrine's Ellen, or Undine,
     Upon your favorite stream.

The forms of which the poets told,
     The fair benignities of old,
Were doubtless such as you;
     What more than Artichoke the rill
Of Helicon? Than Pipe-stave hill
     Arcadia's mountain-view?

No sweeter bowers the bee delayed,
     In wild Hymettus' scented shade,
Than those you dwell among;
     Snow-flowered azaleas, intertwined
With roses, over banks inclined
     With trembling harebells hung!

A charmed life unknown to death,
     Immortal freshness Nature hath;
Her fabled fount and glen
     Are now and here: Dodona's shrine
Still murmurs in the wind-swept pine,—
     All is that e'er hath been.

[69] The Beauty which old Greece or Rome
     Sung, painted, wrought, lies close at home;
We need but eye and ear
     In all our daily walks to trace
The outlines of incarnate grace,
     The hymns of gods to hear!

1851.


In Peace.

A track Of moonlight on a quiet lake,
     Whose small waves on a silver-sanded shore
Whisper of peace, and with the low winds make
     Such harmonies as keep the woods awake,
And listening all night long for their sweet sake;
     A green-waved slope of meadow, hovered o'er
By angel-troops of lilies, swaying light
     On viewless stems, with folded wings of white;
A slumberous stretch of mountain-land, far seen
     Where the low westering day, with gold and green,
Purple and amber, softly blended, fills
     The wooded vales, and melts among the hills;
A vine-fringed river, winding to its rest
     On the calm bosom of a stormless sea,
Bearing alike upon its placid breast,
     With earthly flowers and heavenly stars impressed,
The hues of time and of eternity:
     Such are the pictures which the thought of thee,
O friend, awakeneth,—charming the keen pain
     Of thy departure, and our sense of loss
Requiting with the fullness of thy gain.
     Lo! on the quiet grave thy life-borne cross, [70]
Dropped only at its side, methinks doth shine,
     Of thy beatitude the radiant sign!
No sob of grief, no wild lament be there,
     To break the Sabbath of the holy air;
But, in their stead, the silent-breathing prayer
     Of hearts still waiting for a rest like thine.
O spirit redeemed! Forgive us, if henceforth,
     With sweet and pure similitudes of earth,
We keep thy pleasant memory freshly green,
     Of love's inheritance a priceless part,
Which Fancy's self, in reverent awe, is seen
     To paint, forgetful of the tricks of art,
With pencil dipped alone in colors of the heart.

1851.


Benedicite.

God's love and peace be with thee, where
Soe'er this soft autumnal air
Lifts the dark tresses of thy hair!

Whether through city casements comes
Its kiss to thee, in crowded rooms,
Or, out among the woodland blooms,

It freshens o'er thy thoughtful face,
Imparting, in its glad embrace,
Beauty to beauty, grace to grace!

Fair Nature's book together read,
The old wood-paths that knew our tread,
The maple shadows overhead,—

[71] The hills we climbed, the river seen
By gleams along its deep ravine,—
All keep thy memory fresh and green.

Where'er I look, where'er I stray,
Thy thought goes with me on my way,
And hence the prayer I breathe to-day;

O'er lapse of time and change of scene,
The weary waste which lies between
Thyself and me, my heart I lean.

Thou lack'st not Friendship's spell-word, nor
The half-unconscious power to draw
All hearts to thine by Love's sweet law.

With these good gifts of God is cast
Thy lot, and many a charm thou hast
To hold the blessed angels fast.

If, then, a fervent wish for thee
The gracious heavens will heed from me,
What should, dear heart, its burden be?

The sighing of a shaken reed,—
What can I more than meekly plead
The greatness of our common need?

God's love,—unchanging, pure, and true,—
The Paraclete white-shining through
His peace,—the fall of Hermon's dew!

[72] With such a prayer, on this sweet day,
As thou mayst hear and I may say,
I greet thee, dearest, far away.

1851.


Kossuth.

It can scarcely be necessary to say that there are elements in the character and passages in the history of the great Hungarian statesman and orator, which necessarily command the admiration of those, even, who believe that no political revolution was ever worth the price of human blood.

type of two mighty continents!—combining
     The strength of Europe with the warmth and glow
Of Asian song and prophecy,—the shining
     Of Orient splendors over Northern snow!
Who shall receive him? Who, unblushing, speak
     Welcome to him, who, while he strove to break
The Austrian yoke from Magyar necks, smote off
     At the same blow the fetters of the serf,
Rearing the altar of his Fatherland
     On the firm base of freedom, and thereby
Lifting to Heaven a patriot's stainless hand,
     Mocked not the God of Justice with a lie!
Who shall be Freedom's mouthpiece? Who shall give
     Her welcoming cheer to the great fugitive?
Not he who, all her sacred trusts betraying,
     Is scourging back to slavery's hell of pain
The swarthy Kossuths of our land again!
     Not he whose utterance now from lips designed
The bugle-march of Liberty to wind, [73]
     And call her hosts beneath the breaking light,
The keen reveille of her morn of fight,
     Is but the hoarse note of the blood-hound's baying,
The wolf's long howl behind the bondman's flight!
     Oh for the tongue of him who lies at rest
In Quincy's shade of patrimonial trees,
     Last of the Puritan tribunes and the best,
To lend a voice to Freedom's sympathies,
     And hail the coming of the noblest guest
The Old World's wrong has given the New World of the West!

1851.


To my old Schoolmaster.

An Epistle not after the manner of Horace.

These lines were addressed to my worthy friend Joshua Coffin, teacher, historian, and antiquarian. He was one of the twelve persons who with William Lloyd Garrison formed the first antislavery society in New England.

old friend, kind friend! lightly down
Drop time's snow-flakes on thy crown!
Never be thy shadow less,
Never fail thy cheerfulness;
Care, that kills the cat, may plough
Wrinkles in the miser's brow,
Deepen envy's spiteful frown,
Draw the mouths of bigots down,
Plague ambition's dream, and sit
Heavy on the hypocrite,
Haunt the rich man's door, and ride
In the gilded coach of pride;— [74]
Let the fiend pass!—what can he
Find to do with such as thee?
Seldom comes that evil guest
Where the conscience lies at rest,
And brown health and quiet wit
Smiling on the threshold sit.

I, the urchin unto whom,
In that smoked and dingy room,
Where the district gave thee rule
O'er its ragged winter school,
Thou didst teach the mysteries
Of those weary A B C's,
Where, to fill the every pause
Of thy wise and learned saws,
Through the cracked and crazy wall
Came the cradle-rock and squall,
And the goodman's voice, at strife
With his shrill and tipsy wife,—
Luring us by stories old,
With a comic unction told,
More than by the eloquence
Of terse birchen arguments
(Doubtful gain, I fear), to look
With complacence on a book!—
Where the genial pedagogue
Half forgot his rogues to flog,
Citing tale or apologue,
Wise and merry in its drift
As was Phaedrus' twofold gift,
Had the little rebels known it,
Risum et prudentiam monet!
I,—the man of middle years,
In whose sable locks appears [75]
Many a warning fleck of gray,—
Looking back to that far day,
And thy primal lessons, feel
Grateful smiles my lips unseal,
As, remembering thee, I blend
Olden teacher, present friend,
Wise with antiquarian search,
In the scrolls of State and Church:
Named on history's title-page,
Parish-clerk and justice sage;
For the ferule's wholesome awe
Wielding now the sword of law.

Threshing Time's neglected sheaves,
Gathering up the scattered leaves
Which the wrinkled sibyl cast
Careless from her as she passed,—
Twofold citizen art thou,
Freeman of the past and now.
He who bore thy name of old
Midway in the heavens did hold
Over Gibeon moon and sun;
Thou hast bidden them backward run;
Of to-day the present ray
Flinging over yesterday!

Let the busy ones deride
What I deem of right thy pride:
Let the fools their treadmills grind,
Look not forward nor behind,
Shuffle in and wriggle out,
Veer with every breeze about,
Turning like a windmill sail,
Or a dog that seeks his tail; [76]
Let them laugh to see thee fast
Tabernacled in the Past,
Working out with eye and lip,
Riddles of old penmanship,
Patient as Belzoni there
Sorting out, with loving care,
Mummies of dead questions stripped
From their sevenfold manuscript!

Dabbling, in their noisy way,
In the puddles of to-day,
Little know they of that vast
Solemn ocean of the past,
On whose margin, wreck-bespread,
Thou art walking with the dead,
Questioning the stranded years,
Waking smiles, by turns, and tears,
As thou callest up again
Shapes the dust has long o'erlain,—
Fair-haired woman, bearded man,
Cavalier and Puritan;
In an age whose eager view
Seeks but present things, and new,
Mad for party, sect and gold,
Teaching reverence for the old.

On that shore, with fowler's tact,
Coolly bagging fact on fact,
Naught amiss to thee can float,
Tale, or song, or anecdote;
Village gossip, centuries old,
Scandals by our grandams told,
What the pilgrim's table spread, [77]
Where he lived, and whom he wed,
Long-drawn bill of wine and beer
For his ordination cheer,
Or the flip that wellnigh made
Glad his funeral cavalcade;
Weary prose, and poet's lines,
Flavored by their age, like wines,
Eulogistic of some quaint,
Doubtful, puritanic saint;
Lays that quickened husking jigs,
Jests that shook grave periwigs,
When the parson had his jokes
And his glass, like other folks;
Sermons that, for mortal hours,
Taxed our fathers' vital powers,
As the long nineteenthlies poured
Downward from the sounding-board,
And, for fire of Pentecost,
Touched their beards December's frost.

Time is hastening on, and we
What our fathers are shall be,—
Shadow-shapes of memory!
Joined to that vast multitude
Where the great are but the good,
And the mind of strength shall prove
Weaker than the heart of love;
Pride of graybeard wisdom less
Than the infant's guilelessness,
And his song of sorrow more
Than the crown the Psalmist wore!
Who shall then, with pious zeal,
At our moss-grown thresholds kneel, [78]
From a stained and stony page
Reading to a careless age,
With a patient eye like thine,
Prosing tale and limping line,
Names and words the hoary rime
Of the Past has made sublime?
Who shall work for us as well
The antiquarian's miracle?
Who to seeming life recall
Teacher grave and pupil small?
Who shall give to thee and me
Freeholds in futurity?

Well, whatever lot be mine,
Long and happy days be thine,
Ere thy full and honored age
Dates of time its latest page!
Squire for master, State for school,
Wisely lenient, live and rule;
Over grown — up knave and rogue
Play the watchful pedagogue;
Or, while pleasure smiles on duty,
At the call of youth and beauty,
Speak for them the spell of law
Which shall bar and bolt withdraws
And the flaming sword remove
From the Paradise of Love.
Still, with undimmed eyesight, pore
Ancient tome and record o'er;
Still thy week-day lyrics croon,
Pitch in church the Sunday tune,
Showing something, in thy part,
Of the old Puritanic art,
Singer after Sternhold's heart!

[79] In thy pew, for many a year,
Homilies from Oldbug hear,3
Who to wit like that of South,
And the Syrian's golden mouth,
Doth the homely pathos add
Which the pilgrim preachers had;
Breaking, like a child at play,
Gilded idols of the day,
Cant of knave and pomp of fool
Tossing with his ridicule,
Yet, in earnest or in jest,
Ever keeping truth abreast.
And, when thou art called, at last,
To thy townsmen of the past,
Not as stranger shalt thou come;
Thou shalt find thyself at home
With the little and the big,
Woollen cap and periwig,
Madam in her high-laced ruff,
Goody in her home-made stuff,—
Wise and simple, rich and poor,
Thou hast known them all before!

1851.


The cross.

Richard Dillingham, a young member of the Society of Friends, died in the Nashville penitentiary, where he was confined for the act of aiding the escape of fugitive slaves.

“the cross, if rightly borne, shall be
No burden, but support to thee;” 4
So, moved of old time for our sake,
The holy monk of Kempen spake.

[80] Thou brave and true one! upon whom
Was laid the cross of martyrdom,
How didst thou, in thy generous youth,
Bear witness to this blessed truth!

Thy cross of suffering and of shame
A staff within thy hands became,
In paths where faith alone could see
The Master's steps supporting thee.

Thine was the seed-time; God alone
Beholds the end of what is sown;
Beyond our vision, weak and dim,
The harvest-time is hid with Him.

Yet, unforgotten where it lies,
That seed of generous sacrifice,
Though seeming on the desert cast,
Shall rise with bloom and fruit at last.

1852.


The hero.

The hero of the incident related in this poem was Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the well-known philanthropist, who when a young man volunteered his aid in the Greek struggle for independence.

“Oh for a knight like Bayard,
     Without reproach or fear;
My light glove on his casque of steel,
     My love-knot on his spear!

Oh for the white plume floating
     Sad Zutphen's field above,— [81]
The lion heart in battle,
     The woman's heart in love!

Oh that man once more were manly,
     Woman's pride, and not her scorn:
That once more the pale young mother
     Dared to boast “a man is born” !

But, now life's slumberous current
     No sun-bowed cascade wakes;
No tall, heroic manhood
     The level dulness breaks.

Oh for a knight like Bayard,
     Without reproach or fear!
My light glove on his casque of steel,
     My love-knot on his spear! “

Then I said, my own heart throbbing
     To the time her proud pulse beat,
“Life hath its regal natures yet,
     True, tender, brave, and sweet!

Smile not, fair unbeliever!
     One man, at least, I know,
Who might wear the crest of Bayard
     Or Sidney's plume of snow.

Once, when over purple mountains
     Died away the Grecian sun,
And the far Cyllenian ranges
     Paled and darkened, one by one,—

[82] Fell the Turk, a bolt of thunder,
     Cleaving all the quiet sky,
And against his sharp steel lightnings
     Stood the Suliote but to die.

Woe for the weak and halting!
     The crescent blazed behind
A curving line of sabres,
     Like fire before the wind!

Last to fly, and first to rally,
     Rode he of whom I speak,
When, groaning in his bridle-path,
     Sank down a wounded Greek.

With the rich Albanian costume
     Wet with many a ghastly stain,
Gazing on earth and sky as one
     Who might not gaze again!

He looked forward to the mountains,
     Back on foes that never spare,
Then flung him from his saddle,
     And placed the stranger there.

“ Allah I hu!” Through flashing sabres,
     Through a stormy hail of lead,
The good Thessalian charger
     Up the slopes of olives sped.

Hot spurred the turbaned riders;
     He almost felt their breath, [83]
Where a mountain stream rolled darkly down
     Between the hills and death.

One brave and manful struggle,—
     He gained the solid land,
And the cover of the mountains,
     And the carbines of his band! “

‘It was very great and noble,’
     Said the moist-eyed listener then,
“But one brave deed makes no hero;
     Tell me what he since hath been!”

“Still a brave and generous manhood,
     Still an honor without stain,
In the prison of the Kaiser,
     By the barricades of Seine.

But dream not helm and harness
     The sign of valor true;
Peace hath higher tests of manhood
     Than battle ever knew.

Wouldst know him now? Behold him,
     The Cadmus of the blind,
Giving the dumb lip language,
     The idiot-clay a mind.

Walking his round of duty
     Serenely day by day,
With the strong man's hand of labor
     And childhood's heart of play.

[84] True as the knights of story,
     Sir Lancelot and his peers,
Brave in his calm endurance
     As they in tilt of spears.

As waves in stillest waters,
     As stars in noonday skies,
All that wakes to noble action
     In his noon of calmness lies.

Wherever outraged Nature
     Asks word or action brave,
Wherever struggles labor,
     Wherever groans a slave,—

Wherever rise the peoples,
     Wherever sinks a throne,
The throbbing heart of Freedom finds
     An answer in his own.

Knight of a better era,
     Without reproach or fear!
Said I not well that Bayards
     And Sidneys still are here? “

1853.


Rantoul.

No more fitting inscription could be placed on the tombstone of Robert Rantoul than this: ‘He died at his post in Congress, and his last words were a protest in the name of Democracy against the Fugitive-Slave Law.’

one day, along the electric wire
     His manly word for Freedom sped; [85]
We came next morn: that tongue of fire
     Said only, ‘He who spake is dead!’

Dead! while his voice was living yet,
     In echoes round the pillared dome!
Dead! while his blotted page lay wet
     With themes of state and loves of home!

Dead! in that crowning grace of time,
     That triumph of life's zenith hour!
Dead! while we watched his manhood's prime
     Break from the slow bud into flower!

Dead! he so great, and strong, and wise,
     While the mean thousands yet drew breath;
How deepened, through that dread surprise,
     The mystery and the awe of death!

From the high place whereon our votes
     Had borne him, clear, calm, earnest, fell
His first words, like the prelude notes
     Of some great anthem yet to swell.

We seemed to see our flag unfurled,
     Our champion waiting in his place
For the last battle of the world,
     The Armageddon of the race.

Through him we hoped to speak the word
     Which wins the freedom of a land;
And lift, for human right, the sword
     Which dropped from Hampden's dying hand.

[86] For he had sat at Sidney's feet,
     And walked with Pym and Vane apart;
And, through the centuries, felt the beat
     Of Freedom's march in Cromwell's heart.

He knew the paths the worthies held,
     Where England's best and wisest trod;
And, lingering, drank the springs that welled
     Beneath the touch of Milton's rod.

No wild enthusiast of the right,
     Self-poised and clear, he showed alway
The coolness of his northern night,
     The ripe repose of autumn's day.

His steps were slow, yet forward still
     He pressed where others paused or failed;
The calm star clomb with constant will,
     The restless meteor flashed and paled!

Skilled in its subtlest wile, he knew
     And owned the higher ends of Law;
Still rose majestic on his view
     The awful Shape the schoolman saw.

Her home the heart of God; her voice
     The choral harmonies whereby
The stars, through all their spheres, rejoice,
     The rhythmic rule of earth and sky!

We saw his great powers misapplied
     To poor ambitions; yet, through all,
We saw him take the weaker side,
     And right the wronged, and free the thrall,

[87] Now, looking o'er the frozen North,
     For one like him in word and act,
To call her old, free spirit forth,
     And give her faith the life of fact,—

To break her party bonds of shame,
     And labor with the zeal of him
To make the Democratic name
     Of Liberty the synonyme,—

We sweep the land from hill to strand,
     We seek the strong, the wise, the brave,
And, sad of heart, return to stand
     In silence by a new-made grave!

There, where his breezy hills of home
     Look out upon his sail-white seas,
The sounds of winds and waters come,
     And shape themselves to words like these:

“Why, murmuring, mourn that he, whose power
     Was lent to Party over-long,
Heard the still whisper at the hour
     He set his foot on Party wrong?

The human life that closed so well
     No lapse of folly now can stain:
The lips whence Freedom's protest fell
     No meaner thought can now profane.

Mightier than living voice his grave
     That lofty protest utters o'er;
Through roaring wind and smiting wave
     It speaks his hate of wrong once more.

[88] Men of the North! your weak regret
     Is wasted here; arise and pay
To freedom and to him your debt,
     By following where he led the way! “

1853.


William Forster.

William Forster, of Norwich, England, died in East Tennessee, in the 1st month, 1854, while engaged in presenting to the governors of the States of this Union the address of his religious society on the evils of slavery. He was the relative and coadjutor of the Buxtons, Gurneys, and Frys; and his whole life, extending almost to threescore and ten years, was a pure and beautiful example of Christian benevolence. He had travelled over Europe, and visited most of its sovereigns, to plead against the slave-trade and slavery; and had twice before made visits to this country, under impressions of religious duty. He was the father of the Right Hon. William Edward Forster. He visited my father's house in Haverhill during his first tour in the United States.

the years are many since his hand
     Was laid upon my head,
Too weak and young to understand
     The serious words he said.

Yet often now the good man's look
     Before me seems to swim,
As if some inward feeling took
     The outward guise of him.

As if, in passion's heated war,
     Or near temptation's charm,
Through him the low-voiced monitor
     Forewarned me of the harm.

Stranger and pilgrim! from that day
     Of meeting, first and last, [89]
Wherever Duty's pathway lay,
     His reverent steps have passed.

The poor to feed, the lost to seek,
     To proffer life to death,
Hope to the erring,—to the weak
     The strength of his own faith.

To plead the captive's right; remove
     The sting of hate from Law;
And soften in the fire of love
     The hardened steel of War.

He walked the dark world, in the mild,
     Still guidance of the Light;
In tearful tenderness a child,
     A strong man in the right.

From what great perils, on his way,
     He found, in prayer, release;
Through what abysmal shadows lay
     His pathway unto peace,

God knoweth: we could only see
     The tranquil strength he gained;
The bondage lost in liberty,
     The fear in love unfeigned.

And I,—my youthful fancies grown
     The habit of the man,
Whose field of life by angels sown
     The wilding vines o'erran,—

[90] Low bowed in silent gratitude,
     My manhood's heart enjoys
That reverence for the pure and good
     Which blessed the dreaming boy's.

Still shines the light of holy lives
     Like star-beams over doubt;
Each sainted memory, Christlike, drives
     Some dark possession out.

O friend! O brother! not in vain
     Thy life so calm and true,
The silver dropping of the rain,
     The fall of summer dew!

How many burdened hearts have prayed
     Their lives like thine might be!
But more shall pray henceforth for aid
     To lay them down like thee.

With weary hand, yet steadfast will,
     In old age as in youth,
Thy Master found thee sowing still
     The good seed of His truth.

As on thy task-field closed the day
     In golden-skied decline,
His angel met thee on the way,
     And lent his arm to thine.

Thy latest care for man,—thy last
     Of earthly thought a prayer,—
Oh, who thy mantle, backward cast,
     Is worthy now to wear?

[91] Methinks the mound which marks thy bed
     Might bless our land and save,
As rose, of old, to life the dead
     Who touched the prophet's grave!

1854.


To Charles Sumner.

if I have seemed more prompt to censure wrong
     Than praise the right; if seldom to thine ear
My voice hath mingled with the exultant cheer
     Borne upon all our Northern winds along;
If I have failed to join the fickle throng
     In wide-eyed wonder, that thou standest strong
In victory, surprised in thee to find
     Brougham's scathing power with Canning's grace combined;
That he, for whom the ninefold Muses sang,
     From their twined arms a giant athlete sprang,
Barbing the arrows of his native tongue
     With the spent shafts Latona's archer flung,
To smite the Python of our land and time,
     Fell as the monster born of Crissa's slime,
Like the blind bard who in Castalian springs
     Tempered the steel that clove the crest of kings,
And on the shrine of England's freedom laid
     The gifts of Cumae and of Delphi's shade,—
Small need hast thou of words of praise from me.
     Thou knowest my heart, dear friend, and well canst guess
That, even though silent, I have not the less
     Rejoiced to see thy actual life agree
With the large future which I shaped for thee,
     When, years ago, beside the summer sea, [92]
White in the moon, we saw the long waves fall
     Baffled and broken from the rocky wall,
That, to the menace of the brawling flood,
     Opposed alone its massive quietude,
Calm as a fate; with not a leaf nor vine
     Nor birch-spray trembling in the still moonshine,
Crowning it like God's peace. I sometimes think
     That night-scene by the sea prophetical,
(For Nature speaks in symbols and in signs,
     And through her pictures human fate divines),
That rock, wherefrom we saw the billows sink
     In murmuring rout, uprising clear and tall
In the white light of heaven, the type of one
     Who, momently by Error's host assailed,
Stands strong as Truth, in greaves of granite mailed;
     And, tranquil-fronted, listening over all
The tumult, hears the angels say, Well done!

1854.


Burns.

On Receiving a Sprig of heather in blossom.

No more these simple flowers belong
     To Scottish maid and lover;
Sown in the common soil of song,
     They bloom the wide world over.

In smiles and tears, in sun and showers,
     The minstrel and the heather,
The deathless singer and the flowers
     He sang of live together.

[93] Wild heather-bells and Robert Burns!
     The moorland flower and peasant!
How, at their mention, memory turns
     Her pages old and pleasant!

The gray sky wears again its gold
     And purple of adorning,
And manhood's noonday shadows hold
     The dews of boyhood's morning.

The dews that washed the dust and soil
     From off the wings of pleasure,
The sky, that flecked the ground of toil
     With golden threads of leisure.

I call to mind the summer day,
     The early harvest mowing,
The sky with sun and clouds at play,
     And flowers with breezes blowing.

I hear the blackbird in the corn,
     The locust in the haying;
And, like the fabled hunter's horn,
     Old tunes my heart is playing.

How oft that day, with fond delay,
     I sought the maple's shadow,
And sang with Burns the hours away,
     Forgetful of the meadow!

Bees hummed, birds twittered, overhead
     I heard the squirrels leaping,
The good dog listened while I read,
     And wagged his tail in keeping.

[94] I watched him while in sportive mood
     I read ‘The Twa Dogs'’ story,
And half believed he understood
     The poet's allegory.

Sweet day, sweet songs! The golden hours
     Grew brighter for that singing,
From brook and bird and meadow flowers
     A dearer welcome bringing.

New light on home-seen Nature beamed,
     New glory over Woman;
And daily life and duty seemed
     No longer poor and common.

I woke to find the simple truth
     Of fact and feeling better
Than all the dreams that held my youth
     A still repining debtor:

That Nature gives her handmaid, Art,
     The themes of sweet discoursing;
The tender idyls of the heart
     In every tongue rehearsing.

Why dream of lands of gold and pearl,
     Of loving knight and lady,
When farmer boy and barefoot girl
     Were wandering there already?

I saw through all familiar things
     The romance underlying;
The joys and griefs that plume the wings
     Of Fancy skyward flying.

[95] I saw the same blithe day return,
     The same sweet fall of even,
That rose on wooded Craigie-burn,
     And sank on crystal Devon.

I matched with Scotland's heathery hills
     The sweetbrier and the clover;
With Ayr and Doon, my native rills,
     Their wood-hymns chanting over.

O'er rank and pomp, as he had seen,
     I saw the Man uprising;
No longer common or unclean,
     The child of God's baptizing!

With clearer eyes I saw the worth
     Of life among the lowly;
The Bible at his Cotter's hearth
     Had made my own more holy.

And if at times an evil strain,
     To lawless love appealing,
Broke in upon the sweet refrain
     Of pure and healthful feeling,

It died upon the eye and ear,
     No inward answer gaining;
No heart had I to see or hear
     The discord and the staining.

Let those who never erred forget
     His worth, in vain bewailings;
Sweet Soul of Song! I own my debt
     Uncancelled by his failings!

[96] Lament who will the ribald line
     Which tells his lapse from duty,
How kissed the maddening lips of wine
     Or wanton ones of beauty;

But think, while falls that shade between
     The erring one and Heaven,
That he who loved like Magdalen,
     Like her may be forgiven.

Not his the song whose thunderous chime
     Eternal echoes render;
The mournful Tuscan's haunted rhyme,
     And Milton's starry splendor!

But who his human heart has laid
     To Nature's bosom nearer?
Who sweetened toil like him, or paid
     To love a tribute dearer?

Through all his tuneful art, how strong
     The human feeling gushes!
The very moonlight of his song
     Is warm with smiles and blushes!

Give lettered pomp to teeth of Time,
     So ‘Bonnie Doon’ but tarry;
Blot out the Epic's stately rhyme,
     But spare his Highland Mary!

1854.


[97]

To Georce B. Cheever.

So spake Esaias: so, in words of flame,
     Tekoa's prophet-herdsman smote with blame
The traffickers in men, and put to shame,
     All earth and heaven before,
The sacerdotal robbers of the poor.

All the dread Scripture lives for thee again,
     To smite like lightning on the hands profane
Lifted to bless the slave-whip and the chain.
     Once more the old Hebrew tongue
Bends with the shafts of God a bow new-strung!

Take up the mantle which the prophets wore;
     Warn with their warnings, show the Christ once more
Bound, scourged, and crucified in His blameless poor;
     And shake above our land
The unquenched bolts that blazed in Hosea's hand!

Not vainly shalt thou cast upon our years
     The solemn burdens of the Orient seers,
And smite with truth a guilty nation's ears.
     Mightier was Luther's word
Than Seckingen's mailed arm or Hutton's sword!

1858.


[98]

To James T. Fields.

On a blank leaf of ‘Poems printed, not published.’

well thought! who would not rather hear
     The songs to Love and Friendship sung
Than those which move the stranger's tongue,
     And feed his unselected ear?

Our social joys are more than fame;
     Life withers in the public look.
Why mount the pillory of a book,
     Or barter comfort for a name?

Who in a house of glass would dwell,
     With curious eyes at every pane?
To ring him in and out again,
     Who wants the public crier's bell?

To see the angel in one's way,
     Who wants to play the ass's part,—
Bear on his back the wizard Art,
     And in his service speak or bray?

And who his manly locks would shave,
     And quench the eyes of common sense,
To share the noisy recompense
     That mocked the shorn and blinded slave?

The heart has needs beyond the head,
     And, starving in the plenitude
Of strange gifts, craves its common food,—
     Our human nature's daily bread.

[99] We are but men: no gods are we,
     To sit in mid-heaven, cold and bleak,
Each separate, on his painful peak,
     Thin-cloaked in self-complacency!

Better his lot whose axe is swung
     In Wartburg woods, or that poor girl's
Who by the Ilm her spindle whirls
     And sings the songs that Luther sung,

Than his who, old, and cold, and vain,
     At Weimar sat, a demigod,
And bowed with Jove's imperial nod
     His votaries in and out again!

Ply, Vanity, thy winged feet!
     Ambition, hew thy rocky stair!
Who envies him who feeds on air
     The icy splendor of his seat?

I see your Alps, above me, cut
     The dark, cold sky; and dim and lone
I see ye sitting,—stone on stone,—
     With human senses dulled and shut.

I could not reach you, if I would,
     Nor sit among your cloudy shapes;
And (spare the fable of the grapes
     And fox) I would not if I could.

Keep to your lofty pedestals!
     The safer plain below I choose:
Who never wins can rarely lose,
     Who never climbs as rarely falls.

[100] Let such as love the eagle's scream
     Divide with him his home of ice:
For me shall gentler notes suffice,—
     The valley-song of bird and stream;

The pastoral bleat, the drone of bees,
     The flail-beat chiming far away,
The cattle-low, at shut of day,
     The voice of God in leaf and breeze!

Then lend thy hand, my wiser friend,
     And help me to the vales below,
(In truth, I have not far to go,)
     Where sweet with flowers the fields extend.

1858.


The memory of Burns.

Read at the Boston celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, 25th 1st mo., 1859. In my absence these lines were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

How sweetly come the holy psalms
     From saints and martyrs down,
The waving of triumphal palms
     Above the thorny crown!
The choral praise, the chanted prayers
     From harps by angels strung,
The hunted Cameron's mountain airs,
     The hymns that Luther sung!

Yet, jarring not the heavenly notes,
     The sounds of earth are heard, [101]
As through the open minster floats
     The song of breeze and bird!
Not less the wonder of the sky
     That daisies bloom below;
The brook sings on, though loud and high
     The cloudy organs blow!

And, if the tender ear be jarred
     That, haply, hears by turns
The saintly harp of Olney's bard,
     The pastoral pipe of Burns,
No discord mars His perfect plan
     Who gave them both a tongue;
For he who sings the love of man
     The love of God hath sung!

To-day be every fault forgiven
     Of him in whom we joy!
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven
     And leave the earth's alloy.
Be ours his music as of spring,
     His sweetness as of flowers,
The songs the bard himself might sing
     In holier ears than ours.

Sweet airs of love and home, the hum
     Of household melodies,
Come singing, as the robins come
     To sing in door-yard trees.
And, heart to heart, two nations lean,
     No rival wreaths to twine,
But blending in eternal green
     The holly and the pine!


[102]

In Remembrance of Joseph Sturge.

in the fair land o'erwatched by Ischia's mountains,
     Across the charmed bay
Whose blue waves keep with Capri's silver fountains
     Perpetual holiday,

A king lies dead, his wafer duly eaten,
     His gold-bought masses given;
And Rome's great altar smokes with gums to sweeten
     Her foulest gift to Heaven.

And while all Naples thrills with mute thanks giving,
     The court of England's queen
For the dead monster so abhorred while living
     In mourning garb is seen.

With a true sorrow God rebukes that feigning;
     By lone Edgbaston's side
Stands a great city in the sky's sad raining,
     Bareheaded and wet-eyed!

Silent for once the restless hive of labor,
     Save the low funeral tread,
Dr voice of craftsman whispering to his neighbor
     The good deeds of the dead.

For him no minster's chant of the immortals
     Rose from the lips of sin; [103]
No mitred priest swung back the heavenly portals
     To let the white soul in.

But Age and Sickness framed their tearful faces
     In the low hovel's door,
And prayers went up from all the dark by-places
     And Ghettos of the poor.

The pallid toiler and the negro chattel,
     The vagrant of the street,
The human dice wherewith in games of battle
     The lords of earth compete,

Touched with a grief that needs no outward draping,
     All swelled the long lament,
Of grateful hearts, instead of marble, shaping
     His viewless monument!

For never yet, with ritual pomp and splendor,
     In the long heretofore,
A heart more loyal, warm, and true, and tender,
     Has England's turf closed o'er.

And if there fell from out her grand old steeples
     No crash of brazen wail,
The murmurous woe of kindreds, tongues, and peoples
     Swept in on every gale.

It came from Holstein's birchen-belted meadows,
     And from the tropic calms [104]
Of Indian islands in the sun-smit shadows
     Of Occidental palms;

From the locked roadsteads of the Bothnian peasants,
     And harbors of the Finn,
Where war's worn victims saw his gentle presence
     Come sailing, Christ-like, in,

To seek the lost, to build the old waste places,
     To link the hostile shores
Of severing seas, and sow with England's daisies
     The moss of Finland's moors.

Thanks for the good man's beautiful example,
     Who in the vilest saw
Some sacred crypt or altar of a temple
     Still vocal with God's law;

And heard with tender ear the spirit sighing
     As from its prison cell,
Praying for pity, like the mournful crying
     Of Jonah out of hell.

Not his the golden pen's or lip's persuasion,
     But a fine sense of right,
And Truth's directness, meeting each occasion
     Straight as a line of light.

His faith and works, like streams that intermingle,
     In the same channel ran: [105]
The crystal clearness of an eye kept single
     Shamed all the frauds of man.

The very gentlest of all human natures
     He joined to courage strong,
And love outreaching unto all God's creatures
     With sturdy hate of wrong.

Tender as woman, manliness and meekness
     In him were so allied
That they who judged him by his strength or weakness
     Saw but a single side.

Men failed, betrayed him, but his zeal seemed nourished
     By failure and by fall;
Still a large faith in human-kind he cherished,
     And in God's love for all.

And now he rests: his greatness and his sweetness
     No more shall seem at strife,
And death has moulded into calm completeness
     The statue of his life.

Where the dews glisten and the songbirds warble,
     His dust to dust is laid,
In Nature's keeping, with no pomp of marble
     To shame his modest shade.

The forges glow, the hammers all are ringing;
     Beneath its smoky veil, [106]
Hard by, the city of his love is swinging
     Its clamorous iron flail.

But round his grave are quietude and beauty,
     And the sweet heaven above,—
The fitting symbols of a life of duty
     Transfigured into love!

1859.


Brown of Ossawatomie.

John brown of Ossawatomie spake on his dying day:
     “I will not have to shrive my soul a priest in Slavery's pay.
But let some poor slave-mother whom I have striven to free,
     With her children, from the gallows-stair put up a prayer for me!”

John Brown of Ossawatomie, they led him out to die;
     And lo! a poor slave-mother with her little child pressed nigh.
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender, and the old harsh face grew mild,
     As he stooped between the jeering ranks and kissed the negro's child!

The shadows of his stormy life that moment fell apart;
     And they who blamed the bloody hand forgave the loving heart. [107]
That kiss from all its guilty means redeemed the good intent,
     And round the grisly fighter's hair the martyr's aureole bent!

Perish with him the folly that seeks through evil good
     Long live the generous purpose unstained with human blood!
Not the raid of midnight terror, but the thought which underlies;
     Not the borderer's pride of daring, but the Christian's sacrifice.

Nevermore may yon Blue Ridges the Northern rifle hear,
     Nor see the light of blazing homes flash on the negro's spear.
But let the free-winged angel Truth their guarded passes scale,
     To teach that right is more than might, and justice more than mail!

So vainly shall Virginia set her battle in array;
     In vain her trampling squadrons knead the winter snow with clay.
She may strike the pouncing eagle, but she dares not harm the dove;
     And every gate she bars to Hate shall open wide to Love!

1859.


[108]

Naples.

Inscribed to Robert C. Waterston, of Boston.

Helen Waterston died at Naples in her eighteenth year, and lies buried in the Protestant cemetery there. The stone over her grave bears the lines,

Fold her, O Father, in Thine arms,
     And let her henceforth be
A messenger of love between
     Our human hearts and Thee.

I give thee joy!—I know to thee
     The dearest spot on earth must be
Where sleeps thy loved one by the summer sea

Where, near her sweetest poet's tomb,
     The land of Virgil gave thee room
To lay thy flower with her perpetual bloom.

I know that when the sky shut down
     Behind thee on the gleaming town,
On Baiae's baths and Posilippo's crown;

And, through thy tears, the mocking day
     Burned Ischia's mountain lines away,
And Capri melted in its sunny bay;

Through thy great farewell sorrow shot
     The sharp pang of a bitter thought
That slaves must tread around that holy spot.

Thou knewest not the land was blest
     In giving thy beloved rest,
Holding the fond hope closer to her breast

[109] That every sweet and saintly grave
     Was freedom's prophecy, and gave
The pledge of Heaven to sanctify and save.

That pledge is answered. To thy ear
     The unchained city sends its cheer,
And, tuned to joy, the muffled bells of fear

Ring Victor in. The land sits free
     And happy by the summer sea,
And Bourbon Naples now is Italy!

She smiles above her broken chain
     The languid smile that follows pain,
Stretching her cramped limbs to the sun again.

Oh, joy for all, who hear her call
     From gray Camaldoli's convent-wall
And Elmo's towers to freedom's carnival!

A new life breathes among her vines
     And olives, like the breath of pines
Blown downward from the breezy Apennines.

Lean, O my friend, to meet that breath,
     Rejoice as one who witnesseth
Beauty from ashes rise, and life from death!

Thy sorrow shall no more be pain,
     Its tears shall fall in sunlit rain,
Writing the grave with flowers: ‘Arisen again!’

1860.


[110]

A Memorial.

Moses Austin Cartland, a dear friend and relation, who led a faithful life as a teacher and died in the summer of 1863.

Oh, thicker, deeper, darker growing,
     The solemn vista to the tomb
Must know henceforth another shadow,
     And give another cypress room.

In love surpassing that of brothers,
     We walked, O friend, from childhood's day;
And, looking back o'er fifty summers,
     Our footprints track a common way.

One in our faith, and one our longing
     To make the world within our reach
Somewhat the better for our living,
     And gladder for our human speech.

Thou heard'st with me the far-off voices,
     The old beguiling song of fame,
But life to thee was warm and present,
     And love was better than a name.

To homely joys and loves and friendships
     Thy genial nature fondly clung;
And so the shadow on the dial
     Ran back and left thee always young.

And who could blame the generous weakness
     Which, only to thyself unjust,
So overprized the worth of others,
     And dwarfed thy own with self-distrust?

[111] All hearts grew warmer in the presence
     Of one who, seeking not his own,
Gave freely for the love of giving,
     Nor reaped for self the harvest sown.

Thy greeting smile was pledge and prelude
     Of generous deeds and kindly words;
In thy large heart were fair guest-chambers,
     Open to sunrise and the birds!

The task was thine to mould and fashion
     Life's plastic newness into grace:
To make the boyish heart heroic,
     And light with thought the maiden's face.

O'er all the land, in town and prairie,
     With bended heads of mourning, stand
The living forms that owe their beauty
     And fitness to thy shaping hand.

Thy call has come in ripened manhood,
     The noonday calm of heart and mind,
While I, who dreamed of thy remaining
     To mourn me, linger still behind:

Live on, to own, with self-upbraiding,
     A debt of love still due from me,—
The vain remembrance of occasions,
     Forever lost, of serving thee.

It was not mine among thy kindred
     To join the silent funeral prayers,
But all that long sad day of summer
     My tears of mourning dropped with theirs.

[112] All day the sea-waves sobbed with sorrow,
     The birds forgot their merry trills:
All day I heard the pines lamenting
     With thine upon thy homestead hills.

Green be those hillside pines forever,
     And green the meadowy lowlands be,
And green the old memorial beeches,
     Name-carven in the woods of Lee!

Still let them greet thy life companions
     Who thither turn their pilgrim feet,
In every mossy line recalling
     A tender memory sadly sweet.

O friend! if thought and sense avail not
     To know thee henceforth as thou art,
That all is well with thee forever
     I trust the instincts of my heart.

Thine be the quiet habitations,
     Thine the green pastures, blossom-sown,
And smiles of saintly recognition,
     As sweet and tenders thy own.

Thou com'st not from the hush and shadow
     To meet us, but to thee we come,
With thee we never can be strangers,
     And where thou art must still be home.

1863.


[113]

Bryant on his Birthday.

Mr. Bryant's seventieth birthday, November 3, 1864, was celebrated by a festival to which these verses were sent.

we praise not now the poet's art,
     The rounded beauty of his song;
Who weighs him from his life apart
     Must do his nobler nature wrong.

Not for the eye, familiar grown
     With charms to common sight denied,—
The marvellous gift he shares alone
     With him who walked on Rydal-side;

Not for rapt hymn nor woodland lay,
     Too grave for smiles, too sweet for tears;
We speak his praise who wears to-day
     The glory of his seventy years.

When Peace brings Freedom in her train,
     Let happy lips his songs rehearse;
His life is now his noblest strain,
     His manhood better than his verse!

Thank God! his hand on Nature's keys
     Its cunning keeps at life's full span;
But, dimmed and dwarfed, in times like these,
     The poet seems beside the man!

So be it! let the garlands die,
     The singer's wreath, the painter's meed, [114]
Let our names perish, if thereby
     Our country may be saved and freed!

1864.


Thomas Starr King.

Published originally as a prelude to the posthumous volume of selections edited by Richard Frothingham.

the great work laid upon his twoscore years
Is done, and well done. If we drop our tears,
Who loved him as few men were ever loved,
We mourn no blighted hope nor broken plan
With him whose life stands rounded and approved
In the full growth and stature of a man.
Mingle, O bells, along the Western slope,
With your deep toll a sound of faith and hope!
Wave cheerily still, O banner, half-way down,
From thousand-masted bay and steepled town!
Let the strong organ with its loftiest swell
Lift the proud sorrow of the land, and tell
That the brave sower saw his ripened grain.
O East and West! O morn and sunset twain
No more forever!—has he lived in vain
Who, priest of Freedom, made ye one, and told
Your bridal service from his lips of gold?

1864.


Lines on a Fly-leaf.

I need not ask thee, for my sake,
To read a book which well may make [115]
Its way by native force of wit
Without my manual sign to it.
Its piquant writer needs from me
No gravely masculine guaranty,
And well might laugh her merriest laugh
At broken spears in her behalf;
Yet, spite of all the critics tell,
I frankly own I like her well.
It may be that she wields a pen
Too sharply nibbed for thin-skinned men,
That her keen arrows search and try
The armor joints of dignity,
And, though alone for error meant,
Sing through the air irreverent.
I blame her not, the young athlete
Who plants her woman's tiny feet,
And dares the chances of debate
Where bearded men might hesitate,
Who, deeply earnest, seeing well
The ludicrous and laughable,
Mingling in eloquent excess
Her anger and her tenderness,
And, chiding with a half-caress,
Strives, less for her own sex than ours,
With principalities and powers,
And points us upward to the clear
Sunned heights of her new atmosphere.

Heaven mend her faults!—I will not pause
To weigh and doubt and peck at flaws,
Or waste my pity when some fool
Provokes her measureless ridicule.
Strong-minded is she? Better so
Than dulness set for sale or show. [116]
A household folly, capped and belled
In fashion's dance of puppets held,
Or poor pretence of womanhood,
Whose formal, flavorless platitude
Is warranted from all offence
Of robust meaning's violence.
Give me the wine of thought whose bead
Sparkles along the page I read,—
Electric words in which I find
The tonic of the northwest wind;
The wisdom which itself allies
To sweet and pure humanities,
Where scorn of meanness, hate of wrong,
Are underlaid by love as strong;
The genial play of mirth that lights
Grave themes of thought, as when, on nights
Of summer-time, the harmless blaze
Of thunderless heat-lightning plays,
And tree and hill-top resting dim
And doubtful on the sky's vague rim,
Touched by that soft and lambent gleam,
Start sharply outlined from their dream.

Talk not to me of woman's sphere,
Nor point with Scripture texts a sneer,
Nor wrong the manliest saint of all
By doubt, if he were here, that Paul
Would own the heroines who have lent
Grace to truth's stern arbitrament,
Foregone the praise to woman sweet,
And cast their crowns at Duty's feet;
Like her, who by her strong Appeal
Made Fashion weep and Mammon feel, [117]
Who, earliest summoned to withstand
The color-madness of the land,
Counted her life-long losses gain,
And made her own her sisters' pain;
Or her who, in her greenwood shade,
Heard the sharp call that Freedom made,
And, answering, struck from Sappho's lyre
Of love the Tyrtaean carmen's fire:
Or that young girl,—Domremy's maid
Revived a nobler cause to aid,—
Shaking from warning finger-tips
The doom of her apocalypse;
Or her, who world-wide entrance gave
To the log-cabin of the slave,
Made all his want and sorrow known,
And all earth's languages his own.

1866.


George L. Stearns.

No man rendered greater service to the cause of freedom than Major Stearns in the great struggle between invading slaveholders and the free settlers of Kansas.

he has done the work of a true man,—
     Crown him, honor him, love him.
Weep over him, tears of woman,
     Stoop manliest brows above him!

O dusky mothers and daughters,
     Vigils of mourning keep for him!
Up in the mountains, and down by the waters,
     Lift up your voices and weep for him!

[118] For the warmest of hearts is frozen,
     The freest of hands is still;
And the gap in our picked and chosen
     The long years may not fill.

No duty could overtask him,
     No need his will outrun;
Or ever our lips could ask him,
     His hands the work had done.

He forgot his own soul for others,
     Himself to his neighbor lending;
He found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
     And not in the clouds descending.

So the bed was sweet to die on,
     Whence he saw the doors wide swung
Against whose bolted iron
     The strength of his life was flung.

And he saw ere his eye was darkened
     The sheaves of the harvest-bringing,
And knew while his ear yet hearkened
     The voice of the reapers singing.

Ah, well! The world is discreet;
     There are plenty to pause and wait;
But here was a man who set his feet
     Sometimes in advance of fate;

Plucked off the old bark when the inner
     Was slow to renew it,
And put to the Lord's work the sinner
     “When saints failed to do it.

[119] Never rode to the wrong's redressing
     A worthier paladin.
Shall he not hear the blessing,
     ‘Good and faithful, enter in!’ “

1867.


Garibaldi.

in trance and dream of old, God's prophet saw
     The casting down of thrones. Thou, watching lone
The hot Sardinian coast-line, hazy-hilled,
     Where, fringing round Caprera's rocky zone
With foam, the slow waves gather and withdraw,
     Behold'st the vision of the seer fulfilled,
And hear'st the sea-winds burdened with a sound
     Of falling chains, as, one by one, unbound,
The nations lift their right hands up and swear
     Their oath of freedom. From the chalk-white wall
Of England, from the black Carpathian range,
     Along the Danube and the Theiss, through all
The passes of the Spanish Pyrenees,
     And from the Seine's thronged banks, a murmur strange
And glad floats to thee o'er thy summer seas
     On the salt wind that stirs thy whitening hair,—
The song of freedom's bloodless victories!
     Rejoice, O Garibaldi! Though thy sword
Failed at Rome's gates, and blood seemed vainly poured [120]
     Where, in Christ's name, the crowned infidel
Of France wrought murder with the arms of hell
     On that sad mountain slope whose ghostly dead,
Unmindful of the gray exorcist's ban,
     Walk, unappeased, the chambered Vatican,
And draw the curtains of Napoleon's bed!
     God's providence is not blind, but, full of eyes,
It searches all the refuges of lies;
     And in His time and way, the accursed things
Before whose evil feet thy battle-gage
     Has clashed defiance from hot youth to age
Shall perish. All men shall be priests and kings,
     One royal brotherhood, one church made free
By love, which is the law of liberty!

1869.


To Lydia Maria child,

On Reading her Poem in ‘the standard.’

Mrs. Child wrote her lines, beginning, ‘Again the trees are clothed in vernal green,’ May 24, 1859, on the first anniversary of Ellis Gray Loring's death, but did not publish them for some years afterward, when I first read them, or I could not have made the reference which I did to the extinction of slavery.

the sweet spring day is glad with music,
     But through it sounds a sadder strain;
The worthiest of our narrowing circle
     Sings Loring's dirges o'er again.

O woman greatly loved! I join thee
     In tender memories of our friend; [121]
With thee across the awful spaces
     The greeting of a soul I send!

What cheer hath he? How is it with him?
     Where lingers he this weary while?
Over what pleasant fields of Heaven
     Dawns the sweet sunrise of his smile?

Does he not know our feet are treading
     The earth hard down on Slavery's grave?
That, in our crowning exultations,
     We miss the charm his presence gave?

Why on this spring air comes no whisper
     From him to tell us all is well?
Why to our flower-time comes no token
     Of lily and of asphodel?

I feel the unutterable longing,
     Thy hunger of the heart is mine;
I reach and grope for hands in darkness,
     My ear grows sharp for voice or sign.

Still on the lips of all we question
     The finger of God's silence lies;
Will the lost hands in ours be folded?
     Will the shut eyelids ever rise?

O friend! no proof beyond this yearning,
     This outreach of our hearts, we need;
God will not mock the hope He giveth,
     No love He prompts shall vainly plead.

[122] Then let us stretch our hands in darkness,
     And call our loved ones o'er and o'er;
Some day their arms shall close about us,
     And the old voices speak once more.

No dreary splendors wait our coming
     Where rapt ghost sits from ghost apart;
Homeward we go to Heaven's thanksgiving.
     The harvest-gathering of the heart.

1870.


The singer.

This poem was written on the death of Alice Cary. Her sister Phoebe, heart-broken by her loss, followed soon after. Noble and richly gifted, lovely in person and character, they left behind them only friends and admirers.

years since (but names to me before),
Two sisters sought at eve my door;
Two song-birds wandering from their nest,
A gray old farm-house in the West.

How fresh of life the younger one,
Half smiles, half tears, like rain in sun!
Her gravest mood could scarce displace
The dimples of her nut-brown face.

Wit sparkled on her lips not less
For quick and tremulous tenderness;
And, following close her merriest glance,
Dreamed through her eyes the heart's romance.

[123] Timid and still, the elder had
Even then a smile too sweetly sad;
The crown of pain that all must wear
Too early pressed her midnight hair.

Yet ere the summer eve grew long,
Her modest lips were sweet with song;
A memory haunted all her words
Of clover-fields and singing birds.

Her dark, dilating eyes expressed
The broad horizons of the west;
Her speech dropped prairie flowers; the gold
Of harvest wheat about her rolled.

Fore-doomed to song she seemed to me:
I queried not with destiny:
I knew the trial and the need,
Yet, all the more, I said, God speed!

What could I other than I did?
Could I a singing-bird forbid?
Deny the wind-stirred leaf? Rebuke
The music of the forest brook?

She went with morning from my door,
But left me richer than before;
Thenceforth I knew her voice of cheer,
The welcome of her partial ear.

Years passed: through all the land her name
A pleasant household word became:
All felt behind the singer stood
A sweet and gracious womanhood.

[124] Her life was earnest work, not play;
Her tired feet climbed a weary way;
And even through her lightest strain
We heard an undertone of pain.

Unseen of her her fair fame grew,
The good she did she rarely knew,
Unguessed of her in life the love
That rained its tears her grave above.

When last I saw her, full of peace,
She waited for her great release;
And that old friend so sage and bland,
Our later Franklin, held her hand.

For all that patriot bosoms stirs
Had moved that woman's heart of hers,
And men who toiled in storm and sun
Found her their meet companion.

Our converse, from her suffering bed
To healthful themes of life she led:
The out-door world of bud and bloom
And light and sweetness filled her room.

Yet evermore an underthought
Of loss to come within us wrought,
And all the while we felt the strain
Of the strong will that conquered pain.

God giveth quietness at last!
The common way that all have passed
She went, with mortal yearnings fond,
To fuller life and love beyond.

[125] Fold the rapt soul in your embrace,
My dear ones! Give the singer place
To you, to her,—I know not where,—
I lift the silence of a prayer.

For only thus our own we find;
The gone before, the left behind,
All mortal voices die between;
The unheard reaches the unseen.

Again the blackbirds sing; the streams
Wake, laughing, from their winter dreams,
And tremble in the April showers
The tassels of the maple flowers.

But not for her has spring renewed
The sweet surprises of the wood;
And bird and flower are lost to her
Who was their best interpreter!

What to shut eyes has God revealed?
What hear the ears that death has sealed?
What undreamed beauty passing show
Requites the loss of all we know?

O silent land, to which we move,
Enough if there alone be love,
And mortal need can ne'er outgrow
What it is waiting to bestow!

O white soul! from that far-off shore
Float some sweet song the waters o'er, [126]
Our faith confirm, our fears dispel,
With the old voice we loved so well!

1871.


How Mary Grew.

These lines were in answer to an invitation to hear a lecture of Mary Grew, of Philadelphia, before the Boston Radical Club. The reference in the last stanza is to an essay on Sappho by T. W. Higginson, read at the club the preceding month.

with wisdom far beyond her years,
And graver than her wondering peers,
So strong, so mild, combining still
The tender heart and queenly will,
To conscience and to duty true,
So, up from childhood, Mary Grew!

Then in her gracious womanhood
She gave her days to doing good.
She dared the scornful laugh of men,
The hounding mob, the slanderer's pen.
She did the work she found to do,—
A Christian heroine, Mary Grew!

The freed slave thanks her; blessing comes
To her from women's weary homes;
The wronged and erring find in her
Their censor mild and comforter.
The world were safe if but a few
Could grow in grace as Mary Grew!

So, New Year's Eve, I sit and say,
By this low wood-fire, ashen gray; [127]
Just wishing, as the night shuts down,
That I could hear in Boston town,
In pleasant Chestnut Avenue,
From her own lips, how Mary Grew!

And hear her graceful hostess tell
The silver-voiced oracle
Who lately through her parlors spoke
As through Dodona's sacred oak,
A wiser truth than any told
By Sappho's lips of ruddy gold,—
The way to make the world anew,
Is just to grow—as Mary Grew!

1871.


Sumner.

I am not one who has disgraced beauty of sentiment by deformity of conduct, or the maxims of a freeman by the actions of a slave; but, by the grace of God, I have kept my life unsullied. Milton's Defence of the people of England.

O Mother State! the winds of March
     Blew chill o'er Auburn's Field of God,
Where, slow, beneath a leaden arch
     Of sky, thy mourning children trod.

And now, with all thy woods in leaf,
     Thy fields in flower, beside thy dead
Thou sittest, in thy robes of grief,
     A Rachel yet uncomforted!

And once again the organ swells,
     Once more the flag is half-way hung, [128]
And yet again the mournful bells
     In all thy steeple-towers are rung.

And I, obedient to thy will,
     Have come a simple wreath to lay,
Superfluous, on a grave that still
     Is sweet with all the flowers of May.

I take, with awe, the task assigned;
     It may be that my friend might miss,
In his new sphere of heart and mind,
     Some token from my hand in this.

By many a tender memory moved,
     Along the past my thought I send;
The record of the cause he loved
     Is the best record of its friend.

No trumpet sounded in his ear,
     He saw not Sinai's cloud and flame,
But never yet to Hebrew seer
     A clearer voice of duty came.

God said: “Break thou these yokes; undo
     These heavy burdens. I ordain
A work to last thy whole life through,
     A ministry of strife and pain.

Forego thy dreams of lettered ease,
     Put thou the scholar's promise by,
The rights of man are more than these. “
     He heard, and answered: ‘Here am I!’

[129] He set his face against the blast,
     His feet against the flinty shard,
Till the hard service grew, at last,
     Its own exceeding great reward.

Lifted like Saul's above the crowd,
     Upon his kingly forehead fell
The first sharp bolt of Slavery's cloud,
     Launched at the truth he urged so well.

Ah! never yet, at rack or stake,
     Was sorer loss made Freedom's gain,
Than his, who suffered for her sake
     The beak-torn Titan's lingering pain!

The fixed star of his faith, through all
     Loss, doubt, and peril, shone the same;
As through a night of storm, some tall,
     Strong lighthouse lifts its steady flame.

Beyond the dust and smoke he saw
     The sheaves of Freedom's large increase,
The holy fanes of equal law,
     The New Jerusalem of peace.

The weak might fear, the worldling mock,
     The faint and blind of heart regret;
All knew at last th' eternal rock
     On which his forward feet were set.

The subtlest scheme of compromise
     Was folly to his purpose bold;
The strongest mesh of party lies
     Weak to the simplest truth he told.

[130] One language held his heart and lip,
     Straight onward to his goal he trod,
And proved the highest statesmanship
     Obedience to the voice of God.

No wail was in his voice,—none heard,
     When treason's storm-cloud blackest grew,
The weakness of a doubtful word;
     His duty, and the end, he knew.

The first to smite, the first to spare;
     When once the hostile ensigns fell,
He stretched out hands of generous care
     To lift the foe he fought so well.

For there was nothing base or small
     Or craven in his soul's broad plan;
Forgiving all things personal,
     He hated only wrong to man.

The old traditions of his State,
     The memories of her great and good,
Took from his life a fresher date,
     And in himself embodied stood.

How felt the greed of gold and place,
     The venal crew that schemed and planned,
The fine scorn of that haughty face,
     The spurning of that bribeless hand!

If than Rome's tribunes statelier
     He wore his senatorial robe,
His lofty port was all for her,
     The one dear spot on all the globe.

[131] If to the master's plea he gave
     The vast contempt his manhood felt,
He saw a brother in the slave,—
     With man as equal man he dealt.

Proud was he? If his presence kept
     Its grandeur wheresoe'er he trod,
As if from Plutarch's gallery stepped
     The hero and the demigod,

None failed, at least, to reach his ear,
     Nor want nor woe appealed in vain;
The homesick soldier knew his cheer,
     And blessed him from his ward of pain.

Safely his dearest friends may own
     The slight defects he never hid,
The surface-blemish in the stone
     Of the tall, stately pyramid.

Suffice it that he never brought
     His conscience to the public mart;
But lived himself the truth he taught,
     White-souled, clean-handed, pure of heart.

What if he felt the natural pride
     Of power in noble use, too true
With thin humilities to hide
     The work he did, the lore he knew?

Was he not just? Was any wronged
     By that assured self-estimate?
He took but what to him belonged,
     Unenvious of another's state.

[132] Well might he heed the words he spake,
     And scan with care the written page
Through which he still shall warm and wake
     The hearts of men from age to age.

Ah! who shall blame him now because
     He solaced thus his hours of pain!
Should not the o'erworn thresher pause,
     And hold to light his golden grain?

No sense of humor dropped its oil
     On the hard ways his purpose went;
Small play of fancy lightened toil;
     He spake alone the thing he meant.

He loved his books, the Art that hints
     A beauty veiled behind its own,
The graver's line, the pencil's tints,
     The chisel's shape evoked from stone.

He cherished, void of selfish ends,
     The social courtesies that bless
And sweeten life, and loved his friends
     With most unworldly tenderness.

But still his tired eyes rarely learned
     The glad relief by Nature brought;
Her mountain ranges never turned
     His current of persistent thought.

The sea rolled chorus to his speech
     Three-banked like Latium's tall trireme,
With laboring oars; the grove and beach
     Were Forum and the Academe.

[133] The sensuous joy from all things fair
     His strenuous bent of soul repressed,
And left from youth to silvered hair
     Few hours for pleasure, none for rest.

For all his life was poor without,
     O Nature, make the last amends!
Train all thy flowers his grave about,
     And make thy singing-birds his friends!

Revive again, thou summer rain,
     The broken turf upon his bed!
Breathe, summer wind, thy tenderest strain
     Of low, sweet music overhead!

With calm and beauty symbolize
     The peace which follows long annoy,
And lend our earth-bent, mourning eyes,
     Some hint of his diviner joy.

For safe with right and truth he is,
     As God lives he must live alway;
There is no end for souls like his,
     No night for children of the day!

Nor cant nor poor solicitudes
     Made weak his life's great argument;
Small leisure his for frames and moods
     Who followed Duty where she went.

The broad, fair fields of God he saw
     Beyond the bigot's narrow bound;
The truths he moulded into law
     In Christ's beatitudes he found.

[134] His state-craft was the Golden Rule,
     His right of vote a sacred trust;
Clear, over threat and ridicule,
     All heard his challenge: ‘Is it just?’

And when the hour supreme had come,
     Not for himself a thought he gave;
In that last pang of martyrdom,
     His care was for the half-freed slave.

Not vainly dusky hands upbore,
     In prayer, the passing soul to heaven
Whose mercy to His suffering poor
     Was service to the Master given.

Long shall the good State's annals tell,
     Her children's children long be taught,
How, praised or blamed, he guarded well
     The trust he neither shunned nor sought.

If for one moment turned thy face,
     O Mother, from thy son, not long
He waited calmly in his place
     The sure remorse which follows wrong.

Forgiven be the State he loved
     The one brief lapse, the single blot;
Forgotten be the stain removed,
     Her righted record shows it not!

The lifted sword above her shield
     With jealous care shall guard his fame;
The pine-tree on her ancient field
     To all the winds shall speak his name.

[135] The marble image of her son
     Her loving hands shall yearly crown,
And from her pictured Pantheon
     His grand, majestic face look down.

O State so passing rich before,
     Who now shall doubt thy highest claim?
The world that counts thy jewels o'er
     Shall longest pause at Sumner's name!

1874.


Thiers.


I.

Fate summoned, in gray-bearded age, to act
     A history stranger than his written fact,
Him, who portrayed the splendor and the gloom
     Of that great hour when throne and altar fell
With long death-groan which still is audible.
     He, when around the walls of Paris rung
The Prussian bugle like the blast of doom,
     And every ill which follows unblest war
Maddened all France from Finistere to Var,
     The weight of fourscore from his shoulders flung,
And guided Freedom in the path he saw
     Lead out of chaos into light and law,
Peace, not imperial, but republican,
     And order pledged to all the Rights of Man.


Ii.

Death called him from a need as imminent
     As that from which the Silent William went [136]
When powers of evil, like the smiting seas
     On Holland's dikes, assailed her liberties.
Sadly, while yet in doubtful balance hung
     The weal and woe of France, the bells were rung
For her lost leader. Paralyzed of will,
     Above his bier the hearts of men stood still.
Then, as if set to his dead lips, the horn
     Of Roland wound once more to rouse and warn,
The old voice filled the air! His last brave word
     Not vainly France to all her boundaries stirred.
Strong as in life, he still for Freedom wrought,
     As the dead Cid at red Toloso fought.

1877.


Fitz-Greene Halleck.

At the Unveiling of his Statue.

among their graven shapes to whom
     Thy civic wreaths belong,
O city of his love, make room
     For one whose gift was song.

Not his the soldier's sword to wield,
     Nor his the helm of state,
Nor glory of the stricken field,
     Nor triumph of debate.

In common ways, with common men,
     He served his race and time
As well as if his clerkly pen
     Had never danced to rhyme.

[137] If, in the thronged and noisy mart,
     The Muses found their son,
Could any say his tuneful art
     A duty left undone?

He toiled and sang; and year by year
     Men found their homes more sweet,
And through a tenderer atmosphere
     Looked down the brick-walled street.

The Greek's wild onset Wall Street knew;
     The Red King walked Broadway;
And Alnwick Castle's roses blew
     From Palisades to Bay.

Fair City by the Sea! upraise
     His veil with reverent hands;
And mingle with thy own the praise
     And pride of other lands.

Let Greece his fiery lyric breathe
     Above her hero-urns;
And Scotland, with her holly, wreathe
     The flower he culled for Burns.

Oh, stately stand thy palace walls,
     Thy tall ships ride the seas;
To-day thy poet's name recalls
     A prouder thought than these.

Not less thy pulse of trade shall beat,
     Nor less thy tall fleets swim,
That shaded square and dusty street
     Are classic ground through him.

[138] Alive, he loved, like all who sing,
     The echoes of his song;
Too late the tardy meed we bring,
     The praise delayed so long.

Too late, alas! Of all who knew
     The living man, to-day
Before his unveiled face, how few
     Make bare their locks of gray!

Our lips of praise must soon be dumb,
     Our grateful eyes be dim;
O brothers of the days to come,
     Take tender charge of him!

New hands the wires of song may sweep,
     New voices challenge fame;
But let no moss of years o'ercreep
     The lines of Halleck's name.

1877.


William Francis Bartlett.

Oh, well may Essex sit forlorn
     Beside her sea-blown shore;
Her well beloved, her noblest born,
     Is hers in life no more!

No lapse of years can render less
     Her memory's sacred claim;
No fountain of forgetfulness
     Can wet the lips of Fame.

[139] A grief alike to wound and heal,
     A thought to soothe and pain,
The sad, sweet pride that mothers feel
     To her must still remain.

Good men and true she has not lacked,
     And brave men yet shall be;
The perfect flower, the crowning fact,
     Of all her years was he!

As Galahad pure, as Merlin sage,
     What worthier knight was found
To grace in Arthur's golden age
     The fabled Table Round?

A voice, the battle's trumpet-note,
     To welcome and restore;
A hand, that all unwilling smote,
     To heal and build once more!

A soul of fire, a tender heart
     Too warm for hate, he knew
The generous victor's graceful part
     To sheathe the sword he drew.

When Earth, as if on evil dreams,
     Looks back upon her wars,
And the white light of Christ outstreams
     From the red disk of Mars,

His fame who led the stormy van
     Of battle well may cease,
But never that which crowns the man
     Whose victory was Peace.

[140] Mourn, Essex, on thy sea-blown shore
     Thy beautiful and brave,
Whose failing hand the olive bore,
     Whose dying lips forgave!

Let age lament the youthful chief,
     And tender eyes be dim;
The tears are more of joy than grief
     That fall for one like him!

1878.


Bayard Taylor.


I

‘and where now, Bayard, will thy footsteps tend?’
My sister asked our guest one winter's day.
Smiling he answered in the Friends' sweet way
Common to both: “Wherever thou shalt send!
What wouldst thou have me see for thee?” She laughed,
Her dark eyes dancing in the wood-fire's glow:
“Loffoden isles, the Kilpis, and the low,
Unsetting sun on Finmark's fishing-craft.”
‘All these and more I soon shall see for thee!’
He answered cheerily: and he kept his pledge
On Lapland snows, the North Cape's windy wedge,
And Tromso freezing in its winter sea.
He went and came. But no man knows. the track
Of his last journey, and he comes not back!


[141]

II.

He brought us wonders of the new and old;
     We shared all climes with him. The Arab's tent
To him its story-telling secret lent.
     And, pleased, we listened to the tales he told.
His task, beguiled with songs that shall endure,
     In manly, honest thoroughness he wrought;
From humble home-lays to the heights of thought
     Slowly he climbed, but every step was sure.
How, with the generous pride that friendship hath,
     We, who so loved him, saw at last the crown
Of civic honor on his brows pressed down,
     Rejoiced, and knew not that the gift was death.
And now for him, whose praise in deafened ears
     Two nations speak, we answer but with tears!


Iii.

O Vale of Chester! trod by him so oft,
     Green as thy June turf keep his memory. Let
Nor wood, nor dell, nor storied stream forget,
     Nor winds that blow round lonely Cedarcroft;
Let the home voices greet him in the far,
     Strange land that holds him; let the messages
Of love pursue him o'er the chartless seas
     And unmapped vastness of his unknown star!
Love's language, heard beyond the loud discourse
     Of perishable fame, in every sphere
Itself interprets; and its utterance here
     Somewhere in God's unfolding universe-
Shall reach our traveller, softening the surprise
     Of his rapt gaze on unfamiliar skies!

1879.


[142]

Our Autocrat.

Read at the breakfast given in honor of Dr. Holmes by the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly, December 3, 1879.

His laurels fresh from song and lay,
     Romance, art, science, rich in all,
And young of heart, how dare we say
     We keep his seventieth festival?

No sense is here of loss or lack;
     Before his sweetness and his light
The dial holds its shadow back,
     The charmed hours delay their flight.

His still the keen analysis
     Of men and moods, electric wit,
Free play of mirth, and tenderness
     To heal the slightest wound from it.

And his the pathos touching all
     Life's sins and sorrows and regrets,
Its hopes and fears, its final call
     And rest beneath the violets.

His sparkling surface scarce betrays
     The thoughtful tide beneath it rolled,
The wisdom of the latter days,
     And tender memories of the old.

What shapes and fancies, grave or gay,
     Before us at his bidding come!
The Treadmill tramp, the One-Horse Shay,
     The dumb despair of Elsie's doom!

[143] The tale of Avis and the Maid,
     The plea for lips that cannot speak,
The holy kiss that Iris laid
     On Little Boston's pallid cheek!

Long may he live to sing for us
     His sweetest songs at evening time,
And, like his Chambered Nautilus,
     To holier heights of beauty climb!

Though now unnumbered guests surround
     The table that he rules at will,
Its Autocrat, however crowned,
     Is but our friend and comrade still.

The world may keep his honored name,
     The wealth of all his varied powers;
A stronger claim has love than fame,
     And he himself is only ours!


Within the Gate.

L. M. C.

I have more fully expressed my admiration and regard for Lydia Maria Child in the biographical introduction which I wrote for the volume of Letters, published after her death.

we sat together, last May-day, and talked
     Of the dear friends who walked
Beside us, sharers of the hopes and fears
     Of five and forty years,

[144] Since first we met in Freedom's hope forlorn,
     And heard her battle-horn
Sound through the valleys of the sleeping North,
     Calling her children forth,

And youth pressed forward with hope-lighted eyes,
     And age, with forecast wise
Of the long strife before the triumph won,
     Girded his armor on.

Sadly, as name by name we called the roll,
     We heard the dead-bells toll
For the unanswering many, and we knew
     The living were the few.

And we, who waited our own call before
     The inevitable door,
Listened and looked, as all have done, to win
     Some token from within.

No sign we saw, we heard no voices call;
     The impenetrable wall
Cast down its shadow, like an awful doubt,
     On all who sat without.

Of many a hint of life beyond the veil,
     And many a ghostly tale
Wherewith the ages spanned the gulf between
     The seen and the unseen,

Seeking from omen, trance, and dream to gain
     Solace to doubtful pain,
And touch, with groping hands, the garment hem
     Of truth sufficing them,

[145] We talked; and, turning from the sore unrest
     Of an all-baffling quest,
We thought of holy lives that from us passed
     Hopeful unto the last,

As if they saw beyond the river of death,
     Like Him of Nazareth,
The many mansions of the Eternal days
     Lift up their gates of praise.

And, hushed to silence by a reverent awe,
     Methought, O friend, I saw
In thy true life of word, and work, and thought
     The proof of all we sought.

Did we not witness in the life of thee
     Immortal prophecy?
And feel, when with thee, that thy footsteps trod
     An everlasting road?

Not for brief days thy generous sympathies,
     Thy scorn of selfish ease;
Not for the poor prize of an earthly goal
     Thy strong uplift of soul.

Than thine was never turned a fonder heart
     To nature and to art
In fair-formed Hellas in her golden prime,
     Thy Philothea's time.

Yet, loving beauty, thou couldst pass it by,
     And for the poor deny
Thyself, and see thy fresh, sweet flower of fame
     Wither in blight and blame.

[146] Sharing His love who holds in His embrace
     The lowliest of our race,
Sure the Divine economy must be
     Conservative of thee!

For truth must live with truth, self-sacrifice
     Seek out its great allies;
Good must find good by gravitation sure,
     And love with love endure.

And so, since thou hast passed within the gate
     Whereby awhile I wait,
I give blind grief and blinder sense the lie:
     Thou hast not lived to die!

1881.


In memory.

James T. Fields.

As a guest who may not stay
Long and sad farewells to say
Glides with smiling face away,

Of the sweetness and the zest
Of thy happy life possessed
Thou hast left us at thy best.

Warm of heart and clear of brain,
Of thy sun-bright spirit's wane
Thou hast spared us all the pain.

[147] Now that thou hast gone away,
What is left of one to say
Who was open as the day?

What is there to gloss or shun?
Save with kindly voices none
Speak thy name beneath the sun.

Safe thou art on every side,
Friendship nothing finds to hide,
Love's demand is satisfied.

Over manly strength and worth,
At thy desk of toil, or hearth,
Played the lambent light of mirth,—

Mirth that lit, but never burned;
All thy blame to pity turned;
Hatred thou hadst never learned.

Every harsh and vexing thing
At thy home-fire lost its sting;
Where thou wast was always spring.

And thy perfect trust in good,
Faith in man and womanhood,
Chance and change and time withstood.

Small respect for cant and whine,
Bigot's zeal and hate malign,
Had that sunny soul of thine.

[148] But to thee was duty's claim
Sacred, and thy lips became
Reverent with one holy Name.

Therefore, on thy unknown way,
Go in God's peace! We who stay
But a little while delay.

Keep for us, O friend, where'er
Thou art waiting, all that here
Made thy earthly presence dear;

Something of thy pleasant past
On a ground of wonder cast,
In the stiller waters glassed!

Keep the human heart of thee;
Let the mortal only be
Clothed in immortality.

And when fall our feet as fell
Thine upon the asphodel,
Let thy old smile greet us well;

Proving in a world of bliss
What we fondly dream in this,—
Love is one with holiness!

1881.


[149]

Wilson.

Read at the Massachusetts Club on the seventieth anniversary of the birthday of Vice-President Wilson, February 16, 1882.

the lowliest born of all the land,
     He wrung from Fate's reluctant hand
The gifts which happier boyhood claims;
     And, tasting on a thankless soil
The bitter bread of unpaid toil,
     He fed his soul with noble aims.

And Nature, kindly provident,
     To him the future's promise lent;
The powers that shape man's destinies,
     Patience and faith and toil, he knew,
The close horizon round him grew,
     Broad with great possibilities.

By the low hearth-fire's fitful blaze
     He read of old heroic days,
The sage's thought, the patriot's speech;
     Unhelped, alone, himself he taught,
His school the craft at which he wrought,
     His lore the book within his reach.

He felt his country's need; he knew
     The work her children had to do;
And when, at last, he heard the call
     In her behalf to serve and dare,
Beside his senatorial chair
     He stood the unquestioned peer of all.

[150] Beyond the accident of birth
     He proved his simple manhood's worth;
Ancestral pride and classic grace
     Confessed the large-brained artisan,
So clear of sight, so wise in plan
     And counsel, equal to his place.

With glance intuitive he saw
     Through all disguise of form and law,
And read men like an open book;
     Fearless and firm, he never quailed
Nor turned aside for threats, nor failed
     To do the thing he undertook.

How wise, how brave, he was, how well
     He bore himself, let history tell
While waves our flag o'er land and sea,
     No black thread in its warp or weft;
He found dissevered States, he left
     A grateful Nation, strong and free!


The poet and the children.

Longfellow.

with a glory of winter sunshine
     Over his locks of gray,
In the old historic mansion
     He sat on his last birthday;

With his books and his pleasant pictures,
     And his household and his kin,
While a sound as of myriads singing
     From far and near stole in.

[151] It came from his own fair city,
     From the prairie's boundless plain,
From the Golden Gate of sunset,
     And the cedarn woods of Maine.

And his heart grew warm within him,
     And his moistening eyes grew dim,
For he knew that his country's children
     Were singing the songs of him:

The lays of his life's glad morning,
     The psalms of his evening time,
Whose echoes shall float forever
     On the winds of every clime.

All their beautiful consolations,
     Sent forth like birds of cheer,
Came flocking back to his windows,
     And sang in the Poet's ear.

Grateful, but solemn and tender,
     The music rose and fell
With a joy akin to sadness
     And a greeting like farewell.

With a sense of awe he listened
     To the voices sweet and young;
The last of earth and the first of heaven
     Seemed in the songs they sung.

And waiting a little longer
     For the wonderful change to come,
He heard the Summoning Angel,
     Who calls God's children home

[152] And to him in a holier welcome
     Was the mystical meaning given
Of the words of the blessed Master:
     ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven!’

1882.


A welcome to Lowell.

take our hands, James Russell Lowell,
     Our hearts are all thy own;
To-day we bid thee welcome
     Not for ourselves alone.

In the long years of thy absence
     Some of us have grown old,
And some have passed the portals
     Of the Mystery untold;

For the hands that cannot clasp thee,
     For the voices that are dumb,
For each and all I bid thee
     A grateful welcome home!

For Cedarcroft's sweet singer
     To the nine-fold Muses dear;
For the Seer the winding Concord
     Paused by his door to hear;

For him, our guide and Nestor,
     Who the march of song began,
The white locks of his ninety years
     Bared to thy winds, Cape Ann!

[153] For him who, to the music
     Her pines and hemlocks played,
Set the old and tender story
     Of the lorn Acadian maid;

For him, whose voice for freedom
     Swayed friend and foe at will,
Hushed is the tongue of silver,
     The golden lips are still!

For her whose life of duty
     At scoff and menace smiled,
Brave as the wife of Roland,
     Yet gentle as a Child.

And for him the three-hilled city
     Shall hold in memory long,
Whose name is the hint and token
     Of the pleasant Fields of Song!

For the old friends unforgotten,
     For the young thou hast not known,
I speak their heart-warm greeting;
     Come back and take thy own!

From England's royal farewells,
     And honors fitly paid,
Come back, dear Russell Lowell,
     To Elmwood's waiting shade!

Come home with all the garlands
     That crown of right thy head. [154]
I speak for comrades living,
     I speak for comrades dead!

Amesbury, 6th mo., 1885.


An Artist of the beautiful.

George fuller.

haunted Of Beauty, like the marvellous youth
     Who sang Saint Agnes' Eve! How passing fair
Her shapes took color in thy homestead air!
     How on thy canvas even her dreams were truth!
Magician! who from commonest elements
     Called up divine ideals, clothed upon
By mystic lights soft blending into one
     Womanly grace and child-like innocence.
Teacher! thy lesson was not given in vain.
     Beauty is goodness; ugliness is sin;
Art's place is sacred: nothing foul therein
     May crawl or tread with bestial feet profane.
If rightly choosing is the painter's test,
     Thy choice, O master, ever was the best.

1885.


Mulford.

Author of The Nation and The Republic of God.

unnoted as the setting of a star
     He passed; and sect and party scarcely knew
When from their midst a sage and seer with-drew
     To fitter audience, where the great dead are [155]
In God's republic of the heart and mind,
     Leaving no purer, nobler soul behind.

1886.


To a Cape Ann Schooner.

luck to the craft that bears this name of mine,
     Good fortune follow with her golden spoon
The glazed hat and tarry pantaloon;
     And wheresoe'er her keel shall cut the brine,
Cod, hake and haddock quarrel for her line.
     Shipped with her crew, whatever wind may blow,
Or tides delay, my wish with her shall go,
     Fishing by proxy. Would that it might show
At need her course, in lack of sun and star,
     Where icebergs threaten, and the sharp reefs are;
Lift the blind fog on Anticosti's lee
     And Avalon's rock; make populous the sea
Round Grand Manan with eager finny swarms,
     Break the long calms, and charm away the storms.

oak Knoll, 23 3rd mo., 1886.


Samuel J. Tilden.

Greystone, Aug. 4, 1886.
once more, O all-adjusting Death!
     The nation's Pantheon opens wide!
Once more a common sorrow saith
     A strong, wise man has died.

[156] Faults doubtless had he. Had we not
     Our own, to question and asperse
The worth we doubted or forgot
     Until beside his hearse?

Ambitious, cautious, yet the man
     To strike down fraud with resolute hand;
A patriot, if a partisan,
     He loved his native land.

So let the mourning bells be rung,
     The banner droop its folds half way,
And while the public pen and tongue
     Their fitting tribute pay,

Shall we not vow above his bier
     To set our feet on party lies,
And wound no more a living ear
     With words that Death denies?

1886.

1 “O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer!” Jeremiah XLVIII. 32.

2 August. Soliloq. cap. XXXI. ‘Interrogavi Terramn Zzz’ etc.

3 Dr. Withington, author of The Puritan, under the name of Jonathan Oldbug.

4 Thomas ä Kempis in De Imitatione Christi.

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