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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.


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.



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!



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.


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!


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,

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