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Poems Subjective and Reminiscent


A beautiful and happy girl,
     With step as light as summer air,
Eyes glad with smiles, and brow of pearl,
     Shadowed by many a careless curl
Of unconfined and flowing hair;
     A seeming child in everything,
Save thoughtful brow and ripening charms,
     As Nature wears the smile of Spring
When sinking into Summer's arms.

A mind rejoicing in the light
     Which melted through its graceful bower,
Leaf after leaf, dew-moist and bright,
     And stainless in its holy white,
Unfolding like a morning flower:
     A heart, which, like a fine-toned lute,
With every breath of feeling woke,
     And, even when the tongue was mute,
From eye and lip in music spoke.

How thrills once more the lengthening chain
     Of memory, at the thought of thee! [96]
Old hopes which long in dust have lain,
     Old dreams, come thronging back again,
And boyhood lives again in me;
     I feel its glow upon my cheek,
Its fulness of the heart is mine,
     As when I leaned to hear thee speak,
Or raised my doubtful eye to thine.

I hear again thy low replies,
     I feel thy arm within my own,
And timidly again uprise
     The fringed lidsof hazel eyes,
With soft brown tresses overblown.
     Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
     Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
And smiles and tones more dear than they

Ere this, thy quiet eye hath smiled
     My picture of thy youth to see,
When, half a woman, half a child,
     Thy very artlessness beguiled,
And folly's self seemed wise in thee;
     I too can smile, when o'er that hour
The lights of memory backward stream,
     Yet feel the while that manhood's power
Is vainer than my boyhood's dream.

Years have passed on, and left their trace,
     Of graver care and deeper thought;
And unto me the calm, cold face
     Of manhood, and to thee the grace
Of woman's pensive beauty brought. [97]
     The school-boy's humble name has flown;
Thine, in the green and quiet ways
     Of unobtrusive goodness known.

And wider yet in thought and deed
     Diverge our pathways, one in youth;
Thine the Genevan's sternest creed,
     While answers to my spirit's need
The Derby dalesman's simple truth.
     For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
And holy day, and solemn psalm;
     For me, the silent reverence where
My brethren gather, slow and calm.

Yet hath thy spirit left on me
     An impress Time has worn not out,
And something of myself in thee,
     A shadow from the past, I see,
Lingering, even yet, thy way about;
     Not wholly can the heart unlearn
That lesson of its better hours,
     Not yet has Time's dull footstep worn
To common dust that path of flowers.

Thus, while at times before our eyes
     The shadows melt, and fall apart,
And, smiling through them, round us lies
     The warm light of our morning skies,—
The Indian Summer of the heart!
     In secret sympathies of mind,
In founts of feeling which retain [98]
     Their pure, fresh flow, we yet may find
Our early dreams not wholly vain!



Suggested by the portrait of Raphael, at the age of fifteen.

I shall not soon forget that sight:
     The glow of Autumn's westering day,
A hazy warmth, a dreamy light,
     On Raphael's picture lay.

It was a simple print I saw,
     The fair face of a musing boy;
Yet, while I gazed, a sense of awe
     Seemed blending with my joy.

A simple print,—the graceful flow
     Of boyhood's soft and wavy hair,
And fresh young lip and cheek, and brow
     Unmarked and clear, were there.

Yet through its sweet and calm repose
     I saw the inward spirit shine;
It was as if before me rose
     The white veil of a shrine.

As if, as Gothland's sage has told,
     The hidden life, the man within,
Dissevered from its frame and mould,
     By mortal eye were seen.

[99] Was it the lifting of that eye,
     The waving of that pictured hand?
Loose as a cloud-wreath on the sky,
     I saw the walls expand.

The narrow room had vanished,—space,
     Broad, luminous, remained alone,
Through which all hues and shapes of grace
     And beauty looked or shone.

Around the mighty master came
     The marvels which his pencil wrought,
Those miracles of power whose fame
     Is wide as human thought.

There drooped thy more than mortal face,
     O Mother, beautiful and mild!
Enfolding in one dear embrace
     Thy Saviour and thy Child!

The rapt brow of the Desert John;
     The awful glory of that day
When all the Father's brightness shone
     Through manhood's veil of clay.

And, midst gray prophet forms, and wild
     Dark visions of the days of old,
How sweetly woman's beauty smiled
     Through locks of brown and gold!

There Fornarina's fair young face
     Once more upon her lover shone,
Whose model of an angel's grace
     He borrowed from her own.

[100] Slow passed that vision from my view,
     But not the lesson which it taught;
The soft, calm shadows which it threw
     Still rested on my thought:

The truth, that painter, bard, and sage,
     Even in Earth's cold and changeful clime,
Plant for their deathless heritage
     The fruits and flowers of time.

We shape ourselves the joy or fear
     Of which the coming life is made,
And fill our Future's atmosphere
     With sunshine or with shade.

The tissue of the Life to be
     We weave with colors all our own,
And in the field of Destiny
     We reap as we have sown.

Still shall the soul around it call
     The shadows which it gathered here,
And, painted on the eternal wall,
     The Past shall reappear.

Think ye the notes of holy song
     On Milton's tuneful ear have died?
Think ye that Raphael's angel throng
     Has vanished from his side?

Oh no!—We live our life again;
     Or warmly touched, or coldly dim, [101]
The pictures of the Past remain,—
     Man's works shall follow him!



Written in the album of a Friend.

on page of thine I cannot trace
The cold and heartless commonplace,
A statue's fixed and marble grace.

For ever as these lines I penned,
Still with the thought of thee will blend
That of some loved and common friend,

Who in life's desert track has made
His pilgrim tent with mine, or strayed
Beneath the same remembered shade.

And hence my pen unfettered moves
In freedom which the heart approves,
The negligence which friendship loves.

And wilt thou prize my poor gift less
For simple air and rustic dress,
And sign of haste and carelessness?

Oh, more than specious counterfeit
Of sentiment or studied wit,
A heart like thine should value it.

[102] Yet half I fear my gift will be
Unto thy book, if not to thee,
Of more than doubtful courtesy.

A banished name from Fashion's sphere,
A lay unheard of Beauty's ear,
Forbid, disowned,—what do they here?

Upon my ear not all in vain
Came the sad captive's clanking chain,
The groaning from his bed of pain.

And sadder still, I saw the woe
Which only wounded spirits know
When Pride's strong footsteps o'er them go.

Spurned not alone in walks abroad,
But from the temples of the Lord
Thrust out apart, like things abhorred.

Deep as I felt, and stern and strong,
In words which Prudence smothered long,
Mysoul spoke out against the wrong;

Not mine alone the task to speak
Of comfort to the poor and weak,
And dry the tear on Sorrow's cheek;

But, mingled in the conflict warm,
To pour the fiery breath of storm
Through the harsh trumpet of Reform;

[103] From ermined robe and saintly gown,
While wrestling reverenced Error down.

Founts gushed beside my pilgrim way,
Cool shadows on the greensward lay,
Flowers swung upon the bending spray.

And, broad and bright, on either hand,
Stretched the green slopes of Fairy-land,
With Hope's eternal sunbow spanned;

Whence voices called me like the flow,
Which on the listener's ear will grow,
Of forest streamlets soft and low.

And gentle eyes, which still retain
Their picture on the heart and brain,
Smiled, beckoning from that path of pain.

In vain! nor dream, nor rest, nor pause
Remain for him who round him draws
The battered mail of Freedom's cause.

From youthful hopes, from each green spot
Of young Romance, and gentle Thought,
Where storm and tumult enter not;

From each fair altar, where belong
The offerings Love requires of Song
In homage to her bright-eyed throng;

[104] With soul and strength, with heart and hand,
I turned to Freedom's struggling band,
To the sad Helots of our land.

What marvel then that Fame should turn
Her notes of praise to those of scorn;
Her gifts reclaimed, her smiles withdrawn?

What matters it? a few years more,
Life's surge so restless heretofore
Shall break upon the unknown shore!

In that far land shall disappear
The shadows which we follow here,
The mist-wreaths of our atmosphere!

Before no work of mortal hand,
Of human will or strength expand
The pearl gates of the Better Land;

Alone in that great love which gave
Life to the sleeper of the grave,
Resteth the power to seek and save.

Yet, if the spirit gazing through
The vista of the past can view
One deed to Heaven and virtue true;

If through the wreck of wasted powers,
Of garlands wreathed from Folly's bowers,
Of idle aims and misspent hours,

[105] By Pride and Self profaned not,
A green place in the waste of thought,

Where deed or word hath rendered less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And Gratitude looks forth to bless;

The simple burst of tenderest feeling
From sad hearts worn by evil-dealing,
For blessing on the hand of healing;

Better than Glory's pomp will be
That green and blessed spot to me,
A palm-shade in Eternity!

Something of Time which may invite
The purified and spiritual sight
To rest on with a calm delight.

And when the summer winds shall sweep
With their light wings my place of sleep,
And mosses round my headstone creep;

If still, as Freedom's rallying sign,
Upon the young heart's altars shine
The very fires they caught from mine;

If words my lips once uttered still,
In the calm faith and steadfast will
Of other hearts, their work fulfil;

[106] Perchance with joy the soul may learn
These tokens, and its eye discern
The fires which on those altars burn;

A marvellous joy that even then,
The spirit hath its life again,
In the strong hearts of mortal men.

Take, lady, then, the gift I bring,
No gay and graceful offering,
No flower-smile of the laughing spring.

Midst the green buds of Youth's fresh May,
With Fancy's leaf-enwoven bay,
My sad and sombre gift I lay.

And if it deepens in thy mind
A sense of suffering human-kind,—
The outcast and the spirit-blind;

Oppressed and spoiled on every side,
By Prejudice, and Scorn, and Pride,
Life's common courtesies denied;

Sad mothers mourning o'er their trust,
Children by want and misery nursed,
Tasting life's bitter cup at first;

If to their strong appeals which come
From fireless hearth, and crowded room,
And the close alley's noisome gloom,—

[107] Though dark the hands upraised to thee
In mute beseeching agony,
Thou lend'st thy woman's sympathy;

Not vainly on thy gentle shrine,
Where Love, and Mirth, and Friendship twine
Their varied gifts, I offer mine.


The Pumpkin.

oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North, [108]
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New-Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
“Zzz What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

[109] Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!



my heart was heavy, for its trust had been
     Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
     One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
     Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
     Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
     Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
     Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
     Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave



To my sister, with a Copy of ‘the Supernaturalism of new England.’

The work referred to was a series of papers under this title, contributed to the Democratic Review and afterward collected into a volume, in which I noted some of the superstitions and folklore prevalent in New England. The volume has not been kept in print, but most of its contents are distributed in my Literary Recreations and Miscellanies.

dear Sister! while the wise and sage
     Turn coldly from my playful page,
And count it strange that ripened age
     Should stoop to boyhood's folly;
I know that thou wilt judge aright
     Of all which makes the heart more light,
Or lends one star-gleam to the night
     Of clouded Melancholy.

Away with weary cares and themes!
     Swing wide the moonlit gate of dreams!
Leave free once more the land which teems
     With wonders and romances!
Where thou, with clear discerning eyes,
     Shalt rightly read the truth which lies
Beneath the quaintly masking guise
     Of wild and wizard fancies.

Lo! once again our feet we set
     On still green wood-paths, twilight wet,
By lonely brooks, whose waters fret
     The roots of spectral beeches; [111]
Again the hearth-fire glimmers o'er
     Home's whitewashed wall and painted floor,
And young eyes widening to the lore
     Of faery-folks and witches.

Dear heart! the legend is not vain
     Which lights that holy hearth again,
And calling back from care and pain,
     And death's funereal sadness,
Draws round its old familiar blaze
     The clustering groups of happier days,
And lends to sober manhood's gaze
     A glimpse of childish gladness.

And, knowing how my life hath been
     A weary work of tongue and pen,
A long, harsh strife with strong-willed men,
     Thou wilt not chide my turning
To con, at times, an idle rhyme,
     To pluck a flower from childhood's clime,
Or listen, at Life's noonday chime,
     For the sweet bells of Morning!


My thanks, Accompanying Manuscripts Presented to a Friend.

Tis said that in the Holy Land
     The angels of the place have blessed
The pilgrim's bed of desert sand,
     Like Jacob's stone of rest.

[112] That down the hush of Syrian skies
     Some sweet-voiced saint at twilight sings
The song whose holy symphonies
     Are beat by unseen wings;

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