72 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Selected Works, 1855
An April Day
The Arrow and the Song
The Arsenal at Springfield
The Beleaguered City
The Belfry of Bruges, Carillon
Burial of the Minnisink
The Day Is Done
The Evening Star
Footsteps of Angels
A Gleam of Sunshine
The Goblet of Life
An April Day
When the warm sun, that brings Seed-time and harvest, has returned again, ‘T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs The first flower of the plain. I love the season well, When forest glades are teeming with bright forms, Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell The coming-on of storms. From the earth’s loosened mould The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives; Though stricken to the heart with winter’s cold, The drooping tree revives. The softly-warbled song Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along The forest openings. When the bright sunset fills The silver woods with light, the green slope throws Its shadows in the hollows of the hills, And wide the upland glows. And when the eve is born, In the blue lake the sky, o’er-reaching far, Is hollowed out and the moon dips her horn, And twinkles many a star. Inverted in the tide Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw, And the fair trees look over, side by side, And see themselves below. Sweet April! many a thought Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed; Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought, Life’s golden fruit is shed.
The Arrow and the Song
I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For who has sight so keen and strong, That it can follow the flight of song? Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroke; And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.
The Arsenal at Springfield
This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling, Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms; But front their silent pipes no anthem pealing Startles the villages with strange alarms. Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary, When the death-angel touches those swift keys What loud lament and dismal Miserere Will mingle with their awful symphonies I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus, The cries of agony, the endless groan, Which, through the ages that have gone before us, In long reverberations reach our own. On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer, Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman’s song, And loud, amid the universal clamor, O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong. I hear the Florentine, who from his palace Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din, And Aztec priests upon their teocallis Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent’s skin; The tumult of each sacked and burning village; The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns; The soldiers’ revels in the midst of pillage; The wail of famine in beleaguered towns; The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder, The rattling musketry, the clashing blade; And ever and anon, in tones of thunder, The diapason of the cannonade. Is it, O man, with such discordant noises, With such accursed instruments as these, Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices, And jarrest the celestial harmonies? Were half the power, that fills the world with terror, Were half the wealth, bestowed on camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals or forts: The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred! And every nation, that should lift again Its hand against a brother, on its forehead Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain! Down the dark future, through long generations, The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease; And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations, I hear once more the voice of Christ say, “Peace!” Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals The blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies! But beautiful as songs of the immortals, The holy melodies of love Thearise.
Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain, With banners, by great gales incessant fanned, Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand, And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain! Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne, Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land, Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain! Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended So long beneath the heaven’s o’er-hanging eaves; Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended; Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves; And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid, Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!
The Beleaguered City
I have read, in some old, marvellous tale, Some legend strange and vague, That a midnight host of spectres pale Beleaguered the walls of Prague. Beside the Moldau's rushing stream, With the wan moon overhead, There stood, as in an awful dream, The army of the dead. White as a sea-fog, landward bound, The spectral camp was seen, And, with a sorrowful, deep sound, The river flowed between. No other voice nor sound was there, No drum, nor sentry's pace; The mist-like banners clasped the air, As clouds with clouds embrace. But when the old cathedral bell Proclaimed the morning prayer, The white pavilions rose and fell On the alarmed air. Down the broad valley fast and far The troubled army fled; Up rose the glorious morning star, The ghastly host was dead. I have read, in the marvellous heart of man, That strange and mystic scroll, That an army of phantoms vast and wan Beleaguer the human soul. Encamped beside Life's rushing stream, In Fancy's misty light, Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam Portentous through the night. Upon its midnight battle-ground The spectral camp is seen, And, with a sorrowful, deep sound, Flows the River of Life between. No other voice nor sound is there, In the army of the grave; No other challenge breaks the air, But the rushing of Life's wave. And when the solemn and deep churchbell Entreats the soul to pray, The midnight phantoms feel the spell, The shadows sweep away. Down the broad Vale of Tears afar The spectral camp is fled; Faith shineth as a morning star, Our ghastly fears are dead.
The Belfry of Bruges, Carillon
In the ancient town of Bruges, In the quaint old Flemish city, As the evening shades descended, Low and loud and sweetly blended, Low at times and loud at times, And changing like a poet's rhymes, Rang the beautiful wild chimes From the Belfry in the market Of the ancient town of Bruges. Then, with deep sonorous clangor Calmly answering their sweet anger, When the wrangling bells had ended, Slowly struck the clock eleven, And, from out the silent heaven, Silence on the town descended. Silence, silence everywhere, On the earth and in the air, Save that footsteps here and there Of some burgher home returning, By the street lamps faintly burning, For a moment woke the echoes Of the ancient town of Bruges. But amid my broken slumbers Still I heard those magic numbers, As they loud proclaimed the flight And stolen marches of the night; Till their chimes in sweet collision Mingled with each wandering vision, Mingled with the fortune-telling Gypsy-bands of dreams and fancies, Which amid the waste expanses Of the silent land of trances Have their solitary dwelling; All else seemed asleep in Bruges, In the quaint old Flemish city. And I thought how like these chimes Are the poet's airy rhymes, All his rhymes and roundelays, His conceits, and songs, and ditties, From the belfry of his brain, Scattered downward, though in vain, On the roofs and stones of cities! For by night the drowsy ear Under its curtains cannot hear, And by day men go their ways, Hearing the music as they pass, But deeming it no more, alas! Than the hollow sound of brass. Yet perchance a sleepless wight, Lodging at some humble inn In the narrow lanes of life, When the dusk and hush of night Shut out the incessant din Of daylight and its toil and strife, May listen with a calm delight To the poet's melodies, Till he hears, or dreams he hears, Intermingled with the song, Thoughts that he has cherished long; Hears amid the chime and singing The bells of his own village ringing, And wakes, and finds his slumberous eyes Wet with most delicious tears. Thus dreamed I, as by night I lay In Bruges, at the Fleur-de-Ble, Listening with a wild delight To the chimes that, through the night Bang their changes from the Belfry Of that quaint old Flemish city.
I stood on the bridge at midnight, As the clocks were striking the hour, And the moon rose o'er the city, Behind the dark church-tower. I saw her bright reflection In the waters under me, Like a golden goblet falling And sinking into the sea. And far in the hazy distance Of that lovely night in June, The blaze of the flaming furnace Gleamed redder than the moon. Among the long, black rafters The wavering shadows lay, And the current that came from the ocean Seemed to lift and bear them away; As, sweeping and eddying through them, Rose the belated tide, And, streaming into the moonlight, The seaweed floated wide. And like those waters rushing Among the wooden piers, A flood of thoughts came o'er me That filled my eyes with tears. How often, oh, how often, In the days that had gone by, I had stood on that bridge at midnight And gazed on that wave and sky! How often, oh, how often, I had wished that the ebbing tide Would bear me away on its bosom O'er the ocean wild and wide! For my heart was hot and restless, And my life was full of care, And the burden laid upon me Seemed greater than I could bear. But now it has fallen from me, It is buried in the sea; And only the sorrow of others Throws its shadow over me. Yet whenever I cross the river On its bridge with wooden piers, Like the odor of brine from the ocean Comes the thought of other years. And I think how many thousands Of care-encumbered men, Each bearing his burden of sorrow, Have crossed the bridge since then. I see the long procession Still passing to and fro, The young heart hot and restless, And the old subdued and slow! And forever and forever, As long as the river flows, As long as the heart has passions, As long as life has woes; The moon and its broken reflection And its shadows shall appear, As the symbol of love in heaven, And its wavering image here.
Burial of the Minnisink
On sunny slope and beechen swell, The shadowed light of evening fell; And, where the maple's leaf was brown, With soft and silent lapse came down, The glory, that the wood receives, At sunset, in its golden leaves. Far upward in the mellow light Rose the blue hills. One cloud of white, Around a far uplifted cone, In the warm blush of evening shone; An image of the silver lakes, By which the Indian's soul awakes. But soon a funeral hymn was heard Where the soft breath of evening stirred The tall, gray forest; and a band Of stern in heart, and strong in hand, Came winding down beside the wave, To lay the red chief in his grave. They sang, that by his native bowers He stood, in the last moon of flowers, And thirty snows had not yet shed Their glory on the warrior's head; But, as the summer fruit decays, So died he in those naked days. A dark cloak of the roebuck's skin Covered the warrior, and within Its heavy folds the weapons, made For the hard toils of war, were laid; The cuirass, woven of plaited reeds, And the broad belt of shells and beads. Before, a dark-haired virgin train Chanted the death dirge of the slain; Behind, the long procession came Of hoary men and chiefs of fame, With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief, Leading the war-horse of their chief. Stripped of his proud and martial dress, Uncurbed, unreined, and riderless, With darting eye, and nostril spread, And heavy and impatient tread, He came; and oft that eye so proud Asked for his rider in the crowd. They buried the dark chief; they freed Beside the grave his battle steed; And swift an arrow cleaved its way To his stern heart! One piercing neigh Arose, and, on the dead man's plain, The rider grasps his steed again.
Tuscan, that wanderest through the realms of gloom, With thoughtful pace, and sad, majestic eyes, Stern thoughts and awful from thy soul arise, Like Farinata from his fiery tomb. Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom; Yet in thy heart what human sympathies, What soft compassion glows, as in the skies The tender stars their clouded lamps relume! Methinks I see thee stand, with pallid cheeks, By Fra Hilario in his diocese, As up the convent-walls, in golden streaks, The ascending sunbeams mark the day's decrease; And, as he asks what there the stranger seeks, Thy voice along the cloister whispers, "Peace!"
The Day Is Done
The day is done, and the darkness Falls from the wings of Night, As a feather is wafted downward From an eagle in his flight. I see the lights of the village Gleam through the rain and the mist, And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me That my soul cannot resist: A feeling of sadness and longing, That is not akin to pain, And resembles sorrow only As the mist resembles the rain. Come, read to me some poem, Some simple and heartfelt lay, That shall soothe this restless feeling, And banish the thoughts of day. Not from the grand old masters, Not from the bards sublime, Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time. For, like strains of martial music, Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest. Read from some humbler poet, Whose songs gushed from his heart, As showers from the clouds of summer, Or tears from the eyelids start; Who, through long days of labor, And nights devoid of ease, Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies. Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care, And come like the benediction That follows after prayer. Then read from the treasured volume The poem of thy choice, And lend to the rhyme of the poet The beauty of thy voice. And the night shall be filled with music And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away.
The rising moon has hid the stars; Her level rays, like golden bars, Lie on the landscape green, With shadows brown between. And silver white the river gleams, As if Diana, in her dreams, Had dropt her silver bow Upon the meadows low. On such a tranquil night as this, She woke Endymion with a kiss, When, sleeping in the grove, He dreamed not of her love. Like Dian's kiss, unasked, unsought, Love gives itself, but is not bought; Nor voice, nor sound betrays Its deep, impassioned gaze. It comes,--the beautiful, the free, The crown of all humanity,-- In silence and alone To seek the elected one. It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep Are Life's oblivion, the soul's sleep, And kisses the closed eyes Of him, who slumbering lies. O weary hearts! O slumbering eyes! O drooping souls, whose destinies Are fraught with fear and pain, Ye shall be loved again! No one is so accursed by fate, No one so utterly desolate, But some heart, though unknown, Responds unto his own. Responds,--as if with unseen wings, An angel touched its quivering strings; And whispers, in its song, "'Where hast thou stayed so long?"
The Evening Star
Lo! in the painted oriel of the West, Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines, Like a fair lady at her casement, shines The evening star, the star of love and rest! And then anon she doth herself divest Of all her radiant garments, and reclines Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines, With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed. O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus! My morning and my evening star of love! My best and gentlest lady! even thus, As that fair planet in the sky above, Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night, And from thy darkened window fades the light.
The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior! His brow was sad; his eye beneath, Flashed like a falchion from its sheath, And like a silver clarion rung The accents of that unknown tongue, Excelsior! In happy homes he saw the light Of household fires gleam warm and bright; Above, the spectral glaciers shone, And from his lips escaped a groan, Excelsior! "Try not the Pass!" the old man said: "Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide! And loud that clarion voice replied, Excelsior! "Oh stay," the maiden said, "and rest Thy weary head upon this breast!" A tear stood in his bright blue eye, But still he answered, with a sigh, Excelsior! "Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! Beware the awful avalanche!" This was the peasant's last Good-night, A voice replied, far up the height, Excelsior! At break of day, as heavenward The pious monks of Saint Bernard Uttered the oft-repeated prayer, A voice cried through the startled air, Excelsior! A traveller, by the faithful hound, Half-buried in the snow was found, Still grasping in his hand of ice That banner with the strange device, Excelsior! There in the twilight cold and gray, Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay, And from the sky, serene and far, A voice fell, like a falling star, Excelsior!
Spake full well, in language quaint and olden, One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine, When he called the flowers, so blue and golden, Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine. Stars they are, wherein we read our history, As astrologers and seers of eld; Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery, Like the burning stars, which they beheld. Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous, God hath written in those stars above; But not less in the bright flowerets under us Stands the revelation of his love. Bright and glorious is that revelation, Written all over this great world of ours; Making evident our own creation, In these stars of earth, these golden flowers. And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing, Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being, Which is throbbing in his brain and heart. Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining, Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining, Buds that open only to decay; Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues, Flaunting gayly in the golden light; Large desires, with most uncertain issues, Tender wishes, blossoming at night! These in flowers and men are more than seeming; Workings are they of the self-same powers, Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming, Seeth in himself and in the flowers. Everywhere about us are they glowing, Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born; Others, their blue eyes with tears o'er-flowing, Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn; Not alone in Spring's armorial bearing, And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing, In the centre of his brazen shield; Not alone in meadows and green alleys, On the mountain-top, and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys, Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink; Not alone in her vast dome of glory, Not on graves of bird and beast alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary, On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone; In the cottage of the rudest peasant, In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present, Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers; In all places, then, and in all seasons, Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons, How akin they are to human things. And with childlike, credulous affection We behold their tender buds expand; Emblems of our own great resurrection, Emblems of the bright and better land.
Footsteps of Angels
When the hours of Day are numbered, And the voices of the Night Wake the better soul, that slumbered, To a holy, calm delight; Ere the evening lamps are lighted, And, like phantoms grim and tall, Shadows from the fitful firelight Dance upon the parlor wall; Then the forms of the departed Enter at the open door; The beloved, the true-hearted, Come to visit me once more; He, the young and strong, who cherished Noble longings for the strife, By the roadside fell and perished, Weary with the march of life! They, the holy ones and weakly, Who the cross of suffering bore, Folded their pale hands so meekly, Spake with us on earth no more! And with them the Being Beauteous, Who unto my youth was given, More than all things else to love me, And is now a saint in heaven. With a slow and noiseless footstep Comes that messenger divine, Takes the vacant chair beside me, Lays her gentle hand in mine. And she sits and gazes at me With those deep and tender eyes, Like the stars, so still and saint-like, Looking downward from the skies. Uttered not, yet comprehended, Is the spirit's voiceless prayer, Soft rebukes, in blessings ended, Breathing from her lips of air. Oh, though oft depressed and lonely, All my fears are laid aside, If I but remember only Such as these have lived and died!
A Gleam of Sunshine
This is the place. Stand still, my steed, Let me review the scene, And summon from the shadowy Past The forms that once have been. The Past and Present here unite Beneath Time's flowing tide, Like footprints hidden by a brook, But seen on either side. Here runs the highway to the town; There the green lane descends, Through which I walked to church with thee, O gentlest of my friends! The shadow of the linden-trees Lay moving on the grass; Between them and the moving boughs, A shadow, thou didst pass. Thy dress was like the lilies, And thy heart as pure as they: One of God's holy messengers Did walk with me that day. I saw the branches of the trees Bend down thy touch to meet, The clover-blossoms in the grass Rise up to kiss thy feet, "Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares, Of earth and folly born!" Solemnly sang the village choir On that sweet Sabbath morn. Through the closed blinds the golden sun Poured in a dusty beam, Like the celestial ladder seen By Jacob in his dream. And ever and anon, the wind, Sweet-scented with the hay, Turned o'er the hymn-book's fluttering leaves That on the window lay. Long was the good man's sermon, Yet it seemed not so to me; For he spake of Ruth the beautiful, And still I thought of thee. Long was the prayer he uttered, Yet it seemed not so to me; For in my heart I prayed with him, And still I thought of thee. But now, alas! the place seems changed; Thou art no longer here: Part of the sunshine of the scene With thee did disappear. Though thoughts, deep-rooted in my heart, Like pine-trees dark and high, Subdue the light of noon, and breathe A low and ceaseless sigh; This memory brightens o'er the past, As when the sun, concealed Behind some cloud that near us hangs Shines on a distant field.
The Goblet of Life
Filled is Life's goblet to the brim; And though my eyes with tears are dim, I see its sparkling bubbles swim, And chant a melancholy hymn With solemn voice and slow. No purple flowers,--no garlands green, Conceal the goblet's shade or sheen, Nor maddening draughts of Hippocrene, Like gleams of sunshine, flash between Thick leaves of mistletoe. This goblet, wrought with curious art, Is filled with waters, that upstart, When the deep fountains of the heart, By strong convulsions rent apart, Are running all to waste. And as it mantling passes round, With fennel is it wreathed and crowned, Whose seed and foliage sun-imbrowned Are in its waters steeped and drowned, And give a bitter taste. Above the lowly plants it towers, The fennel, with its yellow flowers, And in an earlier age than ours Was gifted with the wondrous powers, Lost vision to restore. It gave new strength, and fearless mood; And gladiators, fierce and rude, Mingled it in their daily food; And he who battled and subdued, A wreath of fennel wore. Then in Life's goblet freely press, The leaves that give it bitterness, Nor prize the colored waters less, For in thy darkness and distress New light and strength they give! And he who has not learned to know How false its sparkling bubbles show, How bitter are the drops of woe, With which its brim may overflow, He has not learned to live. The prayer of Ajax was for light; Through all that dark and desperate fight The blackness of that noonday night He asked but the return of sight, To see his foeman's face. Let our unceasing, earnest prayer Be, too, for light,--for strength to bear Our portion of the weight of care, That crushes into dumb despair One half the human race. O suffering, sad humanity! O ye afflicted one; who lie Steeped to the lips in misery, Longing, and yet afraid to die, Patient, though sorely tried! I pledge you in this cup of grief, Where floats the fennel's bitter leaf! The Battle of our Life is brief The alarm,--the struggle,--the relief, Then sleep we side by side.
I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just; It consecrates each grave within its walls, And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust. God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts Comfort to those, who in the grave have sown The seed that they had garnered in their hearts, Their bread of life, alas! no more their own. Into its furrows shall we all be cast, In the sure faith, that we shall rise again At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain. Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom, In the fair gardens of that second birth; And each bright blossom mingle its perfume With that of flowers, which never bloomed on earth. With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod, And spread the furrow for the seed we sow; This is the field and Acre of our God, This is the place where human harvests grow!
The Good Part
That Shall Not Be Taken Away
She dwells by Great Kenhawa's side, In valleys green and cool; And all her hope and all her pride Are in the village school. Her soul, like the transparent air That robes the hills above, Though not of earth, encircles there All things with arms of love. And thus she walks among her girls With praise and mild rebukes; Subduing e'en rude village churls By her angelic looks. She reads to them at eventide Of One who came to save; To cast the captive's chains aside And liberate the slave. And oft the blessed time foretells When all men shall be free; And musical, as silver bells, Their falling chains shall be. And following her beloved Lord, In decent poverty, She makes her life one sweet record And deed of charity. For she was rich, and gave up all To break the iron bands Of those who waited in her hall, And labored in her lands. Long since beyond the Southern Sea Their outbound sails have sped, While she, in meek humility, Now earns her daily bread. It is their prayers, which never cease, That clothe her with such grace; Their blessing is the light of peace That shines upon her face.
Hymn to the Night
I heard the trailing garments of the Night Sweep through her marble halls! I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light From the celestial walls! I felt her presence, by its spell of might, Stoop o'er me from above; The calm, majestic presence of the Night, As of the one I love. I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight, The manifold, soft chimes, That fill the haunted chambers of the Night Like some old poet's rhymes. From the cool cisterns of the midnight air My spirit drank repose; The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,-- From those deep cisterns flows. O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear What man has borne before! Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care, And they complain no more. Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer! Descend with broad-winged flight, The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, The best-beloved Night!
Inscription for an Antique Pitcher
Come, old friend! sit down and listen! From the pitcher, placed between us, How the waters laugh and glisten In the head of old Silenus! Old Silenus, bloated, drunken, Led by his inebriate Satyrs; On his breast his head is sunken, Vacantly he leers and chatters. Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow; Ivy crowns that brow supernal As the forehead of Apollo, And possessing youth eternal. Round about him, fair Bacchantes, Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses, Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante's Vineyards, sing delirious verses. Thus he won, through all the nations, Bloodless victories, and the farmer Bore, as trophies and oblations, Vines for banners, ploughs for armor. Judged by no o'erzealous rigor, Much this mystic throng expresses: Bacchus was the type of vigor, And Silenus of excesses. These are ancient ethnic revels, Of a faith long since forsaken; Now the Satyrs, changed to devils, Frighten mortals wine-o'ertaken. Now to rivulets from the mountains Point the rods of fortune-tellers; Youth perpetual dwells in fountains,-- Not in flasks, and casks, and cellars. Claudius, though he sang of flagons And huge tankards filled with Rhenish, From that fiery blood of dragons Never would his own replenish. Even Redi, though he chaunted Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys, Never drank the wine he vaunted In his dithyrambic sallies. Then with water fill the pitcher Wreathed about with classic fables; Ne'er Falernian threw a richer Light upon Lucullus' tables. Come, old friend, sit down and listen As it passes thus between us, How its wavelets laugh and glisten In the head of old Silenus!
It Is Not Always May
No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano. Spanish Proverb The sun is bright,--the air is clear, The darting swallows soar and sing. And from the stately elms I hear The bluebird prophesying Spring. So blue you winding river flows, It seems an outlet from the sky, Where waiting till the west-wind blows, The freighted clouds at anchor lie. All things are new;--the buds, the leaves, That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest, And even the nest beneath the eaves;-- There are no birds in last year's nest! All things rejoice in youth and love, The fulness of their first delight! And learn from the soft heavens above The melting tenderness of night. Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme, Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime, For oh, it is not always May! Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, To some good angel leave the rest; For Time will teach thee soon the truth, There are no birds in last year's nest!
The Poet and His Songs
As the birds come in the Spring, We know not from where; As the stars come at evening From depths of the air; As the rain comes from the cloud, And the brook from the ground; As suddenly, low or loud, Out of silence a sound; As the grape comes to the vine, The fruit to the tree; As the wind comes to the pine, And the tide to the sea; As come the white sails of ships O'er the ocean's verge; As comes the smile to the lips, The foam to the surge; So come to the Poet his songs, All hitherward blown From the misty realm, that belongs To the vast unknown. His, and not his, are the lays He sings; and their fame Is his, and not his; and the praise And the pride of a name. For voices pursue him by day, And haunt him by night, And he listens, and needs must obey, When the Angel says: "Write!"
The Light of Stars
The night is come, but not too soon; And sinking silently, All silently, the little moon Drops down behind the sky. There is no light in earth or heaven But the cold light of stars; And the first watch of night is given To the red planet Mars. Is it the tender star of love? The star of love and dreams? O no! from that blue tent above, A hero's armor gleams. And earnest thoughts within me rise, When I behold afar, Suspended in the evening skies, The shield of that red star. O star of strength! I see thee stand And smile upon my pain; Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand, And I am strong again. Within my breast there is no light But the cold light of stars; I give the first watch of the night To the red planet Mars. The star of the unconquered will, He rises in my breast, Serene, and resolute, and still, And calm, and self-possessed. And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art, That readest this brief psalm, As one by one thy hopes depart, Be resolute and calm. O fear not in a world like this, And thou shalt know erelong, Know how sublime a thing it is To suffer and be strong.
Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes, In whose orbs a shadow lies Like the dusk in evening skies! Thou whose locks outshine the sun, Golden tresses, wreathed in one, As the braided streamlets run! Standing, with reluctant feet, Where the brook and river meet, Womanhood and childhood fleet! Gazing, with a timid glance, On the brooklet's swift advance, On the river's broad expanse! Deep and still, that gliding stream Beautiful to thee must seem, As the river of a dream. Then why pause with indecision, When bright angels in thy vision Beckon thee to fields Elysian? Seest thou shadows sailing by, As the dove, with startled eye, Sees the falcon's shadow fly? Hearest thou voices on the shore, That our ears perceive no more, Deafened by the cataract's roar? O, thou child of many prayers! Life hath quicksands,--Life hath snares Care and age come unawares! Like the swell of some sweet tune, Morning rises into noon, May glides onward into June. Childhood is the bough, where slumbered Birds and blossoms many-numbered;-- Age, that bough with snows encumbered. Gather, then, each flower that grows, When the young heart overflows, To embalm that tent of snows. Bear a lily in thy hand; Gates of brass cannot withstand One touch of that magic wand. Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth, In thy heart the dew of youth, On thy lips the smile of truth! O, that dew, like balm, shall steal Into wounds that cannot heal, Even as sleep our eyes doth seal; And that smile, like sunshine, dart Into many a sunless heart, For a smile of God thou art.
Half of my life is gone, and I have let The years slip from me and have not fulfilled The aspiration of my youth, to build Some tower of song with lofty parapet. Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret Of restless passions chat would not be stilled, But sorrow, and a care that almost killed, Kept me from what I may accomplish yet; Though, half way up the hill, I see the Past Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,-- A city in the twilight dim and vast, With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights.-- And hear above me on the autumnal blast The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.
Midnight Mass for the Dying
Yes, the Year is growing old, And his eye is pale and bleared! Death, with frosty hand and cold, Plucks the old man by the beard, Sorely, sorely! The leaves are falling, falling, Solemnly and slow; Caw! caw! the rooks are calling, It is a sound of woe, A sound of woe! Through woods and mountain passes The winds, like anthems, roll; They are chanting solemn masses, Singing, "Pray for this poor soul, Pray, pray!" And the hooded clouds, like friars, Tell their beads in drops of rain, And patter their doleful prayers; But their prayers are all in vain, All in vain! There he stands in the foul weather, The foolish, fond Old Year, Crowned with wild flowers and with heather, Like weak, despised Lear, A king, a king! Then comes the summer-like day, Bids the old man rejoice! His joy! his last! O, the man gray Loveth that ever-soft voice, Gentle and low. To the crimson woods he saith, To the voice gentle and low Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath, "Pray do not mock me so! Do not laugh at me!" And now the sweet day is dead; Cold in his arms it lies; No stain from its breath is spread Over the glassy skies, No mist or stain! Then, too, the Old Year dieth, And the forests utter a moan, Like the voice of one who crieth In the wilderness alone, "Vex not his ghost!" Then comes, with an awful roar, Gathering and sounding on, The storm-wind from Labrador, The wind Euroclydon, The storm-wind! Howl! howl! and from the forest Sweep the red leaves away! Would, the sins that thou abhorrest, O Soul! could thus decay, And be swept away! For there shall come a mightier blast, There shall be a darker day; And the stars, from heaven down-cast Like red leaves be swept away! Kyrie, eleyson! Christe, eleyson!
The Norman Baron
Dans les moments de la vie ou la reflexion devient plus calme et plus profonde, ou l'interet et l'avarice parlent moins haut que la raison, dans les instants de chagrin domestique, de maladie, et de peril de mort, les nobles se repentirent de posseder des serfs, comme d'une chose peu agreable a Dieu, qui avait cree tous les hommes a son image.--THIERRY, Conquete de l'Angleterre. In his chamber, weak and dying, Was the Norman baron lying; Loud, without, the tempest thundered And the castle-turret shook, In this fight was Death the gainer, Spite of vassal and retainer, And the lands his sires had plundered, Written in the Doomsday Book. By his bed a monk was seated, Who in humble voice repeated Many a prayer and pater-noster, From the missal on his knee; And, amid the tempest pealing, Sounds of bells came faintly stealing, Bells, that from the neighboring kloster Rang for the Nativity. In the hall, the serf and vassal Held, that night their Christmas wassail; Many a carol, old and saintly, Sang the minstrels and the waits; And so loud these Saxon gleemen Sang to slaves the songs of freemen, That the storm was heard but faintly, Knocking at the castle-gates. Till at length the lays they chanted Reached the chamber terror-haunted, Where the monk, with accents holy, Whispered at the baron's ear. Tears upon his eyelids glistened, As he paused awhile and listened, And the dying baron slowly Turned his weary head to hear. "Wassail for the kingly stranger Born and cradled in a manger! King, like David, priest, like Aaron, Christ is born to set us free!" And the lightning showed the sainted Figures on the casement painted, And exclaimed the shuddering baron, "Miserere, Domine!" In that hour of deep contrition He beheld, with clearer vision, Through all outward show and fashion, Justice, the Avenger, rise. All the pomp of earth had vanished, Falsehood and deceit were banished, Reason spake more loud than passion, And the truth wore no disguise. Every vassal of his banner, Every serf born to his manor, All those wronged and wretched creatures, By his hand were freed again. And, as on the sacred missal He recorded their dismissal, Death relaxed his iron features, And the monk replied, "Amen!" Many centuries have been numbered Since in death the baron slumbered By the convent's sculptured portal, Mingling with the common dust: But the good deed, through the ages Living in historic pages, Brighter grows and gleams immortal, Unconsumed by moth or rust
In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient, stands. Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and song, Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them throng: Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold, Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old; And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth rhyme, That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every clime. In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron hand, Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand; On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise. Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art: Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common mart; And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone, By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own. In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust, And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust; In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare, Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted air. Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart, Lived and labored Albrecht Durer, the Evangelist of Art; Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand, Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land. Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies; Dead he is not, but departed,--for the artist never dies. Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair, That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its air! Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and dismal lanes, Walked of yore the Mastersingers, chanting rude poetic strains. From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild, Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows build. As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme, And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime; Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom. Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft, Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed. But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor, And a garland in the window, and his face above the door; Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song, As the old man gray and dove-like, with his great beard white and long. And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care, Quaffing ale from pewter tankard; in the master's antique chair. Vanished is the ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye Wave these mingled shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry. Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's regard; But thy painter, Albrecht Durer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler-bard. Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away, As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his careless lay: Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil, The nobility of labor,--the long pedigree of toil.
The Occultation of Orion
I saw, as in a dream sublime, The balance in the hand of Time. O'er East and West its beam impended; And day, with all its hours of light, Was slowly sinking out of sight, While, opposite, the scale of night Silently with the stars ascended. Like the astrologers of eld, In that bright vision I beheld Greater and deeper mysteries. I saw, with its celestial keys, Its chords of air, its frets of fire, The Samian's great Aeolian lyre, Rising through all its sevenfold bars, From earth unto the fixed stars. And through the dewy atmosphere, Not only could I see, but hear, Its wondrous and harmonious strings, In sweet vibration, sphere by sphere, From Dian's circle light and near, Onward to vaster and wider rings. Where, chanting through his beard of snows, Majestic, mournful, Saturn goes, And down the sunless realms of space Reverberates the thunder of his bass. Beneath the sky's triumphal arch This music sounded like a march, And with its chorus seemed to be Preluding some great tragedy. Sirius was rising in the east; And, slow ascending one by one, The kindling constellations shone. Begirt with many a blazing star, Stood the great giant Algebar, Orion, hunter of the beast! His sword hung gleaming by his side, And, on his arm, the lion's hide Scattered across the midnight air The golden radiance of its hair. The moon was pallid, but not faint; And beautiful as some fair saint, Serenely moving on her way In hours of trial and dismay. As if she heard the voice of God, Unharmed with naked feet she trod Upon the hot and burning stars, As on the glowing coals and bars, That were to prove her strength, and try Her holiness and her purity. Thus moving on, with silent pace, And triumph in her sweet, pale face, She reached the station of Orion. Aghast he stood in strange alarm! And suddenly from his outstretched arm Down fell the red skin of the lion Into the river at his feet. His mighty club no longer beat The forehead of the bull; but he Reeled as of yore beside the sea, When, blinded by Oenopion, He sought the blacksmith at his forge, And, climbing up the mountain gorge, Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun. Then, through the silence overhead, An angel with a trumpet said, "Forevermore, forevermore, The reign of violence is o'er!" And, like an instrument that flings Its music on another's strings, The trumpet of the angel cast Upon the heavenly lyre its blast, And on from sphere to sphere the words Re-echoed down the burning chords,-- "Forevermore, forevermore, The reign of violence is o'er!"
The Old Clock on the Stairs
L'eternite est une pendule, dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux mots seulement dans le silence des tombeaux: "Toujours! jamais! Jamais! toujours!"--JACQUES BRIDAINE. Somewhat back from the village street Stands the old-fashioned country-seat. Across its antique portico Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw; And from its station in the hall An ancient timepiece says to all,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" Half-way up the stairs it stands, And points and beckons with its hands From its case of massive oak, Like a monk, who, under his cloak, Crosses himself, and sighs, alas! With sorrowful voice to all who pass,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" By day its voice is low and light; But in the silent dead of night, Distinct as a passing footstep's fall, It echoes along the vacant hall, Along the ceiling, along the floor, And seems to say, at each chamber-door,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" Through days of sorrow and of mirth, Through days of death and days of birth, Through every swift vicissitude Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood, And as if, like God, it all things saw, It calmly repeats those words of awe,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" In that mansion used to be Free-hearted Hospitality; His great fires up the chimney roared; The stranger feasted at his board; But, like the skeleton at the feast, That warning timepiece never ceased,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" There groups of merry children played, There youths and maidens dreaming strayed; O precious hours! O golden prime, And affluence of love and time! Even as a Miser counts his gold, Those hours the ancient timepiece told,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" From that chamber, clothed in white, The bride came forth on her wedding night; There, in that silent room below, The dead lay in his shroud of snow; And in the hush that followed the prayer, Was heard the old clock on the stair,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" All are scattered now and fled, Some are married, some are dead; And when I ask, with throbs of pain. "Ah! when shall they all meet again?" As in the days long since gone by, The ancient timepiece makes reply,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!" Never here, forever there, Where all parting, pain, and care, And death, and time shall disappear,-- Forever there, but never here! The horologe of Eternity Sayeth this incessantly,-- "Forever--never! Never--forever!"
A Psalm of Life
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist
Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,--act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;-- Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
The Quadroon Girl
The Slaver in the broad lagoon Lay moored with idle sail; He waited for the rising moon, And for the evening gale. Under the shore his boat was tied, And all her listless crew Watched the gray alligator slide Into the still bayou. Odors of orange-flowers, and spice, Reached them from time to time, Like airs that breathe from Paradise Upon a world of crime. The Planter, under his roof of thatch, Smoked thoughtfully and slow; The Slaver's thumb was on the latch, He seemed in haste to go. He said, "My ship at anchor rides In yonder broad lagoon; I only wait the evening tides, And the rising of the moon. Before them, with her face upraised, In timid attitude, Like one half curious, half amazed, A Quadroon maiden stood. Her eyes were large, and full of light, Her arms and neck were bare; No garment she wore save a kirtle bright, And her own long, raven hair. And on her lips there played a smile As holy, meek, and faint, As lights in some cathedral aisle The features of a saint. "The soil is barren,--the farm is old"; The thoughtful planter said; Then looked upon the Slaver's gold, And then upon the maid. His heart within him was at strife With such accursed gains: For he knew whose passions gave her life, Whose blood ran in her veins. But the voice of nature was too weak; He took the glittering gold! Then pale as death grew the maiden's cheek, Her hands as icy cold. The Slaver led her from the door, He led her by the hand, To be his slave and paramour In a strange and distant land!
Rain in Summer
How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, In the broad and fiery street, In the narrow lane, How beautiful is the rain! How it clatters along the roofs, Like the tramp of hoofs How it gushes and struggles out From the throat of the overflowing spout! Across the window-pane It pours and pours; And swift and wide, With a muddy tide, Like a river down the gutter roars The rain, the welcome rain! The sick man from his chamber looks At the twisted brooks; He can feel the cool Breath of each little pool; His fevered brain Grows calm again, And he breathes a blessing on the rain. From the neighboring school Come the boys, With more than their wonted noise And commotion; And down the wet streets Sail their mimic fleets, Till the treacherous pool Ingulfs them in its whirling And turbulent ocean. In the country, on every side, Where far and wide, Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide, Stretches the plain, To the dry grass and the drier grain How welcome is the rain! In the furrowed land The toilsome and patient oxen stand; Lifting the yoke encumbered head, With their dilated nostrils spread, They silently inhale The clover-scented gale, And the vapors that arise From the well-watered and smoking soil. For this rest in the furrow after toil Their large and lustrous eyes Seem to thank the Lord, More than man's spoken word. Near at hand, From under the sheltering trees, The farmer sees His pastures, and his fields of grain, As they bend their tops To the numberless beating drops Of the incessant rain. He counts it as no sin That he sees therein Only his own thrift and gain. These, and far more than these, The Poet sees! He can behold Aquarius old Walking the fenceless fields of air; And from each ample fold Of the clouds about him rolled Scattering everywhere The showery rain, As the farmer scatters his grain. He can behold Things manifold That have not yet been wholly told,-- Have not been wholly sung nor said. For his thought, that never stops, Follows the water-drops Down to the graves of the dead, Down through chasms and gulfs profound, To the dreary fountain-head Of lakes and rivers under ground; And sees them, when the rain is done, On the bridge of colors seven Climbing up once more to heaven, Opposite the setting sun. Thus the Seer, With vision clear, Sees forms appear and disappear, In the perpetual round of strange, Mysterious change From birth to death, from death to birth, From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth; Till glimpses more sublime Of things, unseen before, Unto his wondering eyes reveal The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel Turning forevermore In the rapid and rushing river of Time.
The Rainy Day
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the mouldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary. My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary. Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.
The Reaper and the Flowers
There is a Reaper, whose name is Death, And, with his sickle keen, He reaps the bearded grain at a breath, And the flowers that grow between. "Shall I have naught that is fair?" saith he; "Have naught but the bearded grain? Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me, I will give them all back again." He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes, He kissed their drooping leaves; It was for the Lord of Paradise He bound them in his sheaves. "My Lord has need of these flowerets gay," The Reaper said, and smiled; "Dear tokens of the earth are they, Where he was once a child. "They shall all bloom in fields of light, Transplanted by my care, And saints, upon their garments white, These sacred blossoms wear." And the mother gave, in tears and pain, The flowers she most did love; She knew she should find them all again In the fields of light above. O, not in cruelty, not in wrath, The Reaper came that day; 'T was an angel visited the green earth, And took the flowers away.
Stars of the summer night! Far in yon azure deeps, Hide, hide your golden light! She sleeps! My lady sleeps! Sleeps! Moon of the summer night! Far down yon western steeps, Sink, sink in silver light! She sleeps! My lady sleeps! Sleeps! Wind of the summer night! Where yonder woodbine creeps, Fold, fold thy pinions light! She sleeps! My lady sleeps! Sleeps! Dreams of the summer night! Tell her, her lover keeps Watch! while in slumbers light She sleeps My lady sleeps Sleeps!
The Skeleton in Armor
"Speak! speak I thou fearful guest Who, with thy hollow breast Still in rude armor drest, Comest to daunt me! Wrapt not in Eastern balms, Bat with thy fleshless palms Stretched, as if asking alms, Why dost thou haunt me?" Then, from those cavernous eyes Pale flashes seemed to rise, As when the Northern skies Gleam in December; And, like the water's flow Under December's snow, Came a dull voice of woe From the heart's chamber. "I was a Viking old! My deeds, though manifold, No Skald in song has told, No Saga taught thee! Take heed, that in thy verse Thou dost the tale rehearse, Else dread a dead man's curse; For this I sought thee. "Far in the Northern Land, By the wild Baltic's strand, I, with my childish hand, Tamed the gerfalcon; And, with my skates fast-bound, Skimmed the half-frozen Sound, That the poor whimpering hound Trembled to walk on. "Oft to his frozen lair Tracked I the grisly bear, While from my path the hare Fled like a shadow; Oft through the forest dark Followed the were-wolf's bark, Until the soaring lark Sang from the meadow. "But when I older grew, Joining a corsair's crew, O'er the dark sea I flew With the marauders. Wild was the life we led; Many the souls that sped, Many the hearts that bled, By our stern orders. "Many a wassail-bout Wore the long Winter out; Often our midnight shout Set the cocks crowing, As we the Berserk's tale Measured in cups of ale, Draining the oaken pail, Filled to o'erflowing. "Once as I told in glee Tales of the stormy sea, Soft eyes did gaze on me, Burning yet tender; And as the white stars shine On the dark Norway pine, On that dark heart of mine Fell their soft splendor. "I wooed the blue-eyed maid, Yielding, yet half afraid, And in the forest's shade Our vows were plighted. Under its loosened vest Fluttered her little breast Like birds within their nest By the hawk frighted. "Bright in her father's hall Shields gleamed upon the wall, Loud sang the minstrels all, Chanting his glory; When of old Hildebrand I asked his daughter's hand, Mute did the minstrels stand To hear my story. "While the brown ale he quaffed, Loud then the champion laughed, And as the wind-gusts waft The sea-foam brightly, So the loud laugh of scorn, Out of those lips unshorn, From the deep drinking-horn Blew the foam lightly. "She was a Prince's child, I but a Viking wild, And though she blushed and smiled, I was discarded! Should not the dove so white Follow the sea-mew's flight, Why did they leave that night Her nest unguarded? "Scarce had I put to sea, Bearing the maid with me, Fairest of all was she Among the Norsemen! When on the white sea-strand, Waving his armed hand, Saw we old Hildebrand, With twenty horsemen. "Then launched they to the blast, Bent like a reed each mast, Yet we were gaining fast, When the wind failed us; And with a sudden flaw Came round the gusty Skaw, So that our foe we saw Laugh as he hailed us. "And as to catch the gale Round veered the flapping sail, Death I was the helmsman's hail, Death without quarter! Mid-ships with iron keel Struck we her ribs of steel Down her black hulk did reel Through the black water! "As with his wings aslant, Sails the fierce cormorant, Seeking some rocky haunt With his prey laden, So toward the open main, Beating to sea again, Through the wild hurricane, Bore I the maiden. "Three weeks we westward bore, And when the storm was o'er, Cloud-like we saw the shore Stretching to leeward; There for my lady's bower Built I the lofty tower, Which, to this very hour, Stands looking seaward. "There lived we many years; Time dried the maiden's tears She had forgot her fears, She was a mother. Death closed her mild blue eyes, Under that tower she lies; Ne'er shall the sun arise On such another! "Still grew my bosom then. Still as a stagnant fen! Hateful to me were men, The sunlight hateful! In the vast forest here, Clad in my warlike gear, Fell I upon my spear, O, death was grateful! "Thus, seamed with many scars, Bursting these prison bars, Up to its native stars My soul ascended! There from the flowing bowl Deep drinks the warrior's soul, Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!" Thus the tale ended.
The Slave in the Dismal Swamp
In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp The hunted Negro lay; He saw the fire of the midnight camp, And heard at times a horse's tramp And a bloodhound's distant bay. Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms shine, In bulrush and in brake; Where waving mosses shroud the pine, And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine Is spotted like the snake; Where hardly a human foot could pass, Or a human heart would dare, On the quaking turf of the green morass He crouched in the rank and tangled grass, Like a wild beast in his lair. A poor old slave, infirm and lame; Great scars deformed his face; On his forehead he bore the brand of shame, And the rags, that hid his mangled frame, Were the livery of disgrace. All things above were bright and fair, All things were glad and free; Lithe squirrels darted here and there, And wild birds filled the echoing air With songs of Liberty! On him alone was the doom of pain, From the morning of his birth; On him alone the curse of Cain Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain, And struck him to the earth!
The Slave Singing at Midnight
Loud he sang the psalm of David! He, a Negro and enslaved, Sang of Israel's victory, Sang of Zion, bright and free. In that hour, when night is calmest, Sang he from the Hebrew Psalmist, In a voice so sweet and clear That I could not choose but hear, Songs of triumph, and ascriptions, Such as reached the swart Egyptians, When upon the Red Sea coast Perished Pharaoh and his host. And the voice of his devotion Filled my soul with strange emotion; For its tones by turns were glad, Sweetly solemn, wildly sad. Paul and Silas, in their prison, Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen, And an earthquake's arm of might Broke their dungeon-gates at night. But, alas! what holy angel Brings the Slave this glad evangel? And what earthquake's arm of might Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?
The Slave’s Dream
Beside the ungathered rice he lay, His sickle in his hand; His breast was bare, his matted hair Was buried in the sand. Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep, He saw his Native Land. Wide through the landscape of his dreams The lordly Niger flowed; Beneath the palm-trees on the plain Once more a king he strode; And heard the tinkling caravans Descend the mountain-road. He saw once more his dark-eyed queen Among her children stand; They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks, They held him by the hand!-- A tear burst from the sleeper's lids And fell into the sand. And then at furious speed he rode Along the Niger's bank; His bridle-reins were golden chains, And, with a martial clank, At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel Smiting his stallion's flank. Before him, like a blood-red flag, The bright flamingoes flew; From morn till night he followed their flight, O'er plains where the tamarind grew, Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts, And the ocean rose to view. At night he heard the lion roar, And the hyena scream, And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds Beside some hidden stream; And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums, Through the triumph of his dream. The forests, with their myriad tongues, Shouted of liberty; And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud, With a voice so wild and free, That he started in his sleep and smiled At their tempestuous glee. He did not feel the driver's whip, Nor the burning heat of day; For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep, And his lifeless body lay A worn-out fetter, that the soul Had broken and thrown away!
The Spirit of Poetry
There is a quiet spirit in these woods, That dwells where'er the gentle south-wind blows; Where, underneath the white-thorn, in the glade, The wild flowers bloom, or, kissing the soft air, The leaves above their sunny palms outspread. With what a tender and impassioned voice It fills the nice and delicate ear of thought, When the fast ushering star of morning comes O'er-riding the gray hills with golden scarf; Or when the cowled and dusky-sandaled Eve, In mourning weeds, from out the western gate, Departs with silent pace! That spirit moves In the green valley, where the silver brook, From its full laver, pours the white cascade; And, babbling low amid the tangled woods, Slips down through moss-grown stones with endless laughter. And frequent, on the everlasting hills, Its feet go forth, when it doth wrap itself In all the dark embroidery of the storm, And shouts the stern, strong wind. And here, amid The silent majesty of these deep woods, Its presence shall uplift thy thoughts from earth, As to the sunshine and the pure, bright air Their tops the green trees lift. Hence gifted bards Have ever loved the calm and quiet shades. For them there was an eloquent voice in all The sylvan pomp of woods, the golden sun, The flowers, the leaves, the river on its way, Blue skies, and silver clouds, and gentle winds, The swelling upland, where the sidelong sun Aslant the wooded slope, at evening, goes, Groves, through whose broken roof the sky looks in, Mountain, and shattered cliff, and sunny vale, The distant lake, fountains, and mighty trees, In many a lazy syllable, repeating Their old poetic legends to the wind. And this is the sweet spirit, that doth fill The world; and, in these wayward days of youth, My busy fancy oft embodies it, As a bright image of the light and beauty That dwell in nature; of the heavenly forms We worship in our dreams, and the soft hues That stain the wild bird's wing, and flush the clouds When the sun sets. Within her tender eye The heaven of April, with its changing light, And when it wears the blue of May, is hung, And on her lip the rich, red rose. Her hair Is like the summer tresses of the trees, When twilight makes them brown, and on her cheek Blushes the richness of an autumn sky, With ever-shifting beauty. Then her breath, It is so like the gentle air of Spring, As, front the morning's dewy flowers, it comes Full of their fragrance, that it is a joy To have it round us, and her silver voice Is the rich music of a summer bird, Heard in the still night, with its passionate cadence.
Sunrise on the Hills
I stood upon the hills, when heaven's wide arch Was glorious with the sun's returning march, And woods were brightened, and soft gales Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales. The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light, They gathered mid-way round the wooded height, And, in their fading glory, shone Like hosts in battle overthrown. As many a pinnacle, with shifting glance. Through the gray mist thrust up its shattered lance, And rocking on the cliff was left The dark pine blasted, bare, and cleft. The veil of cloud was lifted, and below Glowed the rich valley, and the river's flow Was darkened by the forest's shade, Or glistened in the white cascade; Where upward, in the mellow blush of day, The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way. I heard the distant waters dash, I saw the current whirl and flash, And richly, by the blue lake's silver beach, The woods were bending with a silent reach. Then o'er the vale, with gentle swell, The music of the village bell Came sweetly to the echo-giving hills; And the wild horn, whose voice the woodland fills, Was ringing to the merry shout, That faint and far the glen sent out, Where, answering to the sudden shot, thin smoke, Through thick-leaved branches, from the dingle broke. If thou art worn and hard beset With sorrows, that thou wouldst forget, If thou wouldst read a lesson, that will keep Thy heart from fainting and thy soul from sleep, Go to the woods and hills! No tears Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.
To a Child
Dear child! how radiant on thy mother's knee, With merry-making eyes and jocund smiles, Thou gazest at the painted tiles, Whose figures grace, With many a grotesque form and face. The ancient chimney of thy nursery! The lady with the gay macaw, The dancing girl, the grave bashaw With bearded lip and chin; And, leaning idly o'er his gate, Beneath the imperial fan of state, The Chinese mandarin. With what a look of proud command Thou shakest in thy little hand The coral rattle with its silver bells, Making a merry tune! Thousands of years in Indian seas That coral grew, by slow degrees, Until some deadly and wild monsoon Dashed it on Coromandel's sand! Those silver bells Reposed of yore, As shapeless ore, Far down in the deep-sunken wells Of darksome mines, In some obscure and sunless place, Beneath huge Chimborazo's base, Or Potosi's o'erhanging pines And thus for thee, O little child, Through many a danger and escape, The tall ships passed the stormy cape; For thee in foreign lands remote, Beneath a burning, tropic clime, The Indian peasant, chasing the wild goat, Himself as swift and wild, In falling, clutched the frail arbute, The fibres of whose shallow root, Uplifted from the soil, betrayed The silver veins beneath it laid, The buried treasures of the miser, Time. But, lo! thy door is left ajar! Thou hearest footsteps from afar! And, at the sound, Thou turnest round With quick and questioning eyes, Like one, who, in a foreign land, Beholds on every hand Some source of wonder and surprise! And, restlessly, impatiently, Thou strivest, strugglest, to be free, The four walls of thy nursery Are now like prison walls to thee. No more thy mother's smiles, No more the painted tiles, Delight thee, nor the playthings on the floor, That won thy little, beating heart before; Thou strugglest for the open door. Through these once solitary halls Thy pattering footstep falls. The sound of thy merry voice Makes the old walls Jubilant, and they rejoice With the joy of thy young heart, O'er the light of whose gladness No shadows of sadness From the sombre background of memory start. Once, ah, once, within these walls, One whom memory oft recalls, The Father of his Country, dwelt. And yonder meadows broad and damp The fires of the besieging camp Encircled with a burning belt. Up and down these echoing stairs, Heavy with the weight of cares, Sounded his majestic tread; Yes, within this very room Sat he in those hours of gloom, Weary both in heart and head. But what are these grave thoughts to thee? Out, out! into the open air! Thy only dream is liberty, Thou carest little how or where. I see thee eager at thy play, Now shouting to the apples on the tree, With cheeks as round and red as they; And now among the yellow stalks, Among the flowering shrubs and plants, As restless as the bee. Along the garden walks, The tracks of thy small carriage-wheels I trace; And see at every turn how they efface Whole villages of sand-roofed tents, That rise like golden domes Above the cavernous and secret homes Of wandering and nomadic tribes of ants. Ah, cruel little Tamerlane, Who, with thy dreadful reign, Dost persecute and overwhelm These hapless Troglodytes of thy realm! What! tired already! with those suppliant looks, And voice more beautiful than a poet's books, Or murmuring sound of water as it flows. Thou comest back to parley with repose; This rustic seat in the old apple-tree, With its o'erhanging golden canopy Of leaves illuminate with autumnal hues, And shining with the argent light of dews, Shall for a season be our place of rest. Beneath us, like an oriole's pendent nest, From which the laughing birds have taken wing, By thee abandoned, hangs thy vacant swing. Dream-like the waters of the river gleam; A sailless vessel drops adown the stream, And like it, to a sea as wide and deep, Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep. O child! O new-born denizen Of life's great city! on thy head The glory of the morn is shed, Like a celestial benison! Here at the portal thou dost stand, And with thy little hand Thou openest the mysterious gate Into the future's undiscovered land. I see its valves expand, As at the touch of Fate! Into those realms of love and hate, Into that darkness blank and drear, By some prophetic feeling taught, I launch the bold, adventurous thought, Freighted with hope and fear; As upon subterranean streams, In caverns unexplored and dark, Men sometimes launch a fragile bark, Laden with flickering fire, And watch its swift-receding beams, Until at length they disappear, And in the distant dark expire. By what astrology of fear or hope Dare I to cast thy horoscope! Like the new moon thy life appears; A little strip of silver light, And widening outward into night The shadowy disk of future years; And yet upon its outer rim, A luminous circle, faint and dim, And scarcely visible to us here, Rounds and completes the perfect sphere; A prophecy and intimation, A pale and feeble adumbration, Of the great world of light, that lies Behind all human destinies. Ah! if thy fate, with anguish fraught, Should be to wet the dusty soil With the hot tears and sweat of toil,-- To struggle with imperious thought, Until the overburdened brain, Weary with labor, faint with pain, Like a jarred pendulum, retain Only its motion, not its power,-- Remember, in that perilous hour, When most afflicted and oppressed, From labor there shall come forth rest. And if a more auspicious fate On thy advancing steps await Still let it ever be thy pride To linger by the laborer's side; With words of sympathy or song To cheer the dreary march along Of the great army of the poor, O'er desert sand, o'er dangerous moor. Nor to thyself the task shall be Without reward; for thou shalt learn The wisdom early to discern True beauty in utility; As great Pythagoras of yore, Standing beside the blacksmith's door, And hearing the hammers, as they smote The anvils with a different note, Stole from the varying tones, that hung Vibrant on every iron tongue, The secret of the sounding wire. And formed the seven-chorded lyre. Enough! I will not play the Seer; I will no longer strive to ope The mystic volume, where appear The herald Hope, forerunning Fear, And Fear, the pursuivant of Hope. Thy destiny remains untold; For, like Acestes' shaft of old, The swift thought kindles as it flies, And burns to ashes in the skies.
To an Old Danish Songbook
Welcome, my old friend, Welcome to a foreign fireside, While the sullen gales of autumn Shake the windows. The ungrateful world Has, it seems, dealt harshly with thee, Since, beneath the skies of Denmark, First I met thee. There are marks of age, There are thumb-marks on thy margin, Made by hands that clasped thee rudely, At the alehouse. Soiled and dull thou art; Yellow are thy time-worn pages, As the russet, rain-molested Leaves of autumn. Thou art stained with wine Scattered from hilarious goblets, As the leaves with the libations Of Olympus. Yet dost thou recall Days departed, half-forgotten, When in dreamy youth I wandered By the Baltic,-- When I paused to hear The old ballad of King Christian Shouted from suburban taverns In the twilight. Thou recallest bards, Who in solitary chambers, And with hearts by passion wasted, Wrote thy pages. Thou recallest homes Where thy songs of love and friendship Made the gloomy Northern winter Bright as summer. Once some ancient Scald, In his bleak, ancestral Iceland, Chanted staves of these old ballads To the Vikings. Once in Elsinore, At the court of old King Hamlet Yorick and his boon companions Sang these ditties. Once Prince Frederick's Guard Sang them in their smoky barracks;-- Suddenly the English cannon Joined the chorus! Peasants in the field, Sailors on the roaring ocean, Students, tradesmen, pale mechanics, All have sung them. Thou hast been their friend; They, alas! have left thee friendless! Yet at least by one warm fireside Art thou welcome. And, as swallows build In these wide, old-fashioned chimneys, So thy twittering songs shall nestle In my bosom,-- Quiet, close, and warm, Sheltered from all molestation, And recalling by their voices Youth and travel.
To the Driving Cloud
Gloomy and dark art thou, O chief of the mighty Omahas; Gloomy and dark as the driving cloud, whose name thou hast taken! Wrapt in thy scarlet blanket, I see thee stalk through the city's Narrow and populous streets, as once by the margin of rivers Stalked those birds unknown, that have left us only their footprints. What, in a few short years, will remain of thy race but the footprints? How canst thou walk these streets, who hast trod the green turf of the prairies! How canst thou breathe this air, who hast breathed the sweet air of the mountains! Ah! 't is in vain that with lordly looks of disdain thou dost challenge Looks of disdain in return, and question these walls and these pavements, Claiming the soil for thy hunting-grounds, while down-trodden millions Starve in the garrets of Europe, and cry from its caverns that they, too, Have been created heirs of the earth, and claim its division! Back, then, back to thy woods in the regions west of the Wabash! There as a monarch thou reignest. In autumn the leaves of the maple Pave the floors of thy palace-halls with gold, and in summer Pine-trees waft through its chambers the odorous breath of their branches. There thou art strong and great, a hero, a tamer of horses! There thou chasest the stately stag on the banks of the Elkhorn, Or by the roar of the Running-Water, or where the Omaha Calls thee, and leaps through the wild ravine like a brave of the Blackfeet! Hark! what murmurs arise from the heart of those mountainous deserts? Is it the cry of the Foxes and Crows, or the mighty Behemoth, Who, unharmed, on his tusks once caught the bolts of the thunder, And now lurks in his lair to destroy the race of the red man? Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the Crows and the Foxes, Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the tread of Behemoth, Lo! the big thunder-canoe, that steadily breasts the Missouri's Merciless current! and yonder, afar on the prairies, the camp-fires Gleam through the night; and the cloud of dust in the gray of the daybreak Marks not the buffalo's track, nor the Mandan's dexterous horse-race; It is a caravan, whitening the desert where dwell the Camanches! Ha! how the breath of these Saxons and Celts, like the blast of the east-wind, Drifts evermore to the west the scanty smokes of thy wigwams!
To the River Charles
River! that in silence windest Through the meadows, bright and free, Till at length thy rest thou findest In the bosom of the sea! Four long years of mingled feeling, Half in rest, and half in strife, I have seen thy waters stealing Onward, like the stream of life. Thou hast taught me, Silent River! Many a lesson, deep and long; Thou hast been a generous giver; I can give thee but a song. Oft in sadness and in illness, I have watched thy current glide, Till the beauty of its stillness Overflowed me, like a tide. And in better hours and brighter, When I saw thy waters gleam, I have felt my heart beat lighter, And leap onward with thy stream. Not for this alone I love thee, Nor because thy waves of blue From celestial seas above thee Take their own celestial hue. Where yon shadowy woodlands hide thee, And thy waters disappear, Friends I love have dwelt beside thee, And have made thy margin dear. More than this;--thy name reminds me Of three friends, all true and tried; And that name, like magic, binds me Closer, closer to thy side. Friends my soul with joy remembers! How like quivering flames they start, When I fan the living embers On the hearth-stone of my heart! 'T is for this, thou Silent River! That my spirit leans to thee; Thou hast been a generous giver, Take this idle song from me.
To William E. Channing
The pages of thy book I read, And as I closed each one, My heart, responding, ever said, "Servant of God! well done!" Well done! Thy words are great and bold; At times they seem to me, Like Luther's, in the days of old, Half-battles for the free. Go on, until this land revokes The old and chartered Lie, The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes Insult humanity. A voice is ever at thy side Speaking in tones of might, Like the prophetic voice, that cried To John in Patmos, "Write!" Write! and tell out this bloody tale; Record this dire eclipse, This Day of Wrath, this Endless Wail, This dread Apocalypse!
The Village Blacksmith
Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands. His hair is crisp, and black, and long, His face is like the tan; His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate'er he can, And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man. Week in, week out, from morn till night, You can hear his bellows blow; You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, With measured beat and slow, Like a sexton ringing the village bell, When the evening sun is low. And children coming home from school Look in at the open door; They love to see the flaming forge, And bear the bellows roar, And catch the burning sparks that fly Like chaff from a threshing-floor. He goes on Sunday to the church, And sits among his boys; He hears the parson pray and preach, He hears his daughter's voice, Singing in the village choir, And it makes his heart rejoice. It sounds to him like her mother's voice, Singing in Paradise! He needs must think of her once more, How in the grave she lies; And with his hard, rough hand he wipes A tear out of his eyes. Toiling,--rejoicing,--sorrowing, Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some task begin, Each evening sees it close Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night's repose. Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, For the lesson thou hast taught! Thus at the flaming forge of life Our fortunes must be wrought; Thus on its sounding anvil shaped Each burning deed and thought.
Walter Von Der Vogelweid
Vogelweid the Minnesinger, When he left this world of ours, Laid his body in the cloister, Under Wurtzburg's minster towers. And he gave the monks his treasures, Gave them all with this behest: They should feed the birds at noontide Daily on his place of rest; Saying, "From these wandering minstrels I have learned the art of song; Let me now repay the lessons They have taught so well and long." Thus the bard of love departed; And, fulfilling his desire, On his tomb the birds were feasted By the children of the choir. Day by day, o'er tower and turret, In foul weather and in fair, Day by day, in vaster numbers, Flocked the poets of the air. On the tree whose heavy branches Overshadowed all the place, On the pavement, on the tombstone, On the poet's sculptured face, On the cross-bars of each window, On the lintel of each door, They renewed the War of Wartburg, Which the bard had fought before. There they sang their merry carols, Sang their lauds on every side; And the name their voices uttered Was the name of Vogelweid. Till at length the portly abbot Murmured, "Why this waste of food? Be it changed to loaves henceforward For our tasting brotherhood." Then in vain o'er tower and turret, From the walls and woodland nests, When the minster bells rang noontide, Gathered the unwelcome guests. Then in vain, with cries discordant, Clamorous round the Gothic spire, Screamed the feathered Minnesingers For the children of the choir. Time has long effaced the inscriptions On the cloister's funeral stones, And tradition only tells us Where repose the poet's bones. But around the vast cathedral, By sweet echoes multiplied, Still the birds repeat the legend, And the name of Vogelweid.
Beware! The Israelite of old, who tore The lion in his path,--when, poor and blind, He saw the blessed light of heaven no more, Shorn of his noble strength and forced to grind In prison, and at last led forth to be A pander to Philistine revelry,-- Upon the pillars of the temple laid His desperate hands, and in its overthrow Destroyed himself, and with him those who made A cruel mockery of his sightless woe; The poor, blind Slave, the scoff and jest of all, Expired, and thousands perished in the fall! There is a poor, blind Samson in this land, Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel, Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand, And shake the pillars of this Commonweal, Till the vast Temple of our liberties. A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.
In Ocean's wide domains, Half buried in the sands, Lie skeletons in chains, With shackled feet and hands. Beyond the fall of dews, Deeper than plummet lies, Float ships, with all their crews, No more to sink nor rise. There the black Slave-ship swims, Freighted with human forms, Whose fettered, fleshless limbs Are not the sport of storms. These are the bones of Slaves; They gleam from the abyss; They cry, from yawning waves, "We are the Witnesses!" Within Earth's wide domains Are markets for men's lives; Their necks are galled with chains, Their wrists are cramped with gyves. Dead bodies, that the kite In deserts makes its prey; Murders, that with affright Scare school-boys from their play! All evil thoughts and deeds; Anger, and lust, and pride; The foulest, rankest weeds, That choke Life's groaning tide! These are the woes of Slaves; They glare from the abyss; They cry, from unknown graves, "We are the Witnesses!"
Woods in Winter
When winter winds are piercing chill, And through the hawthorn blows the gale, With solemn feet I tread the hill, That overbrows the lonely vale. O'er the bare upland, and away Through the long reach of desert woods, The embracing sunbeams chastely play, And gladden these deep solitudes. Where, twisted round the barren oak, The summer vine in beauty clung, And summer winds the stillness broke, The crystal icicle is hung. Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs Pour out the river's gradual tide, Shrilly the skater's iron rings, And voices fill the woodland side. Alas! how changed from the fair scene, When birds sang out their mellow lay, And winds were soft, and woods were green, And the song ceased not with the day! But still wild music is abroad, Pale, desert woods! within your crowd; And gathering winds, in hoarse accord, Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud. Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear Has grown familiar with your song; I hear it in the opening year, I listen, and it cheers me long.
The Wreck of the Hesperus
It was the schooner Hesperus, That sailed the wintry sea; And the skipper had taken his little daughter, To bear him company. Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, Her cheeks like the dawn of day, And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds, That ope in the month of May. The skipper he stood beside the helm, His pipe was in his month, And he watched how the veering flaw did blow The smoke now West, now South. Then up and spake an old Sailor, Had sailed to the Spanish Main, "I pray thee, put into yonder port, For I fear a hurricane. "Last night, the moon had a golden ring, And to-night no moon we see!" The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe, And a scornful laugh laughed he. Colder and louder blew the wind, A gale from the Northeast. The snow fell hissing in the brine, And the billows frothed like yeast. Down came the storm, and smote amain The vessel in its strength; She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed, Then leaped her cable's length. "Come hither! come hither! my little daughter, And do not tremble so; For I can weather the roughest gale That ever wind did blow." He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat Against the stinging blast; He cut a rope from a broken spar, And bound her to the mast. "O father! I hear the church-bells ring, O say, what may it be?" "'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!"-- And he steered for the open sea. "O father! I hear the sound of guns, O say, what may it be?" "Some ship in distress, that cannot live In such an angry sea!" "O father! I see a gleaming light O say, what may it be?" But the father answered never a word, A frozen corpse was he. Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark, With his face turned to the skies, The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow On his fixed and glassy eyes. Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed That saved she might be; And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, On the Lake of Galilee. And fast through the midnight dark and drear, Through the whistling sleet and snow, Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe. And ever the fitful gusts between A sound came from the land; It was the sound of the trampling surf On the rocks and the hard sea-sand. The breakers were right beneath her bows, She drifted a dreary wreck, And a whooping billow swept the crew Like icicles from her deck. She struck where the white and fleecy waves Looked soft as carded wool, But the cruel rocks, they gored her side Like the horns of an angry bull. Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, With the masts went by the board; Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank, Ho! ho! the breakers roared! At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, A fisherman stood aghast, To see the form of a maiden fair, Lashed close to a drifting mast. The salt sea was frozen on her breast, The salt tears in her eyes; And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, On the billows fall and rise. Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, In the midnight and the snow! Christ save us all from a death like this, On the reef of Norman's Woe!