Page images

“So let him writhe! How long Will he live thus ? Quick, my good pencil, now! What a fine agony works upon his brow !

Ha! gray-haired, and so strong ? How fearfully he stifles that short moan ! Gods! if I could but paint a dying groan !

"Pity' thee! So I do!
I pity the dumb victim at the altar-
But does the robed priest for his pity falter?

I'd rack thee, though I knew
A thousand lives were perishing in thine-
What were ten thousand to a fame like mine?

“ Hereafter !' Ay-hereafter !
A whip to keep a coward to his track !

Death ever from his kingdom back
To check the skeptic's laughter ?
Come from the grave to-morrow with that story
And I may take some softer path to glory.

“No, no, old man ! we die
Even as the flowers, and we shall breathe away
Our life upon the chance wind, even as they !

Strain well thy fainting eye-.
For when that bloodshot quivering is o'er,
The light of heaven will never reach thee more.

• Yet there's a deathless name!
A spirit that the smothering vault shall spurn,
And like a steadfast planet mount and burn-

And though its crown of flame Consumed my brain to ashes as it shone, By all the fiery stars! I'd bind it on!

“Ay—though it bid me rifle My heart's last fount for its insatiate thirstThough every life-strung nerve be maddened first

Though it should bid me stifle
The yearning in my throat for my sweet child,
And taunt its mother till my brain went wild-

“All-I would do it all-
Sooner than die, like a dull worm, to rot-
Thrust foully into earth to be forgot !

O heavens !—but I appall Your heart, old man ! forgive-ha! on your lives Let him not faint !-rack him till he revives !

“Vain-vain-give o'er! His eye Glazes apace. He does not feel you nowStand back! I'll paint the death-dew on his brow !

Gods! if he do not die


But for one moment-one—till I eclipse
Conception with the scorn of those calm lips !

"Shivering! Hark! he mutters Brokenly now—that was a difficult breathAnother? Wilt thou never come, O Death!

Look! how his temple flutters !
Is his heart still ? Aha! lift up his head !
He shudders-gasps-Jove help him !-50-he's dead.'

How like a mounting devil in the heart
Rules the unrein'd ambition! Let it once
But play the monarch, and its haughty brow
Glows with a beauty that bewilders thought
And unthrones peace forever. Putting on
The very pomp of Lucifer, it turns
The heart to ashes, and with not a spring
Left in the bosom for the spirit's lip,
We look upon our splendor, and forget
The thirst of which we perish!


I am old and blind!
Men point at me as smitten by God's frown;

Afflicted and deserted of my kind,
Yet am I not cast down.

I am weak, yet strong:
I murmur not that I no longer see;

Poor, old, and helpless, I the more belong,
Father Supreme! to Thee.

All-merciful One!
When men are farthest, then art Thou most near;

When friends pass by, my weaknesses to shun,
Thy chariot I hear.

Thy glorious face
Is leaning towards me, and its holy light

Shines in upon my lonely dwelling-place,
And there is no more night.

On my bended knee
I recognize Thy purpose, clearly shown:

My vision Thou hast dimmed that I may see
Thyself, Thyself alone.

I have naught to fear:
This darkness is the shadow of Thy wing;

Beneath it I am almost sacred,-here
Can come no evil thing.

[ocr errors]

O! I seem to stand,
Trembling, where foot of mortal ne'er hath been,

Wrapped in that radiance from the sinless land
Which eye hath never seen.

Visions come and go,
Shapes of resplendent beauty round me throng;

From angel-lips I seem to hear the flow
Of soft and holy song.

In a purer clime
My being fills with rapture, waves of thought

Roll in upon my spirit, strains sublime
Break over me unsought.

Give me now my lyre;
I feel the stirrings of a gift divinc;

Within my bosom glows unearthly fire
Lit by no skill of mine.


This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sails the unshadowed main,

The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the siren sings,

And the coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;

Wrecked is the ship of pearl !

And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,

Before thee lies revealed-
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed.
Year after year beheld the silent toil

That spread his lustrous coil;

Still as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,

Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,

Child of the wandering sea,

Cast from her lap forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born

Than ever Triton blew from wreathéd horn!

While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings, Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past !
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from Heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea !


I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door;

And again
The pavement-stones resound
As he totters o'er the ground

With his cane.
They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time

Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the crier on his round

Through the town.
But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets

So forlorn;
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,

They are gone.'
The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has pressed

In their bloom;
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year

On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said,-
Poor old lady ! she is dead

Long ago,
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose

In the snow.
But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin

Like a staff ;
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack

In his laugh.


I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin

At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat
And the breeches, and all that,

Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
The last leaf on the tree

In the spring,
Let them laugh as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough

Where I cling.

Where, O where, are the visions of morning,

Fresh as the dews of our prime ?
Gone, like tenants that quit without warning,

Down the back entry of time.
Where, O where, are life's lilies and roses,

Nursed in the golden dawn's smile ?
Dead as the bulrushes round little Moses,

On the old banks of the Nile.
Where the gray colts and the ten-year-old fillies,

Saturday's triumph and joy ?
Gone like our friend the swift-footed Achilles,

Homer's ferocious old boy.
Die-away dreams of ecstatic emotion,

Hopes like young eagles at play,
Vows of unheard-of and endless devotion,


have faded away! Yet, though the ebbing of Time's mighty river

Leave our young blossoms to die,
Let him roll smooth in his current forever,
Till the last pebble is dry.

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down !

Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky ;
Beneath it rang the battle-shout,

And burst the cannon's roar ;
The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,

Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,

And waves were white below.

« PreviousContinue »