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Of the new earth and heaven. But wouldst thou rest
Awhile from tumult and the frauds of men,
These old and friendly solitudes invite.
Thy visit. They, while yet the forest trees
Were young upon the unviolated earth,
And yet the moss-stains on the rock were new,
Beheld thy glorious childhood, and rejoiced.
29.—THE CITY OF THE LIVING.
In a long vanished age, whose varied story
No record has to-day-
So long ago expired its grief and glory-
There flourished, far away,
In a broad realm, whose beauty passed all measure,
A city fair and wide, Wherein the dwellers lived in peace and pleasure,
And never any died.
Disease, and pain, and death, those stern marauders,
Who mar our world's fair face,
Never encroached upon the pleasant borders
Of that bright dwelling-place:
No fear of parting and no dread of dying
Could ever enter there-
No mourning for the lost, no anguish'd crying,
Made any face less fair.
Without the city walls death reigned as ever,
And graves rose side by side;
Within, the dwellers laughed at his endeavor,
And never any died.
Oh, happiest of all earth's favored places !
Oh, bliss to dwell therein!
To live in the sweet light of loving faces,
And fear no grave between!
To feel no death-damp, gathering cold and colder
Disputing life's warm truth! To live on, never lonelier or older,
Radiant in deathless youth!
And, hurrying from the world's remotest quarters,
A tide of pilgrims flowed
Across broad plains and over mighty waters,
To find that blest abode,
Where never death should come between, and sever
Them from their loved apartWhere they might work, and will, and live forever,
Still holding heart to heart.
And so they lived, in happiness and pleasure,
And grew in power and pride,
And did great deeds, and laid up stores of treasure,
And never any died.
And many years rolled on, and saw them striving,
With unabated breath ;
still found and left them living,
And gave no hope of death.
Yet listen, hapless soul, whom angels pity,
Craving a boon like this ;
Mark how the dwellers in the wondrous city
Grew weary of their bliss.
One and another, who had been concealing
The pain of life's long thrall,
Forsook their pleasant places, and came stealing
Outside the city wall,
Craving, with wish that brooked no more denying,
So long had it been crossed,
The blessed possibility of dying-
The treasure they had lost.
Daily the current of rest-seeking mortals
Swelled to a broader tide,
Till none were left within the city's portals,
And graves grew green outside.
Would it be worth the having or the giving-
The boon of endless breath?
Ah, for the weariness that comes of living
There is no cure but death.
Ours were indeed a fate deserving pity,
Were that sweet rest denied;
And few, methinks, would care to find the city
Where never any died !
It must be so.—Plato, thou reasonest well :
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror
Of falling into naught ? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction ?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us,
'Tis Heaven itself, that points out an hereafter
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity!—thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a Power above us,-
And that there is all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works,—He must delight in virtue;
And that which He delights in must be happy.
But when? or where? This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures,—th must end them.
Thus am I doubly armed. My death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This* in a moment brings me to my end;
But thist informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secure in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point
The stars shall fade away, the sun himselı
Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years,
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amid the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds,
31.–POEMS FROM LONGFELLOW.
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,
His brow was sad ; his eye
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
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,
“ Try not the Pass !” the old man said ;
“ Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent's deep and wide!”
And loud that clarion voice replied,
“O stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!”
* The Dagger.
+ Plato's Treatise.
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,
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,
At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried
through the startled air,
A traveler, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
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,
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!
'Tis for this, thou Silent River !
That my spirit leans to thee;
Thou has been a generous giver,
Take this idle song from me.
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;