Page images
PDF
EPUB

All the earth and air

With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,

From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not.

What is most like thee?
From rainbow-clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden

In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,

Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not;

Like a high-born maiden,

In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower ;

Like a glowworm golden,

In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden

Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the

view;

Like a rose embowered

In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,

Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged

thieves.

Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,

All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, sprite or bird,

What sweet thoughts are thine :
I have never heard

Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal,

Or triumphant chant,
Matched with thine would be all

But an empty vaunt
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains

Of thy happy strain ?
What fields, or waves, or mountains ?

What shapes of sky or plain ?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear, keen joyance

Languor cannot be ;
Shadow of annoyance

Never came near thee ;
Thou lovest, but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream ;
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not ;
Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn

Hate, and pride, and fear ;
If we were things born

Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures

Of delightful sound ;
Better than all treasures

That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground.

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness

From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

GIFTS.

By RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

Gift of one who loved me,

'Twas high time they came; When he ceased to love me,

Time they stopped for shame.

It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery, and be sold. I do not think this general insolvency, which involves in some sort all the population, to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year, and other times, in bestowing gifts; since it is always so pleasant to be generous, though very vexatious to pay debts. But the impediment lies in the choosing. If, at any time, it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody, I am puzzled what to give, until the opportunity is gone. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents ; flowers because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature; they are the music heard out of a workhouse. Nature does not cocker us ; we are children, not pets : she is not fond : everything is dealt to us without fear or favor, after severe universal laws. Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and inference of love and beauty. Men used to tell us that we loved flattery, even though we are not deceived by it, because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. Something like that pleasure, the flowers give us : what am I to whom these sweet hints are addressed ? Fruits are accept

If a

able gifts, because they are the flower of commodities, and admit of fantastic values being attached to them. man should send to me to come a hundred miles to visit him, and should set before me a basket of fine summer fruit, I should think there was some proportion between the labor and the reward.

For common gifts, necessity makes pertinences and beauty every day, and one is glad when an imperative leaves him no option, since if the man at the door have no shoes, you have not to consider whether you could procure him a paint box. And as it is always pleasing to see a man eat bread, or drink water, in the house or out of doors, so it is always a great satisfaction to supply these first wants. Necessity does everything well. In our condition of universal dependence, it seems heroic to let the petitioner be the judge of his necessity, and to give all that is asked, though at great inconvenience. If it be a fantastic desire, it is better to leave to others the office of punishing him. I can think of many parts I should prefer playing to that of the Furies. Next to the things of necessity, the rule for a gift, which one of my friends prescribed, is, that we might convey to some person that which properly belonged to his character, and was easily associated with him in thought. But our tokens of compliment and love are for the most part barbarous. Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou' must bleed

Therefore the poet brings his poem ; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem ; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to its primary

for me.

« PreviousContinue »