Page images
PDF

Woman divine! ideal best-beloved,

Here was thy image realized to me;
In sensible existence lived and moved
The vision of my sacred phantasy ;
Madonna! Mary mine!

Her look, her smile, was thine,
And gazing on that form, I worshipt thee.

THE LONG-AGO.

Blending their souls' sublimest needs

With tasks of every day,
They went about their gravest deeds,

As noble boys at play.
And what if nature's fearful wound

They did not probe and bare,
For that their spirits never swoon'd

To watch the misery there, For that their love but flow'd more fast,

Their charities more free,
Not conscious what mere drops they cast

Into the evil sea.
A man's best things are nearest him,

Lie close about his feet,
It is the distant and the dim

That we are sick to greet: For flowers that grow our hands beneath

We struggle and aspire,
Our hearts must die, except they breathe

The air of fresh desire,
But, brothers, who up reason's hill

Advance with hopeful cheer,
Oh! loiter not, those heights are chill,

As chill as they are clear;
And still restrain your haughty gaze,

The loftier that ye go,
Remembering distance leaves a haze

On all that lies below.

[blocks in formation]

Gently supported by the ready aid

Of loving hands, whose little work of toil
Her grateful prodigality repaid
With all the benediction of her smile,

She turned her failing feet

To the soft-pillow'd seat,
Dispensing kindly greetings all the while.
Before the tranquil beauty of her face

I bow'd in spirit, thinking that she were
A suffering angel, whom the special grace
Of God intrusted to our pious care,

That we might learn from her

The art to minister
To heavenly beings in seraphic air.
There seem'd to lie a weight upon her brain,

That ever prest her blue-vein'd eyelids down, But could not dim her lustrous eyes with pain, Nor seam her forehead with the faintest frown;

She was as she were proud,

So young, to be allow'd To follow Him who wore the thorny crown. Nor was she sad, but over every mood,

To which her lightly-pliant mind gave birth, Gracefully changing, did a spirit brood, Of quiet gayety and serenest mirth;

And thus her voice did flow,

So beautifully low,
A stream whose music was no thing of earth.

Eyes which can but ill define

Shapes that rise about and near, Through the far horizon's line

Stretch a vision free and clear: Memories feeble to retrace

Yesterday's immediate flow, Find a dear familiar face

In each hour of long-ago. Follow yon majestic train

Down the slopes of old renown, Knightly forms without disdain,

Sainted heads without a frown; Emperors of thought and hand

Congregate, a glorious show,
Met from every age and land

In the plains of long-ago.
As the heart of childhood brings

Something of eternal joy,
From its own unsounded springs,

Such as life can scarce destroy ;
So, remindful of the prime

Spirits, wandering to and fro, Rest upon the resting time

In the peace of long-ago. Youthful hope's religious fire,

When it burns no longer, leaves Ashes of impure desire

On the altars it deceives; But the light that fills the past

Sheds a still diviner glow, Ever farther it is cast

O'er the scenes of long-ago. Many a growth of pain and care,

Cumbering all the present hour, Yields, when once transplanted there,

Healthy fruit or pleasunt flower; Thoughts that hardly flourish here,

Feelings long have ceased to blow, Breathe a native atmosphere

In the world of long-ago. On that deep-retiring shore

Frequent pearls of beauty lie, Where the passion-waves of yore

Fiercely beat and mounted high : Sorrows that are sorrows still

Lose the bitter taste of woe;
Nothing's altogether ill
In the griefs of long-ago.

Tombs where lonely love repines,

Ghastly tenements of tears, Wear the look of happy shrines

Through the golden mist of years : Death, to those who trust in good,

Vindicates his hardest blow; Oh! we would not, if we could,

Wake the sleep of long-ago! Though the doom of swift decay

Shocks the soul where life is strong, Though for frailer hearts the day

Lingers sad and overlong,
Still the weight will find a leaven,

Still the spoiler's hand is slow,
While the future has its heaven,

And the past its long-ago.

PRINCE EMILIUS OF HESSEN-DARM.

STADT.

From Hessen-Darmstadt every step

To Moskwa's blazing banks,
Was Prince Emilius found in fight,

Before the foremost ranks ;
And when upon the icy waste,

That host was backward cast, On Beresina's bloody bridge,

His banner waved the last.
His valour shed victorious grace

On all that dread retreat,
That path across the wildering snow,

Athwart the blinding sleet;
And every follower of his sword

Could all endure and dare,
Becoming warriors strong in hope,

Or stronger in despair.
Now, day and dark, along the storm

The demon Cossacks sweep;
The hungriest must not look for food,

The weariest must not sleep;
No rest, but death, for horse or man,

Whichever first shall tire;-
They see the flames destroy, but ne'er

May feel the saving fire.
Thus never closed the bitter night,

Nor rose the savage morn,
But from that gallant company

Some noble part was shorn, And, sick at heart, the prince resolved,

To keep his purposed way, With steadfast, forward looks, nor count

The losses of the day.

At one unmeditated glance,

He number'd only ten!
Of all that high triumphant life

That left his German home,
Of all those hearts that beat beloved,

Or lookt for love to come,
This piteous remnant hardly saved

His spirit overcame,
While memory raised each friendly face,

And called each ancient name.
Then were his words serene and firm

“Dear brothers, it is best That here, with perfect trust in Heaven,

We give our bodies rest;
If we have borne, like faithful men,

Our part of toil and pain,
Where'er we wake, for Christ's good sake,

We shall not sleep in vain."
Some utter'd, others lookt assent,

They had no heart to speak;
Dumb hands were prest, the pallid lip,

Approacht the callous cheek;
They laid them side by side; and death

To him at least did seem
To come attired in mazy robe

Of variegated dream.
Once more he floated on the breast

Of old familiar Rhine,
His mother's and one other smile

Above him seemed to shine ;
A blessèd dew of healing fell

On every aching limb,
Till the stream broaden's and the air

Thicken’d and all was dim.
Nature has bent to other laws,

If that tremendous night
Past o'er his frame exposed and worn,

And left no deadly blight;
Then wonder not that when refresht

And warm he woke at last,
There lay a boundless gulf of thought

Between him and the past.
Soon raising his astonisht head

He found himself alone,
Shelter'd beneath a genial heap

Of vestments not his own;
The light increast the solemn truth

Revealing more and more,
His soldiers corses self-despoiled,

Closed up the narrow door.
That very hour, fulfilling good,

Miraculous succour came,
And Prince Emilius lived to give

This worthy deed to fame.
Oh, brave fidelity in death!

Oh, strength of loving will ! These are the holy balsam drops

That woful wars distil.

At length beside a black-burnt hut,

An island of the snow,-
Each head in frigid stupor bent

Toward the saddle bow,
They paused, and of that sturdy troop,

That thousand banded men,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Festus is the title of a very remarkable | face to face with Him whom no one hath seen poem published anonymously by Pickering, in or at any time shall see. In some respects it 1839. It is stated in Horne's New Spirit of the is not unlike the Faust of Goethe. It is Age, that it was written by P. J. Bailey, but of not equal to that wonderful book; yet it Mr. Bailey, more than that he wrote Festus, I has passages of deepest wisdom, of power know nothing. The poem attracted consi- | and tenderness, such as few poets in our day derable attention, on its appearance, but was have produced ; and it will live. not generally praised. The versification is in the Monthly Magazine for 1840 is an often careless, and the work shows a want of additional scene to Festus, in which the the constructive faculty. Moreover, it is too | author speaks of himself and his poem. The daring in action and conclusion. It has scenes first of the following extracts is from this in the unknown world, and its hero speaks | scene.

FESTUS DESCRIBES HIS FRIEND. As doth a lamp from air which hath itself

Matter of light although it show not. His He had no times of study, and no place; Was but the power to light what might be lit. All places and all times to him were one.

He met a muse in every lonely maid;
His soul was like the wind-harp, which he loved, | And learn'd a song from every lip he loved.
And sounded only when the spirit blew,

But his heart ripen'd most 'neath southern eyes,
Sometime in feasts and follies, for he went [rose Which sunn'd their sweets into him all day long,
Life-like through all things, and his thoughts then | For fortune call'd him southward, towards the sun.
Like snarkles in the bright wine, brighter still. We do not make our thoughts; they grow in us
Sometimes in dreams, and then the shining words Like grain in wood; the growth is of the skies,
Would wake him in the dark before his face. Which are of nature, nature is of God.
All things talk'd thoughts to him. The sea went mad | The world is full of glorious likenesses,
To show his meaning; and the awful sun

The poet's power is to sort these out, Thundered his thoughts into him; and at night And to make music from the common strings Tte stars would whisper theirs, the moon sigh hers, With which the world is strung; to make the dumb He spake the world's one tongue; in earth and Earth utter heavenly harmony, and draw heaven

Life clear and sweet and harmless as spring water, There is but one, it is the word of truth.

Welling its way through flowers. Without faith, To him the eye let out its hidden meaning; Illimitable faith, strong as a state's And young and old made their hearts over to him; In its own might, in God, no bard can be. And thoughts were told to him as unto none, All things are signs of other and of nature. Save one who heareth, said and unsaid, all. ... It is at night we see heaven moveth, and All things were inspiration unto him—

A darkness thick with suns; the thoughts we think Wood, wold, hill, field, sea, city, solitude,

Subsist the same in God, as stars in heaven, And crowds, and streets, and man where'er he was, And as those specks of light will prove great worlds, And the blue eye of God which is above us; When we approach them sometime free from flesh, Brook-bounded pine spinnies, where spirits flit; So too our thoughts will become magnified And haunted pits the rustic hurries by,

To mindlike things immortal. And as space Where cold wet ghosts sit ringing jingling bells ; Is but a property of God, wherein Old orchards' leaf-roofed aisles, and red-cheek'd load; Is laid all matter, other attributes And the blood-colour'd tears which yew-trees weep May be the intinite homes of mind and soul. ... O'er churchyard graves, like murderers remorseful; Love, mirth, wo, pleasure, was in turn his theme, The dark green rings where fairies sit and sup, And the great good which beauty does the soul, Crushing the violet dew in the acorn cup;

And the God-made necessity of things. Where by his new-made bride the bridegroom sips, And, like that noble knight in olden tale, The white moon shimmering on their longing lips; Who changed his armour's hue at each fresh charge The large, o’er-loaded, wealthy-looking wains By virtue of his lady-love's strange ring, Quietly swaggering home through leafy lanes, So that none knew him save his private page, Leaving on all low branches, as they come, And she who cried, God save him, every time Straws for the birds, ears of the harvest-home; He brake spears with the brave till he quell'd allHe drew his light from that he was amidst, So he applied him to all themes that came;

[ocr errors]

Loving the most to breast the rapid deep,
Where others had been drown'd, and heeding

naught
Where danger might not fill the place of fame.
And mid the magic circle of these sounds,
His lyre ray'd out, spell-bound himself he stood,
Like a still’d storm. It is no task for suns
To shine. He knew himself a bard ordain'd,
More than inspired, of God inspirited,
Making himself like an electric rod
A lure for lightning feelings, and his words
Felt like the things which fall in thunder, which

The mind, when in a dark, hot, cloudful state,
Doth make metallic, meteoric, ball-like.
He spake to spirits with a spirit-tongue,
Who came compell’d by wizard word of truth,
And ray'd them round him from the ends of heaven;
For, as be all bards, he was born of beauty,
And with a natural fitness, to draw down
All tones and shades of beauty to his soul,
Even as the rainbow tinted shell, which lies
Miles deep at bottom of the sea, hath all
Colours of skies, and flowers, and gems, and plumes,
And all by nature, which doth reproduce
Like loveliness in seeming opposites.
Our life is like the wizard's charmed ring,
Death's heads, and loathsome things fill up the

ground;
But spirits wing about, and wait on us,
While yet the hour of enchantment is,
And while we keep in, we are safe, and can
Force them to do our bidding. And he raised
The rebel in himself, and in his mind
Walk'd with him through the world.

May God that moment judge me when I do!
Oh! she was fair; her nature once all spring
And deadly beauty like a maiden sword;
Startlingly beautiful. I see her now!
Whate'er thou art, thy soul is in my mind;
Thy shadow hourly lengthens o'er my brain
And peoples all its pictures with thyself,
Gone, not forgotten; pass'd, not lost; thou'lt shine
In heaven like a bright spot in the sun!
She said she wish'd to die, and so she died;
For, cloudlike, she pour'd out her love, which was
Her life, to freshen this parch'd heart. It was

thus ;
I said we were to part, but she said nothing;
There was no discord; it was music ceased;
Life's thrilling, bursting, bounding joy. She sate
Like a house-god, her hands fix'd on her knee;
And her dank hair lay loose and long behind her,
Through which her wild bright eye flash'd like a

flint;
She spake not, moved not, but she look'd the more;
As if her eye were action, speech, and feeling. -
I felt it all, and came and knelt beside her,
The electric touch solved both our souls together;
Then comes the feeling which unmakes, undoes;
Which tears the sealike soul up by the roots
And lashes it in scorn against the skies.
Twice did I stamp to God, swearing, hand clench'a,
That not even He nor death should tear her from me.
It is the saddest and the sorest night
One's own love weeping. But why call on God?
But that the feeling of the boundless bounds
All feeling! as the welkin doth the world.
It is this which ones us with the whole and God.
Then first we wept; then closed and clung

together;
And my heart shook this building of my breast
Like a live engine booming up and down.
She fell upon me like a snow-wreath thawing.
Never were bliss and beauty, love and wo,
Ravell’d and twined together into madness,
As in that one wild hour, to which all else,
The past, is but a picture. That alone
Is real, and for ever there in front,

.....After that I left her And only saw her once again alive.

ANGELA.

CALMNESS OF THE SUBLIME.

I loved her, for that she was beautiful, And that to me she seem'd to be all nature And all varieties of things in one; Would set at night in clouds of tears, and rise All light and laughter in the morning; fear No petty customs nor appearances; But think what others only dream'd about; And say what others did but think; and do What others would but say ; and glory in [me; What others dared but do; it was these which won And that she never schoold within her breast One thought or feeling, but gave holiday To all; and that she told me all her woes And wrongs and ills ; and so she made them mine In the communion of love ; and we Grew like each other, for we loved each other; She, mild and generous as the sun in spring; And I, like earth, all budding out with love. The beautiful are never desolate; For some one alway loves them—God or man. If man abandons, God Himself takes them, And thus it was. She whom I once loved died. The lightning loathes its cloud; the soul its clay. Can I forget that hand I took in mine, Pale as pale violets; that eye, where mind And matter met alike divine ? Ah, no!

The goodness of the heart is shown in deeds Of peacefulness and kindness. Hand and heart Are one thing with the good, as thou shouldst be. Do my words trouble thee? then treasure them. Pain overgot gives peace, as death doth Heaven. All things that speak of Heaven speak of peace. Peace hath more might than war; high brows are

calm; Great thoughts are still as stars; and truths, like

suns, Stir not, but many systems tend around them. Mind's step is still as Death's; and all great things Which cannot be controll'd, whose end is good.

TRUTH AND SORROW.

Night brings out stars as sorrow shows us truths; Though many, yet they help not; bright, they

light not. They are too late to serve us; and sad things Are aye too true. We never see the stars Till we can see naught but them. So with truth. And yet if one would look down a deep well, Even at noon, we might see these same stars, Far fairer than the blinding blue: the truth Stars in the water like a dark bright eye, But there are other eyes men better love Than truth's, for when we have her she is so cold And proud, we know not what to do with her... Sometimes the thought comes swiftening over us, Like a small bird winging the still blue air, And then again at other times it rises Slow, like a cloud which scales the skies all breath

[ocr errors]

FAITH. Faith is a higher faculty than reason, Though of the brightest power of revelation, As the snow-peaked mountain rises o'er The lightning, and applies itself to heaven, We know in daytime there are stars about us Just as at night, and name them what and where By sight of science; so by faith we know, Although we may not see them till our night, That spirits are about us, and believe, That to a spirit's eye all heaven may be As full of angels as a beam of light Of motes. As spiritual, it shows all Classes of life, perhaps above our kind, Known to tradition, reason, or God's word. As earthly, it imbodies most the life Of youth; its powers, its aims, its deeds, its failings; And as a sketch of world-life, it begins And ends, and rightly, in heaven, and with God; While heaven is also in the midst thereof. God, or all good, the evil of the world, And man, wherein are both, are each display'd; The mortal is the model of all men. The foibles, follies, trials, sufferings Of a young, hot, un-world-school'd heart, that has Had its own way in life, and wherein all May see some likeness of their own, 'tis these Attract, unite, and, sunlike, concentrate The ever-moving system of our feeling; Like life, too, as a whole, it has a moral, And, as in life, each scene too has its moral, A scene for every year of his young life, Shining upon it, like the quiet moon, Illustrating the obscure, unequal earth : And though these scenes may seem to careless eyes Irregular and rough and unconnected, Like to the stones at Stonehenge, still a use, A meaning, and a purpose may be mark'd Among them of a temple rear'd to God, It has a plan, no plot; and life has none.

And just o'erhead lets itself down on us.
Sometimes we feel the wish across the mind
Rush, like a rocket roaring up the sky,
That we should join with God and give the world
The go-by ; but the world meantime turns round,
And peeps us in the face; the wanton world;
We feel it gently pressing down our arm,
The arm we raised to do for truth such wonders;
We feel it softly bearing on our side;
We feel it touch and thrill us through the body;
And we are fools, and there's an end of us.

THE END OF LIFE.

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not

breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart-throbs. He most

lives, Who thinks most; feels the noblest; acts the best. And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest: Lives in one hour more than in years do some Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins. Life is but a means unto an end ; that end, Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God. The dead have all the glory of the world.

GREAT THOUGHTS. Who can mistake great thoughts? They seize upon the mind; arrest, and search, And shake it; bow the tall soul as by wind; Rush over it like rivers over reeds, Which quaver in the current; turn us cold, And pale, and voiceless ; leaving in the brain A rocking and a ringing, -glorious, But momentary ; madness might it last, And close the soul with Heaven as with a seal.

THE POET.

A LETTER.

When he hath had A letter from his lady dear, he bless'd The paper that her hand had traveli'd over, And her eye look'd on, and would think he saw Gleams of that light she lavish'd from her eyes, Wandering amid the words of love she'd traced Like glowworms among beds of flowers. He seem'd To bear with being but because she loved him; She was the sheath wherein his soul had rest, As hath a sword from war.

The bard must have a kind, courageous heart, And natural chivalry to aid the weak. He must believe the best of every thing; Love all below, and worship all above. All animals are living hieroglyphs. The dashing dog, and stealthy-stepping cat, Hawk, bull, and all that breathe, mean something

more To the true eye than their shapes show; for all Were made in love, and made to be beloved. Thus must he think as to earth's lower life, Who seeks to win the world to thought and love, As doth the bard, whose habit is all kindness To every thing.

« PreviousContinue »