Page images
PDF
EPUB

In silence ripen, fall, and cease:
Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease!

V.

How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream,
With half-shut eyes ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half-dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light,
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
To hear each other's whispered speech;
Eating the Lotos, day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray:
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heaped over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass !

VI.

Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
And dear the last embraces of our wives,
And their warm tears; but all hath suffered change;
For surely now our household hearths are cold :
Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange :
And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.
Or else the island princes, over-bold,
Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings
Before them of the ten years' war in Troy,
And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things.
Is there confusion in the little isle ?

Let what is broken so remain.
The gods are hard to reconcile :
"T is hard to settle order once again.
There is confusion worse than death,
Trouble on trouble, pain on pain,
Long labor unto aged breath,
Sore task to hearts worn out with many wars,
And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars.

VII.

But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly,
How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly),
With half-dropt eyelids still,
Beneath a heaven dark and holy,
To watch the long bright river drawing slowly
His waters from the purple hill,
To hear the dewy echoes calling
From cave to cave through the thick-twinéd vine,
To hear the emerald-colored water falling
Through many a woven acanthus-wreath divine !
Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine,
Only to hear were sweet, stretched out beneath the pine.

VIII.

The Lotos blooms below the barren peak :
The Lotos blows by every winding creek:
All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone:
Through every hollow cave and alley lone
Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotus-dust

is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we,

Rolled to starboard, rolled to larboard, when the surge

was seething free, Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains

in the sea. Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined On the hills like gods together, careless of mankind. For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurled Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly

curled Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming

world; Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps,

and fiery sands, Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and

praying hands. But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful

song Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong, Like a tale of little meaning, though the words are strong; Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil, Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil, Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine, and oil; Till they perish and they suffer, --some, 't is whispered

down in hell Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel. Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

HE play is done, -the curtain drops,

Slow falling to the prompter's bell;

A moment yet the actor stops,
And looks around, to say farewell.
It is an irksome word and task;

And, when he's laughed and said his say, He shows, as he removes the mask,

A face that 's anything but gay.

One word, ere yet the evening ends,

Let's close it with a parting rhyme;
And pledge a hand to all young friends,

As fits the merry Christmas-time;
On life's wide scene you, too, have parts

That fate erelong shall bid you play ;
Good-night ! — with honest gentle hearts

A kindly greeting go alway!

Good-night!—I'd say the griefs, the joys,

Just hinted in this mimic page,

The triumphs and defeats of boys,

Are but repeated in our age;
I'd say your woes were not less keen,

Your hopes more vain, than those of men, Your pangs or pleasures of fifteen

At forty-five played o'er again.

I'd say we suffer and we strive

Not less nor more as men than boys, With grizzled beards at forty-five,

As erst at twelve in corduroys; And if, in time of sacred youth,

We learned at home to love and pray, Pray Heaven that early love and truth

May never wholly pass away.

And in the world, as in the school,

I'd say how fate may change and shift, The prize be sometimes with the fool,

The race not always to the swift;
The strong may yield, the good may fall,

The great man be a vulgar clown,
The knave be lifted over all,

The kind cast pitilessly down.

Who knows the inscrutable design ?

Blessed be He who took and gave! Why should your mother, Charles, not mine,

Be weeping at her darling's grave ? We bow to Heaven that willed it so,

That darkly rules the fate of all,

« PreviousContinue »