Modernist Poets
Poems
8th Oct 2021Posted in: Modernist Poets, Robert S. Chilton 0

ERRATA

LOCATION

ERROR

Page 16, 10.2

“opes” corrected to “opens”

Page 16, 19.2

“voilet’s” corrected to “violet’s”

Page 66, 4.2

“flowers” corrected to “flower’s”

[unnumbered page]

W. STONE,

BOOKBINDER [inside front cover]

[2 blank pages]

[handwritten: With the compliments of your devoted pupil, illegible phrase Goderich Ontario. September 23/85]

 [unnumbered page]

[blank page]

POEMS

BY

ROBERT S. CHILTON.


GODERICH:

MCGILLICUDDY BROS., SIGNAL PRINTING HOUSE.


1885.

[unnumbered page]

[stamp:

ST. MICHAEL’S COLLEGE

LIBRARY]

MAR – 9 1944

[unnumbered page]

PREFACE.


    In gathering together and printing the fugitive poems which make up this little volume, intended for private distribution only, my sole object has been to gratify the wishes of some who are near and dear to me, and who naturally have felt an interest, partial of course, in my occasional short flights into the realm of poetry. That they do not possess any special literary merit no one, I am sure, knows better than I do; and yet I cannot find it in my heart altogether to regret the hours I have spent in devotion to the muse, —wooing her indeed not very successfully, but nevertheless with a sufficient return to afford me some gratification even now. Many of the verses were written when I was very young (but perhaps it is unnecessary to say this), whilst others were composed at a comparatively recent date.

R. S. C.

May, 1885. [unnumbered page]

[blank page]

CONTENTS.


PAGE

The Mother’s First Grief

9

The Exile’s Return

10

Epitaph on the Tomb of Payne

11

Dirge for an Infant

12

Little Fanny

13

Heart’s-Ease

15

To James Russell Lowell

16

Shipwreck

17

Grant

17

Powers’ Greek Slave

18

The Little Peasant

19

To Kossuth

20

Garfield

21

Mrs. Garfield

21

To a Picture by Elliot

22

Alms-Giving

23

Winter

24

Lend a Hand

25

Heart-Summer

25

Thomas Hood

26

Rab

27

Pleasure and Duty

28

Herndon

29

To ——(“Softly Fades the Golden Sunlight”)

30

Stanzas Suggested by the Death of Miss Canda

31

In Memoriam, (M. C. F.)

33

Katy

34

Sub Rosa

35

Valentine for Sympathetic Ink

35

To a Cold Beauty

36

To a Sister’s Memory

37

[unnumbered page]

To a Violet, (addressed to V.B.)

38

To V.B. on her Eighteenth Birthday

39

A May Morning

40

Ante Bellum

41

The Crisis

42

“I Look at the Sky Above Me”

42

To M. V. C., (May 13, 1872)

43

C. L. E.

44

“White and Silent Shines the Moonlight”

44

A Memory

45

Amor Patriæ

46

Stone for Bread

47

Old Trinity Church

48

Epicedium

51

SONNETS.

Sunset

55

To a Picture

56

Father Boyle

57

To an Unfinished Portrait by Page

58

A Mother’s Invocation to the Blessed Virgin

59

On the Death of a Friend

60

Genius

61

On the Death of Col. Brent

62

On the Invasion of Rome by the French, (1849)

63

“Must I not Love thee? Lady say not so.”

64

“Still to be Near Thee and to Hear Thee Speak.”

65

“If with too Rude a Hand I Plucked the Rose.”

66

“If Words Could Say How Much I Love Thee, Dear.”

67

“A Rose-bud, and from Thee! Ah! how my heart.”

68

On a Miniature

69

Queen Emma.

70

[page vi]

POEMS.

[unnumbered page]

[blank page]

THE MOTHER’S FIRST GRIEF.

She sits beside the cradle,

    And her tears are streaming fast,

For she sees the present only,

    While she thinks of all the past;—

Of the days so full of gladness

    When her first-born’s answering kiss

Thrilled her soul with such a rapture

    That it knew no other bliss.

O those happy, happy moments!

    They but deepen her despair,

For she bends above the cradle,

    And her baby is not there!

There are words of comfort spoken,

    And the leaden clouds of grief

Wear the smiling bow of promise,

    And she feels a sad relief;

But her wavering thoughts will wander

    Till they settle on the scene

Of the dark and silent chamber,

    And of all that might have been;—

For a little vacant garment,

    Or a shining tress of hair,

Tells her heart, in tones of anguish,

    That her baby is not there!

She sits beside the cradle,

    But her tears non longer flow;

For she sees a blessed vision

    And forgets all earthly woe;

Saintly eyes look down upon her,

    And the Voice that hushed the sea

Stills her spirit with the whisper—

    “Suffer them to come to Me.”

And while her soul is lifted

    On the soaring wings of prayer,

Heaven’s crystal gates swing inward,

    And she sees her baby there! [page 9]

THE EXILE’S RETURN.

[READ AT THE RE-INTERMENT OF THE REMAINS OF JOHN HOWARD PAYNE, AUTHOR OF “HOME, SWEET HOME,” AT WASHINGTON D. C., JUNE 9TH 1882.]

The exile hath returned, and now at last

    In kindred earth his ashes shall repose.—

Fit recompense for all his weary past

    That here the scene should end,—the drama close.

Here where his own loved skies o’erarch the spot,

    And where familiar trees their branches wave;

Where the dear home-born flowers he ne’er forget

    Shall bloom, and shed their dews upon his grave.

Will not the wood-thrush, pausing in her flight,

    Carol more sweetly o’er this place of rest?

Here linger longest in the fading light,

    Before she seeks her solitary nest?

Not his lofty lyre, but one whose strings

    Were gently touched to soothe our human kind,—

Like the mysterious harp that softly sings,

     Swept by the unseen fingers of the wind.

The home-sick wanderer in a distant land,

    Listening his song has known a double bliss;—

Felt the warm pressure of a father’s hand,

    And—seal of seals!—a mother’s sacred kiss.

In humble cottage, as in hall of state,

    His truant fancy never ceased to roam

O’er backward years, and—irony of fate!—

    Of home he sang who never found a home!— [page 10]

Not even in death, poor wanderer till now,—

    For long his ashes slept in alien soil.

Will they not thrill to-day, as round his brow

    A fitting wreath is twined with loving toil?

Honor and praise be his whose generous hand

    Brought the sad exile back, no more to roam;

Back to the bosom of his own loved land—

    Back to his kindred, friends, his own Sweet Home!


EPITAPH ON THE TOMB OF JOHN HOWARD PAYNE AT TUNIS.

Sure, when thy gentle spirit fled

    To realms beyond the azure dome,

With arms outstretched, God’s angels said—

    “Welcome to Heaven’s ‘Home, Sweet Home!’” [page 11]

DIRGE FOR AN INFANT.

He is dead and gone—a flower

Born and withered in an hour.

Coldly lies in the death-frost now

On his little rounded brow;

And the seal of darkness lies

Ever on his shrouded eyes.

He will never feel again

Touch of human joy or pain;

Never will his once bright eyes

Open with a glad surprise

Nor the death-frost leave his brow—

All is over with him now.

Vacant now his cradle-bed,

As a nest from whence hath fled

Some dear little bird, whose wings

Rest from timid flutterings.

Thrown aside the childish rattle,

Hushed for aye the infant prattle;—

Little broken words that could

By none else be understood

Save the childless one who weeps

O’er the grave where now he sleeps.

Closed his eyes and cold his brow;—

All is over with him now! [page 12]

LITTLE FANNY.

She is not dead—she would not die

    And leave us nothing but regret;

It is but sleep that shrouds that eye,—

    I know she’s living yet:

What have I done amiss, or thou,

That god should steal our blossom now?

Her cheeks are cold and white as snow,

    Her lips lie languidly apart;

But I can hear the warm blood flow,—

    The music of her heart!

And yet those hands are stiff and chill,—

I never saw them lie so still.

Her rest is very, very deep;

    So deep, her bosom scarcely heaves;

She seems a flower just gone asleep,

    Among whose folded leaves

There lingers a faint, odorous breath:—

Dear god, if this indeed is death!

     *          *          *         *          *          *

They tell me thou art free from pain,

    They say our parting is but brief;

But till we meet in Heaven again,

    Where shall I hide my grief?

Priest, I will cease this vain regret,

If thou wilt teach me to forget. [page 13]

Tomorrow morn the sun will rise,

    The stars will shine tomorrow night,

But oh! how hateful to these eyes

    Will seem their once loved light!

There is no longer joy to me

In anything thou canst not see.

All earth’s fair forms seem now to me

    To take the ugly form of death;

The very flowers so loved by thee,

    Have lost their perfumed breath:

All sounds fall harshly on my ear,

That were most sweet when thou couldst hear.

I know thy sinless soul whose light

    To us so brief a time was given,

With kindred spirits, pure and bright,

    Is happy now in heaven:—

Dear child! and yet I cannot bear

To think thy soul is even there! [page 14]

HEART’S EASE.

I went to gather heart’s-ease,

    As the day-god sank to rest,—

Drawing all the sheaves of sunlight

    To his garner in the west:

When the blossoms, and the leaves,

    Losing all their golden glow,

In the slowly-gathering twilight,

    Faintly fluttered to and fro.

All the ground was starred with May-blooms,—

    Everywhere they met my eye;

But I went to gather heart’s-ease,

    So I passed all others by.—

O, my soul was ne’er so joyous

    As it was in those glad hours,

When I wandered, light and careless,

    Near the woodside, plucking flowers.

And I gave them all to you, dear;

    Then I looked upon your face,

And I wondered I could think

    That the flowers had any grace:

Then it was I gathered heart’s-ease;

    Then it was, dear heart, I found

That the glory of the May-blooms

    Did not lie upon the ground! [page 15]

TO JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.

[WRITTEN ON A FLY-LEAF OF HIS POEMS, 1848]

True-hearted poem, I foresee in thee

The drawing streaks of that long-sunken sun

Which blazed on sturdy England in the time

Of Queen Elizabeth. No mean conceits,

No maudlin sorrows in affected rhyme,

Cumber thy verse: thine eye of faith is clear,

And reads God’s goodness in the humblest flower

That opens its timid eyelid to the dawn.

We need such poets,—earnest, truthful men,

As thou art always; men who look on life

But as the means to a most glorious end;

The stepping-stone to Heaven; the sharp trial

That fits the soul for its high destiny.

Like loving sisters, wand’ring hand in hand,

Philosophy and Poetry attend

And wait upon thee, as thou turnest o’er

The violet’s leaves, within whose modest heart

Thou seest a portion of the pulse which throbs

Through the great frame of nature. Burning words,

When, David-like, thou smit’st the ponderous bulk

Of some gigantic error, fly like sparks

Out from the fiery furnace of thy heart,—

Each one a torch wherewith the bright-eyed Truth

Lights up the caves where Wrong and Falsehood dwell. [page 16]

SHIPWRECK.

A long, low reach of level sand,

    Packed erewhile by the maddened waves

As the storm-wind drove them toward the land:—

    A boat on the shore, and nothing more,

Tells of the dead who sank to their graves

    To the sound of the wild sea’s roar.

The ship went down at night they say,

    Wrestling with winds and waves to the last,—

Like a great sea-monster fighting at bay.

    The fisherman tells how he heard the bells

Ring in the lulls of the pitiless blast,

    Mingled with wild farewells.

The winds are asleep and the sea is still,

    Still as the wrecked beneath its waves—

Dreamless of all life’s good or ill.

    A boat on the shore and nothing more

Tells of the dead who sank to their graves

    To the sound of the wild sea’s roar!


GRANT.

Silent some call thee: haply it were well

    If they who name thee so could earn a fame

    For deeds not words as thou hast, “Twere the same

Wert thou as clamorous as a new-swung bell:

    The carping malcontents would still cry blame.

The nation trusted thee when sore beset,

    Battling for life against her recreant foes;

    She placed thee where thou art, when came repose

And the sheathed sword,—and she will trust thee yet.

     Noiseless the mighty stream resistless flows,

Whist shallow brooklets o’er their pebbles fret. [page 17]

POWERS’ GREEK SLAVE.

A flash of sabres and of scymitars,

Shouts, groans, then silence,—and the crescent waves

Victorious o’er the field where in their graves

The vanquished dead will moulder. But such wars

Have some woes that stab the Grecian mother’s heart

Deeper than death. In far Byzantium mart

She sees her captive child, naked, forlorn,

Gazed at by pitiless eyes,—a thing of scorn.

With the face averted and with shackled hands,

Clothed only with her chastity she stands.

Her heart is full of tears, as any rose

Bending beneath a shower; but pride and scorn,

And that fine feeling of endurance born,

Have strung the delicate fibres of her frame

Till not a tear can fall! Methinks such woes

As thine, pale sufferer, might rend in twain

A heart of sterner stuff—and yet the flame

Of thy pure spirit, like the sacred light

On Hestia’s hearth, burns steadily and bright,

Unswayed by sorrow’s gusts, unquenched by sorrow’s rain.

Thou canst confront, dumb marble as thou art,

And silence those whose lying lips declare

That virtue springs from circumstance, not God;

The snow that falls where never foot hath trod,

On bleakest mountain-heights, is not more pure

Than thy white soul, though thou stand’st naked there,

Gazed at by those whose lustful passions start

With every heart-throb! Long may’st thou ensure,

To vanquish with thy calm, immaculate brow

The unholy thoughts of men, as thou dost now! [page 18]

THE LITTLE PEASANT.*

Unstrung by her heart’s first sorrow

    In the dawn of her life she stands,

With listless fingers holding

    A vacant nest in her hands.

The grass at her feet no longer

    Is bright with the light of the skies,

As downward she looks through the tear-drops

    That stand in her heaven-blue eyes.

For the nest, so cold and forsaken,

    Has taught her the lesson to-day

That the dearest of earthly treasures

    Have wings and can fly away.

Yet she clings to the empty casket,

    And sighs that no more is left,

As a mother clings to the cradle

    Of its dimpled treasure bereft.

Alas! for the early sorrows

    That gather about her way,

When the beautiful light has vanished,

    And the hill-tops are cold and gray!


*A statue by E. D. Palmer.


[page 19]

TO KOSSUTH.

[DECEMBER 1851.]

Kossuth! thine eyes first caught the early glow

    That streamed from Freedom’s yet unrisen sun,

And lit the Future’s peaks—while all below

    Was dark as the dark earth when day is done.

That glow lit up thy soul, and meaner men

    Saw its reflected splendor in thine eyes,

And, following thy gaze, with anxious ken

    Watched for the coming daybreak in the skies.

And timid hearts grew strong, as doubt by doubt

    Fled in the light of Freedom’s morning star—

Till hope’s scarce-kindled flame was trodden out

    By the imperious footstep of the Czar.

Thy portion was a dungeon: three long years,

    Exiled and fettered did the vulture Care

Feed on thy Titan heart, and drink thy tears,

    But fail to make thy dauntless soul despair.

Three weary years—yet came the hour at last,

    The hour that marked thy exodus from pain,

When Freedom blew aloud her trumpest-blast,

    Loosened thy gyves, and led thee forth again.

Illustrious Magyar! thou shalt triumph yet;

    The world’s leagued depots are no match for thee,

Hedged round by good men’s prayers, and hopes thick-set—

    Mailed in the million wishes of the Free! [page 20]

GARFIELD.

[AUGUST 19, 1881]

Low lies he now who lately stood

    Erect,—the Nation’s honored head:

The States,—a sorrowing sisterhood,—

    Stand with locked shields around his bed.

And, with veiled lids and saddened brow,

    Freedom, dear Goddess, bends above

The prostrate form, so powerless now,

    With looks or earnest, speechless love:—

While through the hush a prayer goes up,—

    The voice of millions blent in one:—

“Remove, O God, the sufferer’s cup,

    Spare, Father, spare thy stricken son!”


MRS GARFIELD.

O, type of truest womanhood!

    The deepest wounded, yet most brave!

Surely the merciful All-Good

    To thee hath given the power to save.

For when the sufferer’s eyes were dim

    With mists, presaging all we feared,

The light in thine which fell on him

    Dispelled these mists, and soothed and cheered.

And when his fainting heart was stirred

    By the bowed Nation’s pleading prayer,

Thine was the unfaltering voice he heard

    That whispered— “Patience, God will spare!” [page 21]

TO A PICTURE BY ELLIOT.

These curling, golden locks; the fair, soft cheek;

    The full, ripe mouth, and the clear hazel eyes—

So full of loving trustfulness, so meek,

    Beaming with deep and eloquent replies

Which the tongue could not utter—ah! how these

    Bring back to the worn heart sweet childhood’s days

When nothing ruder than the summer breeze

Lifted the leaves from the green, sunlit trees,

    Arching the bower of youth!—My fancy strays,

    As on this semblance of thy face I gaze,

Beautiful child! to those green lanes once more

   Where now thou rovest; and sweet sounds and sights,

   Vague recollections of past, dear delights,

Like fragments of a wreck come floating o’er

    The dreary waves, the desolate waste of sea,

    That lies, young voyager, ‘twixt thee and me.

Yet is there sadness in those large, calm eyes,

    A patient sorrow, lovelier than joy;

A mellow, hazy light, as if the sighs

    Breathed by the mother o’er her sleeping boy

Through the long watches of the silent night,

    Still lingered round their lids. Alas! fair child,

That sorrow’s shade should make thee seem more bright;

That thou should’st be more lovely from the blight

    On thy young heart, so pure and undefiled!

    ELLIOTT, thy magic pencil hath beguiled

My soul away from earth and earthly things;

    And sure thy spirit, when it wrought this face

    So full of all imaginable grace,

Was wafted backward on etherial wings

    To those far days when a dear mother’s kiss

    Printed upon thy cheek its seal of bliss [page 22]

ALMS-GIVING.

Ay, fill it up, my sister dear,

    His brothers all like him are gaunt,

And sisters too; then do not fear

    To choke the gaping mouth of want.

Fill up! his heart beats quick and high,

The tears stand in his sickly eye;

Poor wretched, ragged beggar-boy,

He scarce can thank thee now for joy!

The basket’s heavy; what of that?

    His heart is light, he heeds it not;

His feet are cold and bare, poor brat!

    But this has always been his lot.

He trudges on, or stops to steal

Quick glances at the dainty meal;

And then his purple lips do bless

The heart that pitied his distress.

At home, how will the hungry ones

    Clutch at those bits of broken bread!

How will they banquet on those bones,

    Like ravens feasting on the dead!

A dainty stomach would refuse

Such food, but “beggars cannot choose;”

They relish what the rich condemn,

For hunger makes the sauce for them. [page 23]

WINTER.

A solemn silence reigns o’er all,

    A death-like stillness, cold and deep,

As underneath her snowy pall

    The old earth lies asleep.

No birds are in the wailing trees,

    Whose limbs, all shrunken now and bare,

Sway wildly in the winter breeze

    Like withered arms in prayer.

Vainly o’er all these fields of white

    The sun looks down; his feeble beams,

In spots of cold and dazzling light,

    Glint from the frozen streams.

The sudden gusts from off the ground

    Whirl up light showers of blinding snow,

That, meeting in their frolic round,

    Slide to the vale below.

O fettered streams and leafless trees!

    O sleeping flowers! The warm southwest

Will soon send forth his gentle breeze,

    And break your icy rest.

O flowers of joy, that once did make

    A summer in my breast, what art

Can bid ye bloom again, or break

    This winter of the heart? [page 24]

LEND A HAND!

Heed the words, thou man of wealth,

Bring back the fading hue of health

To the poor man’s sunken cheek;

Thou art strong and he is weak;

Thou canst better understand

What his woes are:— “Lend a Hand!”

Heed the words, O ye in whom

The softer virtues live and bloom;

If an erring sister claim

Aid and pity in her shame,

Scorn her not, but take thy stand

On higher ground, and Lend a Hand!


HEART-SUMMER.

Steadily falls the cold November rain—

   Silently drop the leaves through the damp air;—

So fall our tears, as sadly and as vain—

    So earthward drop our hopes and leave us bare.

The bird has wandered from the leafless bough,

    The sky is cold and gray—a leaden pall;

And in his frosty loom chill Winter now

    Weaves the white shroud that soon will cover all.

Cold—sad:—but hark! I hear the summer breeze,

    And noise of waters rushing to the sea;

I see the laughing flowers and waving trees,—

    For all is summer when I think of thee! [page 25]

THOMAS HOOD.

Great poets never die; their words are seeds

    Which sheltered in the hearts of men take root,

And grow and flourish into high-souled deeds—

    The world’s sustaining fruit.

No idle dreamers they, nor light their task,

    Who, with a weapon simple as a song,

Defend the Right, and tear the lying mask

    From the foul face of Wrong;

Who ’neath the coarsest, foulest rags can see

    Some glimpses of the never-dying spark

That lights the front of frail humanity,

    As stars illume the dark.

And such was he, whose spirit shot a ray

    Of sunlight through the sad hearts of the poor;—

The dawning of that brighter, better day,

    No longer now obscure.

Patient in suffering, calm amid the strife

    Of this bleak world, how patiently he wrought!—

Weaving bright threads through the sad woof of life,

    In the great loom of Thought.

The music of his words, falling on ears

    Dulled with the droning of the workshop wheel,

Hath robbed the humble toiler of his tears,

    And taught him how to feel.

Fought he not bravely? Answer, ye oppressed:

    Fought he not wisely?—Let the future say:

The sun that sets in such as golden west

    Heralds a golden day. [page 26]

RAB.

A little mound in the garden,

    Aside from the box-bordered walk,

Tells in such language as flowers

    And only flowers can talk—

(No need of other inscription,

    No need of memorial slab,)

Tells that, all still and silent,

    Underneath lies our little Rab.

And yet in fancy I see him,

    Alert, overflowing with life,

Now racing across the grass-plot

    With the children in playful-strife;

Then, with head dropping saucily sideways,

    On his haunches, with heaving breast,

Awaiting the further onset,

    While the children stop to rest.

Rab, with his coat so silky,

    Seal brown set off by white,

With his long, soft ears, and his questioning eyes

    Aglow with an inner light;

Shall we see him no more forever,

    Will he come no more at our call,

He, the delight of the household,

    The merriest, maddest of all?

Ah, Rab! we will miss you sadly,

    As we look at the spot where your name,

Wrought of the ash’s red berries,

    Glows as if written in flame.

And the flowers will bloom and wither,

    For many and many a day,

On the little grave where the children

    Have tenderly laid you away. [page 27]

PLEASURE AND DUTY.

We met, and loved, and parted—the old story:

    A bright-eyed maiden she, and I a youth

Who worshipped at her shrine, and thought the glory

    That dwelt about her was the light of truth.

O, she was fair as aught of poet’s dreaming,

    And, her large eyes were lustrous as the light

That streams from eve’s first star, whose gentle beaming

    Pours a mild radiance round the brow of night.

Her speech was soft and musical as singing,

    And even now, after long, weary years,

I hear its silvery tones—like sweet bells ringing

    In the far chapel of my wasted years.

But she was false as fair—the maid I cherished—

    And in my hour of sorest need she fled,

And left me in a maze where I had perished,

    But for an angel who my footsteps led:

An angel woman, in whose large calm eyes

    Beamed the pure luster of a spotless soul,

Fixed as the star that burns in Northern skies—

    The God-fed pharos of the frosty pole.

Though cold at first, seen through the clearer air

    In which I breathe, a matchless beauty now

Lives in her perfect form, and flowing hair,

    And in the whiteness of her ample brow.

O, ye who worship Pleasure, know that beauty

    Flows from within, and makes the features fair;

See well, and in the plainer face of Duty

    Thou’lt find such grace as angel-faces wear! [page 28]

HERNDON.

The storm is wild; the merciless winds, elate,

    Drive o’er the waves, and scatter them like sands:

Calm on the vessel’s deck, confronting Fate,

    The dauntless sailor stands.

No thought of self invades his manly heart,

    Though men grow pale and women wail and weep;

Unmoved he sees gaunt Death, with lifted dart,

    Rise from the yawning deep!

In that dark hour, when staggering to her doom,

    His wounded ship plunged madly through the foam;

While, gleaming like a star above the gloom,

    Rose his own distant home:

He strove for others—strove to reunite

    The frantic mother and her helpless child;*

And kept stern watch and ward till came the night—

    That night of terror wild.

Ah! gallant sailor! trusted, tried and true!

    The crown is thine, the martyr’s deathless crown:

Henceforth thy name shall live among the few

    Which tears alone can drown!


* “My little girl remained on board, and I did not discover that she was absent until I had got into the boat. I afterwards learned that Captain Herndon took charge of her and sent her to me by the next boat by a lady named Mrs. Kitteridge, who handed the child to me soon after I reached the Marine.” [Statement of Mrs. Ann Small.]


[page 29]

TO ——.

Softly fades the golden sunlight

    From the valley and the hill;

Softly dies the wind of Summer—

    All the leaves are still;

And the dusky twilight, floating

    From the sunset’s purple bars,

Sows the boundless field of heaven

    Thick with golden stars.

Thus, whene’er I leave thee, dearest,

    Fades from me the joyous light

That, when in thy charmed presence,

    Makes my soul so bright.

Thus, too, mem’ry, like the twilight,

    Brings a holy calm to me,

Sowing o’er my spirit’s darkness

    Star-bright thoughts of thee. [page 30]

STANZAS.

[SUGGESTED BY THE DEATH OF CHARLOTTE CANDA.]*

I stood beside the bed of death,

    A stranger who had come to see

How one so fair might look whose breath

    Was yielded up in agony:

And as I gazed I wept for her

    Who lay so coldly quiet there:—

Such griefs all human hearts should stir—

    Such griefs all human hearts should share.

No trace of anguish marked her face,

    It bore not e’en the look of death,

But seemed so fresh and full of grace,

    I almost listened for her breath!

Around her pure white brow was twined

    A simple wreath of snowy flowers;

Mute emblems of her spotless mind—

    She wore them in her living hours!

Upon her face—sweet type of rest!—

    Lingered a calm and holy smile,

As on the frozen steamlet’s breast

    The fading sunbeam sleeps awhile.

It seemed as if her soul had caught,

    A moment ere it passed away,

A glimpse of heavenly joys, which wrought

    Its impress on the yielding clay.


   * A lovely young lady, who was thrown from a carriage and instantly killed while returning from an evening party in N.Y. City many years since. Her grave in Greenwood Cemetery is marked by a very elaborate and beautiful monument of Italian marble.


[page 31]

The sleeper—for she seemed, though dead,

    To slumber in a dream,—was one

Whose living presence round her shed

    A constant glory like the sun.

Before her smile the mists of care

    Fled as the mists of morning fly,—

For joy compels all things to wear

    The brightness of its own glad eye.

I thought of this, and well could guess

    The grief that burst in sobs so wild,

But not the speechless calm distress

    Of those who once had called her child:

Their lingering gaze cut, like a knife,

    All the heart’s dearest, holiest ties,

As the sweet picture of her life

    Passed and repressed their streaming eyes.

I grieved that one so fair should life

    In the cold precincts of the tomb,—

Dying, with none to see her die,

    Even in her very hour of bloom!

We knew the spotless soul takes wing,

    Triumphant in the mortal strife,

But ah! the weeping heart will cling

    Round the dear form so loved in life! [page 32]

IN MEMORIAM.

[M. C. F.]

Lay her down, the pure and holy;

Lay her down, the meek and lowly,

           Underneath the sod.

In her womanly completeness,

In her spirit robe of sweetness,

           She has gone to God.

Tendril-like, her thoughts and feelings,

In their silent, shy revealings,

           Twined around the cross;

Incense-like, her prayers ascending,

Sought thee, Mary Mother, bending

           Low in gain or loss.

Fairest flowers shall bloom above her,

Sweetest-throated birds shall hover

           O’er her place of rest;

While her body’s guest, immortal

From beyond the heavenly portal,

           Shines among the blest! [page 33]

KATY.

A little angel-child, with great blue eyes

That speak as plainly as her prattling tongue,

Gave me this lock of hair—a simple curl,

Soft as her cheek and sunny as her smile.;

I keep the token with a jealous care,

For when I look at it my mind is filled

With thoughts of truth and tenderness and love,

And innocent simplicity of heart,

And all those lovely attributes that throw

Around endearing childhood that rare charm

Which like the violet’s perfume gives to it

A nameless sweetness.—Blissful-hearted child!

If I can read thy horoscope aright

The dawning of thy life is not more fair

Than its late close will be. A vision bright

Shows me thy sun of life descending slow

‘Mid rosy clouds, the portals of that world

That lies beyond the grave; and voices soft,

Whose tones can reach the spirit’s ear alone,

Float from that realm of never-ending bliss,—

‘Welcome thou stainless one, no taint of earth

Unfits thee for the bliss that angels share’! [page 34]

SUB ROSA.

   I pluck for you

   Still wet with dew

Fresh flowers of every shape and hue,

   Which ‘neath the skies

   Of your blue eyes

Shall fairer seem than where they grew.

   This bursting rose

   The passion shows

Which my poor lips would fain disclose;

   O let it rest

   Upon your breast,

And breathe the secret that it knows!


VALENTINE FOR SYMPATHETIC INK.

Dear girl, if thou hadst been less fair,

    Or I had been more bold,

The burning words I now would write,

    Ere this my tongue had told.

True to its bashful instinct still,

    My love erects this screen,

And writes the words it dare not speak

   In ink that can’t be seen! [page 35]

TO A COLD BEAUTY.

Lady, I know thine eyes are bright,

    I know thy cheek is fair;

I know that beauty, like the light,

    Dwells round thee, everywhere;

But vain thy charms of form and face,

    For ah! alas! I know

Thy snowy bosom hides a heart,

    As cold as winter’s snow!

The lovely rose is often seen

    And pass’d unheeded by,

When other flowers of fairer mien

    Attract the gazer’s eye:

But who, if called upon to pluck

    The fairest flower that grows

In garden-plot, or wood, or field

    Who would not pluck the rose?

For beauty, when its charms appeal

    But to one sense alone,

Is like the chisell’d block—we feel

    We gaze upon a stone.

Forgive me then if I refuse

    To bend the knee to one

Who like the sun is only bright,

    Not warm, too, like the sun! [page 36]

TO A SISTER’S MEMORY.

ONCE again the leaves of Summer

    O’er the earth’s cold breast are strewn,

And across my heart the shadow

    Of another loss is thrown:—

Gently her sweet spirit faded

    As the Autumn days come on,—

Days that now are gone forever,—

    They are gone, and she is gone!

Two were sleeping in thy bosom,

    Earth, that were most dear to me,—

Near and dear,—a father—brother—

    Now, alas, thou claimest three:—

And perchance ere next Spring’s blossoms

    Shed their perfume on the air,

Cold in death’s unbreaking quiet,

    I, like them, may slumber there.

Wherefore should we wish to linger

    In a barren world like this?

Wherefore shrink to pass the gateway

    Leading to immortal bliss?—

Thus the heart speaks when Death’s shadow

    Brings the lost and dear to light:—

[When the garish day is shining,

    Stars are hidden from the sight!]

Teach, O teach me, Heavenly Father,

    So, to live that Death may seem,

Whene’er he comes, a kindly angel,

    Sent to wake me from a dream;—

A dream from which, with clearer vision,

    Waking, I again shall see

Her for whom these tears are streaming—

    Who, perchance, now weeps for me! [page 37]

TO A VIOLET.

[ADDRESSED TO V. B.]

DEAR first-born of the year,

    Timidly peeping forth from the cold ground

When all the earth is drear,—

    Ere Winter hath done grieving for the loss

Of her fair jewels strung on bush and tree,

    Or ere the golden sunlight hath unbound

The frozen streams—what joy it is to see

    Thy blue eye looking upward from the sod,

    Moistened with dew, as in mute prayer to God,

    Pleading for leafless trees and withered flowers

    That have lain buried through wintry hours.

Thy prayer is answered now,

    For Spring hath cast her mantle o’er the earth,

Clothing each naked bough

    With the new glories of a second birth;

The sturdy evergreens that all the year

    Have worn their honors, put forth fresher green,

    And in among their darker tints is seen

The maple’s flush,—and everywhere appear,

    In fields and wildwood paths, the delicate flowers

    That herald summer’s warm and pleasant hours.

So Hope within my breast,

    Like this blue violet grew when I saw thee,

And straightway I was blessed,

    And life’s cold winter passed for aye from me.

The streams of feeling now are locked no more,

    But flow to thee, their ocean, day and night;

    And in the garden of my heart, like flowers,

    Sweet thoughts of thee are growing with the hours

    That each day brings:—the violet blooms there,

    And the dear heart’s ease, ever fresh and fair! [page 38]

TO V. B., ON HER EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY.

Again thy mystic clock of life doth strike,

And in the chambers of my heart the few

And sweet vibrations numbering thy years,

Linger like music.—From the sear of time

Another wave rolls to thy feet and breaks.

And now, while Summer with averted eyes

Leaves the green earth to wither and grow cold

In the approaching Autumn’s blighting breath,

Life’s angel drops upon thy stainless brow

The crown of perfect womanhood.

                                                           As one

Who stands upon a gentle eminence,

And, looking backward, sees with saddened heart

The paths which never may be trod again

Fade in the distance,—so thou standest now.

The fields in which thy childish footsteps strayed

Are bright in memory’s retrospective eye:

The well-remembered voices, whose sweet tones

Made up the morning music of thy life,

Thrill thee with melody; forgotten scenes

Grow bright again; and all the past grows bright,

And brighter for the thought that it is past!

But the veiled future hath yet fairer scenes

Than aught the past hath known, for one like thee,

Whose spirit moves by that divinest law

Which shapes the actions of a perfect life:

And brighter, hour by hour, thy life shall grow,

Till merged in that completion which the grave

Hides from our bounded vision. Therefore I,

To whom thy happiness is more than life,

With no regretful feeling greet this day;

Knowing that every year will shed on thee

A choicer blessing than the past hath known,

And bring thee nearer Heaven. [page 39]

A MAY MORNING.

The cat-bird sings in the tangled bush

    That loads the air with its sweet perfume,

And the murmuring bees hide all the day

    In the snowy tends of alder’s bloom;

The silent thrush with a rapid wing

    Darts through the sunlit, leafy screen,

Or tilts the branches that over the brook

    Wave their tassels of tender green.

From yon lone cottage hard by the wood

    Comes the murmur of pleasant talk;

High over-head in the stainless blue

    Sails the silent and watchful hawk.

The distant river asleep in the sun,

    Lies in a calm, unrippled rest,

While a single sail, like a snowy gull,

    Lazily floats on its placid breast.

Come ye who toil in the dusty town,

    Come, and your souls in this sunshine steep;

See how the earth at the touch of Spring

    Hath waked from her long and wintry sleep.

O that your walls of brick could give back

    The sun like yonder hill-side green,

In billows of dazzling golden light,

    With cool and shadowy gulfs between! [page 40]

ANTE BELLUM.

[MARCH, 1861.]

[ON HEARING THAT THE AMERICAN FLAG WAS TO BE HOISTED OVER THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT.]

Ay, throw our country’s banner out!

    In triumph let it wave,

That timid hearts no more may doubt

    Its power to shield and save.

The laggard pulse will quicker move

    Its starry folds to see

O’er yonder shaft, that speaks our love

    For him who made us free.

Like eyes with sad reproachful gaze,

    Its stars will look on those

Who falter ‘neath their steady rays,

    Or, faithless, turn to foes.

Its stripes, like tongues of living flame,

    As North and South they dart,

Shall hiss with words of scorn and shame

    For every traitor heart.

Then fling it to the eager wind,

    Let its broad splendors fly

O’er those who strive again to bind

    The severed Union tie!

And should their arms too weak to save

    Th’imperilled land be found,

O, let no alien symbol wave

    Above this sacred ground! [page 41]

THE CRISIS

[SEPTEMBER, 1872.]

The cannons’ thunders jar the air,

    While mingled with the battle cry

Swells the blown bugle’s ringing blare;

But over all I hear the prayer

    Breathed by our sires in days gone by.

’Twas theirs to win; ’tis ours to guard;

    They faltered not when faint and few;

And shall we deem the service hard

Who bear the banner many-starred,

    O’er which their victor eagle flew?

O not in vain their memories plead

    That we should walk the narrow way,

Content to scorn each selfish creed,

And in our fathers’ valor read

    The noble lesson of To-Day.


I look at the sky above me,

    At the solemn noon of night,

And think of the hearts that love me,—

    And the stars seem doubly bright.

But of all the worlds that glisten

    In the midnight’s dusky blue,

I see only one that is changeless,—

    And then I think but of you! [page 42]

TO M. V. C.

[MAY 13, 1872.]

Spring odors load the balmy breeze

    That stirs my garden’s budding screen;

The robin’s note is heard; the trees

    Are clothed in mid-May’s tender green.

From tree to tree in frolic frisk

    I see the nimble squirrels pass;

The dandelion’s golden disk

    Is gleaming in the emerald grass.

Along the woodland paths I stray,

    And feel the life that upward thrills

In flowery forms that seek the day,

    Fed by the late imprisoned rills.

All things are joyous, and my heart

    Lives o’er again that happy day

When, hand in hand, we stood apart

    From all the world, and life was May! [page 43]

C. L. E.

It is not long since last I clasp’d thy hand,

    And heard thy speech, so rich in least pretense,

So kindly-wise, that all might understand;

    And now the Unseen Hand hath snatch’d thee hence.

And there thou liest, still and pale and cold;

    No more thy well-worn palette, loved so much,

Shall blossom into color, as of old;

    No more the canvas glow beneath thy touch.

’Tis hard to think that I no more shall greet

    Thy friendly presence here on earth, and yet

The more than hope that we shall elsewhere meet

    Softens my sad and most sincere regret.


White and silent shines the moonlight,

    And the earth, in slumber deep,

Smiles, as of the silver splendor

    Conscious in her sleep!

How the moonbeams dance and glimmer—

    Hunted by the summer breeze—

On the bosom of the river,

    Through the branches of the trees!

May this night of quiet beauty

    Be the symbol and the sign

Of the holy love that wraps us

    In its light divine!

So shalt thou still reign forever,

    While the glow of life abides,

As thou now dost, dearest,—empress

     Of my heart’s deep tides! [page 44]

A MEMORY.

A year ago, in this dear month of May,

I heart a voice borne o’er the waters say:

“Weep, for her gentle soul has passed away.”

The words had scarcely ceased, when on her face

I gazed, or so it seemed, but saw no trace

Of aught save life, and loveliness, and grace.

In an unconscious attitude of rest

She lay, with hands cross-folded on her breast—

Looking, indeed, like one supremely blest.

There was no change, save only that a light,

Left by death’s kiss upon her brow so white,

Glimmered about her face, and made it bright.

“What is this mystery of death?” I said:

“Who are the living? Are not they the deed

Who weep, in bonds of flesh, the spirit fled?”

An answer, but from whence I could not tell,

Upon my ear like softest music fell:

All is of God. He doeth all things well!”

Then looking up towards the far blue skies,

Her whom we mourn I saw, in angel guise,

Smiling beside the gates of Paradise. [page 45]

AMOR PATRIÆ.

[WRITTEN DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL CANVASS OF 1876.]

*               *               *               *               *

It is statesmen not statemen, we need in this hour;

Not those who are seeking for place and for power,

But strong, earnest souls, with no word in the mouth

Unkind or unfriendly to East, West, North or South.

No mixers of poison, concocted with art—

The hell-broth of passion—to fire the heart;

No arrayers of creeds, setting one against t’other—

The father ’gainst son, and the brother ’gainst brother—

In the hope of controlling in frenzy’s mad hour,

The storm they have raised, and to reel into power!

We want men in this crises; whole men, such as erst—

When the war cloud of liberty darken’d and burst

O’er the land, and after a seven years’ strife,

Left it prostate and bleeding, but instinct with life—

Came forward, each man with his heart in his hand,

To help build the temple majestic and grand,

Which through envy and scoffing, through doubts and through fears,

Our refuge has been for the past hundred years:

The temple whose broad-based foundations were laid

By workmen inspired by the love of their trade,

(Like those by whom old-world cathedrals were made),

And laid in cement which they know how to mix—

The wide-open temple of Seventy-six! [page 46]

STONE FOR BREAD.

A hushed and darkened room; within

A dead man lay; the rites begin:

I listened, but I did not hear

The tender words that soothe and cheer

The wounded heart, and bring relief

In presence of o’er-mastering grief;

But only such as served to shed

Light on the folly of the dead.

No blessed words of hope and cheer

Floated above the dead man’s bier:

No veil o’er human weakness thrown—

No bread was given—but only stone.

But in the room methought I saw

The grand expounder of Christ’s law,

And heard these whispered words that shed

Bliss on the living and the dead:

“Faith, Hope and Charity, these three;

But the greatest of these is Charity.” [page 47]

OLD TRINITY CHURCH.

[NEW YORK.]

Farewell! farewell! they’re falling fast,

    Pillar and arch and architrave;

Yon aged pile, to me the last

Sole record of the by-gone past,

    Is speeding to its grave:

And thought from memory’s fountain flow

    (As one by one, like wedded hearts,

    Each rude and mouldering stone departs,)

Of boyhood’s happiness and wo,

    Its sunshine, and its shade:

And though each ray of early gladness,

Comes mingled with the hues of sadness,

    I would not bid them fade;

They come as come the stars at night,

Like fountains gushing into light;

And close around my heart they twine,

Like ivy round the mountain pine!

Yes, they are gone—the sunlight smiles

All day upon its foot-worn aisles;

Those foot-worn aisles! where oft have trod

The humble worshippers of God,

In times long past, when Freedom first

From all the land in glory burst!

The heroic few! from him whose sword

    Was wielded in his country’s cause,

To him who battled with his word,

    The bold expounder of her laws!

And they are gone—gone like the lone

    Forgotten echoes of their tread;

And from their niches now are gone,

    The sculptured records of the dead! [page 48]

As now I gaze, my heart is stirred

    With music of another sphere;

A low, sweet chime, which once was heard,

Comes like the note of some wild bird

    Upon my listening ear;

Recalling many a happy hour,

Reviving many a withered flower,

Whose bloom and beauty long have laid

Within my sad heart’s silent shade:

Life’s morning flowers! that bud and blow,

    And wither ere the sun hath kiss’d

The dew-drops from their breasts of snow,

    Or dried the landscape’s veil of mist!

O! when that sweetly-mingled chime,

Stole on my ear in boyhood’s time,

My glad heart drank the thrilling joy,

    Undreaming of its future pains;

As spell-bound as the Theban boy

    List’ning to Memnon’s fabled strains!

Farewell, old fane; and though unsung

    By bards thy many glories fell,

Though babbling fame hath never rung

    Thy praises on his echoing bell;

Who that hath seen can e’er forget

    Thy gray old spire? Who that hath knelt

    Within thy sacred aisles, nor felt

Religion’s self-grow sweeter yet?

For though the decking hand of Time

    Glory to Greece’s fanes hath given,

That from her old heroic clime

    Point proudly to their native heaven:

Though Rome hath many a ruined pile

    To speak the glory of her land,

And fair by Egypt’s sacred Nile

    Her mouldering monuments may stand;

The joy that swells the gazer’s heart,

    The pride that sparkles in his eye,

When pondering on these piles, where Art [page 49]

    In crumbling majesty doth lie,

Ne’er blended with them keener joy,

Than mine, when but a thoughtless boy,

I gazed with awe-struck, wondering eye

On thy old spire, my Trinity!

And thou shalt live like words of truth,

Like golden moments of our youth:

As on the lake’s unrippled breast

The mirror’d mountain lies at rest,

So thou shalt lie, till life depart,

Mirror’d for aye upon my heart! [page 50]

EPICEDIUM.

The fires of youth no longer burn,

    Their fitful flames are quenched at last;

And here within this little urn

    Repose the ashes of my past.

And is this capet mortuum all

    Now left me of my vanished years?

Am I no longer held in thrall

    By youthful joys and hopes and fears?

’Tis even so; the mountain-side

    Is scaled at last; and now I rest,

While I survey from life’s divide

    My path that slopes towards the west:—

The sad and sober west, where flow

    The embers of the dying day,

That, as the night winds cease to blow,

    Fall into ashes cold and gray.

O let me falter not, but tread

    Firmly the downward path, nor yearn

For my lost youth whose ashes dead

    Fill up the measure of this urn. [page 51]

[blank page]

SONNETS.

[unnumbered page]

[blank page]

SUNSET.

See with what pomp the golden sun goes down

    Behind yon purple mountain! Far and wide

    His mellow radiance streams; the steep hill-side

Is clothed with splendor, and the distant town

Wears his last glory like a blazing crown.

    We cannot see him now, and yet his fire

    Still lingers on the city’s tallest spire,

Chased slowly upward by the gathering frown

Of the approaching darkness. God of Light!

    Thou leavest us in gloom; but other eyes

    Watch thy faint coming now in distant skies;

There drooping flowers spring up, and streams grow bright,

And singing birds plume their moist wings for flight,

And stars grow pale and vanish from the sight! [page 55]

TO A PICTURE.

A sad and lovely face, with upturned eyes,

    Tearless, yet full of grief.—How heavenly fair,

    How saint-like is the look these features wear!

Such sorrow is more lovely in its guise

Than joy itself, for underneath it lies

    A calmness that betokens strength to bear

    Earth’s petty grievances—its toil and care:—

A spirit that can look through clouded skies,

And see the blue beyond.—Type of that grace

    That lit Her holy features from whose womb

Issued the blest Redeemer of our race—

    How little dost thou speak of earthly gloom!

As little as the unblemished Queen of Night,

When envious clouds shut out her silver light. [page 56]

FATHER BOYLE.

Beneath his vestments beat a knightly heart,

    Constant in quest of good and noble things:

    He held his warrant from the KING OF KINGS

Who bore for us life’s inconspicuous part

Among the poor and lowly: his the art

    That won to fellowship, by words of love,

    The weak and sinful—lifting them above

Earth’s evil ways,—secure from danger’s dart.

And now his task is finished.—Nevermore

    Shall pain’s pinched features soften, nor the dim

    Glazed eye grow brighter, gazing upon him—

The friendly intercessor. On his breast—

    (The wave of life now broken on death’s shore)—

The sacred symbol lies in flawless rest! [page 57]

TO AN UNFINISHED PORTRAIT BY PAGE.

Thou, so far off of late, art near me now,

    Distinct and palpable in living guise;

I read thy thoughts beneath that even brow,

    I see thy soul out-looking from those eyes,

    And almost hear the unuttered speech that lies

Pausing upon the threshold of thy lips.

    The thought born at thy death itself now dies,

For death no longer holds thee in eclipse.

    Blessings forever rest upon his head

Whose genius, setting time and space at naught,

Hath to grief-blinded eyes this image brought

    Radiant with the immoral spark which fled

Ere yet the artist’s hand had wholly wrought

    This link between the living and the dead! [page 58]

A MOTHER’S INVOCATION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN.

Mother of Christ, upon whose forehead shone

    The light ineffable that from above

    Streamed from the dwelling of eternal love,

What time thou travail’dst with thy blessed Son,—

Foreshadowing in thine agony the pains

    He suffered on the Cross, —O intercede

    For her who seeks thee in her utmost need:

Fan the faint spark of life that yet remains

In my scarce-conscious babe; in mercy plead

    That those small hands, cross-folded on his breast,

    May not be stiffened in eternal rest:

Thou know’st a mother’s anguish, and wilt heed

    A mother’s prayers, remembering the Child

    That from thy breast looked up to thee and smiled! [page 59]

ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND.

True husband and true father; add to this

    A friend as true; yet more than all of these

    Wert thou my friend, who to the bitter lees

Drained thy sad cup of life.—The sphere of bliss

    That holds thee now a fitter home will be

    Than this half-hearted world for one like thee,

Whose sterling coin of words was minted out

    From the pure metal of thy dauntless soul

    And bore Truth’s image; who didst fly the goal

That most men seek, and put to utter rout

    The swarming host that track the steps of those

    Who follow Duty’s path.—Behold the close!—

A grave bedewed with manly tears; a name

Spotless and bright,—the sum of all true fame! [page 60]

GENIUS.

A great soul never yet was turned aside

    From its true purpose: hatred and mistrust—

The portion of the Meek One crucified—

    Are in Faith’s golden balance but as dust.

    Contempt and scorn are to the wise and just

But arrows shot into the woundless air.

    Genius finds safety in its own disgust

At all earth’s vileness; happy but to share

The scanty raiment, and the coarse hard fare,

    With which the vain world clothes and feeds its great;

And from its eagle-eyrie on the bare

    Bleak rock, high up above the storms of Fate,

It mounts in the pure air, and takes its way

Right onward to the golden gates of day [page 61]

OF THE DEATH OF COLONEL WM. BRENT.

[DECEMBER, 1848]

Mourn not, dear friends, that he is dead to whom

    Your hearts were bound by nature’s holiest tie;

No care can reach him in the silent tomb,

    And he was full of years and ripe to die.—

Cold comfort to your bleeding hearts, I know;

    But time shall bring relief, and ye shall cease

To shed your tears of unavailing woe,

    Nor even sigh to think of his release.

Blessed are they that sink to earth when age

    Hath brought the misty eye and furrowed brow;

Who end at last their peaceful pilgrimage

    Beloved for kind, good deeds as he is now;

And round their names, despite the world’s harsh strife,

Leaving the lustre of well-spent life. [page 62]

ON THE INVASION OF ROME BY THE FRENCH.

[1849.]

Where wert thou, Freedom, that thou didst not stay

    The coward arm that dared to strike at Rome?

Could not her woe-worn face bring back the day

    When her Eternal City was thy home?

Inglorious siege! and France, too, struck the blow!

    Welding the chains herself had just cast off

To bind the limbs that struggled to o’erthrow

    The foe she vanquished!—France! the wide world’s scoff

Shalt thou become for this: the laurel-crown

    Shall wither on thy brow; and Italy,

    Groaning beneath thy heel, will yet be free,

For in the ashes of her old renown

    The fire yet lives, though smothered, whose clear flame

    Shall light her glory and reveal thy shame. [page 63]

Must I not love thee? Lady, say not so—

    Teach not thy lip such cruel words to speak—

    Crush not the humble floweret that doth seek

In the warm sunlight of thy smiles to grow.

Why should the lofty frown upon the low?

    The strong deny their shelter to the weak?

    And though I whine no praises to thy cheek,

Nor swear thine eyes with tremulous lustre glow—

I love thee not the less; nay this should prove

    I love thee all the more, since I disdain

To praise thine outward beauty, seeming blind

To the more noble beauties of thy mind.

Ah! dearest lady, might I win thy love,

    It would redeem all I have known of pain. [page 64]

Still to be near thee and to hear thee speak,

    To gaze into the depths of thy dark eyes,—

This is the only happiness I seek,

    This is the only boon on earth I prize.

    Bright thoughts like bubbles in a fountain rise

When I am near thee, and all thoughts of care

Are banished from my heart, as in the air

    Fade the light clouds of morning: sorrow dies

Whene’er I press thy hand, and I fall heir

    To such a wealth of joy when on my ear

Thy sweet voice falls, I were content to die

    If in my parting moments I might hear

The music of its tones so soft and rare,

And look my last upon thy loving eye. [page 65]

If with too rude a hand I snatch’d the rose

       From thy fair fingers, think me not unkind;

For no less doth the sudden gust that blows

    The flower’s tender petals from their stem,

        Love what it robs, than Summer’s gentler wind

    That hardly shakes the morning’s dewy gem

From its frail hold amid the cluster’d leaves:

    For does not each repay the seeming theft?

And if my fancy from my feelings weaves—

    (For thee, fair lady, whom I have bereft

Of a sweet emblem of thyself)—a song,—

    Wilt thou not pardon me, and from thy mind

Blot all remembrance of the seeming wrong,

    And hold me guiltless at the fitful wind? [page 66]

If words could say how much I love thee, dear,

    I should distrust my love, as being weak,

    And leave unsaid these words which now I speak:

But I remember how tear after tear,

    (Sweet tears of joy!) fell on my burning cheek,

That happy night when from your lips I heard

My all of happiness summed up in a word;—

    All how even then my heart did vainly seek

For love’s interpreter, till an inward voice

Whispered,—O happy heart! there is no choice,

    For only silence may such love express

As that which now your o’er-fraught bosom bears;

    Thy tongue were spokesman if thy love were less:

We guess the stream’s depth from the calm it wears! [page 67]

A rose-bud, and from thee! Ah! how my heart

    Throbs as I look upon it!—never yet

    Were such rare beauties in a rose-bud met,

As I see here:—these leaves, half blown apart,—

    Roseate and soft are thy lip and cheek,—

Give out a perfume never hid before

In any flower’s heart the earth e’er bore.

    How lovingly to me all fair things speak

Of thee, the fair’st of all!—of thee, in whom

    All beauty is concentred!—Thus this rose,

    Fair in itself, with added beauty glows,

And wears a newer and a richer bloom,

    Because once touched by thee,—for whose sweet sake

    The strains of a long-silent harp I wake. [page 68]

ON A MINIATURE.

The same, yet not the same; here is the eye

    Thro’ which thy pure soul looked, as it looks now,—

    Calm, steadfast, true; here the unruffled brow,

And the sweet mouth about whose corners lie

    Shy, shifting graces that betray what speech

Shall issue from thy lips—soft, gracious words,

Sweet as the songs of Summer’s earliest birds

    When in green woods they carol each to each.

Ah! how my thoughts fly backward, as I gaze

    On this dear portrait, to those golden hours

    When all the earth for me was sown with flowers,

And all too short the Summer’s longest days.

    With the same love that thrilled me then, I now

    Press to my lips thy pictured cheek and brow. [page 69]

QUEEN EMMA.

Dead in the mid-Pacific!—Hapless Queen,

    Widowed and childless when thy woman’s heart

    Was fresh and young, but bearing sorrow’s smart

As ‘twere another wreath which the Unseen

Had crowned thee with—a wreath of sadder mien—

    The cypress, not the orange, —and yet worn

    Meekly, as mindful that the rose’s thorn—

Even as the rose itself—though sharp and keen,

Is God’s gift none the less.—I heard thee tell

    Of happy days spent in the island home

Of England’s laureate.—Were mine his spell,

    A wave of fitting verse should break in foam

At thy grave’s foot, while fairest flowers should smile

    Above thee in the far Hawaiian isle!

[stamp: ST. MICHAEL’S COLLEGE LIBRARY]

[page 70]

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