Page images
PDF
EPUB

The easy harvest of a deathless name,

Though with no better sickles than our swords.

My soul is not a palace of the past,

The petfy martyrdoms, wherewith Sin strives
To weary out the tethered hope of Faith,
The steers, the unrecognizing look of friends,

Where outworn creeds, like Rome's gray senate. Who worship the dead corpse of old king Custom,

quake,

Hearing afar the Vandal's trumpet hoarse.
That shakes old systems with a thunder-fit.
The time is ripe, and rotten-ripe, for change;
Then let it come: I have no dread of what
Is called for by the instinct of mankind:
Nor think I that God's world will fall apart,
Because we tear a parchment more or less.
Truth is eternal, but her effluence,
With endless change, is fitted to the hour;
Her mirror is turned forward, to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
He who would win the name of truly great
Must understand his own age and the next,
And make the present ready to fulfil
Its prophecy, and with the future merge
Gently and peacefully, as wave with wave.
The future works out great men's destinies;
The present is enough for common souls,
Who, never looking forward, are indeed
Mere clay wherein the footprints of their age
Are petrified forever: better those

Who lead the blind old giant by the hand
From out the pathless desert where he gropes,
And set him onward in his darksome way.
I do not fear to follow out the truth,
Albeit along the precipice's edge.

Let us speak plain: there is more force in names
Than most men dream of; and a lie may keep
Its throne a whole age longer, if it skulk
Behind the shield of some fair-seeming name.
Let us call tyrants, tyrants, and maintain,
That only freedom comes by grace of God,
And all that comes not by his grace must fall;
For men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.

"I will have one more grapple with the man Charles Stuart: whom the boy o'ercame, The man stands not in awe of. I, perchance, Am one raised up by the Almighty arm To witness some great truth to all the world. Souls destined to o'erleap the vulgar lot, And mould the world unto the scheme of God, Have a foreconsciousness of their high doom; As men are known to shiver at the heart, When the cold shadow of some coming ill Creeps slowly o'er their spirits unawares. Hath Good less power of prophecy than III? How else could men whom God hath called to sway Earth's rudder, ard to steer the bark of Truth, Beating against the wind toward her port, Bear all the mean and buzzing grievances,

Where it doth lie in state within the Church,
Striving to cover up the mighty ocean
With a man's palm, and making even the truth
Lie for them, holding up the glass reversed,
To make the hope of man seem further off?
My God! when I read o'er the bitter lives
Of men whose eager hearts were quite too great
To beat beneath the cramped mode of the day,
And see them mocked at by the world they love,
Haggling with prejudice for pennyworths

Of that reform which their hard toil will make
The common birthright of the age to come,—
When I see this, spite of my faith in God,
I marvel how their hearts bear up so long;
Nor could they, but for this same prophecy,
This inward feeling of the glorious end.

"Deem me not fond; but in my warmer youth,
Ere my heart's bloom was soiled and brushed away,
I had great dreams of mighty things to come;
Of conquest, whether by the sword or pen

I knew not; but some conquest I would have,
Or else swift death: now, wiser grown in years,
I find youth's dreams are but the flutterings
Of those strong wings whereon the soul shall soar
In aftertime to win a starry throne;
And so I cherish them, for they were lots
Which I, a boy, cast in the helm of Fate.
Now will I draw them, since a man's right hand,
A right hand guided by an earnest soul,
With a true instinct, takes the golden prize
From out a thousand blanks. What men call luck
Is the perogative of valiant souls,

The fealty life pays its rightful kings.
The helm is shaking now, and I will stay
To pluck my lot forth; it were sin to flee !"

So they two turned together; one to die,
Fighting for freedom on the bloody field;
The other, far more happy, to become
A name earth wears forever next her heart:
One of the few that have a right to rank
With the true Makers: for his spirit wrought
Order from Chaos; proved that right divine
Dwelt only in the excellence of Truth;
And far within old Darkness' hostile lines
Advanced and pitched the shining tents of Light,
Nor shall the grateful Muse forget to tell,
That-not the least among his many claims
To deathless honor-he was MILTON's friend,
A man not second among those who lived
To show us that the poet's lyre demands
An arm of tougher sinew than the sword.

A DAY IN AUTUMN.

BY JOHN H BRYANT.

One ramble through the woods with me,
Thou dear companion of my days!
These mighty woods, how quietly

They sleep in autumn's golden haze!

The gay leaves twinkling in the breeze,
Still to the forest branches cling,
They lie like blossoms on the trees-
The brightest blossoms of the spring.
Flowers linger in each sheltered nook,
And still the cheerful song of bird,
And murmur of the bee and brook,

Through all the quiet groves are heard.

And bell of kine that sauntering browse,
And squirrel, chirping as he hides
Where gorgeously, with crimson boughs,
The creeper clothes the oak's gray sides.

How mild the light in all the skies!

How balmily this south wind blows!
The smile of God around us lies,
His rest is in this deep repose.
These whispers of the flowing air,
These waters that in music fall,
These sounds of peaceful life, declare
The Love that keeps and hushes all.

Then let us to the forest shade,

And roam its paths the live-long day; These glorious hours were never made

In life's dull cares to waste away.

We'll wander by the running stream,
And pull the wild grape hanging o'er,
And list the fisher's startling scream,
That perches by the pebbly shore.

And when the sun, to his repose,

Sinks in the rosy west at even,

And over field and forest throws

A hue that makes them seem like heaven.

We'll overlook the glorious land,

From the green brink of yonder height, And silently adore the hand

That made our world so fair and bright.

CLEAR THE WAY.

Men of thought! be up and stirring
Night and day:

Sow the seed-withdraw the curtain-
Clear the way!

Men of action, aid and cheer them,

As ye may !

There's a fount about to stream,
There's a light about to beam,
There's a warmth about to glow,
There's a flower about to blow,
There's a midnight blackness changing
Into gray:

Men of thought and men of action,
CLEAR THE WAY!

Once the welcome light has broken,
Who shall say

What the unimagined glories
Of the day?

What the evil that shall perish
In its ray?

Aid the dawning, tongue and pen :
Aid it, hopes of honest men:
Aid, it paper-aid it, type-
Aid it, for the hour is ripe,
And our earnest must not slacken
Into play;

Men of thought and men of action,
CLEAR THE WAY!

Lo! a cloud's about to vanish
From the day;

Lo! the right's about to conquer,
Clear the way!

And a brazen wrong to crumble
Into clay.

With that right shall many more
Enter smiling at the door;
With the giant Wrong shall fall
Many others, great and small,
That for ages long have held us
For their prey;

Men of thought, and men of action,
CLEAR THE WAY!

SONNET.

BY JOSEPH BLANCO WHITE.

Mysterious Night! when our first Parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely Frame,
This glorious canopy of Light and Blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,

Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the Host of Heaven came,
And, lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such Darkness lay con-
cealed

Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,

That to such countless Orbs thou mad'st us blind? Why do we then shun Death with anxious strife? If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

VOICES OF THE TRUE-HEARTED.

No. 17.

TO THE EVENING WIND.

LABOR.

BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.

SPIRIT that breathest through my lattice, thou
That cool'st the twilight of the sultry day,
Gratefully flows thy freshness round my brow;
Thou hast been out upon the deep at play,
Riding all day the wild blue waves till now,

BY FRANCES S. OSGOOD.

Pause not to dream of the future before us!
Pause not to weep the wild cares that come o'er us!
Hark, how Creation's deep, musical chorus
Unintermitting, goes up into Heaven!
Never the ocean wave falters in flowing;

Roughening their crests, and scattering high their Never the little seed stops in its growing;

spray,

And swelling the white sail. I welcome thee
To the scorched land, thou wanderer of the sea!

Nor I alone-a thousand bosoms round

Inhale thee in the fulness of delight;
And languid forms rise up, and pulses bound
Livelier, at coming of the wind of night;
And, languishing to hear thy grateful sound,
Lies the vast inland stretched beyond the sight.
Go forth into the gathering shade; go forth,
God's blessing breathed upon the fainting earth!

Go, rock the little wood-bird in his nest,

Curl the still waters, bright with stars, and rouse
The wide old wood from his majestic rest,

Summoning from the innumerable boughs
The strange, deep harmonies that haunt his breast;
Pleasant shall be thy way where meekly bows
The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass,
And 'twixt the o'ershadowing branches and the grass.

The faint old man shall lean his silver head

To feel thee; thou shalt kiss the child asleep, And dry the moistened curls that overspread

His temples, while his breathing grows more deep; And they who stand about the sick man's bed,

Shall joy to listen to thy distant sweep,

And softly part his curtains to allow
Thy visit, grateful to his burning brow.

Go-but the circle of eternal change,

That is the life of nature, shall restore,
With sounds and scents from all thy mighty range,
Thee to thy birth-place of the deep once more;
Sweet odors in the sea-air, sweet and strange,

Shall tell the home-sick mariner of the shore;
And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem
He hears the rustling leaf and running stream.

More and more richly the Rose-heart keeps glowing,
Till from its nourishing stem it is riven.

"Labor is worship!"-the robin is singing;
"Labor is worship!"-the wild bee is ringing;
Listen! that eloquent whisper upspringing

Speaks to thy soul from out nature's great heart;
From the dark cloud flows the life-giving shower;
From the rough sod blows the soft breathing flower;-
From the small insect, the rich coral bower,

Only man, in the plan, ever shrinks from his part.

Labor is life!-'Tis the still water faileth;
Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth;
Keep the watch wound, for the dark rust as saileth!
Flowers droop and die in the stillness of noon.
Labor is glory!-the flying cloud lightens ;
Only the waving wing changes and brightens ;
Idle hearts only the dark future frightens;

Play the sweet keys wouldst thou keep them in
tune!

Labor is rest-from the sorrows that greet us;
Rest from all petty vexations that meet us,
Rest from sin-promptings that ever entreat us,

Rest from world-syrens that lures us to ill.
Work-and pure slumbers shall wait on thy pillow;
Work-Thou shalt ride over Care's coming billow;
Lie not down wearied 'neath Wo's weeping willow!
Work with a stout heart and resolute will!

Droop not though shame, sin and anguish are round
thee!

Bravely fling off the cold chain that hath bound thee!
Look to yon pure Heaven smiling beyond thee!

Rest not content in thy darkness-a clod!
Work-for some good,-be it ever so slowly!
Cherish some flower, be it ever so lowly!
Labor! True labor is noble and holy :-
Let thy great deeds be thy prayer to thy God!

A LYRIC FOR THE TIMES.

BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.

When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,

And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime

Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe
When the travail of the Ages wrings earth's systems to and fro:
At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start,
Nation wildly looks at nation, standing with mute lips apart,

And glad Truth's yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future's heart.

So the Evil's triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill,

Under continent to continent, the sense of coming ill,

And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels his sympathy with God
In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to be drunk up by the sod,
Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the nobler clod.

For mankind is one in spirit, and an instinct bears along
Round the earth's electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity's vast frame
Through its ocean sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame ;-
In the gain or loss of one race, all the rest have equal claim.

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Have ye chosen, O my people, on whose party ye shall stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shake its dust against our land?
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful tall angels to enshield her from all wrong.

Backward look across the ages, and the beacon-actions see,

That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through oblivion's sea;

Not an ear in court or market for the low foreboding cry

Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff must fly; Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.

Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twix old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,-
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great,
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate;
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din,

List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,

[ocr errors]

They enslave their children's children, who make compromise with sin."

Slavery, the earth-born Cyclops, fellest of the giant brood,

Sons of brutish Force and Darkness, who have drenched the earth with blood,
Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our purer day,

Gropes in yet unblasted regions for his miserable prey:

Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless children play?

Then to side with Truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, when the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,

And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

For Humanity sweeps onward; where to-day the martyr stands,
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the Cross stands ready, and the crackling faggots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn.

'Tis as easy to be heroes as to sit the idle slaves

Of a legendary virtue carved upon our fathers' graves:

Worshippers of light ancestral make the present light a crime,

Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time?
Turn those tracks toward Past or Future, that make Plymouth rock sublime?

They were men of present valor, stalwart old iconoclasts,
Unconvinced by axe or gibbet that all virtue was the Past's;

But we make their truth our falsehood, thinking that hath made us free,
Hoarding it in mouldy parchments, while our tender spirits flee

The rude grasp of that great Impulse, which drove them across the sea.

They have rights who dare maintain them; we are traitors to our sires,
Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom's new-lit altar fires;
Shall we make their creed our jailor? Shall we, in our haste to slay,
From the tombs of the old prophets steal the funeral lamps away,
To light up the martyr-faggots round the prophets of to-day?

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward, still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.

Oh, no!-not e'en when first we loved,
Were thou as dear as now thou art,
Thy beauty then my senses moved,

But now thy virtues bind my heart.
What was but passion's sigh before,

Has since been turned to reason's vow: And though I then might love thee more, Trust me, I love thee better now!

SONG.

BY THOMAS MOORE.

Although my heart, in carlier youth,
Might kindle with more wild desire;
Believe me it has gained in truth

Much more than it has lost in fire.
The flame now warms my inmost core

That then but sparkled on my brow; And though I seemed to love thee more, Yet oh I love thee better now.

« PreviousContinue »