Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

SI DESCENDERO IN INFERNUM, ADES.

O, WANDERING dim on the extremest edge

Of God's bright providence, whose spirits sigh Drearily in you, like the winter sedge

That shivers o'er the dead pool stiff and dry,
A thin, sad voice, when the bold wind roars by

From the clear North of Duty, -
Still by cracked arch and broken shaft I trace
That here was once a shrine and holy place

Of the supernal Beauty, —
A child's play-altar reared of stones and moss,

With wilted flowers for offering laid across,
Mute recognition of the all-ruling Grace.
How far are ye from the innocent, from those

Whose hearts are as a little lane serene,
Smooth-heaped from wall to wall with unbroke

snows, Or in the summer blithe with lamb-cropped

green, Save the one track, where naught more rude is

Than the plump wain at even Bringing home four months' sunshine bound in

sheaves !
How far are ye from those ! yet who believes

That ye can shut out heaven ?
Your souls partake its influence, not in vain

Nor all unconscious, as that silent lane
Its drift of noiseless apple-blooms receives.

seen

Looking within myself, I note how thin

A plank of station, chance, or prosperous fate, Doth fence me from the clutching waves of sin ;

In my own heart I find the worst man's mate,
And see not dimly the smooth-hinged gate

That opes to those abysses
Where ye grope darkly,—ye who never knew
On your young hearts love's consecrating dew,

Or felt a mother's kisses,
Or home's restraining tendrils round you curled ;
Ah, side by side with heart's-ease in this world
The fatal nightshade grows and bitter rue !

One band ye cannot break,—the force that clips

And grasps your circles to the central light;
Yours is the prodigal comet's long ellipse,

Self-exiled to the farthest verge of night;
Yet strives with you no less that inward might

No sin hath e'er imbruted ;
The god in you the creed-dimmed eye eludes;
The Law brooks not to have its solitudes

By bigot feet polluted ;-
Yet they who watch your God-compelled return
May see your happy perihelion burn
Where the calm sun his unfledged planets broods.

TO THE PAST.

WONDROUS and awful are thy silent halls,

O kingdom of the past !
There lie the bygone ages in their palls,

Guarded by shadows vast,-
There all is hushed and breathless,
Save when some image of old error falls

Earth worshipped once as deathless.
There sits drear Egypt, ’mid beleaguering sands,

Half woman and half beast, The burnt-out torch within her mouldering

hands That once lit all the East; A dotard bleared and hoary, There sser crouches o'er the blackened brands

Of Asia's long-quenched glory.

Still as a city buried 'neath the sea,

Thy courts and temples stand;
Idle as forms on wind-waved tapestry

Of saints and heroes grand,
Thy phantasms grope and shiver,
Or watch the loose shores crumbling silently

Into Time's gnawing river.
Titanic shapes with faces blank and dun,

Of their old godhead lorn,
Gaze on the embers of the sunken sun,

Which they misdeem for morn;
And yet the eternal sorrow

In their unmonarched eyes says day is done

Without the hope of morrow.
O realm of silence and of swart eclipse,

The shapes that haunt thy gloom
Make signs to us and move their withered lips

Across the gulf of doom;
Yet all their sound and motion
Bring no more freight to us than wraiths of ships

On the mirage's ocean.

And if sometimes a moaning wandereth

From out thy desolate halls,
If some grim shadow of thy living death

Across our sunshine falls
And scares the world to error,
The eternal life sends forth melodious breath

To chase the misty terror.
Thy mighty clamors, wars, and world-noised deeds

Are silent now in dust,
Gone like a tremble of the huddling reeds

Beneath some sudden gust;
Thy forms and creeds have vanished,
Tossed out to wither like unsightly weeds

From the world's garden banished.

Whatever of true life there was in thee

Leaps in our age's veins ;
Wield still thy bent and wrinkled empery,

And shake thine idle chains ;
To thee thy dross is clinging,
For us thy martyrs die, thy prophets see,

Thy poets still are singing.
Here, 'mid the bleak waves of our strife and care,

Float the green Fortunate Isles

Where all thy hero-spirits dwell, and share

Our martyrdoms and toils; The present moves attended With all of brave and excellent and fair

That made the old time splendid.

« ElőzőTovább »