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Poverty had made them void,
And had drunk the sunshine up
From all nature's ample cup,
Leaving her a first-born's share
In the dregs of darkness there.
Often, on the sidewalk bleak,
Hungry, all alone, and weak,
She has seen, in night and storm,
Rooms o'erflow with firelight warm,
Which, outside the window-glass,
Doubled all the cold, alas !
Till each ray that on her fell
Stabbed her like an icicle,
And she almost loved the wail
Of the bloodhounds on her trail.
Till the floor becomes her bier,
She shall feel their pantings near,
Close
upon

her
Spite of all the din of wheels ;
Shivering on her pallet poor,
She shall hear them at the door
Whine and scratch to be let in,
Sister bloodhounds, Want and Sin!

very heels,

Hark! that rustle of a dress,
Stiff with lavish costliness!
Here comes one whose cheek would Aush
But to have her garment brush
'Gainst the girl whose fingers' thin
Wove the weary broidery in,
Bending backward from her toil,
Lest her tears the silk might soil,
And, in midnight's chill and murk,
Stitched her life into the rk,
Shaping from her bitter thought
Heart's-ease and forget-me-not,
Satirizing her despair

With the emblems woven there. Little doth the wearer heed Of the heart-break in the brede ; A hyena by her side Skulks, down-looking,—it is Pride. He digs for her in the earth, Where lie all her claims of birth, With his foul paws rooting o'er Some long-buried ancestor, Who, perhaps, a statue won By the ill deeds he had done, By the innocent blood he shed, By the desolation spread Over happy villages, Blotting out the smile of peace. There walks Judas, he who sold Yesterday his Lord for gold, Sold God's presence in his heart For a proud step in the mart; He hath dealt in flesh and blood, At the bank his name is good, At the bank, and only there, 'Tis a marketable ware. In his eyes that stealthy gleam Was not learned of sky or stream, But it has the cold, hard glint Of new dollars from the mint. Open now your spirit's eyes, Look through that poor clay disguise Which has thickened, day by day, Till it keeps all light at bay, And his soul in pitchy gloom Gropes about its narrow tomb, From whose dank and slimy walls Drop by drop the horror falls. Look ! a serpent lank and cold

VOL. 1.

14

Hugs his spirit fold on fold;
From his heart, all day and night,
It doth suck God's blessed light.
Drink it will, and drink it must,
Till the cup holds naught but dust ;
All day long he hears it hiss,
Writhing in its fiendish bliss;
All night long he sees its eyes
Flicker with foul ecstasies,
As the spirit ebbs away
Into the absorbing clay.
Who is he that skulks, afraid
Of the trust he has betrayed,
Shuddering if perchance a gleam
Of old nobleness should stream
Through the pent, unwholesome room,
Where his shrunk soul cowers in gloom, -
Spirit sad beyond the rest
By more instinct for the best ?
'Tis a poet who was sent
For a bad world's punishment,
By compelling it to see
Golden glimpses of To Be,
By compelling it to hear
Songs that prove the angels near;
Who was sent to be the tongue
Of the weak and spirit-wrung,
Whence the fiery-winged Despair
In men's shrinking eyes might flare.
'Tis our hope doth fashion us
To base use or glorious :
He who might have been a lark
Of Truth's morning, from the dark
Raining down melodious hope
Of a freer, broader scope,
Aspirations, prophecies,

Of the spirit's full sunrise,
Chose to be a bird of night,
Which with eyes refusing light,
Hooted from some hollow tree
Of the world's idolatry.
'Tis his punishment to hear
Flutterings of pinions near,
And his own vain wings to feel
Drooping downward to his heel,
All their grace and import lost,
Burdening his weary ghost :
Ever walking by his side
He must see his angel guide,
Who at intervals doth turn
Looks on him so sadly stern,
With such ever-new surprise
Of hushed anguish in her eyes,
That it seems the light of day
From around him shrinks away,
Or drops blunted from the wall
Built around him by his fall.
Then the mountains, whose white peaks
Catch the morning's earliest streaks,
He must see, where prophets sit,
Turning east their faces lit,
Whence, with footsteps beautiful,
To the earth, yet dim and dull,
They the gladsome tidings bring
Of the sunlight's hastening:
Never can those hills of bliss
Be o'erclimbed by feet like his !
But enough! O, do not dare
From the next the veil to tear,
Woven of station, trade, or dress,
More obscene than nakedness,
Wherewith plausible culture drapes

Fallen Nature's myriad shapes !
Let us rather love to mark
How the unextinguished spark
Will shine through the thin disguise
Of our customs, pomps, and lies,
And, not seldom blown to flame,
Vindicate its ancient claim.

1844.

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