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Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear What the birds and the winds are singing In your sunny atmosphere.
For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?
Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.
HAVE you read in the Talmud of old,
In the Legends the Rabbins have told
Of the limitless realms of the air, -
Have you read it, the marvellous story
Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory,
Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?
How, erect, at the outermost gates
Of the City Celestial he waits,
With his feet on the ladder of light, That, crowded with angels unnumbered, By Jacob was seen, as he slumbered Alone in the desert at night?
The Angels of Wind and of Fire
Chaunt only one hymn, and expire
With the song's irresistible stress Expire in their rapture and wonder, As harp-strings are broken asunder By music they throb to express.
But serene in the rapturous throng,
Unmoved by the rush of the song,
With eyes unimpassioned and slow,
Among the dead angels, the deathless
Sandalphon stands listening breathless
To sounds that ascend from below;
From the spirits on earth that adore,
From the souls that entreat and implore
In the fervor and passion of prayer;
From the hearts that are broken with losses,
And weary with dragging the crosses
Too heavy for mortals to bear.
And he gathers the prayers as he stands,
And they change into flowers in his hands,
Into garlands of purple and red;
And beneath the great arch of the portal,
Through the streets of the City Immortal
Is wafted the fragrance they shed.
It is but a legend, I know, -
A fable, a phantom, a show,
Of the ancient Rabbinical lore; Yet the old mediæval tradition, The beautiful, strange superstition,
But haunts me and holds me the more.
When I look from my window at night,
And the welkin above is all white,
All throbbing and panting with stars, Among them majestic is standing Sandalphon the angel, expanding
His pinions in nebulous bars.
And the legend, I feel, is a part
Of the hunger and thirst of the heart,
The frenzy and fire of the brain,
That grasps at the fruitage forbidden,
The golden pomegranates of Eden,
To quiet its fever and pain.
OR THE POET'S AFTERTHOUGHT.
HAVE I dreamed? or was it real,
What I saw as in a vision,
When to marches hymeneal
In the land of the Ideal
Moved my thought o'er Fields Elysian?
What! are these the guests whose glances
Seemed like sunshine gleaming round me ?
These the wild, bewildering fancies,
That with dithyrambic dances
As with magic circles bound me ?
Ah! how cold are their caresses!
Pallid cheeks, and haggard bosoms!
Spectral gleam their snow-white dresses,
And from loose, dishevelled tresses
Fall the hyacinthine blossoms!
O my songs! whose winsome measures
Filled my heart with secret rapture!
Children of my golden leisures!
Must even your delights and pleasures
Fade and perish with the capture?
Fair they seemed, those songs sonorous,
When they came to me unbidden ;
Voices single, and in chorus,
Like the wild birds singing o'er us
In the dark of branches hidden.
Must each noble aspiration
Come at last to this conclusion,
Jarring discord, wild confusion,
Lassitude, renunciation ?
Not with steeper fall nor faster,
From the sun's serene dominions,
Not through brighter realms nor vaster,
In swift ruin and disaster,
Icarus fell with shattered pinions!
Sweet Pandora! dear Pandora!
Why did mighty Jove create thee
Coy as Thetis, fair as Flora,
Beautiful as young Aurora,
If to win thee is to hate thee?
No, not hate thee! for this feeling
Of unrest and long resistance
Is but passionate appealing,
A prophetic whisper stealing
O'er the chords of our existence.
Him whom thou dost once enamour,
Thou, beloved, never leavest;
In life's discord, strife, and clamor,
Stills he feels thy spell of glamour;
Him of Hope thou ne'er bereavest.
Weary hearts by thee are lifted,
Struggling souls by thee are strengthened,
Clouds of fear asunder rifted,
Truth from falsehood cleansed and sifted,
Lives, like days in summer, lengthened !
Therefore art thou ever dearer,
O my Sibyl, my deceiver!
For thou makest each mystery clearer,
And the unattained seems nearer,
When thou fillest my heart with fever!
Muse of all the Gifts and Graces!
Though the fields around us wither, There are ampler realms and spaces, Where no foot has left its traces:
Let us turn and wander thither!