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Till from the poet's tongue the message

A blessing to his kind.
Never did Poesy appear

So full of heaven to me, as when
I saw how it would pierce through pride

and fear To the lives of coarsest men. It may be glorious to write Thoughts that shall glad the two or

three High souls, like those far stars that

come in sight
Once in a century ; -
But better far it is to speak

One simple word, which now and then Shall waken their free nature in the

And friendless sons of men;
To write some earnest verse or line,
Which, seeking not the praise of art,
Shall make a clearer faith and manhood

In the untutored heart.

The slothful down of pampered igno

rance, Found in it even a moment's fitful rest. There is an instinct in the human

heart Which makes that all the fables it hath

coined, To justify the reign of its belief And strengthen it by beauty's right

divine, Veil in their inner cells a mystic gift, Which, like the hazel twig, in faithful

hands, Points surely to the hidden springs of

truth. For, as in nature vaught is made in

vain, But all things have within their hull of

use A wisdom and a meaning which may

speak Of spiritual secrets to the ear Of spirit; so, in whatsoe'er the heart Hath fashioned for a solace to itself, To make its inspirations suit its creed, And from the piggard hands of false

hood wring Its needful food of truth, there ever is A sympathy with Nature, which re

veals, Not less than her own works, pure

gleams of light And earnest parables of inward lore. Hear now this fairy legend of old

Greece, As full of freedom, youth, and beauty

still As the immortal freshness of that

grace Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze. A youth named Rhæcus, wandering

in the wood, Saw an old oak just trembling to its

fall, And, feeling pity of so fair a tree, He propped its gray trunk with admir

ing care, And with a thoughtless footstep loitered But, as he turned, he heard a voice be

hind That murmured “Rhæcus I” 'T was

as if the leaves,

He who doth this, in verse or prose,

May be forgotten in his day, But surely shall be crowned at last with

those Who live and speak for aye. 1842.

RHECUS. God sends his teachers unto every age, To every clime, and every race of men, With revelations fitted to their growth And shape of mind, nor gives the realm

of Truth Into the selfish rule of one sole race: Therefore each form of worship that

hath swayed The life of man, and given it to grasp The master-key of knowledge, rever

ence, Infolds some germs of goodness and

of right; Else never had the eager soul, which



An hour before the sunset meet me


owy oak,


Stirred by a passing breath, had mar

mured it, And, while he paused bewildered, yet

again It murmured “Rhæcus !” softer than

a breeze. He started and beheld with dizzy eyes What seemed the substance of a happy

dream Stand there before him, spreading a

warm glow Within the green glooms of the shad

owy oak. It seemed a woman's shape, yet all too

fair To be a woman, and with eyes too meek For any that were wont to mate with

gods. All naked like a goddess stood she

there, And like a goddess all too beautiful To feel the guilt-born earthliness of

shame. “Rhæcus, I am the Dryad of this tree,” Thus she began, dropping her low

toned words Serene, and full, and clear, as drops of

dew, And with it I am doomed to live and

And straightway there was nothing he

could see But the green glooms beneath the shadAnd not a sound came to his straining But the low trickling rustle of the

leaves, And far away upon an emerald slope The falter of an idle shepherd's pipe. Now, in those days of simpleness and

faith, Men did not think that happy things

were dreams Because they overstepped the narrow

bourne Of likelihood, but reverently deemed Nothing too wondrous or too beauti

ful To be the guerdon of a daring heart. So Rhæcus made no doubt that he was

blest, And all along unto the city's gate Earth seemed to spring beneath him as

he walked, The clear, broad sky looked bluer than

its wont, And he could scarce believe he had not

wings, Such sunshine seemed to glitter through

his veins Instead of blood, so light he felt and

strange. Young Rhæcus had a faithful heart

enough, But one that in the present dwelt too

much, And, taking with blithe welcome what

soe'er Chance gave of joy, was wholly bouna

in that, Like the contented peasant of a

vale, Deemed it'the world, and never looked

beyond. So, haply meeting in the afternoon Some comrades who were playing at

the dice, He joined them, and forgot all else be



The rain and sunshine are my caterers, Nor have I other bliss than simple life; Now ask me what thou wilt, that I can

give, And with a thankful joy it shall be


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Shalt thou hehold me or by day or

night, Me, who would fain have blessed thee

with a love More ripe and bounteous than ever yet Filled up with nectar any mortal heart : But thou didst scorn my humble mes

senger, And sent'st him back to me with

bruisëd wings. We spirits only show to gentle eyes, We ever ask an undivided love, And he who scorns the least of Nature's

works Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from

all. Farewell ! for thou canst never see me


The dice were rattling at the mer

riest, And Rhæcus, who had met but sorry

luck, Just laughed in triumph at a happy

throw, When through the room there hummed

a yellow bee That buzzed about his ear with down

dropped legs As if to light. And Rhæcus laughed

and said, Feeling how red and flushed he was

with loss, “By Venus ! does he take me for a

rose?" And brushed him off with rough, im

patient hand. But still the bee came back, and thrice

again Rhæcus did beat him off with growing

wrath. Then through the window flew the

wounded bee, And Rhæcus, tracking him with angry

eyes, Saw a sharp mountain-peak of Thessaly Against the red disk of the setting

sun, And instantly the blood sank from his

heart, As if its very walls had caved away. Without a word he turned, and, rush

ing forth, Ran madly through the city and the

gate, And o'er the plain, which now the

wood's long shade, By the low sun thrown forward broad

and dim, Darkened wellnigh unto the city's wall. Quite spent and out of breath he

reached the tree, And, listening fearfully, he heard once

more The low voice murmur Rhæcus !"

close at hand : Whereat he looked around him, but

could see Naught but the deepening glooms be

neath the oak. Then sighed the voice, “O Rhæcus !


Then Rhæcus beat his breast, and

groaned aloud, And cried, “Be pitiful ! forgive me yet This once, and I shall never need it

more !" Alas !” the voice returned, “'t is

thou art blind, Not I unmerciful; I can forgive, But have no skill to heal thy spirit's eyes; Only the soul hath power o'er itself. With that again there murmured

“Nevermore!” And Rhæcus after heard no other sound, Except the rattling of the oak's crisp

leaves, Like the long surf upon a distant shore, Raking the sea-worn pebbles up and

down. The night had gathered round him :

o'er the plain The city sparkled with its thousand

lights, And sounds of revel fell upon his ear Harshly and like a curse; above, the sky, With all its bright sublimity of stars, Deepened, and on his forehead smote

the breeze : Beauty was all around him and delight, But from that eve he was alone on earth.

THE FALCON. I know a falcon swift and peerless

As e'er was cradled in the pine :

Can light in muddiest souls quick seeds

of fire, And strain life's chords to the old

heroic mood.

No bird had ever eye so fearless,

Or wing so strong as this of mine. The winds not better love to pilot

A cloud with molten gold o'errun, Than him, a little burning islet,

A star above the coming sun. For with a lark's heart he doth tower,

By a glorious upward instinct drawn ; No bee nestles deeper in the Power

Than he in the bursting rose of dawn. No harmless dove, no bird that singeth,

Shudders to see him overhead ; The rush of his fierce swooping bringeth

To innocent hearts no thrill of dread. Let fraudand wrongand baseness shiver,

For still between them and the sky The falcon Truth hangs poised forever

And marks them with his vengeful eye.

II. Yet are there other gifts more fair than

thine, Nor can I count him happiest who has

never Been forced with his own hand his

chains to sever, And for himself find out the way divine ; He never knew the aspirer's glorious

pains, He never earned the struggle's priceless

gains. O, block by block, with sore and sharp

endeavor, Lifelong we build these human natures

up Into a temple fit for freedom's shrine, And Trial ever consecrates the cup Wherefrom we pour her sacrificial wine.


A REQUIEM. Ay, pale and silent maiden,

Cold as thou liest there, Thine was the sunniest nature

That ever drew the air, The wildest and most wayward,

And yet so gently kind, Thou seemedst but to body

A breath of summer wind.

I. WHETHER the idle prisoner through his

grate Watches the waving of the grass-tuft

small, Which, having colonized its rift i' the

wall, Takes its free risk of good or evil fate, And, from the sky's just helmet draws

its lot Daily of shower or sunshine, cold or

hot; Whether the closer captive of a creed, Cooped up from birth to grind out end

less chaff, Sees through his treadmill-bars the

noonday laugh, And feels in vain his crumpled pinions

breed ;Whether the Georgian slave look up

and mark, With bellying sails puffed full, the tall

cloud-bark Sink northward slowly, —thou alone

seem'st good, Fair only thou, O Freedom, whose desire

Into the eternal shadow

That girds our life around, Into the infinite silence

Wherewith Death's shore is bound, Thou hast gone forth, beloved !

And I were mean to weep,
That thou has left Life's shallows,

And dost possess the Deep.
Thou liest low and silent,

Thy heart is cold and still, Thiné eyes are shut forever,

And Death hath had his will ; He loved and would have taken,

I loved and would have kept,

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