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THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD.
“ Sail on!” it says, “sail on, ye stately ships !
And with your floating bridge the ocean span; Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse,
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man!”
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD.
Whose windows, looking o'er the bay, Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold,
An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port,
The strange, old-fashioned, silent town, The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,
The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night,
Descending, filled the little room ; Our faces faded from the sight,
Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;
And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again ;
The first slight swerving of the heart,
That words are powerless to express,
The very tones in which we spake
Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips,
As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships,
The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed,
We thought of wrecks upon the main, – Of ships dismasted, that were hailed
And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames,
The ocean, roaring up the beach, The gusty blast, — the bickering flames,
All mingled vaguely in our speech;
Until they made themselves a part
Of fancies floating through the brain,The long-lost ventures of the heart,
That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed ! O hearts that yearned !
They were indeed too much akin,
The thoughts that burned and glowed within.
'HERE is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!
But has one vacant chair !
The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
Will not be comforted !
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors ;
Amid these earthly damps,
May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition.
This life of mortal breath
Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead, the child of our affection, –
But gone unto that school
And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
She lives, whom we call dead.
Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air; Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
She will not be a child ;
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace;
Shall we behold her face.
And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
That cannot be at rest,
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;
The grief that must have way.
LL are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time; Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best ; And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.