Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

THE ROPEWALK.

THE ROPEWALK.

N that building, long and low,
a-row,
Like the port-holes of a hulk,
Human spiders spin and spin,
Backward down their threads so thin
Dropping, each a hempen bulk.

At the end, an open door; Squares of sunshine on the floor

Light the long and dusky lane;

77

[graphic]

And the whirring of a wheel,
Dull and drowsy, makes me feel
All its spokes are in my brain.

As the spinners to the end
Downward go and reascend,

Gleam the long threads in the sun; While within this brain of mine Cobwebs brighter and more fine

By the busy wheel are spun.

[blocks in formation]

Then an old man in a tower,
Ringing loud the noontide hour,

While the rope coils round and round

Like a serpent at his feet,

And again, in swift retreat,

Nearly lifts him from the ground.

SANDALPHON.

Then within a prison-yard,

Faces fixed, and stern, and hard,
Laughter and indecent mirth;
Ah! it is the gallows-tree!
Breath of Christian charity,
Blow, and sweep it from the earth!

Then a school-boy, with his kite
Gleaming in a sky of light,

And an eager, upward look;
Steeds pursued through lane and field;
'Fowlers with their snares concealed;
And an angler by a brook.

Ships rejoicing in the breeze,
Wrecks that float o'er unknown seas,

Anchors dragged through faithless sand;
Sea-fog drifting overhead,
And, with lessening line and lead,
Sailors feeling for the land.

All these scenes do I behold,
These, and many left untold,

In that building long and low;
While the wheel goes round and round,
With a drowsy, dreamy sound,

And the spinners backward go.

SANDALPHON.

H

AVE 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?

[ocr errors]

• 79

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.

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.

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.

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.

ETWEEN the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations,

B

That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes

They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

81

« ElőzőTovább »