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A star reflected in a dimpling rill
That moves so slow it hardly moves at all,
The shadow of a white-robed waterfall,
Seen in the lake beneath when all is still,
A wandering cloud, that with its fleecy pall
Whitens the lustre of an autumn moon,
A sudden breeze that cools the cheek of noon,
Not mark'd till miss’d—so soft it fades, and soon-
Whatever else the fond inventive skill
Of Fancy may suggest, can not supply
Fit semblance of the sleeping life of infancy.
Calm art thou as the blessed Sabbath eve,
The blessed Sabbath eve when thou wast born ;
Yet sprightly as a summer Sabbath morn,
When surely 'twere a thing unmeet to grieve;
When ribbons gay the village maids adorn,
And Sabbath music, on the swelling gales,
Floats to the farthest nooks of winding vales,
And summons all the beauty of the dales.
Fit music this a stranger to receive;
And, lovely child, it rung to welcome thee,
Announcing thy approach with gladsome minstrelsy.
So be thy life--a gentle Sabbath, pure
From worthless strivings of the work-day earth :
May time make good the omen of thy birth,
Nor worldly care thy growing thoughts immure,
Nor hard-eyed thrift usurp the throne of mirth
On thy smooth brow. And though fast-coming years
Must bring their fated dower of maiden fears,
Of timid blushes, sighs, and fertile tears,
Soft sorrow's sweetest offspring, and her cure ;
May every day of thine be good and holy,
And thy worst woe a pensive sabbath melancholy.
Is this the merry May of tale and song?
Chill breathes the North—the sky looks chilly blue,
The waters wear a cold and iron hue,
Or wrinkle as the crisp wave creeps along,
Much like an ague fit. The starry throng
Of flowrets droop o’erdone with drenching dew,
Or close their leaves at noon, as if they knew,
And felt in helpless wrath, the season's wrong.
Yet in the half-clad woods the busy birds
Chirping with all their might to keep them warm ;
The young hare fitting from her ferney form;
The vernal lowing of the amorous herds ;
And swelling buds impatient of delay,
Declare it should be, tho’ it is not, May.
Where dwells she now? That life of joy
That seem'd as Time could ne'er destroy,
Nor frail infectious sense alloy,
Its self-derived and self-sufficing gladness?
Abides she in the bounds of space,
Or like a thought, a moment's grace,
Is she escaped from time and place,
The dull arithmetic of prison'd sadness ?
May she behold this spot of earth,
This human home, that saw her birth
Her baby tears, her infant mirth,
The first quick stirrings of her human mind?
May she return to watch the flowers
She planted last in fairy bowers ?-
They freshen yet with summer showers,
And gambol with the frolic summer wind.
That lovely form, that face so bright,
That changeful image of delight,
May it no more to waking sight,
Or spiritual ken, in very truth appear?
That visible shape, that kind warm glow-
That all that Heaven vouchsafed to shew-
'Tis gone. 'Twas all our sense could know,
Of her we loved, whom yet we hold so dear.
The world hath lost the antique faith,
In shade and spectre-warning wraith,
That wander'd forth to blast, and scathe
Poor earth-clogg'd, dark humanity.
No more the mystic craft of hell,
In cavern mirk, with impious spell,
Evokes the naked souls that dwell,
In uncreated night's inanity.
'Tis well that creed is out of date,
And men have found, at last, though late,
That loathing fear, and fearful hate,
And rankling vengeance, all are cruel liars ;
And all the doctrine that they teach
Of ghosts that roam when owlets screetch,
Is but the false, and fatal speech,
Of guilty terrors, or of worse desires.
But is there not a charm in love,
To call thy spirit from above ?
Oh-had I pinions like a dove,
Were I like thee, a pure enfranchised soul,
Then might I see thee as thou art,
Receive thee in my inmost heart,
But can it be? She has no part,
In all she loved beneath the steadfast pole.
Ah-well it is—since she is gone,
She can return no more,
To see the face so dim and wan,
That was so warm before.
Familiar things would all seem strange,
And pleasure past be woe;
A record sad of ceaseless change,
Is all the world below.
The very hills, they are not now,
The hills which once they were, They change as we are changed, or how
Could we the burden bear ?
Ye deem the dead are ashy pale,
Cold denizens of gloom-
But what are ye, who live to wail,
And weep upon their tomb?