« PreviousContinue »
Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup
Of still and serious thought went round,
It seemed as if he drank it up-
He felt with spirit so profound.
Thou soul of God's best earthly mould !
Thou happy soul! and can it be
That these two words of glittering gold
Are all that must remain of thee?
THE TWO APRIL MORNINGS. We walked along, while bright and red Uprose the morning sun: And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said, “The will of God be done !" A village schoolmaster was he, With hair of glittering gray ; As blithe a man as you could see On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass
And by the steaming rills,
We travelled merrily, to pass
A day among the hills.
“Our work,” said I, “was well begun;
Then from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought ?"
A second time did Matthew stop;
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
To me he made reply:
“Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this, which I have left
Full thirty years behind.
“And just above yon slope of corn
Such colours, and no other,
Were in the sky, that April morn,
Of this the very brother.
“With rod and line I sued the sport
Which that sweet season gave,
And, coming to the church, stopped short
Beside my daughter's grave.
“Nine summers had she scarcely seen,
The pride of all the vale;
And then she sang; she would have been
A very nightingale.
" Six feet in earth my Emma lay;
And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day
I e'er had loved before.
“And turning from her grave, I met,
Beside the churchyard yew,
A blooming girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.
" A basket on her head she bare;
Her brow was smooth and white :
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight!
“No fountain from its rocky cave
E'er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.
“There came from me a sigh of pain
Which I could ill confine ;
I looked at her, and looked again :
And did not wish her mine."
Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.
A CONVERSATION. We talked with open heart, and tongue Affectionate and true, A pair of friends, though I was young, And Matthew seventy-two. We lay beneath a spreading oak, Beside a mossy seat; And from the turf a fountain broke, And gurgled at our feet. “Now Matthew !” said I, " let us match This water's pleasant tune With some old Border song, or catch, That suits a summer's noon;
“Or of the church clock and the chimes
Sing here beneath the shade,
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
Which you last April made !"
In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree;
And thus the dear old man replied,
The gray-haired man of glee:
“Down to the vale this water steers, How merrily it goes! 'Twill murmur on a thousand years, And flow as now it flows. “And here, on this delightful day, I cannot choose but think How oft, a vigorous man, I lay Beside this fountain's brink. “My eyes are dim with childish tears, My heart is idly stirred, For the same sound is in my ears Which in those days I heard. “Thus fares it still in our decay: And yet the wiser mind Mourns less for what age takes away Than what it leaves behind. “The blackbird in the summer trees, The lark upon the hill, Let loose their carols when they please, Are quiet when they will. “With nature never do they wage A foolish strife; they see A happy youth, and their old age Is beautiful and free: “But we are pressed by heavy laws; And often, glad no more, We wear a face of joy, because We have been glad of yore. “ If there is one who need bemoan His kindred laid in earth, The household hearts that were his own, It is the man of mirth,
“My days, my friend, are almost gone,
My life has been approved,
And many love ine; but by none
Am I enough beloved."
“Now both himself and me he wrongs,
The man who thus complains !
I live and sing my idle songs
Upon these happy plains,
“And, Matthew, for thy children dead
I 'll be a son to thee!”.
At this he grasped my hand, and said,
“Alas ! that cannot be.”
We rose up from the fountain-side ;
And down the smooth descent
Of the green sheep-track did we glide ;
And through the wood we went ;
And, ere we came to Leonard's rock,
He sang those witty rhymes
About the crazy old church clock,
And the bewildered chimes.
If thou indeed derive thy light from heaven,
Shine, poet, in thy place, and be content !
The star that from the zenith darts its beams,
Visible though it be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of its brightness,
Is yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire, on the ridge
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees.