« PreviousContinue »
That last, scant morsel, which his quivering lip
Hoards in its death-pang. Round the midnight fires,
That fiercely through the startled forest blaze,
The dreaming shadows gather, madly pleased
To bask, and scorch, and perish with their limbs
Crisp'd like the martyr's, and their heads fast seal'd
To the frost-pillow of their fearful rest.
Turn back, turn back, thou fur-clad emperor,
Thus towards the palace of the Thuilleries
Flying with breathless speed. Yon meagre forms,
Yon breathing skeletons, with tatter'd robes
And bare and bleeding feet, and matted locks,
Are these the high and haughty troops of France,
The buoyant conscripts, who from their blest homes
Went gaily at thy bidding? When the cry
Of weeping love demands her cherish'd ones,
The nursed upon the breast-the idol-gods
Of her deep worship-wilt thou coldly point
The Beresina-the drear hospital,
The frequent snow-mound on the unshelter'd march,
Where the lost soldier sleeps!
O War! War! War! Thou false baptized, who by thy vaunted name Of glory stealest o'er the ear of man To rive his bosom with thy thousand darts, Disrobed of pomp and circumstance, stand forth, And show thy written league with sin and death. Yes, ere ambition's heart is sear'd and sold, And desolated, bid him mark thine end And count thy wages.
The proud victor's plume, The hero's trophied fame, the warrior's wreath Of blood-dash'd laurel-what will these avail The spirit parting from material things ? One slender leaflet from the tree of peace, Borne, dove-like, o'er the waste and warring earth, Is better passport at the gate of Heaven.
ART thou a thing of mortal birth,
Whose happy home is on our earth ?
Does human blood with life embue
Those wandering veins of heavenly blue,
That stray along thy forehead fair,
Lost 'mid a gleam of golden hair ?
Oh! can that light and airy breath
Steal from a being doom'd to death;
Those features to the grave be sent
In sleep thus mutely eloquent;
Or, art thou, what thy form would seem,
The phantom of a blessed dream?
A human shape I feel thou art,
I feel it at my beating heart,
Those tremors both of soul and sense
Awoke by infant innocence !
Though dear the forms by fancy wove,
We love them with a transient love,
Thoughts from the living world intrude
E'en on her deepest solitude :
But, lovely child! thy magic stole
At once into my inmost soul,
With feelings as thy beauty fair,
And left no other vision there.
To me thy parents are unknown;
Glad would they be their child to own!
And well they must have loved before,
If since thy birth they loved not more.
Thou art a branch of noble stem,
And, seeing thee, I figure them.
What many a childless one would give,
If thou in their still home would'st live!
Though in thy face no family line
Might sweetly say, "This babe is mine!”
In time thou would'st become the same
As their own child, all but the name!
How happy must thy parents be
Who daily live in sight of thee!
Whose hearts no greater pleasure seek
Than see thee smile, and hear thee speak,
And feel all natural griefs beguiled
By thee, their fond, their duteous child.
What joy must in their souls have stirr'd
When thy first spoken words were heard,
Words, that, inspired by Heaven, express'd
The transports dancing in thy breast !
And for thy smile !-thy lip, cheek, brow,
Even while I gaze, are kindling now.
I call'd thee duteous; am I wrong?
No! truth, I feel, is in my song :
Duteous thy heart's still beatings move
To God, to Nature, and to Love!
To God for thou a harmless child
Hast kept his temple undefiled :
To Nature for thy tears and sighs
Obey alone her mysteries :
To Love !—for fiends of hate might see
Thou dwell'st in love, and love in thee!
What wonder then, though in thy dreams
Thy face with mystic meaning beams !
Oh! that my spirit's eye could see
Whence burst those gleams of ecstasy!
That light of dreaming soul appears
To play from thoughts above thy years.
Thou smilest as if thy soul were soaring
To Heaven, and Heaven's God adoring!
And who can tell what visions high
May bless an infant's sleeping eye?
What brighter throne can brightness find
To reign on than an infant's mind,
Ere sin destroy, or error dim,
The glory of the Seraphim ?
NIGHT. Night is the time for rest;
How sweet, when labours close, To gather round an aching breast
The curtain of repose ; Stretch the tired limbs, and lay the head Upon our own delightful bed! Night is the time for dreams.
The gay romance of life; When truth that is and truth that seems
Blend in fantastic strife; Ah! visions less beguiling far Than waking dreams by daylight are! 1 Night is the time for toil;
To plough the classic field,
Intent to find the buried spoil
Its wealthy furrows yield;
Till all is ours that sages taught,
That poets sang, or heroes wrought.
Night is the time to weep;
To wet with unseen tears
Those graves of memory where sleep
The joys of other years ;
Hopes that were angels in their birth
But perish'd young, like things of earth!
Night is the time to watch ;
On ocean's dark expanse, To hail the Pleiades, or catch
The full moon's earliest glance, That brings unto the home-sick mind All we have loved and left behind. Night is the time for care ;
Brooding on hours mispent, To see the spectre of despair
Come to our lonely tent ;
Like Brutus 'midst his slumbering host
Startled by Cæsar's stalwart ghost.
Night is the time to muse ;
Then from the eye the soul
Takes flight, and with expanding views
Beyond the starry pole;
Descries athwart the abyss of night
The dawn of uncreated light.
Night is our time to pray ;
Our Saviour oft withdrew
To desert mountains far away,
So will his followers do ;
Steal from the throng to haunts untrod,
And hold communion there with God.
Night is the time for death;
When all around is peace,
Calmly to yield the weary breath
Calmly and suffering and give the sigh
From sin and
Think of Heaven's bliss, and give the sign, To parting friends :-such death be mine!
THE FROSTED TREES.
WHAT strange enchantment meets my view,
So wondrous bright and fair ?
Has heaven pour'd out its silver dew
On the rejoicing air ?
Or am I borne to regions new
To see the glories there?
Last eve when sunset fill'd the sky
With wreaths of golden light,
The trees sent up their arms on high,
All leafless to the sight,
And sleepy mists came down to lie
On the dark breast of night.