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I listened long to catch a bird-note falling
From out the sombre spaces of the sky, And only heard a grim rook hoarsely calling
As toward the woodland he went wheeling by; The sere marsh rushes seemed to breathe an echo
to my sigh.
When last I strayed this self-same pathway over
How every breeze was palpitant with song! The grass I trod was white with foamy clover,
And bees went darting by, a burdened throng; Now all was drear and desolate the whole wide
Where is the promise of the re-awaking ?
I thought, as one that o'er dead joyance grieves Some lingering springtide symbol sweetly making
A link between the reaped and unsown sheaves; When lo, a violet still in bloom amid the withered
And turned to the bird's wild gladness as the
weary turn toward sleep. Then it came, ah! it came with a rushing and
ripple of notes that poured Like a mountain rillet gushing from a rock-fount,
pebble-floored; And I soared with the song's swift soaring, and I
fled with the song's swift flow, From that land of the sun's adoring to a land of
storm and snow; From the home of the rose and laurel, from the
olive slopes and the vines, To hills where the mad winds quarrel in the supple
tops of pines. And I said, “enough of the languor, enough of
the dreamful ease, With never a sound of anger from the slumberous
sapphire seas! Give me the din of the battle of turbulent life once
more, The clangor, the stress, the rattle, on the new
world's strenuous shore; The hearts I love and that love me, and the frank,
free, trustful eyes, And the blue of the skies above me, the blue of my
own dear skies!" A moment the strains waxed stronger, then died; –
no, it might not be; I knew I must linger longer by the strange sweet
southern sea; Linger and con from the stories of those who had
left life's ways, Linger and glean from the glories of the hallowed
and haloed days. But a moment more I tarried till the sovran moon
rose up, And the land and the heaven were married by the
wine from its gold-bright cup; Then I swiftly downward wended, and was glad
once more to be Where the laughter clear ascended by the shore of
the siren sea. Ah! the lone heart, backward turning, though fair
be the skies that dome, Must sometimes feel a yearning for the happy hills
An eddying speck the swallow flies,
The morn is full of fragrant breath, Yet, dark and dank beneath, there lies
A charnel-house of death.
Spring comes, and straightway at her smiles
The wide Campagna bursts in bloom; But naught again to life beguiles
The grave's black hecatomb.
And yet the fairest flowers have birth
In mould and darkness and decay; And here the faith that rings the earth
Flowered into endless day.
MOONRISE AT MONTEREY.
All through the sultry evening hours
The fluctuant tide's soft swell was heard,
And to the cadence sang a bird Amid the bright acacia flowers.
A bat zigzagged across the night,
And in the dark the spiders spun
Their webs, that would, at rise of sun, Be little silvery paths of light.
IN LATE NOVEMBER.
The sun was hidden and the air was chill;
Along the windy summit of the hill;
Clear notes of song dropped down the air,
Well-rounded, perfect pearls of sound;
A star sprang eastward, and was drowned In outer ether, none knew where.
Then, as o'er Latmian leas of yore
She rose to greet Endymion,
Full-orbed and fair the moon outshone Above the wide Pacific shore.
In dreary, ceaseless monotone
The raindrops fall; The wind makes intermittent moan
In tree-tops tall.
No traveier braves the murky night,
Nor beast nor bird. Together huddle, as in fright,
The shivering herd.
Within a room where watchers weep
A maiden lies,
Upon her eyes.
Beyond the billow's briny crest
The day is born. Her lover there, hope in his breas
Smiles on the morn.
You ask why Spring's fair first-born flower is
white: Peering from out the warm earth long ago,
It saw above its head great drifts of snow,
The winter's barbed arrows dart;
- Ibid. FLORENCE. How great her gifts! her open heart
Has yielded much to bless mankind,
And in her bosom still we find
- Baalbec. HAPPINESS.
These emerald spears that gently wave
By harvesters uprisen to greet the morn,
- Into a Dream Came Love.
A SEA of blossoms, golden as the glow
Of morning sunlight on a wind-rocked bay,
Beneath the breeze of this rare autumn day Heaves in soft undulation to and fro; Like incense, floating o'er the marsh below,
Come fragrant odors of the late-mown hay:
Beyond, in harmony of green and gray, The tapering tamaracks tower in stately row.
And wading through the shimmering waves with
song Upon his lips, a fair-haired youth I see,
Who swings off the saffron blossom-bells: Back roll the years,- a melancholy throng,And I behold, in sea-girt Sicily,
Theocritus amid the asphodels!
" Who now will sing our songs?" men cried at
Faint hearts, fear not! Somewhere, though far
away, At that same hour another bard was born.
CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS.
HARLES GEORGE DOUGLAS ROBERTS
was born on January 1oth, 1860, at the old parsonage of Douglas, a parish on the east side of the St. John River, only a few miles above Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. His father, the Rev. G. G. Roberts, had been appointed rector of the parish soon after his marriage with Emma W. Bliss, one of that Loyalist family which traces its descent through a line of lawyers back to the Rev. Daniel Bliss, Emerson's progenitor and the first pastor of Concord. In less than a year after the birth of their son, Mr. Roberts was transferred to Westcock, in Westmoreland County. Here, in that charmed land of wind and meadows and dikes and seafaring folk, which has lent its enchantment of flying color and bending grass to ". In the Afternoon,” “ Tantramar Revisited” and many another bit of inspired realism,
"the long strong wind, thro' the lonesome
Golden afternoon" blew rough and blithe under the youngster's hair. “ Inspired realism," indeed, is only a make-shift term. There is a quality in these poems and their fellows, which teaches everyday things, pasture lands and fishing boats and the common work of men, and enables them,- sets them in their higher more subtile relations with the beauty and sweep and pathos of those shadows on the face of Nature which man calls life and death.
In 1874 Mr. Roberts, père, again removed his family, this time to Fredericton, where he undertook the responsibilities of the rectorship whose duties he continues to discharge, with an unfailing kindliness, with a thorough goodness and gentleness of heart that have secured a large share of love among his townsmen. Mr. Roberts, poet, entered the College School in that town, upon a two years' course of preparation for college. His only teacher up to this time had been his father; he now passed into the hands of Mr. George N. Parkin, head master of the school (whose predecessor, by the way, was Dr. Roberts, Professor Roberts' grandfather) a teacher of remarkable quickening power, whose ideas on English public school life and on “ The Reorganization of the British Empire" we have just been reading in The Century. Roberts remained at this school until 1876. In that year he won the silver medal of the school for proficiency in classics, and matriculated at the University of New Brunswick, also in Fredericton. Here he won a Classical Scholarship at the end of his freshman year, a gold medal for Latin prose at the end of his second year, and graduated with honors in Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy in June, 1879. At the end of his summer vacation after graduation he was placed in charge of the grammar school at hatham, N. B. In the summer
of 1880, Roberts's first volume, “ Orion and Other Poems,” was published. Towards the end of the same year, on December 29th, Mr. Roberts was married to Mary Isabel Fenety, daughter of George E. Fenety, Esq., of Fredericton.
In 1881 Prof. Roberts received the degree of M. A. from his Alma Mater, and in 1882 was appointed master of one of the public schools in this “ Shadowy town of the tall elm trees," a position he retained for a little more than a year. In December of the same year, 1883, The Week was started in Toronto, Ont.,-a new departure in Canadian journalism, whose subsequent unqualified success in work of a high grade gives interest to the fact that Roberts was its first editor. His connection with it, however, was not a long one; and in 1885 he was called to the chair of English and French in King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, where he now lives. His second volume of verse, “In Divers Tones," appeared in the first months of 1887. “ Poems of Wild Life,” edited by him has just been added to the series of Canterbury Poets, and a college text-book of Shelley's “ Alastor and Adonais," with critical introduction and notes, will soon be in press.
Not to speak of the original work of Professor Roberts, it is safe to say that his marked success as a teacher is due to an unswerving and strongly individualized energy of purpose, coupled with wide sympathy and an unusually inspiriting enthusiasm for literature, and directing a penetrating critical faculty. He is a strenuous lover of his native land, (one almost says, of his native soil,) sturdy, virile, patriotic, easy of approach, a good friend, and (if one may venture a hazarded opinion) butan indifferent enemy. It is upon the loyal, uncompromising and unquestioning patriotism of such men that Canada,- the true Canada, mindful of her history, loving her heroes, keeping faith with the greatness of her destiny, rests her bid for fame and honor among the Nations.
TO THE SPIRIT OF SONG.
WHITE as fleeces blown across the hollow heaven, Fold on fold thy garment wraps thy shining
limbs; Deep thy gaze as morning's flamed thro' vapors
riven, Bright thine hair as day's that up the ether
swims. Surely I have seen the majesty and wonder,
Beauty, might, and splendor of the soul of song;