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A BOOK OF SONNETS.
THREE FRIENDS OF MINE.
When I remember them, those friends of mine,
Who are no longer here, the noble three,
Who half my life were more than friends to me,
And whose discourse was like a generous wine, I most of all remember the divme
Something, that shone in them, and made us see
The archetypal man, and what might be
The amplitude of Nature's first design. In vain I stretch my hands to clasp their hands; I cannot find them. Nothing now is left
But a majestic memory. They meanwhile
Wander together in Elysian lands, Perchance remembering me, who am bereft
Of their dear presence, and, remembering, smile.
In Attica thy birthplace should have been,
Or the Ionian Isles, or where the seas Encircle in their arms the Cyclades, So wholly Greek wast thou in thy serene
And childlike joy of life, O Philhellene!
Around thee would have swarmed the Attic bees;
Homer had been thy friend, or Socrates,
And Plato welcomed thee to his demesne.
For thee old legends breathed historic breath;
Thou sawest Poseidon in the purple sea,
And in the sunset Jason's fleece of gold!
O, what hadst thou to do with cruel Death,
Who wast so full of life, or Death
with thee, That thou shouldst die before thou
hadst grown old!
I STAND again on the familiar shore, And hear the waves of the distracted sea
Piteously calling and lamenting thee, And waiting restless at thy cottage door.
The rocks, the sea-weed on the ocean floor,
The willows in the meadow, and the free
Wild winds of the Atlantic welcome me;
Then why shouldst thou be dead, and come no more? Ah, why shouldst thou be dead, when common men Are busy with their trivial affairs, Having and holding? Why, when thou hadst read Nature's mysterious manuscript, and then
Wast ready to reveal the truth it bears, Why art thou silent? Why shouldst thou be dead?
Rivee, that stealest with such silent pace
Around the City of the Dead, where lies
A friend who bore thy name, and
whom these eyes Shall see no more in his accustomed
Linger and fold him in thy soft embrace And say good night, for now the
western skies Are red with sunset, and gray mists
Like damps that gather on a dead man's face. Good night! good night! as we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
The doors are all wide open; at the gate
The blossomed lilacs counterfeit a blaze,
And seem to warm the air; a dreamy "haze
Hangs o'er the Brighton meadows like a fate, And on their margin, with sea-tides elate,
The flooded Charles, as in the happier days,
Writes the last letter of his name, and stays
His restless steps, as if compelled to wait.
I also wait; but they will come no more,
Those friends of mine, whose presence satisfied
The thirst and hunger of my heart. Ah me!
They have forgotten the pathway to my door!
Something is gone from nature since
they died, And summer is not summer, nor can
An old man in a lodge within a park; The chamber walls depicted all around
With portraitures of huntsman, hawk, and hound.
And the hurt deer. He listeneth to the lark,
Whose song comes with the sunshine through the dark Of painted glass in leaden lattice bound;
He listeneth and he laugheth at the sound,
Then writeth in a book like any clerk. He is the poet of the dawn, who wrote The Canterbury Tales, and his old age Made beautiful with song; and as I read
I hear the crowing cock, I hear the note Of lark and linnet, and from every page
Rise odors of ploughed field or flowery mead.
A Vision as of crowded city streets, With human life in endless overflow; Thunder of thoroughfares; trumpets
that blow To battle; clamor, in obscure retreats, Of sailors landed from their anchored fleets;
Tolling of bells in turrets, and below
This vision comes to me when I unfold The volume of the Poet paramount, Whom all the Muses loved, not one alone;—
Into his hands they put the lyre of gold. And, crowned with sacred laurel at
their fount, Placed him as Musagetes on their
I Pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
How the voluminous billows roll and run,
Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled, And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
All its loose-flowing garments into one,
Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
Pale reach of sands, and changes
them to gold. So in majestic cadence rise and fall The mighty undulations of thy song, O sightless bard, England's lIa;oui
And ever and anon, high over all
Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
Floods all the soul with its melodious
The young Endymion sleeps Endymion's sleep;
The shepherd-boy whose tale was left
half told! The solemn grove uplifts its shield of
To the red rising moon, and loud and deep
The nightingale is singingfrcm the steep; It is midsummer, but the air is cold; Can it be death? Alas, beside the fold A shepherd's pipe lies shattered near his sheep.
Lo! in the moonlight gleams a marble white,
On which I read: "Here lieth one
whose name Was writ in water." And was this 'the meed Of his sweet singing? Rather let me write:
"The smoking flax before it burst to flame
Was quenched by death, and broken the braised reed."
Torrent of light and river of the air, Along whose bed the glimmering stars .are seen
Like gold and silver sands in some ravine
Where mountain streams have left their channels bare! The Spaniard sees in thee the pathway, where
His patron saint descended in the sheen
Not this I see, nor yet the ancient fable Of Phaeton's wild course, that scorched the skies
Where'er the hoofs of his hot coursers trod;
But the white drift of worlds o'er chasms of sable,
The star-dust, that is whirled aloft and flies
From the invisible chariot-wheels of God.
THE SOUND OF THE SEA.
THEseaawokeat midnight from its sleep, And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep. So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being, The rushing of thesea-tidesof the soul; And inspirations, that we deem our own, Are some divine foreshadowing and
foreseeing Of things beyond our reason or control.
A SUMMER DAY BY THE SEA.
The sun is set; and in his latest beams Yon little cloud of ashen gray and gold, Slowly upon the amber air unrolled, The falling mantle of the Prophet seems.
From the dim headlands many a lighthouse gleams, The street-lamps of the ocean; and behold,
O'erhead the banners of the night unfold;
The day hath passed into the land of dreams.
O summer day beside the joyous sea!
So full of gladness and so full of pain! Forever and forever shalt thou be To some the gravestone of a dead delight,
To some the landmark of a new domain.
I -saw the long line of the vacant shore, The sea-weed and the shells upon the sand,
And the brown rooks left bare on every hand,
As if the ebbing tide would flow no more.
Then heard I, more distinctly than before, The ocean breathe and its great breast expand,
And hurrying came on the defenceless land
The insurgent waters with tumultuous roar.
All thought and feeling and desire, I said,
Love, laughter, and the exultant joy of song
Have ebbed from me forever! Suddenly o'er me They swept again from their deep ocean bed,
And in a tumult of delight, and strong As youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.
I Said unto myself, if I were dead, What would befall these children?
What would be Their fate, who now are looking up to
For helpand furtherance? Their lives, I said,
Would be a volume wherein I have read But the first chapters, and no longer
To read the rest of their dear history, So full of beauty and so full of dread. Be comforted; the world is very old, And generations pass, as they have passed,
A troop of shadows moving with the sun;
Thousands of times has the old tale been told;
The world belongs to those who come the last,
They will find hope and strength as we have done.
A NAMELESS GRAVE.
"AsoLDlERof the Union mustered out," Is the inscription on an unknown grave At Newport News, beside the salt-sea wave,
Nameless and dateless; sentinel or
Shot down in skirmish, or disastrous rout
And doomed battalions, storming the
Thou unknown hero sleeping by the seaIn thy forgotten grave! with secret shame
I feel my pulses beat, myforehpad burn,
And I can give thee nothing in return.
Lull me to sleep, ye winds, whose fitful
Seems from some faint jEolian harp-
Seal up the hundred wakeful eyes of
As Hermes with his lyre in sleep pro-
The hundred wakeful eyes of Argus bound;
For I am weary, and am overwrought
Lay thy soft hand upon my brow and cheek,
O peaceful Sleep! until from pain re
I breathe again uninterrupted breath! Ah, with what subtile meaning did the
Call thee the lesser mystery at the feast .
THE OLD BRIDGE AT FLORENCE. | IL PONTE VECCHIO DI FIRENZE.
Taddeo Gaddi built me. I am old, Five centuries old. I plant my foot of stone
Upon the Arno, as St. Michael's own Was planted on the dragon. Fold by fold
Beneath me as it struggles, I behold
It moveth not, but is by me controlled. I can remember when the Medici
Were driven from Florence; longer still ago
The final wars of Ghibelline and Guelf. Florence adorns me with her jewelry; And when I think that Michael Angelo Hath leaned on me, I glory in myself.
Gaddi mi fece; il Ponte Vecchio sono; Cinquecent' anni già sull' Arno pianto
Il piede, come il suo Michele Santo Piantò sul draco. Mentre eh' io ragiono
Lo vedo torcere con flebil suono
Le rilucenti scaglie. Ha questi affranto
Due volte i miei maggior. Me solo intanto
Neppure muove, ed io non l' abban-
Io mi rammento quando fur cacciati
Fiorenza i suoi giojelli m' ha prestati;