صور الصفحة
PDF

THE GOBLET OF LIFE.

Filled is Life's goblet to the brim;
And though my eyes with tears are dim,
l see its sparkling bubbles swim,
And chant a melancholy hymn
With solemn voice and slow.

No purple flowers, — no garlands green,
Conceal the goblet's shade or sheen,
Nor maddening draughts of Hippocrene,
Like gleams of sunshine, flash between
Thick leaves of mistletoe.

This goblet, wrought with curious art,
Is filled with waters, that upstart,
When the deep fountains of the heart,
By strong convulsions rent apart,
Are running all to waste.

And as it mantling passes round,
With fennel is it wreathed and crowned,
Whose seed and foliage sun-imbrowned
Are in its waters steeped and drowned,
And give a bitter taste.

Above the lowly plants it towers,
The fennel, with its yellow flowers,
And in an earlier age than ours
Was sifted with the wondrous powers,
Lost vision to restore.

It gave new strength, and fearless mood;
And gladiators, fierce and rude,
Mingled it in their daily food;
And he who battled and subdued,
A wreath of fennel wore.

Then in Life's goblet freely press,
The leaves that give it bitterness,
Xor prize the colored waters less,
For m thy darkness and distress

New light and strength they give!

And he who has not learned to know
How false its sparkling bubbles show,
How bitter are the drops of woe,
With which its brim may overflow,
He has not learned to live.

The prayer of Ajax was for light;
Through all that dark and desperate fight,
The blackness of that noonday night,
He asked but the return of sight,
To see his foeman's face.

Let our unceasing, earnest prayer

Be, too, for light, —for strength to bear

Our portion of the weight of care,
That crushes into dumb despair
One half the human race.

O suffering, sad humanity!

0 ye afflicted ones, who lie Steeped to the lips in misery. Longing, and yet afraid to die,

Patient, though sorely tried! •'

l pledge you in this cup of grief, Where floats the fennel's bitter leaf! The Battle of our Life is brief,

The alarm, — the struggle, — the relief, Then sleep we side by side.

MAIDENHOOD.

Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes,
In whose orbs a shadow lies
Like the dusk in evening skies!

Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
As the braided streamlets run!

Standing, with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet!

Gazing, with a timid glance,
On the brooklet's swift advance,
On the river's broad expanse!

Deep and still, that gliding stream
Beautiful to thee must seem,
As the river of a dream.

Then why pause with indecision,
When bright angels in thy vision
Beckon thee to fields Elysiau <

Seest thou shadows sailing by,
As the dove, with startled eye,
Sees the falcon's shadow fly?

Hearest thou voices on the shore, .
That our ears perceive no more,
Deafened by the cataract's roar 1

O, thou child of many prayers!

Life hath quicksands, — Life hath snares!

Care and age come unawares!

Like the swell of some sweet tune,
Morning rises into noon,
May glides onward into June.

Childhood is the bough, whore slumbered
Birds and blossoms many-numbered;
Age, that bough with snows encumbered.

Gather, then, each flower that grows,
When the young heart overflows,
To embalm that tent of snows.

ear a lily in thy hand;
ates of brass cannot withstand
One touch of that magic wand.

Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
In thy heart the dew of youth,
On thy lips the smile of truth.

O, that dew, like balm, shall steal
Into wounds that cannot heal,
Even as sleep our eyes doth seal;

And that smile, like sunshine, dart
Into many a sunless heart,
For a smile of God thou art.

EXCELSIOR.

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device, .
Excelsior!

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
Excelsior!

In happy homes he saw the light

Of household firesgle am warm and bright;

Arjove, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
Excelsior!

"Try not the Pass!" the old man said; "Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide!" And loud that clarion voice replied, Excelsior!

"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,
Excelsior!

"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,
Excelsior!

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,
Excelsior!

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
Excelsior!

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like" a falling star,
Excelsior!

POEMS ON SLAVERY.

[The following poems, with one exception, were written at Ben, in the latter part of October, 184-2. I had not then heard of Dr. Channing's death. Since that event, the poem addressed to him is no longer appropriate. I have decided, however, to let it remain as it was written, in testimony of my admiration for a great and good man.l

TO WILLIAM E. CHANGING.

The pages of thy book I read,

And as I closed each one,
My heart, responding, ever said,

"Servant of God! well done!"

Well done! Thy words are great and bold;

At times they seem to me,
Like Luther's, in the days of old,
Half-battles for the free.

Go on, until this land revokes

The old and chartered Lie, The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes

Insult humanity.

A voice is ever at thy side

Speaking in tones of might,
Like the prophetic voice, that cried

To John in Patmos, "Write!"

Write! and tell out this bloody tale;

Record this dire eclipse, This Day of Wrath, this Endless Wail,

This dread Apocalypse!

THE SLAVE'S DREAM.

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,

His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair

Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,

He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams

The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain

Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans

Descend the mountain-road.

He'saw once more his dark-eyed queen Among her children stand;

They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,

They held him by the hand ! — A tear burst from the sleeper's lids And fell into the sand.

And then at furious speed he rode

Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,

And, with a martial clank, At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel

Smiting his stallion's flank.

Before him, like a blood-red flag,

The bright flamingoes flew; From morn till night he followed their flight,

O'er plains where the tamarind grew, Till he saw the roofs of Cafire huts, And the ocean rose to view.

At night he heard the lion roar,

And the hyena scream, And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds

Beside some hidden stream; And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,

Through the triumph of his dream.

The forests, with their myriad tongues,

Shouted of liberty; And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,

With a voice so wild and free, That he started in his sleep and smiled . At their tempestuous glee.

He did not feel the driver's whip,

Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of
Sleep,

And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
Had broken and thrown away!

THE GOOD PART,

THAT SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY.

She dwells by Great Kenhawa's side,

In valleys green and cool;
And all her hope and all her pride

Are in the village school.

Her soul, like the transparent air

That robes the hills above, Though not of earth, encircles there

All things with arms of love.

And thus she walks among her girls
With praise and mild rebukes;

Subduing e'en rude village churls
By her angelic looks.

She reads to them at eventide

Of One who came to save;
To cast the captive's chains aside

And liberate the slave.

And oft the blessed time foretells
When all men shall be free;

And musical, as silver bells,
Their falling chains shall be.

And following her beloved Lord,

In decent poverty, She makes her life one sweet record

And deed of charity.

For she was rich, and gave up all

To break the iron bands
Of those who waited in her hall,

And labored in her lands.

Long since beyond the Southern Sea
Their outbound sails have sped,

While she, in meek humility,
Now earns her daily bread.

It is their prayers, which never cease,
That clothe her with such grace;

Their blessing is the light of peace
That shines upon her face.

THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP.

In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp

The hunted Negro lay; He saw the fire of the midnight camp, And heard at times a horse's tramp

And a bloodhound's distant bay.

Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms shine,

In bulrush and in brake; Where waving mosses shroud the pine, And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine

Is.spotted like the snake;

Where hardly a human foot could pass,

Or a human heart would dare, On the quaking turf of the green morass He crouched in the rank and tangled grass,

Like a wild beast in his lair.

A poor old slave, infirm and lame;

Great scars deformed his face; On his forehead he bore the brand of shame,

And the rags, that hid his mangled frame, Were the livery of disgrace.

All things above were bright and fair,

All things were glad and free; Lithe squirrels darted here and there, And wild birds filled the echoing air With songs of Liberty!

On him alone was the doom of pain,

From the morning of his birth; On him alone the curse of Cain Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain, And struck him to the earth!

THE SLAVE SINGING AT MID-
NIGHT.

Loud he sang the psalm of David!
He, a Negro and enslaved,
Sang of Israel's victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

In that hour, when night is calmest,
Sang he from the Hebrew Psalmist,
In a voice so sweet and clear
That I could not choose but hear,

Songs of triumph, and ascriptions,
Such as reached the swart Egyptians,
When upon the Red Sea coast
Perished Pharaoh and his host.

And the voice of his devotion
Filled my soul with strange emotien;
For its tones by turns were glad,
Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.

Paul and Silas, in their prison,
Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen,
And an earthquake's arm of might
Broke their dungeon-gates at night.

But, alas! what holy angel
Brings the Slave this glad evangel?
And what earthquake's arm of might
Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?

THE WITNESSES.

In Ocean's wide domains,

Half buried in the sands,
Lie skeletons in chains,

With shackled feet and hands.

Beyond the fall of dews,
Deeper than plummet lies,

Float ships, with all their crews,
No more to sink nor rise.

There the black Slave-ship swims,
Freighted with human forms,

Whose fettered, fleshless limbs
Are not the sport of storms.

These are the bones of Slaves;

They gleam from the abyss;
They cry, from yawning waves,

"We are the Witnesses!"

Within Earth's wide domains
Are markets for men's lives;

Their necks are galled with chains,
Their wrists are cramped with gyves.

Dead bodies, that the kite
In deserts makes its prey;

Murders, that with affright

Scare school-boys from their play!

All evil thoughts and deeds;

Anger, and lust, and pride; The foulest, rankest weeds,

That choke Life's groaning tide!

These are the woes of Slaves;

They glare from the abyss; They cry, from unknown graves,

"We are the Witnesses!"

THE QUADROON GIRL.

The Slaver in the broad lagoon
Lay moored with idle sail;

He waited for the rising moon,
And for the evening gale.

Under the shore his boat was tL'd,

And all her listless crew Watched the gray alligator slide

Into the still bayou.

Odors of orange-flowers, and spice,
Reached them from time to time,

Like airs that breathe from Paradise
Upon a world of crime.

The Planter, under his roof of thatch,
Smoked thoughtfully and slow;

The Slaver's thumb was on the latch,
He seemed in haste to go.

He said, "My ship at anchor rides

In yonder broad lagoon;
I only wait the evening tides,

And the rising of the moon."

Before them, with her face upraised,

In timid attitude,
Like one half curious, half amazed,

A Quadroon maiden stood.

Her eyes were large, and full of light, Her arms and neck were bare;

No garment she wore save a kirtle bright, And her own long, raven hair.

And on her lips there played a smile

As holy, meek, and faint,
As lights in some cathedral aisle

The features of a saint.

"The soil is barren, — the farm is old";

The thoughtful planter said; Then looked upon the Slaver's gold,

And then upon the maid.

His heart within him was at strife

With such accursed gains: For he knew whose passions gave her life,

Whose blood ran in her veins.

But the voice of nature was too weak;

He took the glittering gold! Then pale as death grew the maiden's cheek,

Her hands as icy cold.

The Slaver led her from the door,

He led her by the hand,
To be his slave and paramour

In a strange and distant laud l

« السابقةمتابعة »