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If from this wo its bitterness had won theeMay God have call'd thee like a wanderer home,
My erring Absalom !”
He cover'd up his face, and bow'd himself
A moment on his child ; then giving him
A look of melting tenderness, he clasp'd
His hands convulsively, as if in prayer;
And as a strength were given him of God,
He rose up calmly, and composed the pall
About him decently, and left him there
As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.
My mother's voice! how often creeps
Its cadence on my lonely hours ! Like healing sent on wings of sleep,
Or dew to the unconscious flowers.
I can forget her melting prayer
While leaping pulses madly fly,
But in the still unbroken air
Her gentle tone comes stealing by,
And years, and sin, and manhood flee,
And leave me at my mother's knee.
The book of nature, and the print
Of beauty on the whispering sea,
Give aye to me some lineament
Of what I have been taught to be. My heart is harder, and perhaps
My manliness hath drunk up tears,
And there's a mildew in the lapse
Of a few miserable years—
But nature's book is even yet
With all my mother's lessons writ.
I have been out at eventide
Beneath a moonlight sky of spring;
When earth was garnish'd like a bride,
And night had on her silver wingWhen bursting leaves and diamond grass,
And waters leaping to the light, And all that makes the pulses pass
With wilder fleetness, throng'd the nightWhen all was beauty--then have I
With friends on whom my love is fung Like myrrh on winds of Araby,
Gazed up where evening's lamp is hung. And when the beautiful spirit there,
Flung over me its golden chain, My mother's voice came on the air
Like the light dropping of the rain-
And resting on some silver star
The spirit of a bended knee,
I've pour'd her low and fervent prayer
That our eternity might be
To rise in heaven like stars at night!
And tread a living path of light
I have been on the dewy hills,
When night was stealing from the dawn, And mist was on the waking rills,
And tints were delicately drawn In the gray East—when birds were waking
With a low murmur in the trees, And melody by fits was breaking
Upon the whisper of the breeze, And this when I was forth, perchance As a worn reveller from the dance
And when the sun sprang gloriously And freely up, and hill and river
Were catching upon wave and tree The arrows from his subtle quiver
I say a voice has thrill'd me then, Heard on the still and rushing light,
Or, creeping from the silent glen Like words from the departing night
Hath stricken me, and I have press'd On the wet grass my fever'd brow,
And pouring forth the earliest First prayer, with which I learn'd to bow,
Have felt my mother's spirit rush Upon me as in by-past years,
And yielding to the blessed gush
Of my ungovernable tears,
Have risen up—the gay, the wild-
As humble as a very child.
Wo! for my vine-clad home!
That it should ever be so dark to me,
With its bright threshold, and its whispering tree!
That I should ever come,
Fearing the lonely echo of a tread,
Beneath the roof-tree of my glorious dead!
Lead on! my orphan boy!
Thy home is not so desolate to thee,
And the low shiver in the linden tree
May bring to thee a joy;
But, oh! how dark is the bright home before thee,
To her who with a joyous spirit bore thes!
Lead on! for thou art now
My sole remaining helper. God hath spoken,
And the strong heart I lean'd upon is broken;
And I have seen his brow,
The forehead of my upright one, and just,
Trod by the hoof of battle to the dust.
He will not meet thee there
Who bless'd thee at the eventide, my son!
And when the shadows of the night steal on,
He will not call to prayer,
The lips that melted, giving thee to God,
Are in the icy keeping of the sod!
Aye, my own boy! thy sire
Is with the sleepers of the valley cast,
And the proud glory of my life hath past,
With his high glance of fire.
Wo! that the linden and the vine should bloom
And a just man be gather’d to the tomb !
Why, bear them proudly, boy!
It is the sword he girded to his thigh,
It is the helm he wore in victory!
And shall we have no joy ?
For thy green vales, O Switzerland, he died !
I will forget my sorrow-in my pride!
It was a gentle eve in Hindoostan.
The rains were past, and the delighted earth
Was beautiful once more, and glittering leaves
Were lifting lightly on their beaten stems,
And glancing to the pure, transparent sky,
Like a pleased infant smiling through its tears.
Clouds linger'd in the west, and tints were drawn
By sunset fingers on their skirts of gold,
And they were floating as serenely there,
As if the children of the restless storm
Could sleep upon the azure floor of heaven.
Deep ran the holy Ganges, for the rain
Had swollen it from Thibet to the sea.
Its flow was turbid; and, as if the winds
Were not forgotten by the multitude
Of its strange waters, they were leaping up,
And with a wondrous glory gathering
The mantle of the sunset over them.
How frequently these living passages
Of nature's book are opened, and how few
Are the high hearts that know them, and can feel
Their eloquence and beauty!
Meina stood Upon the breathing carpet of the shore, Gazing on the sky and river. There was much In the dark features of the young Hindoo, That should have won a gentler history. She had the Eastern eye, with its dark fringe And shadowy depth of lustre ; but, beyond The elements of beauty, there was writ A something that the wounded roe would trust For shelter from its hunters. Her closed lips Were delicate as the tinted pencilling, Of veins upon a flower; and on her cheek The timid blood had faintly melted through, Like something that was half afraid of light. There was no slighter print upon the grass Than her elastic step; and in her frame There was a perfect symmetry, that seem'd Aerial as a bird's. It was the hour For worship in her land; and she had come, With the religion of a high, pure heart, To bow herself in prayer. A darker mind
Might pray at such an hour; but she had caught
The spirit of the scene; and, as her eye
Follow'd the coursing of the golden waves,
Or rested on the clouds that slept above,
Like isles upon the bosom of the sea,
Her soul was swept to music like a harp,
And she knelt down in her deep blessedness
To worship the High Maker. As she pray'd,
Her beautiful young boy-a very dream,
As he might be, of infant loveliness,
With his dark hair upon the summer wind,
And the sweet laugh of a delighted child
Like music on his lips—came leaping by,
And, flinging a light wreath upon her brow,
Sprang onward like a bounding antelope.
She turn'd a moment-might she not, for him?
Him, whom she cradled in the whispering tree,
And gather'd to her bosom in the hush
Of the still night?--to know if he was there.
'T was but a moment, and she bow'd again;
And, as the murmur of her silver tone
Stole out upon the wind, her images
Of majesty came back, and she was fill'd,
Like a deep channel by the whirlwind swept,
Again, with the rich rushing of her prayer.
The shadows of the stealthy evening came
Silently on; but she was up, in thought,
Among the crystal palaces of light;
And a still prompting came to her, to pray
That the poor spirit of a passing world,
With all its fond, but frail idolatries,
Might on the altar of her God be flung.
She breathed it, and along the holy shore
She heard the whisper of the waters creep:
“Thine is the victory, Meina !”—Was it won ?
Won in its cold, bereaving cruelty ?
Won from the pride of woman? from her love?
Won from thy boy! young mother? No! oh, no!
She had forgotten him! He was too young,
Too purely, beautifully young, to die!
And then the waves repeated to the shore,
And the light echo heard it: “Give him up!”.
And Meina heard it: “Give him to thy God!"
And the strong heart arose! One arrowy pulse
Of an acuter agony than death;.
One fearful shiver at the searching thrill,