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I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
Stoop o'er me from above;
The calm majestic presence of the Night,
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
The manifold soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
Like some old poet's rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,—
From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer;
Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, The best-beloved Night!
WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN SAID TO THE PSALMIST.
TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest !
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,-act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;—
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS.
THERE is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
"Shall I have nought that is fair?" saith he;
"Have nought but the bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me
I will give them all back again."
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves;
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,"
The Reaper said, and smiled;
"Dear tokens of the earth are they,
Where he was once a child.
They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care;
And saints upon their garments white,
These sacred blossoms wear."
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above.
Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day;
'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
THE LIGHT OF STARS.
THE night is come, but not too soon;
And sinking silently,
All silently, the little moon
Drops down behind the sky.
There is no light in earth or heaven,
But the cold light of stars;
And the first watch of night is given
To the red planet Mars.
Is it the tender star of love?
The star of love and dreams?
Oh, no! from that blue tent above,
Á hero's armour gleams.
And earnest thoughts within me rise,
When I behold afar,
Suspended in the evening skies,
The shield of that red star.
O star of strength! I see thee stand
And smile upon my pain;
Thou beckonest with thy mailed hand,
And I am strong again.
Within my breast there is no light,
But the cold light of stars;
I give the first watch of the night
To the red planet Mars.
The star of the unconquered will,
He rises in my breast,
Serene, and resolute, and still,
And calm, and self-possessed.
And thou too, whosoe'er thou art,
That readest this brief psalm,
As one by one thy hopes depart,
Be resolute and calm.
Oh, fear not in a world like this,
Ánd thou shalt know ere long,
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.
FOOTSTEPS OF ANGELS.
WHEN the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;
Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful fire-light
Dance upon the parlour-wall;
Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;
He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the road-side fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!
They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!
And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.
And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit's voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.
Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!
SPAKE full well, in language quaint and olden, One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine, When he called the flowers, so blue and golden, Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history,
As astrologers and seers of eld;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery,
Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,
God hath written in those stars above;
But not less in the bright flowerets under us
Stands in the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation,
Written all over this great world of ours;
Making evident our own creation,
In these stars of earth,-these golden flowers.
And the poet, faithful and far-seeing,
Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part
Of the self-same, universal being,
Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining,
Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day,
Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining,
Buds that open only to decay;
Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues,
Flaunting gaily in the golden light;
Large desires, with most uncertain issues,
Tender wishes, blossoming at night!
These in flowers and men are more than seeming;
Workings are they of the self-same powers,
Which the poet, in no idle dreaming,
Seeth in himself and in the flowers.
Every where about us are they glowing,
Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born;
Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing,
Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn;