SELECTIONS FROM AMERICAN POETRY
By Various Authors
With Special Reference to Poe, Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier
Edited by Margaret Sprague Carhart
ANNE BRADSTREET Contemplation
MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH The Day of Doom
PHILLIP FRENEAU The Wild Honeysuckle To a Honey Bee The Indian Burying Ground Eutaw Springs
FRANCIS HOPKINSON The Battle of the Kegs
JOSEPH HOPKINSON Hail Columbia
ANONYMOUS The Ballad of Nathan Hale A Fable
TIMOTHY DWIGHT Love to the Church
SAMUEL WOODWORTH The Old Oaken Bucket
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT Thanatopsis The Yellow Violet To a Waterfowl Green River The West Wind "I Broke the Spell that Held Me Long" A Forest Hymn The Death of the Flowers The Gladness of Nature To the Fringed Gentian Song of Marion's Men The Crowded Street The Snow Shower Robert of Lincoln The Poet Abraham Lincoln
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY The Star Spangled Banner
JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE The American Flag The Culprit Fay
FITZ-GREENE HALLECK Marco Bozzaris On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake
JOHN HOWARD PAYNE Home Sweet Home
EDGAR ALLAN POE To Helen Israfel Lenore The Coliseum The Haunted Palace To One in Paradise Eulalie A Song The Raven To Helen Annabel Lee The Bells Eldorado
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW Hymn to the Night A Psalm of Life The Skeleton in Armor The Wreck of the Hesperus The Village Blacksmith It is not Always May Excelsior The Rainy Day The Arrow and the Song The Day is Done Walter Von Vogelweide The Builders Santa Filomena The Discoverer of the North Cape Sandalphon Tales of a Wayside Inn The Landlord's Tale The Sicilian's Tale The Theologian's Tale
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER Proem The Frost Spirit Songs of Labor Dedication Songs of Labor The Lumberman Barclay of Ury All's Well Raphael Seed-Time and Harvest The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall Skipper Ireson's Ride The Double-headed Snake of Newbury Maud Muller Burns The Hero The Eternal Goodness The Pipes at Lucknow Cobbler Keezar's Vision The Mayflowers
RALPH WALDO EMERSON Goodbye Each and All The Problem The Rhodora The Humble-Bee The Snow-Storm Fable Forbearance Concord Hymn Boston Hymn The Titmouse
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL Hakon's Lay Flowers Impartiality My Love The Fountain The Shepherd of King Admetus Ode recited at the Harvard Commemoration Prelude to the Vision of Sir Launfal Biglow Papers What Mr Robinson Thinks The Courtin' Sunthin' in the Pastoral Line An Indian Summer Reverie A Fable for Critics (selection)
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES Old Ironsides The Last Leaf My Aunt The Chambered Nautilus Contentment The Deacon's Masterpiece
THOMAS BUCHANAN READ Storm on the St. Bernard Drifting
WALT WHITMAN O Captain! My Captain! Pioneers! O Pioneers!
SELECTIONS OF AMERICAN POETRY
If we define poetry as the heart of man expressed in beautiful language, we shall not say that we have no national poetry. True, America has produced no Shakespeare and no Milton, but we have an inheritance in all English literature; and many poets in America have followed in the footsteps of their literary British forefathers.
Puritan life was severe. It was warfare, and manual labor of a most exhausting type, and loneliness, and devotion to a strict sense of duty. It was a life in which pleasure was given the least place and duty the greatest. Our Puritan ancestors thought music and poetry dangerous, if not actually sinful, because they made men think of this world rather than of heaven. When Anne Bradstreet wrote our first known American poems, she was expressing English thought; "The tenth muse" was not animated by the life around her, but was living in a dream of the land she had left behind; her poems are faint echoes of the poetry of England. After time had identified her with life in the new world, she wrote "Contemplations," in which her English nightingales are changed to crickets and her English gilli-flowers to American blackberry vines. The truly representative poetry of colonial times is Michael Wigglesworth's "Day of Doom". This is the real heart of the Puritan, his conscience, in imperfect rhyme. It fulfills the first part of our definition, but shows by its lack of beautiful style that both elements are necessary to produce real poetry.
Philip Freneau was the first American who sought to express his life in poetry. The test of beauty of language again excludes from real poetry some of his expressions and leaves us a few beautiful lyrics, such as "The Wild Honeysuckle," in which the poet sings his love of American nature. With them American poetry may be said to begin.
The fast historical event of national importance was the American Revolution. Amid the bitter years of want, of suffering, and of war; few men tried to write anything beautiful. Life was harsh and stirring and this note was echoed in all the literature. As a result we have narrative and political poetry, such as "The Battle of the Kegs" and "A Fable," dealing almost entirely with events and aiming to arouse military ardor. In "The Ballad of Nathan Hale," the musical expression of bravery, pride, and sympathy raises the poem so far above the rhymes of their period that it will long endure as the most memorable poetic expression of the Revolutionary period.
Poetry was still a thing of the moment, an avocation, not dignified by receiving the best of a man. With William Cullen Bryant came a change. He told our nation that in the new world as well as in the old some men should live for the beautiful. Everything in nature spoke to him in terms of human life. Other poets saw the relation between their own lives and the life of the flowers and the birds, but Bryant constantly expressed this relationship. The concluding stanza of "To a Waterfowl" is the most perfect example of this characteristic, but it underlies also the whole thought of his youthful poem "Thanatopsis" (A View of Death). If we could all read the lives of our gentians and bobolinks as he did, there would be more true poetry in America. Modern thinkers urge us to step outside of ourselves into the lives of others and by our imagination to share their emotions; this is no new ambition in America; since Bryant in "The Crowded Street" analyzes the life in the faces he sees.
Until the early part of the nineteenth century American poetry dealt mainly with the facts of history and the description of nature. A new element of fancy is prominent in Joseph Rodman Drake's "The Culprit Fay." It dances through a long narrative with the delicacy of the fay himself.
Edgar Allan Poe brought into our poetry somber sentiment and musical expression. Puritan poetry was somber, but it was almost devoid of sentiment. Poe loved sad beauty and meditated on the sad things in life. Many of his poems lament the loss of some fair one. "To Helen," "Annabel Lee" "Lenore," and "To One In Paradise" have the theme, while in "The Raven" the poet is seeking solace for the loss of Lenore. "Eulalie—A Song" rises, on the other hand to intense happiness. With Poe the sound by which his idea was expressed was as important as the thought itself. He knew how to make the sound suit the thought, as in "The Raven" and "The Bells." One who understands no English can grasp the meaning of the different sections from the mere sound, so clearly distinguishable are the clashing of the brass and the tolling of the iron bells. If we return to our definition of poetry as an expression of the heart of a man, we shall find the explanation of these peculiarities: Poe was a man of moods and possessed the ability to express these moods in appropriate sounds.
The contrast between the emotion of Poe and the calm spirit of the man who followed him is very great. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow American poetry reached high-water mark. Lafcadio Hearn in his "Interpretations of Literature" says: "Really I believe that it is a very good test of any Englishman's ability to feel poetry, simply to ask him, 'Did you like Longfellow when you were a boy?' If he eats 'No,' then it is no use to talk to him on the subject of poetry at all, however much he might be able to tell you about quantities and metres." No American has in equal degree won the name of "household poet." If this term is correctly understood, it sums up his merits more succinctly than can any other title.
Longfellow dealt largely with men and women and the emotions common to us all. Hiawatha conquering the deer and bison, and hunting in despair for food where only snow and ice abound; Evangeline faithful to her father and her lover, and relieving suffering in the rude hospitals of a new world; John Alden fighting the battle between love and duty; Robert of Sicily learning the lesson of humility; Sir Federigo offering his last possession to the woman he loved; Paul Revere serving his country in time of need; the monk proving that only a sense of duty done can bring happiness: all these and more express the emotions which we know are true in our own lives. In his longer narrative poems he makes the legends of Puritan life real to us; he takes English folk-lore and makes us see Othere talking to Arthur, and the Viking stealing his bride. His short poems are even better known than his longer narratives. In them he expressed his gentle, sincere love of the young, the suffering, and the sorrowful. In the Sonnets he showed; that deep appreciation of European literature which made noteworthy his teaching at Harvard and his translations.
He believed that he was assigned a definite task in the world which he described as follows in his last poem:
"As comes the smile to the lips, The foam to the surge;
So come to the Poet his songs, All hitherward blown From the misty realm, that belongs To the vast unknown.
His, and not his, are the lays He sings; and their fame Is his, and not his; and the praise And the pride of a name.
For voices pursue him by day And haunt him by night, And he listens and needs must obey, When the Angel says: 'Write!'
John Greenleaf Whittier seems to suffer by coming in such close proximity to Longfellow. Genuine he was, but his spirit was less buoyant than Longfellow's and he touches our hearts less. Most of his early poems were devoted to a current political issue. They aimed to win converts to the cause of anti-slavery. Such poems always suffer in time in comparison with the song of a man who sings because "the heart is so full that a drop overfills it." Whittier's later poems belong more to this class and some of them speak to-day to our emotions as well as to our intellects. "The Hero" moves us with a desire to serve mankind, and the stirring tone of "Barbara Frietchie" arouses our patriotism by its picture of the same type of bravery. In similar vein is "Barclay of Ury," which must have touched deeply the heart of the Quaker poet. "The Pipes of Lucknow" is dramatic in its intense grasp of a climactic hour and loses none of its force in the expression. We can actually hear the skirl of the bagpipes. Whittier knew the artiste of the world and talked to us about Raphael and Burns with clear-sighted, affectionate interest. His poems show varied characteristics; the love of the sterner aspects of nature, modified by the appreciation of the humble flower; the conscience of the Puritan, tinged with sympathy for the sorrowful; the steadfastness of the Quaker, stirred by the fire of the patriot.
The poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson is marked by serious contemplation rather than by warmth of emotional expression. In Longfellow the appeal is constantly to a heart which is not disassociated from a brain; in Emerson the appeal is often to the intellect alone. We recognize the force of the lesson in "The Titmouse," even if it leaves us less devoted citizens than does "The Hero" and less capable women than does "Evangeline." He reaches his highest excellence when he makes us feel as well as understand a lesson, as in "The Concord Hymn" and "Forbearance." If we could all write on the tablets of our hearts that single stanza, forbearance would be a real factor in life. And it is to this poet whom we call unemotional that we owe this inspiring quatrain:
"So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When duty whispers low, Thou must, The youth replies, I can!"
James Russell Lowell was animated by a well-defined purpose which he described in the following lines:
"It may be glorious to write Thoughts that make glad the two or three High souls like those far stars that come in sight Once in a century.
But better far it is to speak One simple word which, now and then Shall waken their free nature in the weak And friendless sons of men.
To write some earnest verse or line Which, seeking not the praise of art,
Shall make a clearer faith and manhood shine In the untutored heart."
His very accomplishments made it difficult for him to reach this aim, since his poetry does not move "the untutored heart" so readily as does that of Longfellow or Whittier. It is, on the whole, too deeply burdened with learning and too individual in expression to fulfil his highest desire. Of his early poems the most generally known is probably "The Vision of Sir Launfal," in which a strong moral purpose is combined with lines of beautiful nature description:
"And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.
Two works by which he will be permanently remembered show a deeper and more effective Lowell. "The Biglow Papers" are the most successful of all the American poems which attempt to improve conditions by means of humor. Although they refer in the main to the situation at the time of the Mexican War, they deal with such universal political traits that they may be applied to almost any age. They are written in a Yankee dialect which, it is asserted, was never spoken, but which enhances the humor, as in "What Mr. Robinson Thinks." Lowell's tribute to Lincoln occurs in the Ode which he wrote to commemorate the Harvard students who enlisted in the Civil War. After dwelling on the search for truth which should be the aim of every college student, he turns to the delineation of Lincoln's character in a eulogy of great beauty. Clear in analysis, far-sighted in judgment, and loving in sentiment, he expresses that opinion of Lincoln which has become a part of the web of American thought. His is no hurried judgment, but the calm statement of opinion which is to-day accepted by the world:
"They all are gone, and, standing like a tower, Our children shall behold his fame, The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man, Sagacious, patient, dreading, praise, not blame, Now birth of our new soil, the first American."
With Oliver Wendell Holmes comes the last of this brief American list of honor. No other American has so combined delicacy with the New England humor. We should be poorer by many a smile without "My Aunt" and "The Deacon's Masterpiece." But this is not his entire gift. "The Chambered Nautilus" strikes the chord of noble sentiment sounded in the last stanza of "Thanatopsis" and it will continue to sing in our hearts "As the swift seasons roll." There is in his poems the smile and the sigh of the well-loved stanza,
"And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the Spring. Let them smile; as I do now; As the old forsaken bough Where I cling."
And is this all? Around these few names does all the fragrance of American poetry hover? In the hurry, prosperity, and luxury of modern life is the care if the flower of poetry lost? Surely not. The last half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth have brought many beautiful flowers of poetry and hints of more perfect blossoms. Lanier has sung of the life of the south he loved; Whitman and Miller have stirred us with enthusiasm for the progress of the nation; Field and Riley have made us laugh and cry in sympathy; Aldrich, Sill, Van Dyke, Burroughs, and Thoreau have shared with us their hoard of beauty. Among the present generation may there appear many men and women whose devotion to the delicate flower shall be repaid by the gratitude of posterity!
Some time now past in the Autumnal Tide, When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed, The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride Were gilded o'er by his rich golden head. Their leaves and fruits, seem'd painted, but was true Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hue, Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
I wist not what to wish, yet sure, thought I, If so much excellence abide below, How excellent is He that dwells on high! Whose power and beauty by his works we know; Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light, That hath this underworld so richly dight: More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.
Then on a stately oak I cast mine eye, Whose ruffling top the clouds seem'd to aspire; How long since thou wast in thine infancy? Thy strength, and stature, more thy years admire; Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born, Or thousand since thou breakest thy shell of horn? If so, all these as naught Eternity doth scorn.
I heard the merry grasshopper then sing, The black-clad cricket bear a second part, They kept one tune, and played on the same string, Seeming to glory in their little art. Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise? And in their kind resound their Master's praise: Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher lays.
When I behold the heavens as in their prime, And then the earth (though old) still clad in green, The stones and trees, insensible of time, Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen; If winter come, and greenness then do fade, A spring returns, and they more youthful made; But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he's laid.
THE DAY OF DOOM
SOUNDING OF THE LAST TRUMP
Still was the night, Serene & Bright, when all Men sleeping lay; Calm was the season, & carnal reason thought so 'twould last for ay. Soul, take thine ease, let sorrow cease, much good thou hast in store: This was their Song, their Cups among, the Evening before.
Wallowing in all kind of sin, vile wretches lay secure: The best of men had scarcely then their Lamps kept in good ure. Virgins unwise, who through disguise amongst the best were number'd, Had closed their eyes; yea, and the wise through sloth and frailty slumber'd.
For at midnight brake forth a Light, which turn'd the night to day, And speedily a hideous cry did all the world dismay. Sinners awake, their hearts do ake, trembling their loynes surprizeth; Amaz'd with fear, by what they hear, each one of them ariseth.
They rush from Beds with giddy heads, and to their windows run, Viewing this light, which shines more bright than doth the Noon-day Sun. Straightway appears (they see 't with tears) the Son of God most dread; Who with his Train comes on amain to Judge both Quick and Dead.
Before his face the Heav'ns gave place, and Skies are rent asunder, With mighty voice, and hideous noise, more terrible than Thunder. His brightness damps heav'ns glorious lamps and makes them hang their heads, As if afraid and quite dismay'd, they quit their wonted steads.
No heart so bold, but now grows cold and almost dead with fear: No eye so dry, but now can cry, and pour out many a tear. Earth's Potentates and pow'rful States, Captains and Men of Might Are quite abasht, their courage dasht at this most dreadful sight.
Mean men lament, great men do rent their Robes, and tear their hair: They do not spare their flesh to tear through horrible despair. All Kindreds wail: all hearts do fail: horror the world doth fill With weeping eyes, and loud out-cries, yet knows not how to kill.
Some hide themselves in Caves and Delves, in places under ground: Some rashly leap into the Deep, to scape by being drown'd: Some to the Rocks (O senseless blocks!) and woody Mountains run, That there they might this fearful sight, and dreaded Presence shun.
In vain do they to Mountains say, fall on us and us hide From Judges ire, more hot than fire, for who may it abide? No hiding place can from his Face sinners at all conceal, Whose flaming Eye hid things doth 'spy and darkest things reveal.
The Judge draws nigh, exalted high, upon a lofty Throne, Amidst a throng of Angels strong, lo, Israel's Holy One! The excellence of whose presence and awful Majesty, Amazeth Nature, and every Creature, doth more than terrify.
The Mountains smoak, the Hills are shook, the Earth is rent and torn, As if she should be clear dissolv'd, or from the Center born. The Sea doth roar, forsakes the shore, and shrinks away for fear; The wild beasts flee into the Sea, so soon as he draws near.
Before his Throne a Trump is blown, Proclaiming the day of Doom: Forthwith he cries, Ye dead arise, and unto Judgment come. No sooner said, but 'tis obey'd; Sepulchres opened are: Dead bodies all rise at his call, and 's mighty power declare.
His winged Hosts flie through all Coasts, together gathering Both good and bad, both quick and dead, and all to Judgment bring. Out of their holes those creeping Moles, that hid themselves for fear, By force they take, and quickly make before the Judge appear.
Thus every one before the Throne of Christ the Judge is brought, Both righteous and impious that good or ill hath wrought. A separation, and diff'ring station by Christ appointed is (To sinners sad) 'twixt good and bad, 'twixt Heirs of woe and bliss.
THE WILD HONEYSUCKLE
Fair flower, that dost so comely grow, Hid in this silent, dull retreat, Untouched thy homed blossoms blow, Unseen thy little branches greet: No roving foot shall crush thee here, No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature's self in white arrayed, She bade thee shun the vulgar eye, And planted here the guardian shade, And sent soft waters murmuring by; Thus quietly thy summer goes, Thy days declining to repose.
Smit with those charms, that must decay, I grieve to see your future doom; They died—nor were those flowers more gay, The flowers that did in Eden bloom; Unpitying frosts, and Autumn's power, Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
From morning suns and evening dews At first thy little being came; If nothing once, you nothing lose, For when you die you are the same; The space between is but an hour, The frail duration of a flower.
TO A HONEY BEE
Thou, born to sip the lake or spring, Or quaff the waters of the stream, Why hither come on vagrant wing? Does Bacchus tempting seem,— Did he for you this glass prepare? Will I admit you to a share?
Did storms harass or foes perplex, Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay— Did wars distress, or labors vex, Or did you miss your way? A better seat you could not take Than on the margin of this lake.
Welcome!—I hail you to my glass All welcome, here, you find; Here, let the cloud of trouble pass, Here, be all care resigned. This fluid never fails to please, And drown the griefs of men or bees.
What forced you here we cannot know, And you will scarcely tell, But cheery we would have you go And bid a glad farewell: On lighter wings we bid you fly, Your dart will now all foes defy.
Yet take not, oh! too deep a drink, And in this ocean die; Here bigger bees than you might sink, Even bees full six feet high. Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said To perish in a sea of red.
Do as you please, your will is mine; Enjoy it without fear, And your grave will be this glass of wine, Your epitaph—a tear— Go, take your seat in Charon's boat; We'll tell the hive, you died afloat.
THE INDIAN BURYING-GROUND
In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep; The posture that we give the dead Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands;— The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds, and painted bowl, And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity, that wants no rest.
His bow for action ready bent, And arrows, with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the old ideas gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way, No fraud upon the dead commit,— Observe the swelling turf, and say, They do not die, but here they sit.
Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace (Now wasted half by wearing rains) The fancies of a ruder race.
Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires) children of the forest played.
There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Shebah with her braided hair), And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In habit for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer—a shade!
And long shall timorous Fancy see The painted chief, and pointed spear, And Reason's self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.
At Eutaw Springs the valiant died; Their limbs with dust are covered o'er; Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide; How many heroes are no more!
If in this wreck of ruin, they Can yet be thought to claim a tear, O smite thy gentle breast, and say The friends of freedom slumber here!
Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain, If goodness rules thy generous breast, Sigh for the wasted rural reign; Sigh for the shepherds sunk to rest!
Stranger, their humble groves adorn; You too may fall, and ask a tear: 'Tis not the beauty of the morn That proves the evening shall be clear.
They saw their injured country's woe, The flaming town, the wasted field; Then rushed to meet the insulting foe; They took the spear—but left the shield.
Led by thy conquering standards, Greene, The Britons they compelled to fly: None distant viewed the fatal plain, None grieved in such a cause to die—
But, like the Parthian, famed of old, Who, flying, still their arrows threw, These routed Britons, full as bold, Retreated, and retreating slew.
Now rest in peace, our patriot band; Though far from nature's limits thrown, We trust they find a happier land, A bright Phoebus of their own.
THE BATTLE OF THE KEGS
Gallants attend and hear a friend Trill forth harmonious ditty, Strange things I'll tell which late befell In Philadelphia city.
'Twas early day, as poets say, Just when the sun was rising, A soldier stood on a log of wood, And saw a thing surprising.
As in amaze he stood to gaze, The truth can't be denied, sir, He spied a score of kegs or more Come floating down the tide, sir.
A sailor too in jerkin blue, This strange appearance viewing, First damned his eyes, in great surprise, Then said, "Some mischief's brewing.
"These kegs, I'm told, the rebels hold, Packed up like pickled herring; And they're come down to attack the town, In this new way of ferrying."
The soldier flew, the sailor too, And scared almost to death, sir, Wore out their shoes, to spread the news, And ran till out of breath, sir.
Now up and down throughout the town, Most frantic scenes were acted; And some ran here, and others there, Like men almost distracted.
Some fire cried, which some denied, But said the earth had quaked; And girls and boys, with hideous noise, Ran through the streets half naked.
Sir William he, snug as a flea, Lay all this time a snoring, Nor dreamed of harm as he lay warm, In bed with Mrs. Loring.
Now in a fright, he starts upright, Awaked by such a clatter; He rubs both eyes, and boldly cries, "For God's sake, what's the matter?"
At his bedside he then espied, Sir Erskine at command, sir, Upon one foot he had one boot, And th' other in his hand, sir.
"Arise, arise," Sir Erskine cries, "The rebels—more's the pity, Without a boat are all afloat, And ranged before the city.
"The motley crew, in vessels new, With Satan for their guide, sir, Packed up in bags, or wooden kegs, Come driving down the tide, sir.
"Therefore prepare for bloody war; These kegs must all be routed, Or surely we despised shall be, And British courage doubted."
The royal band now ready stand All ranged in dread array, sir, With stomach' stout to see it out, And make a bloody day, sir.
The cannons roar from shore to shore. The small arms make a rattle; Since wars began I'm sure no man E'er saw so strange a battle.
The rebel dales, the rebel vales, With rebel trees surrounded, The distant woods, the hills and floods, With rebel echoes sounded.
The fish below swam to and fro, Attacked from every quarter; Why sure, thought they, the devil's to pay, 'Mongst folks above the water.
The kegs, 'tis said, though strongly made, Of rebel staves and hoops, sir, Could not oppose their powerful foes, The conquering British troops, sir.
From morn to night these men of might Displayed amazing courage; And when the sun was fairly down, Retired to sup their porridge.
A hundred men with each a pen, Or more upon my word, sir, It is most true would be too few, Their valor to record, sir.
Such feats did they perform that day, Against these wicked kegs, sir, That years to come: if they get home, They'll make their boasts and brags, sir.
Hail, Columbia! happy land! Hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band! Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause, Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause, And when the storm of war was gone, Enjoyed the peace your valor won. Let independence be our boast, Ever mindful what it cost; Ever grateful for the prize, Let its altar reach the skies.
Firm, united, let us be, Rallying round our Liberty; As a band of brothers joined, Peace and safety we shall find.
Immortal patriots! rise once more: Defend your rights, defend your shore: Let no rude foe, with impious hand, Let no rude foe, with impious hand, Invade the shrine where sacred lies Of toil and blood the well-earned prize. While offering peace sincere and just, In Heaven we place a manly trust, That truth and justice will prevail, And every scheme of bondage fail.
Firm, united, let us be, Rallying round our Liberty; As a band of brothers joined, Peace and safety we shall find.
Sound, sound, the trump of Fame! Let WASHINGTON'S great name Ring through the world with loud applause, Ring through the world with loud applause; Let every clime to Freedom dear, Listen with a joyful ear. With equal skill, and godlike power, He governed in the fearful hour Of horrid war; or guides, with ease, The happier times of honest peace.
Firm, united, let us be, Rallying round our Liberty; As a band of brothers joined, Peace and safety we shall find.
Behold the chief who now commands, Once more to serve his country, stands— The rock on which the storm will beat, The rock on which the storm will beat; But, armed in virtue firm and true, His hopes are fixed on Heaven and you. When hope was sinking in dismay, And glooms obscured Columbia's day, His steady mind, from changes free. Resolved on death or liberty.
Firm, united, let us be, Rallying round our Liberty; As a band of brothers joined, Peace and safety we shall find.
THE BALLAD OF NATHAN HALE
The breezes went steadily through the tall pines, A-saying "oh! hu-ush!" a-saying "oh! hu-ush!" As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse, For Hale in the bush, for Hale in the bush.
"Keep still!" said the thrush as she nestled her young, In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road. "For the tyrants are near, and with them appear What bodes us no good, what bodes us no good."
The brave captain heard it, and thought of his home In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook. With mother and sister and memories dear, He so gayly forsook; he so gayly forsook.
Cooling shades of the night were coming apace, The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat. The noble one sprang from his dark lurking-place, To make his retreat; to make his retreat.
He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves. As he passed through the wood; as he passed through the wood; And silently gained his rude launch on the shore, As she played with the flood; as she played with the flood.
The guards of the camp, on that dark, dreary night, Had a murderous will; had a murderous will. They took him and bore him afar from the shore, To a hut on the hill; to a hut on the hill.
No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer, In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell. But he trusted in love, from his Father above. In his heart, all was well; in his heart, all was well.
An ominous owl, with his solemn bass voice, Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by: "The tyrant's proud minions most gladly rejoice, For he must soon die; for he must soon die."
The brave fellow told them, no thing he restrained,— The cruel general! the cruel general!— His errand from camp, of the ends to be gained, And said that was all; and said that was all.
They took him and bound him and bore him away, Down the hill's grassy side; down the hill's grassy side. 'Twas there the base hirelings, in royal array, His cause did deride; his cause did deride.
Five minutes were given, short moments, no more, For him to repent; for him to repent. He prayed for his mother, he asked not another, To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went.
The faith of a martyr the tragedy showed, As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage. And Britons will shudder at gallant Hales blood, As his words do presage, as his words do presage.
"Thou pale king of terrors, thou life's gloomy foe, Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave; Tell tyrants, to you their allegiance they owe. No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave."
Rejoice, Americans, rejoice! Praise ye the Lord with heart and voice! The treaty's signed with faithful France, And now, like Frenchmen, sing and dance!
But when your joy gives way to reason, And friendly hints are not deemed treason, Let me, as well as I am able, Present your Congress with a fable.
Tired out with happiness, the frogs Sedition croaked through all their bogs; And thus to Jove the restless race, Made out their melancholy case.
"Famed, as we are, for faith and prayer, We merit sure peculiar care; But can we think great good was meant us, When logs for Governors were sent us?
"Which numbers crushed they fell upon, And caused great fear,—till one by one, As courage came, we boldly faced 'em, Then leaped upon 'em, and disgraced 'em!
"Great Jove," they croaked, "no longer fool us, None but ourselves are fit to rule us; We are too large, too free a nation, To be encumbered with taxation!
"We pray for peace, but wish confusion, Then right or wrong, a—revolution! Our hearts can never bend to obey; Therefore no king—and more we'll pray."
Jove smiled, and to their fate resigned The restless, thankless, rebel kind; Left to themselves, they went to work, First signed a treaty with king Stork.
He swore that they, with his alliance, To all the world might bid defiance; Of lawful rule there was an end on't, And frogs were henceforth—independent.
At which the croakers, one and all! Proclaimed a feast, and festival! But joy to-day brings grief to-morrow; Their feasting o'er, now enter sorrow!
The Stork grew hungry, longed for fish; The monarch could not have his wish; In rage he to the marshes flies, And makes a meal of his allies.
Then grew so fond of well-fed frogs, He made a larder of the bogs! Say, Yankees, don't you feel compunction, At your unnatural rash conjunction?
Can love for you in him take root, Who's Catholic, and absolute? I'll tell these croakers how he'll treat 'em; Frenchmen, like storks, love frogs—to eat 'em.
LOVE TO THE CHURCH
I love thy kingdom, Lord, The house of thine abode, The church our blest Redeemer saved With his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God! Her walls before thee stand, Dear as the apple of thine eye, And graven on thy hand.
If e'er to bless thy sons My voice or hands deny, These hands let useful skill forsake, This voice in silence die.
For her my tears shall fall, For her my prayers ascend; To her my cares and toils be given Till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy I prize her heavenly ways, Her sweet communion, solemn vows, Her hymns of love and praise.
Jesus, thou friend divine, Our Saviour and our King, Thy hand from every snare and foe Shall great deliverance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last, To Zion shall be given The brightest glories earth can yield, And brighter bliss of heaven.
THE OLD OAKEN BUCKET
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood, When fond recollection presents them to view! The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood, And every loved spot which my infancy knew! The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it, The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell, The cot of my father, the dairy-house nigh it, And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well— The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.
That moss-covered vessel I hailed as a treasure, For often at noon, when returned from the field, I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure, The purest and sweetest that nature can yield. How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing, And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell; Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing, And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, The moss-covered bucket arose from the well.
How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it, As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips! Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it, The brightest that beauty or revelry sips. And now, far removed from the loved habitation, The tear of regret will intrusively swell, As fancy reverts to my father's plantation, And sighs for the bucket that hangs in the well The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, The moss-covered bucket that hangs in the well!
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language; for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty, and she glides Into his darker musings, with a mild And healing sympathy, that steals away Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;— Go forth, under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all around— Earth and her waters, and the depths of air— Comes a still voice:—
Yet a few days, and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground Where thy pale form was laid with many tears, Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, And, lost each human trace, surrendering up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix forever with the elements, To be a brother to the insensible rock And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting place Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound, Save his own dashing—yet the dead are there; And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone. So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care Plod on, and each one as before will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments, and shall come And make their bed with thee. As the long train Of ages glides away, the sons of men— The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes In the full strength of years, matron and maid, The speechless babe, and the grayheaded man— Shall one by one be gathered to thy side, By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
THE YELLOW VIOLET
When beechen buds begin to swell, And woods the blue-bird's warble know, The yellow violet's modest bell Peeps from the last year's leaves below.
Ere russet fields their green resume, Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare, To meet thee, when thy faint perfume Alone is in the virgin air.
Of all her train, the hands of Spring First plant thee in the watery mould, And I have seen thee blossoming Beside the snow-bank's edges cold.
Thy parent sun, who bade thee view Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip, Has bathed thee in his own bright hue, And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.
Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat, And earthward bent thy gentle eye, Unapt the passing view to meet, When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day, Thy early smile has stayed my walk; But midst the gorgeous blooms of May, I passed thee on thy humble stalk.
So they, who climb to wealth, forget The friends in darker fortunes tried. I copied them—but I regret That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour Awakes the painted tribes of light, I'll not o'erlook the modest flower That made the woods of April bright.
TO A WATERFOWL
Whither, midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly painted on the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean-side?
There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast— The desert and illimitable air— Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere, Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end; Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend, Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, in my heart Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.
When breezes are soft and skies are fair, I steal an hour from study and care, And hie me away to the woodland scene, Where wanders the stream with waters of green, As if the bright fringe of herbs on its brink Had given their stain to the waves they drink; And they, whose meadows it murmurs through, Have named the stream from its own fair hue.
Yet pure its waters—its shallows are bright With colored pebbles and sparkles of light, And clear the depths where its eddies play, And dimples deepen and whirl away, And the plane-tree's speckled arms o'ershoot The swifter current that mines its root, Through whose shifting leaves, as you walk the hill, The quivering glimmer of sun and rill With a sudden flash on the eye is thrown, Like the ray that streams from the diamond-stone. Oh, loveliest there the spring days come, With blossoms, and birds, and wild-bees' hum; The flowers of summer are fairest there, And freshest the breath of the summer air; And sweetest the golden autumn day In silence and sunshine glides away.
Yet, fair as thou art, thou shunnest to glide, Beautiful stream! by the village side; But windest away from haunts of men, To quiet valley and shaded glen; And forest, and meadow, and slope of hill, Around thee, are lonely, lovely, and still, Lonely—save when, by thy rippling tides, From thicket to thicket the angler glides; Or the simpler comes, with basket and book, For herbs of power on thy banks to look; Or haply, some idle dreamer, like me, To wander, and muse, and gaze on thee. Still—save the chirp of birds that feed On the river cherry and seedy reed, And thy own wild music gushing out With mellow murmur of fairy shout, From dawn to the blush of another day, Like traveller singing along his way.
That fairy music I never hear, Nor gaze on those waters so green and clear, And mark them winding away from sight, Darkened with shade or flashing with light, While o'er them the vine to its thicket clings, And the zephyr stoops to freshen his wings, But I wish that fate had left me free To wander these quiet haunts with thee, Till the eating cares of earth should depart, And the peace of the scene pass into my heart; And I envy thy stream, as it glides along Through its beautiful banks in a trance of song.
Though forced to drudge for the dregs of men, And scrawl strange words with the barbarous pen, And mingle among the jostling crowd, Where the sons of strife are subtle and loud— I often come to this quiet place, To breathe the airs that ruffle thy face, And gaze upon thee in silent dream, For in thy lonely and lovely stream An image of that calm life appears That won my heart in my greener years.
THE WEST WIND
Beneath the forest's skirt I rest, Whose branching pines rise dark and high, And hear the breezes of the West Among the thread-like foliage sigh.
Sweet Zephyr! why that sound of woe? Is not thy home among the flowers? Do not the bright June roses blow, To meet thy kiss at morning hours?
And lo! thy glorious realm outspread— Yon stretching valleys, green and gay, And yon free hill-tops, o'er whose head The loose white clouds are borne away.
And there the full broad river runs, And many a fount wells fresh and sweet, To cool thee when the mid-day suns Have made thee faint beneath their heat.
Thou wind of joy, and youth, and love; Spirit of the new-wakened year! The sun in his blue realm above Smooths a bright path when thou art here.
In lawns the murmuring bee is heard, The wooing ring-dove in the shade; On thy soft breath, the new-fledged bird Takes wing, half happy, half afraid.
Ah! thou art like our wayward race;— When not a shade of pain or ill Dims the bright smile of Nature's face, Thou lov'st to sigh and murmur still.
"I BROKE THE SPELL THAT HELD ME LONG"
I broke the spell that held me long, The dear, dear witchery of song. I said, the poet's idle lore Shall waste my prime of years no more, For Poetry, though heavenly born, Consorts with poverty and scorn.
I broke the spell—nor deemed its power Could fetter me another hour. Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget Its causes were around me yet? For wheresoe'er I looked, the while, Was Nature's everlasting smile.
Still came and lingered on my sight Of flowers and streams the bloom and light, And glory of the stars and sun;— And these and poetry are one. They, ere the world had held me long, Recalled me to the love of song.
A FOREST HYMN
The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them—ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication. For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn—thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in thy breeze, And shot toward heaven. The century-living crow Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride Report not. No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill'st The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barley trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee. Here is continual worship;—Nature, here, In the tranquillity that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does. Thou halt not left Thyself without a witness, in the shades, Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated—not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as loftily as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower, With scented breath and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, Au emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me—the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever. Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity. Lo! all grow old and die—but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses—ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch-enemy Death—yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne—the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;—and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus. But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue. Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still. O God! when thou Dost scare the world with tempest, set on fire The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the villages; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities—who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of thy works Learn to conform the order of our lives.
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS
The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread; The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay, And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves, the gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours. The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow; But on the hills the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood, And the yellow sun-flower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home: When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still, And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill, The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died, The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side. In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the leaf, And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief: Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend of ours, So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.
THE GLADNESS OF NATURE
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad, When our mother Nature laughs around; When even the deep blue heavens look glad, And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren, And the gossip of swallows through all the sky; The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den, And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space And their shadows at play on the bright-green vale, And here they stretch to the frolic chase, And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower, There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower, And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, On the leaping waters and gay young isles; Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew, And colored with the heaven's own blue, That openest when the quiet light Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen, Or columbines, in purple dressed, Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com'st alone, When woods are bare and birds are flown, And frosts and shortening days portend The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye Look through its fringes to the sky, Blue—blue—as if that sky let fall A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see The hour of death draw near to me, Hope, blossoming within my heart, May look to heaven as I depart.
SONG OF MARION'S MEN
Our band is few but true and tried, Our leader frank and bold; The British soldier trembles When Marion's name is told. Our fortress is the good greenwood, Our tent the cypress-tree; We know the forest round us, As seamen know the sea. We know its walls of thorny vines, Its glades of reedy grass, Its safe and silent islands Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery That little dread us near! On them shall light at midnight A strange and sudden fear: When, waking to their tents on fire, They grasp their arms in vain,
And they who stand to face us Are beat to earth again; And they who fly in terror deem A mighty host behind, And hear the tramp of thousands Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release From danger and from toil: We talk the battle over, And share the battle's spoil. The woodland rings with laugh and shout, As if a hunt were up, And woodland flowers are gathered To crown the soldier's cup. With merry songs we mock the wind That in the pine-top grieves, And slumber long and sweetly On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon The band that Marion leads— The glitter of their rifles, The scampering of their steeds. 'Tis life to guide the fiery barb Across the moonlight plain; 'Tis life to feel the night-wind That lifts the tossing mane. A moment in the British camp— A moment—and away Back to the pathless forest, Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee, Grave men with hoary hairs; Their hearts are all with Marion, For Marion are their prayers. And lovely ladies greet our band With kindliest welcoming, With smiles like those of summer, And tears like those of spring. For them we wear these trusty arms, And lay them down no more Till we have driven the Briton, Forever, from our shore.
THE CROWDED STREET
Let me move slowly through the street, Filled with an ever-shifting train, Amid the sound of steps that beat The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
How fast the flitting figures come! The mild, the fierce, the stony face; Some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some
Where secret tears have left their trace.
They pass—to toil, to strife, to rest; To halls in which the feast is spread; To chambers where the funeral guest In silence sits beside the dead.
And some to happy homes repair, Where children, pressing cheek to cheek, These struggling tides of life that seem With mute caresses shall declare The tenderness they cannot speak.
And some, who walk in calmness here, Shall shudder as they reach the door Where one who made their dwelling dear, Its flower, its light, is seen no more.
Youth, with pale cheek and slender frame, And dreams of greatness in thine eye! Go'st thou to build an early name, Or early in the task to die?
Keen son of trade, with eager brow! Who is now fluttering in thy snare! Thy golden fortunes, tower they now, Or melt the glittering spires in air?
Who of this crowd to-night shall tread The dance till daylight gleam again? Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead? Who writhe in throes of mortal pain?
Some, famine-struck, shall think how long The cold dark hours, how slow the light; And some, who flaunt amid the throng, Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
Each, where his tasks or pleasures call, They pass, and heed each other not. There is who heeds, who holds them all, In His large love and boundless thought.
These struggling tides of life that seem In wayward, aimless course to tend, Are eddies of the mighty stream That rolls to its appointed end.
Stand here by my side and turn, I pray, On the lake below thy gentle eyes; The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray, And dark and silent the water lies; And out of that frozen mist the snow In wavering flakes begins to flow; Flake after flake They sink in the dark and silent lake.
See how in a living swarm they come From the chambers beyond that misty veil; Some hover awhile in air, and some Rush prone from the sky like summer hail. All, dropping swiftly or settling slow, West, and are still in the depths below; Flake after flake Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.
Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud, Come floating downward in airy play, Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd That whiten by night the milky way; There broader and burlier masses fall; The sullen water buries them all— Flake after flake— All drowned in the dark and silent lake.
And some, as on tender wings they glide From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray, Are joined in their fall, and, side by side, Come clinging along their unsteady way; As friend with friend, or husband with wife, Makes hand in hand the passage of life; Each mated flake Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake.
Lo! While we are gazing, in swifter haste Stream down the snows, till the air is white, As, myriads by myriads madly chased, They fling themselves from their shadowy height. The fair, frail creatures of middle sky, What speed they make, with their grave so nigh; Flake after flake To lie in the dark and silent lake!
I see in thy gentle eyes a tear; They turn to me in sorrowful thought; Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear, Who were for a time, and now are not; Like those fair children and cloud and frost, That glisten for a moment and then are lost, Flake after flake All lost in the dark and silent lake.
Yet look again, for the clouds divide; A gleam of blue on the water lies; And far away, on the mountain-side, A sunbeam falls from the opening skies, But the hurrying host that flew between The cloud and the water, no more is seen; Flake after flake,
At rest in the dark and silent lake.
ROBERT OF LINCOLN
Merrily swinging on brier and weed, Near to the nest of his little dame, Over the mountain-side or mead, Robert of Lincoln is telling his name: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Snug and safe is that nest of ours, Hidden among the summer flowers, Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln is gayly drest, Wearing a bright black wedding-coat; White are his shoulders and white his crest Hear him call in his merry note: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Look, what a nice coat is mine. Sure there was never a bird so fine. Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife, Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings, Passing at home a patient life, Broods in the grass while her husband sings Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Brood, kind creature; you need not fear Thieves and robbers while I am here. Chee, chee, chee.
Modest and shy is she; One weak chirp is her only note. Braggart and prince of braggarts is he, Pouring boasts from his little throat: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Never was I afraid of man; Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can! Chee, chee, chee.
Six white eggs on a bed of hay, Flecked with purple, a pretty sight! There as the mother sits all day, Robert is singing with all his might: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Nice good wife, that never goes out, Keeping house while I frolic about. Chee, chee, chee.
Soon as the little ones chip the shell, Six wide mouths are open for food; Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well, Gathering seeds for the hungry brood. Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; This new life is likely to be Hard for a gay young fellow like me. Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln at length is made Sober with work, and silent with care; Off is his holiday garment laid, Half forgotten that merry air: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Nobody knows but my mate and I Where our nest and out nestlings lie. Chee, chee, chee.
Summer wanes; the children are grown; Fun and frolic no more he knows; Robert of Lincoln's a humdrum crone; Off he flies, and we sing as he goes: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; When you can pipe that merry old strain, Robert of Lincoln, come back again. Chee, chee, chee.
Thou, who wouldst wear the name Of poet mid thy brethren of mankind, And clothe in words of flame Thoughts that shall live within the general mind! Deem not the framing of a deathless lay The pastime of a drowsy summer day.
But gather all thy powers, And wreak them on the verse that thou dust weave, And in thy lonely hours, At silent morning or at wakeful eve, While the warm current tingles through thy veins, Set forth the burning words in fluent strains.
No smooth array of phrase, Artfully sought and ordered though it be, Which the cold rhymer lays Upon his page with languid industry, Can wake the listless pulse to livelier speed, Or fill with sudden tears the eyes that read.
The secret wouldst thou know To touch the heart or fire the blood at will? Let thine own eyes o'erflow; Let thy lips quiver with the passionate thrill; Seize the great thought, ere yet its power be past, And bind, in words, the fleet emotion fast.
Then, should thy verse appear Halting and harsh, and all unaptly wrought, Touch the crude line with fear, Save in the moment of impassioned thought; Then summon back the original glow, and mend The strain with rapture that with fire was penned.
Yet let no empty gust Of passion find an utterance in thy lay, A blast that whirls the dust Along the howling street and dies away; But feelings of calm power and mighty sweep, Like currents journeying through the windless deep.
Seek'st thou, in living lays, To limn the beauty of the earth and sky? Before thine inner gaze Let all that beauty in clear vision lie; Look on it with exceeding love, and write The words inspired by wonder and delight.
Of tempests wouldst thou sing, Or tell of battles—make thyself a part Of the great tumult; cling To the tossed wreck with terror in thy heart; Scale, with the assaulting host, the rampart's height, And strike and struggle in the thickest fight.
So shalt thou frame a lay That haply may endure from age to age, And they who read shall say "What witchery hangs upon this poet's page! What art is his the written spells to find That sway from mood to mood the willing mind!"
Oh, slow to smite and swift to spare, Gentle and merciful and just! Who, in the fear of God, didst bear The sword of power, a nation's trust!
In sorrow by thy bier we stand, Amid the awe that hushes all, And speak the anguish of a land That shook with horror at thy fall.
Thy task is done; the bond are free: We bear thee to an honored grave Whose proudest monument shall be The broken fetters of the slave.
Pure was thy life; its bloody close Hath placed thee with the sons of light, Among the noble host of those Who perished in the cause of Right.
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming; And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foes haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines on the stream; 'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave; And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land, Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just. And this be our motto—"In God is our trust"; And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
THE AMERICAN FLAG
When Freedom from her mountain height Unfurled her standard to the air, She tore the azure robe of night, And set the stars of glory there. And mingled with its gorgeous dyes The milky baldric of the skies, And striped its pure celestial white With streakings of the morning light; Then from his mansion in the sun She called her eagle bearer down, And gave into his mighty hand The symbol of her chosen land.
Majestic monarch of the cloud, Who rear'st aloft thy regal form, To hear the tempest trumpings loud And see the lightning lances driven, When strive the warriors of the storm, And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven, Child of the sun! to thee 'tis given To guard the banner of the free, To hover in the sulphur smoke, To ward away the battle stroke, And bid its blendings shine afar, Like rainbows on the cloud of war, The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly, The sign of hope and triumph high, When speaks the signal trumpet tone, And the long line comes gleaming on. Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet, Has dimmed the glistening bayonet, Each soldier eye shall brightly turn To where thy sky-born glories burn, And, as his springing steps advance, Catch war and vengeance from the glance. And when the cannon-mouthings loud Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud, And gory sabres rise and fall Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall, Then shall thy meteor glances glow, And cowering foes shall shrink beneath Each gallant arm that strikes below That lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave; When death, careering on the gale, Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail, And frighted waves rush wildly back Before the broadside's reeling rack, Each dying wanderer of the sea Shall look at once to heaven and thee, And smile to see thy splendors fly In triumph o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home! By angel hands to valor given; Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, And all thy hues were born in heaven. Forever float that standard sheet! Where breathes the foe but falls before us, With Freedom's soil beneath our feet, And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?
THE CULPRIT FAY (Selection)
'Tis the hour of fairy ban and spell: The wood-tick has kept the minutes well; He has counted them all with click and stroke, Deep in the heart of the mountain oak, And he has awakened the sentry elve Who sleeps with him in the haunted tree, To bid him ring the hour of twelve, And call the fays to their revelry; Twelve small strokes on his tinkling bell ('Twas made of the white snail's pearly shell) "Midnight comes, and all is well! Hither, hither, wing your way! 'Tis the dawn of the fairy-day."
They come from beds of lichen green, They creep from the mullen's velvet screen; Some on the backs of beetles fly From the silver tops of moon-touched trees, Where they swung in their cobweb hammocks high, And rocked about in the evening breeze; Some from the hum-bird's downy nest— They had driven him out by elfin power, And, pillowed on plumes of his rainbow breast, Had slumbered there till the charmed hour; Some had lain in the scoop of the rock, With glittering ising-stars' inlaid; And some had opened the four-o'clock, And stole within its purple shade. And now they throng the moonlight glade, Above, below, on every side, Their little minim forms arrayed In the tricksy pomp of fairy pride.
They come not now to print the lea, In freak and dance around the tree, Or at the mushroom board to sup And drink the dew from the buttercup. A scene of sorrow waits them now, For an Ouphe has broken his vestal vow He has loved an earthly maid, And left for her his woodland shade; He has lain upon her lip of dew, And sunned him in her eye of blue, Fanned her cheek with his wing of air, Played in the ringlets of her hair, And, nestling on her snowy breast, Forgot the lily-king's behest. For this the shadowy tribes of air To the elfin court must haste away; And now they stand expectant there, To hear the doom of the Culprit Fay.
The throne was reared upon the grass, Of spice-wood and of sassafras; On pillars of mottled tortoise-shell Hung the burnished canopy,— And over it gorgeous curtains fell Of the tulip's crimson drapery. The monarch sat on his judgment-seat, On his brow the crown imperial shone, The prisoner Fay was at his feet, And his peers were ranged around the throne. He waved his sceptre in the air, He looked around and calmly spoke; His brow was grave and his eye severe, But his voice in a softened accent broke:
"Fairy! Fairy! list and mark! Thou halt broke thine elfin chain; Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark, And thy wings are dyed with a deadly stain; Thou hast sullied thine elfin purity In the glance of a mortal maiden's eye: Thou bast scorned our dread decree, And thou shouldst pay the forfeit high, But well I know her sinless mind Is pure as the angel forms above, Gentle and meek and chaste and kind, Such as a spirit well might love. Fairy! had she spot or taint, Bitter had been thy punishment Tied to the hornet's shardy wings, Tossed on the pricks of nettles' stings, Or seven long ages doomed to dwell With the lazy worm in the walnut-shell; Or every night to writhe and bleed Beneath the tread of the centipede; Or bound in a cobweb dungeon dim, Your jailer a spider huge and grim, Amid the carrion bodies to lie Of the worm, and the bug and the murdered fly: These it had been your lot to bear, Had a stain been found on the earthly fair. Now list and mark our mild decree Fairy, this your doom must be:
"Thou shaft seek the beach of sand Where the water bounds the elfin land; Thou shaft watch the oozy brine Till the sturgeon leaps in the bright moonshine; Then dart the glistening arch below, And catch a drop from his silver bow. The water-sprites will wield their arms, And dash around with roar and rave; And vain are the woodland spirits' charms— They are the imps that rule the wave. Yet trust thee in thy single might: If thy heart be pure and thy spirit right, Thou shalt win the warlock fight." . . .
The goblin marked his monarch well; He spake not, but he bowed him low; Then plucked a crimson colen-bell, And turned him round in act to go. The way is long, he cannot fly, His soiled wing has lost its power; And he winds adown the mountain high For many a sore and weary hour Through dreary beds of tangled fern, Through groves of nightshade dark and dern, Over the grass and through the brake, Where toils the ant and sleeps the snake; Now over the violet's azure flush He skips along in lightsome mood; And now he thrids the bramble-bush, Till its points are dyed in fairy blood; He has leaped the bog, he has pierced the brier, He has swum the brook, and waded the mire, Till his spirits sank and his limbs grew weak, And the red waxed fainter in his cheek. He had fallen to the ground outright, For rugged and dim was his onward track, But there came a spotted toad in sight, And he laughed as he jumped upon her back; He bridled her mouth with a silkweed twist, He lashed her sides with an osier thong; And now through evening's dewy mist With leap and spring they bound along, Till the mountain's magic verge is past, And the beach of sand is reached at last.
Soft and pale is the moony beam, Moveless still the glassy stream; The wave is clear, the beach is bright With snowy shells and sparkling stones; The shore-surge comes in ripples light, In murmurings faint and distant moans; And ever afar in the silence deep Is heard the splash of the sturgeon's leap, And the bend of his graceful bow is seen— A glittering arch of silver sheen, Spanning the wave of burnished blue, And dripping with gems of the river-dew.
The elfin cast a glance around, As he lighted down from his courser toad, Then round his breast his wings he wound, And close to the river's brink he strode; He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer, Above his head his arms he threw, Then tossed a tiny curve in air, And headlong plunged in the waters blue.
Up sprung the spirits of the waves, from the sea-silk beds in their coral caves; With snail-plate armor snatched in haste, They speed their way through the liquid waste. Some are rapidly borne along On the mailed shrimp or the prickly prong, Some on the blood-red leeches glide, Some on the stony star-fish ride, Some on the back of the lancing squab, Some on the sideling soldier-crab, And some on the jellied quarl that flings At once a thousand streamy stings. They cut the wave with the living oar, And hurry on to the moonlight shore, To guard their realms and chase away The footsteps of the invading Fay.
Fearlessly he skims along; His hope is high and his limbs are strong; He spreads his arms like the swallow's wing, And throws his feet with a frog-like fling; His locks of gold on the waters shine, At his breast the tiny foam-beads rise, His back gleams bright above the brine, And the wake-line foam behind him lies. But the water-sprites are gathering near To check his course along the tide; Their warriors come in swift career And hem him round on every side: On his thigh the leech has fixed his hold, The quad's long arms are round him rolled, The prickly prong has pierced his skin, And the squab has thrown his javelin, The gritty star has rubbed him raw, And the crab has struck with his giant claw. He howls with rage, and he shrieks with pain; He strikes around, but his blows are vain; Hopeless is the unequal fight Fairy, naught is left but flight.
He turned him round and fled amain, With hurry and dash, to the beach again; He twisted over from side to side, And laid his cheek to the cleaving tide; The strokes of his plunging arms are fleet, And with all his might he flings his feet. But the water-sprites are round him still, To cross his path and work him ill: They bade the wave before him rise; They flung the sea-fire in his eyes; And they stunned his ears with the scallop-stroke, With the porpoise heave and the drum-fish croak. Oh, but a weary wight was he When he reached the foot of the dog-wood tree. Gashed and wounded, and stiff and sore, He laid him down on the sandy shore; He blessed the force of the charmed line, And he banned the water-goblins spite, For he saw around in the sweet moonshine Their little wee faces above the brine, Giggling and laughing with all their might At the piteous hap of the Fairy wight.
Soon he gathered the balsam dew From the sorrel-leaf and the henbane bud; Over each wound the balm he drew, And with cobweb lint he stanched the blood. The mild west wind was soft and low; It cooled the heat of his burning brow, And he felt new life in his sinews shoot As he drank the juice of the calamus root. And now he treads the fatal shore As fresh and vigorous as before.
Wrapped in musing stands the sprite 'Tis the middle wane of night; His task is hard, his way is far, But he must do his errand right Ere dawning mounts her beamy car, And rolls her chariot wheels of light; And vain are the spells of fairy-land, He must work with a human hand.
He cast a saddened look around; But he felt new joy his bosom swell, When glittering on the shadowed ground He saw a purple mussel-shell; Thither he ran, and he bent him low, He heaved at the stern and he heaved at the bow, And he pushed her over the yielding sand Till he came; to the verge of the haunted land. She was as lovely a pleasure-boat As ever fairy had paddled in, For she glowed with purple paint without, And shone with silvery pearl within A sculler's notch in the stern he made, An oar he shaped of the bootle-blade; Then sprung to his seat with a lightsome leap, And launched afar on the calm, blue deep.
The imps of the river yell and rave They had no power above the wave, But they heaved the billow before the prow, And they dashed the surge against her side, And they struck her keel with jerk and blow, Till the gunwale bent to the rocking tide. She wimpled about to the pale moonbeam, Like a feather that floats on a wind-tossed stream; And momently athwart her track The quad upreared his island back, And the fluttering scallop behind would float, And patter the water about the boat; But he bailed her out with his colon-bell, And he kept her trimmed with a wary tread, While on every side like lightning fell The heavy strokes of his Bootle-blade.
Onward still he held his way, Till he came where the column of moonshine lay, And saw beneath the surface dim The brown-backed sturgeon slowly swim. Around him were the goblin train; But he sculled with all his might and main, And followed wherever the sturgeon led, Till he saw him upward point his head; "Mien he dropped his paddle-blade, And held his colen-goblet up To catch the drop in its crimson cup.
With sweeping tail and quivering fin Through the wave the sturgeon flew, And like the heaven-shot javelin He sprung above the waters blue. Instant as the star-fall light, He plunged him in the deep again, But left an arch of silver bright, The rainbow of the moony main. It was a strange and lovely sight To see the puny goblin there: He seemed an angel form of light, With azure wing and sunny hair, Throned on a cloud of purple fair, Circled with blue and edged with white, And sitting at the fall of even Beneath the bow of summer heaven.
A moment, and its lustre fell; But ere it met the billow blue He caught within his crimson bell A droplet of its sparkling dew. Joy to thee, Fay! thy task is done; Thy wings are pure, for the gem is won. Cheerly ply thy dripping oar, And haste away to the elfin shore!
He turns, and to on either side The ripples on his path divide; And the track o'er which his boat must pass Is smooth as a sheet of polished glass. Around, their limbs the sea-nymphs lave, With snowy arms half swelling out, While on the glossed and gleamy wave Their sea-green ringlets loosely float: They swim around with smile and song; They press the bark with pearly hand, And gently urge her course along, Toward the beach of speckled sand; And as he lightly leaped to land They bade adieu with nod and bow, Then gaily kissed each little hand, And dropped in the crystal deep below.
A moment stayed the fairy there: He kissed the beach and breathed a prayer; Then spread his wings of gilded blue, And on to the elfin court he flew. As ever ye saw a bubble rise, And shine with a thousand changing dyes, Till, lessening far, through ether driven, It mingles with the hues of heaven; As, at the glimpse of morning pale, The lance-fly spreads his silken sail And gleams with bleedings soft and bright Till lost in the shades of fading night; So rose from earth the lovely Fay, So vanished far in heaven away!
At midnight, in his guarded tent, The Turk was dreaming of the hour When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent, Should tremble at his power; In dreams, through camp and court he bore. The trophies of a conqueror; In dreams his song of triumph heard; Then wore his monarch's signet ring; Then pressed that monarch's throne—a king: As wild his thoughts and gay of wing As Eden's garden bird.
At midnight, in the forest shades, Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band, True as the steel of their tried blades, Heroes in heart and hand. There had the Persian's thousands stood, There had the glad earth drunk their blood On old Plataea's day; And now there breathed that haunted air The sons of sires who conquered there, With arm to strike, and soul to dare, As quick, as far as they.
An hour passed on—the Turk awoke; That bright dream was his last; He woke—to hear his sentries shriek, "To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!" He woke—to die midst flame and smoke, And shout and groan and sabre-stroke, And death-shots falling thick and fast As lightnings from the mountain-cloud; And heard, with voice as trumpet loud, Bozzaris cheer his band: Strike—till the last armed foe expires! Strike—for your altars and your fires! Strike—for the green graves of your sires, God, and your native land!"
They fought like brave men, long and well; They piled that ground with Moslem slain; They conquered—but Bozzaris fell, Bleeding at every vein. His few surviving comrades saw His smile when rang their proud hurrah, And the red field was won; Then saw in death his eyelids close Calmly, as to a night's repose, Like flowers at set of sun.
Come to the bridal chamber, Death! Come to the mother's when she feels, For the first time, her first-horn's breath; Come when the blessed seals That close the pestilence are broke, And crowded cities wail its stroke; Come in consumption's ghastly form, The earthquake shock, the ocean storm; Come when the heart beats high and warm With banquet-song and dance and wine; And thou art terrible—the tear, The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier, And all we know or dream or fear Of agony, are thine.
But to the hero, when his sword Has won the battle for the free, Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word, And in its hollow tones are heard The thanks of millions yet to be. Come when his task of fame is wrought, Come with her laurel-leaf, blood-bought, Come in her crowning hour, and then Thy sunken eye's unearthly light To him is welcome as the sight Of sky and stars to prisoned men; Thy grasp is welcome as the hand Of brother in a foreign land; Thy summons welcome as the cry That told the Indian isles were nigh To the world-seeking Genoese, When the land-wind, from woods of palm And orange-groves and fields of balm, Blew oer the Haytian seas.
Bozzaris, with the storied brave Greece nurtured in her glory's time, Rest thee—there is no prouder gave. Even in her own proud clime. She wore no funeral-weeds for thee, Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume, Like torn branch from death's leafless tree, In sorrow's pomp and pageantry, The heartless luxury of the tomb. But she remembers thee as one Long loved and for a season gone; For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed, Her marble wrought, her music breathed; For thee she rings the birthday bells; Of thee her babes' first lisping tells; For throe her evening prayer is said At palace-couch and cottage-bed; Her soldier, closing with the foe, Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow; His plighted maiden, when she fears For him, the joy of her young years, Thinks of thy fate and checks her tears; And she, the mother of thy boys, Though in her eye and faded cheek Is read the grief she will not speak, The memory of her buried joys, And even she who gave thee birth, Will, by their pilgrim-circled hearth, Talk of thy doom without a sigh, For thou art Freedom's now and Fame's, One of the few, the immortal names, That were not born to die.
ON THE DEATH OF JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE
Green be the turf above thee, Friend of my better days! None knew thee but to love thee, Nor named thee but to praise.
Tears fell, when thou went dying, From eyes unused to weep, And long where thou art lying, Will tears the cold turf steep.
When hearts, whose truth was proven, Like throe, are laid in earth, There should a wreath be woven To tell the world their worth;
And I, who woke each morrow To clasp thy hand in mine, Who shared thy joy and sorrow, Whose weal and woe were thine;
It should be mine to braid it Around thy faded brow, But I've in vain essayed it, And I feel I cannot now.
While memory bids me weep thee, Nor thoughts nor words are free, The grief is fixed too deeply That mourns a man like thee.
JOHN HOWARD PAYNE
HOME, SWEET HOME
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home; A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there, Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere. Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home! There's no place like Home! there's no place like Home!
An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain; O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again! The birds singing gayly, that came at my call,— Give me them,—and the peace of mind, dearer than all! Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home! There's no place like Home! there's no place like Home!
How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile, And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile! Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam, But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home! Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home! There's no place like Home! there's no place like Home!
To thee I'll return, overburdened with care; The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there; No more from that, cottage again will I roam; Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. Home, Home, sweet, sweet Home! There's no place like Home! there's no place like Home!
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Helen, thy beauty is to me Like those Nicean barks of yore, That gently, o'er a perfumed sea, The weary, way-worn wanderer bore To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam, Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, Thy Naiad airs have brought me home To the glory that was Greece, And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche How statue-like I see thee stand, The agate lamp within thy hand! Ah, Psyche, from the regions which Are Holy-Land!
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell "Whose heart-strings are a lute;" None sing so wildly well As the angel Israel, And the giddy stars (so legends tell) Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell Of his voice, all mute.
Tottering above In her highest noon, The enamoured moon Blushes with love, While, to listen, the red levin (With the rapid Pleiads, even, Which were seven,) Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir And the other listening things) That Israeli's fire Is owing to that lyre By which he sits and sings— The trembling living wire Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod, Where deep thoughts are a duty— Where Love's a grown-up God— Where the Houri glances are Imbued with all the beauty Which we worship in a star.
Therefore, thou art not wrong, Israfeli, who despisest An unimpassioned song; To thee the laurels belong, Best bard, because the wisest! Merrily live, and long!
The ecstasies above With thy burning measures suit— Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love, With the fervour of thy lute— Well may the stars be mute!
Yes, Heaven is thin-e; but this Is a world of sweets and sours; Our flowers are merely—flowers, And the shadow of thy perfect bliss Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell Where Israfel Hath dwelt, and he where I, He might not sing so wildly well A mortal melody, While a bolder note than this might swell From my lyre within the sky.
Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever! Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river; And, Guy De Vere, halt thou no tear?—weep now or never more! See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore! Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!— An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young— A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.
"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride, "And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died! "How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung "By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue "That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"
Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong! The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside, Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies, The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes— The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes. "Avaunt! avaunt! from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven— "From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven— "From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven." Let no bell toll then!—lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth, Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damned Earth! And I!—to-night my heart is light! No dirge will I upraise, But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!