« PreviousContinue »
* Pity thee! So I do!
I pity the dumb victim at the altar -
But does the robed priest for his pity falter?
I'd rack thee though I knew
A thousand lives were perishing in thine -
What were ten thousand to a fame like mine?
«Hereafter'! Ay - hereafter ! A whip to keep a coward to his track ! What
gave Death ever from his kingdom back
To check the skeptic's laughter? Come from the grave to-morrow with that story And I may take some softer path to glory.
• No, no, old man! we die Even as the flowers, and we shall breathe away Our life upon the chance wind, even as they !
Strain well thy fainting eye — For when that bloodshot quivering is o'er, The light of heaven will never reach thee more.
· Yet there's a deathless name ! A spirit that the smothering vault shall spurn, And like a steadfast planet mount and burn
And though its crown of flame Consumed
brain to ashes as it shone, By all the fiery stars ! I'd bind it on!
* Ay - though it bid me rifle
My heart's last fount for its insatiate thirst-
Though every life-strung nerve be madden’d first
Though it should bid me stifle
The yearning in my throat for my sweet child,
And taunt its mother till my brain went wild —
• All I would do it all -
Sooner than die, like a dull worm, to rot-
Thrust foully into earth to be forgot !
Oh heavens !— but I appal
Your heart, old man! forgive — ha! on your lives
Let him not faint !- rack him till he revives !
«Vain vain - give o'er! His eye Glazes a pace.
He does not feel you now —
Stand back! I'll paint the death dew on his brow!
Gods! if he do not die
But for one moment
till I eclipse Conception with the scorn of those calm lips !
* Shivering! Ilark! he mutters Brokenly now - that was a difficult breath Another? Wilt thou never come, oh Death !
Look! how his temple flutters! Is his heart still : Aha! lift up his head! He shudders—gasps—Jove help him !-so-he's dead.'
THE BELFRY PIGEON.
On the cross-beam under the Old South bell
The nest of a pigeon is builded well.
In summer and winter that bird is there,
Out and in with the morning air:
I love to see him track the street,
With his wary eye and active feet;
And I often watch him as he springs,
Circling the steeple with easy wings,
Till across the dial his shade has pass'd,
And the belfry edge is gain'd at last.
'Tis a bird I love, with its brooding note,
And the trembling throb in its mottled throat;
There's a human look in its swelling breast,
And the gentle curve of its lowly crest;
And I often stop with the fear I feel —
He runs so close to the rapid wheel.
Whatever is rung on that noisy bell
Chime of the hour or funeral knell
The dove in the belfry must hear it well.
When the tongue swings out to the midnight moon —
When the sexton cheerly rings for noon
When the clock strikes clear at morning light -
When the child is waked with nine at night'
When the chimes play soft in the Sabbath air,
Filling the spirit with tones of prayer -
Whatever tale in the bell is heard,
He broods on his folded feet unstirr'd,
Or, rising half in his rounded nest,
He takes the time to smooth his breast,
Then drops again with filmed eyes,
And sleeps as the last vibration dies.
Sweet bird! I would that I could be
A hermit in the crowd like thee!
With wings to fly to wood and glen,
Thy lot, like mine, is cast with men;
And daily, with unwilling fect, .
I tread, like thee, the crowded street;
But, unlike me, when day is o'er,
Thou canst dismiss the world and soar,
Or, at a half-felt wish for rest,
Canst smooth the feathers on thy breast,
And drop, forgetful, to thy nest.
TO A PICTURE OF A CHILD AT PLAY.
TIRED of play! Tired of play!
What hast thou done this livelong day?
The birds are silent, and so the bee;
The sun is creeping up steeple and tree;
The doves have flown to the sheltering eaves,
And the nests are dark with the drooping leaves ;
Twilight gathers, and day is done -
How hast thou spent it- restless one?
Playing! But what hast thou done beside
To tell thy mother at eventide ?
What promise of morn is left unbroken?
What kind word to thy playmate spoken ?
Whom hast thou pitied, and whom forgiven?
How with thy faults has duty striven?
What hast thou learn’d by field and hill,
By greenwood path, and singing rill?
There will come an eve to a longer day,
That will find thee tired but not of play!
And thou wilt lean- as thou leanest now,
With drooping limbs and aching brow,
And wish the shadows would faster creep,
And long to go to thy quiet sleep.
Well were it then if thine aching brow
Were as free from sin and shame as now!