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Title: Sonnets and Canzonets
Author: Alcott, A. Bronson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Sonnets and Canzonets" ***





                  A. BRONSON ALCOTT.



                  ROBERTS BROTHERS.


                 _Copyright, 1882_,
               BY A. BRONSON ALCOTT.

                  UNIVERSITY PRESS:





  TO A. BRONSON ALCOTT, A LETTER BY F. B. SANBORN               5-10

  AN ESSAY ON THE SONNET                                       11-35

  SONNETS OF ILLUSTRATION                                      21-35
       I. Love in Spring                                          21
      II. The Maiden in April                                     22
     III. The Estrangement                                        23
      IV. Love in Time                                            24
       V. To those of Noble Heart                                 24
      VI. The Ocean a blessed God                                 27
     VII. The Nightingale                                         28
    VIII. The Fair Saint                                          29
      IX. Love a Poor Palmer                                      30
       X. Love against Love                                       31
      XI. Death                                                   32
     XII. Ah, Sweet Content!                                      34
    XIII. The Poet’s Immortality                                  34

                         PART FIRST.
  PROEM                                                           39
  DOMESTIC SONNETS AND CANZONETS                                41-8

                        PART SECOND.
  SONNETS OF CHARACTER                                        94-145
  A PROPHETIC ODE                                            146-149





The period to which the scholar of two and eighty years belongs, is
seldom that of his youngest readers: it is more likely to be the epoch
of his own golden youth, when his masters were before his eyes, and
his companions were the books and the friends of his heart. Thus the
aged Landor could not bring his thoughts down from the grand forms of
Greek and Roman literature to which they were early accustomed; he had
swerved now and then from that loyalty in middle life, impressed and
acted upon as he was by the great political events of the Napoleonic
era,--but he returned to the epigram and the idyl in the “white winter
of his age,” and the voices of the present and of the future appealed
to him in vain. In the old Goethe there was something more prophetic
and august; he came nearer to his contemporaries, and prepared the way
for a recognition of his greatness by the generation which saw the
grave close over him. In this, that strange but loyal disciple of his,
the Scotch Carlyle, rendered matchless service to his master; yet he,
too, in his unhappy old age, could only at intervals, and by gleams
of inspiration,--as at the Edinburgh University Festival,--come into
communication with the young spirits about him. To you, dear Friend
and Master, belongs the rare good fortune (good genius rather) that
has brought you in these late days, into closer fellowship than of
yore with the active and forthlooking spirit of the time. In youth and
middle life you were in advance of your period, which has only now
overtaken you when it must, by the ordinance of Nature, so soon bid
you farewell, as you go forward to new prospects, in fairer worlds
than ours.

It is this union of youth and age, of the past and the present--yes,
and the future also--that I have admired in these artless poems, over
which we have spent together so many agreeable hours. Fallen upon an
age in literature when the poetic form is everywhere found, but the
discerning and inventive spirit of Poesy seems almost lost, I have
marked with delight in these octogenarian verses, flowing so naturally
from your pen, the very contradiction of this poetic custom of the
period. Your want of familiarity with the accustomed movement of verse
in our time, brings into more distinct notice the genuine poetical
motions of your genius. Having been admitted to the laboratory, and
privileged to witness the action and reaction of your thought, as it
crystallized into song, I perceived, for the first time, how high
sentiment, by which you have from youth been inspired, may become the
habitual movement of the mind, at an age when so many, if they live at
all in spirit, are but nursing the selfish and distorted fancies of
morose singularity. To you the world has been a brotherhood of noble
souls,--too few, as we thought, for your companionship,--but which you
have enlarged by the admission to one rank of those who have gone,
and of us who remain to love you and listen to your oracles. The men
and the charming women who recognized your voice when it was that of
one crying in the wilderness--“Prepare ye the way of our Lord,” are
joined, in your commemorative sonnets, with those who hearken to its
later accents, proclaiming the same acceptable year of the Lord.

It is the privilege of poets--immemorial and native to the clan--that
they should share the immortality they confer. This right you may
vindicate for your own. The honors you pay, in resounding verse, to
Channing, to Emerson, to Margaret Fuller, to Hawthorne, Thoreau,
and the rest of the company with whom you trod these groves, and
honored these altars of the Spirit unnamed, return in their echoes to
yourself. They had their special genius, and you yours no less, though
it found not the same expression with theirs. We please our love
with the thought that, in these sonnets and canzonets of affection,
you have celebrated yourself with them; that the swift insight, the
ennobling passion for truth and virtue, the high resolve, the austere
self-sacrifice, the gentle submission to a will eternally right, in
which these friends, so variously gifted, found a common tie,--all
these are yours also,--and may they be ours! The monuments and
trophies of genius are perishable, but the soul’s impression abides
forever, _forma mentis æterna_. To that imperishable, ever-beauteous,
self-renouncing, loyal, and steadfast Spirit of the Universe which
we learned to worship in our youth, and which has never forsaken our
age and bereavement, may these offerings, and all that we are, be
consecrated now and forever!

                                               F. B. SANBORN.

  CONCORD, January 1, 1882.





“Scorn not the sonnet,” said Wordsworth, and then gave us at least
fifty noble reasons why we should not,--for so many at least of his
innumerable sonnets are above languor and indifference, and all of
them above contempt. Milton was more self-restrained than Wordsworth,
and wrote fewer sonnets, every one of which is a treasure, either for
beauty of verse, nobility of thought, happy portraiture of persons,
or quaint and savage humor,--like that on “Tetrachordon,” and the
elongated sonnet in which he denounces the Presbyterians, and tells
them to their face, “New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large.”
Shakespeare unlocked his heart with sonnets in another key than
Milton’s,--less conformed to the model of the Italian sonnet, but more
in keeping with English verse, of which Shakespeare had the entire
range. His sonnets are but quatrains following each other by threes,
with a resounding couplet binding them together in one sheaf, and
his example has made this form of the sonnet legitimate for all who
write English verse,--no matter what the studious or the pedantic may
say. Surrey also, who first used the sonnet in English, wrote it in
this free manner of Shakespeare, as well as in the somewhat stricter
form that Sidney employed, and it is only of late years that they
have tried to shut us up to one definite and unchanging sequence and
interplay of rhyme. Mr. Alcott in these new sonnets, the ripe fruit of
an aged tree, has used the freedom that nature gave him, and years
allow: he has written with little uniformity in the order and number
of his rhymes, but with much regard to the spirit of the sonnet as a
high form of verse. I fancy that Dante (who may be called the father
of the sonnet, though not the first to write it) chose this graceful
and courteous verse, because it is so well suited to themes of love
and friendship. When he would express sorrow or anger, or light and
jesting humor, he had recourse to the canzonet, the _terza rima_, or
what he called the ballad,--something quite unlike what we know by
that name. Mr. Alcott has followed in the same general course; his
sonnets are one thing, his canzonets another: though the difference
in feeling, which prompts him to use one form rather than the other,
cannot always be definitely expressed. It is felt rather than seen,
and seen rather by the effect of the finished poem than by the light
of any rule or formal definition.

Definiteness, in fact, must not be looked for in these poems; nor
is it the characteristic of the highest poetry in any language.
Verse may be powerful and suggestive, or even clear in the sense of
producing a distinct impression on the mind, without being definite,
and responding to all the claims of analysis. I take it that few
readers will fail to see the central thought, or the vivid portraiture
in each of these sonnets and canzonets; but fewer still will be able
to explain precisely, even to their own minds, what each suggestive
phrase and period includes and excludes in its meaning. For this fine
vagueness of utterance, the sonnet has always given poets a fair
field, and our present author has not gone beyond his due privilege
in this respect, though he has availed himself of it more frequently
than many would have done. The mottoes and citations accompanying each
sonnet may help the reader to a meaning that does not at once flash in
his eyes. But he must not expect to conquer these verses at a single
reading. The thought of years, the labor of months, has been given to
the writing of them; and the reader ought not to complain if he take
as much time to comprehend them as the author took to write them. They
are worth the pains of reading many times over, and even of learning
them by heart, for which their compendious form well fits them.

It may be complained that these sonnets lack variety. This is indeed
a fault into which sonneteers often fall,--our best collection of
American sonnets hitherto--those of Jones Very--being open to this
censure. It will be found, perhaps, that the sameness of rhyme and
thought is often but an appearance,--the delicate shade of meaning
being expressed, in a vocabulary of no large extent, by a rare
process of combining and collocating words. Certain phrases recur,
too, because the thought necessarily recurs,--as when the oratory
of Phillips and of Parker, as of others, is characterized by the
general term, _eloquence_. In the poverty of our language, there is
no other term to use, while the qualifying words and their connection
sufficiently distinguish between one person and another. The critical
are referred to Homer, who never fails to repeat the same word, or the
same verse, when it comes in his way to do so.

But to return to the sonnet itself. Landor, to whom as to Thoreau,
Milton was the greatest English poet, thought that the blind Puritan
had made good his offence against the Psalms of David, by the
sonnet on the slaughtered saints of Piedmont. “Milton,” he says,
“was never half so wicked a regicide as when he lifted up his hand
and smote King David. He has atoned for it, however, by composing
a magnificent psalm of his own, in the form of a sonnet. There are
others in Milton comparable to it, but none elsewhere.” And then the
wilful critic goes on to say, putting his words into the mouth of
Porson: “In the poems of Shakespeare, which are printed as sonnets,
there is sometimes a singular strength and intensity of thought,
with little of that imagination which was afterward to raise him
highest in the universe of poetry. Even the interest we take in the
private life of this miraculous man, cannot keep the volume in our
hands long together. We acknowledge great power, but we experience
great weariness. Were I a poet, I would much rather have written the
‘Allegro,’ or the ‘Penseroso’ than all those.” Monstrous as this
comment seems to us, there is a certain truth in it, the sonnet in
large quantities always producing weariness; for which reason, as I
suppose, Dante interspersed his love sonnets in the “Vita Nuova” and
the “Convito,” with canzonets and ballads. His commentaries--often
of a singular eloquence--also serve as a relief to the formal verse,
as his melodious Tuscan lines do to the formality of his poetical
metaphysics. A person, says Landor, “lately tried to persuade me that
he is never so highly poetical, as when he is deeply metaphysical. He
then quoted fourteen German poets of the first order, and expressed
his compassion for Æschylus and Homer.” Dante’s metaphysics were of a
higher cast, and so interfused with love and fair ladies, that they
only weary us with a certain perplexity as to where are the limits of
courtship and of logic. Mr. Alcott also is quaintly metaphysical in
Dante’s fashion; like the sad old Florentine, but with a more cheerful
spirit, he addresses himself

    “To every captive soul and gentle heart,”
    (A ciascun alma presa e gentil core,)

and would fain inquire of those who go on a pilgrimage of Love (O voi
che per la via d’Amor passate) and of the fair ladies who have learned
love at first hand (Donne che avete intelletto d’amore.) His doctrine
is that of the wise man whom Dante quotes and approves in the “Vita

    “One and the same are love and the gentle heart.”
          (Amor e’ l cor gentil sono una cosa.)

Other Americans have written sonnets in this ancient faith,--as he,
who thus (in that happy season so aptly described by Mr. Alcott, as

    “Youth’s glad morning when the rising East
    Glows golden with assurance of success,
    And life itself’s a rare continual feast,
    Enjoyed the more if meditated less,”)

addressed his own _cor gentil_:--

    “My heart, forthlooking in the purple day,
    Tell me what sweetest image thou may’st see,
    Fit to be type of thy dear love and thee?
    Lo! here where sunshine keeps the wind away,
    Grow two young violets,--humble lovers they,--
    With drooping face to face, and breath to breath,
    They look and kiss and love and laugh at death:--
    Yon bluebird singing on the scarlet spray
    Of the bloomed maple in the blithe spring air,
    While his mate answers from the wood of pines,
    And all day long their music ne’er declines;
    For love their labor is, and love their care.
    ‘These pass with day and spring;’ the true heart saith,--
    ‘Forever thou wilt love, and she be fair.’”

In the same Italian vein, another and better poet, but with less
warmth, touches the same theme,--

    “Thou art like that which is most sweet and fair,
    A gentle morning in the youth of spring,
    When the few early birds begin to sing
    Within the delicate depths of the fine air.
    Yet shouldst thou these dear beauties much impair,
    Since thou art better than is everything
    Which or the woods or skies or green fields bring,
    And finer thoughts hast thou than they can wear.
    In the proud sweetness of thy grace I see
    What lies within,--a pure and steadfast mind,
    Which its own mistress is of sanctity,
    And to all gentleness hath been refined.
    So that thy least breath falleth upon me
    As the soft breathing of midsummer wind.”

In the changes of time and the fitful mood of the poet, sadness
succeeds to this assured joy, and he sings,--

    “The day has past, I never may return;
    Twelve circling years have run since first I came
    And kindled the pure truth of friendship’s flame;
    Alone remain these ashes in the urn--
    Vainly for light the taper may I turn,--
    Thy hand is closed, as for these years, the same,
    And for the substance naught is but the name.
    No more a hope, no more a ray to burn.
    But once more in the pauses of thy joy,
    Remember him who sought thee in his youth,
    And with the old reliance of the boy
    Asked for thy treasures in the guise of truth.”

Here is another voice, chanting in another strain,--

    “Thy beauty fades, and with it, too, my love,
    For ’twas the selfsame stalk that bore the flower;
    Soft fell the rain, and, breaking from above,
    The sun looked out upon our nuptial hour;
    And I had thought forever by thy side
    With bursting buds of hope in youth to dwell;
    But one by one Time strewed thy petals wide,
    And every hope’s wan look a grief can tell;
    For I had thoughtless lived beneath his sway,
    Who like a tyrant dealeth with us all,--
    Crowning each rose, though rooted in decay,
    With charms that shall the spirit’s love enthral,
    And, for a season, turn the soul’s pure eyes
    From virtue’s bloom that time and death defies.”

Out of this valley of sadness the spirit rises on bolder wing, as the
melancholy mood passes away,--

    “Hearts of eternity, hearts of the deep!
    Proclaim from land to sea your mighty fate;
    How that for you no living comes too late,
    How ye cannot in Theban labyrinth creep,
    How ye great harvests from small surface reap,
    Shout, excellent band, in grand primeval strain,
    Like midnight winds that foam along the main,--
    And do all things rather than pause to weep.
    A human heart knows naught of littleness,
    Suspects no man, compares with no one’s ways,
    Hath in one hour most glorious length of days,
    A recompense, a joy, a loveliness;
    Like eaglet keen, shoots into azure far,
    And always dwelling nigh is the remotest star.”

Here, as Landor said, “is a sonnet, and the sonnet admits not that
approach to the prosaic which is allowable in the ballad.” For this
reason Mr. Alcott, who began his poetical autobiography, when he was
eighty years old, in a ballad measure, has now passed into the majesty
of the sonnet, as he has come to those passages of life which will not
admit prosaic treatment. Moderately used, and not worked to death,
as Wordsworth employed it, the sonnet is a great uplifter of poesy.
It calls to the reader, as the early Christian litanies did to the
worshipper, _Sursum corda_, Raise your thoughts! The canzonet lets us
down again into the pathetic, the humorous, or the fanciful,--though
in this volume the canzonet generally betokens sadness. It may easily
become an ode, as in the verses on Garfield: indeed the ode may be
considered as an extended canzonet, or the canzonet as a brief ode.
It is the sonnet that chiefly concerns us now, and that form of the
sonnet which deals with love; since the germ of this book was a
romance of love, seeking to express itself in the uplifting strain
and tender cadence of successive sonnets; which lead us though green
pastures and beside the still waters, and then to the shore of the
resounding sea,--itself worthy of a sonnet which I have somewhere

    “Ah mournful Sea! Yet to our eyes he wore
    The placid look of some great god at rest;
    With azure arms he clasped the embracing shore,
    While gently heaved the billows of his breast;
    We scarce his voice could hear, and then it seemed
    The happy murmur of a lover true,
    Who, in the sweetness of his sleep, hath dreamed
    Of kisses falling on his lips like dew.
    Far off, the blue and gleaming hills above,
    The Sun looked through his veil of thinnest haze,
    As coy Diana, blushing at her love,
    Half hid with her own light her earnest gaze,
    When on the shady Latmian slope she found
    Fair-haired Endymion slumbering on the ground.”

This is one picture in the kaleidoscope of Aphrodite, who was a
sea-born goddess, and partial to her native element. Yet it is not
through the eye alone that she ensnares us, but with the music of
birds,--and in poetry her own darling bird is not the dove, but the
nightingale,--a stranger to our orchards and forests, but familiar to
the groves of the Muse. A poet, by no means happy in his love in after
years, thus saluted this bird, with music as sweet as her own,--

    “O Nightingale, that on yon bloomy spray,
    Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still,
    Thou with fresh hope the lover’s heart doth fill,
    While the jolly Hours lead on propitious May.
    Thy liquid notes, that close the eye of day,
    First heard before the shallow cuckoo’s bill,
    Portend success in love; O, if Jove’s will
    Have linked that amorous power to thy soft lay,
    Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
    Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh;
    As thou from year to year hast sung too late
    For my relief, yet hadst no reason why;
    Whether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
    Both them I serve, and of their train am I.”

This is plainly a fabricated song, not poured out from the heart,
though full of melodious fancy. More natural and earnest is the tone
in which our poet soon after praises one who had passed unheeding by
the bower of love, and devoted herself to a life of piety and good
deeds. We cannot guess who she was, but such saints are seen in every
land and age.

    “Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth
    Wisely hast shunned the broad way and the green,
    And with those few art eminently seen
    That labor up the hill of heavenly truth,--
    The better part with Mary and with Ruth,
    Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
    And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
    No anger find in thee, but pity and ruth.
    Thy care is fixed, and zealously attends
    To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,
    And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure
    Thou, when the bridegroom with his feastful friends
    Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,
    Hast gained thy entrance, virginwise and pure.”

It is a truth for the initiated that love begins with worship, and
favors piety in its first approaches; and we need not wonder if the
devout poet in due time paid his amorous addresses to this bride of
the Spirit, whose lamp must have been dim, indeed, if it did not
reveal to her the lover in disguise of the brother in Israel. A poet
of our day, in a sonnet somewhat faulty in form, but true to the faith
of your pilgrim-vow, ye happy palmers of Love,--

    “O voi che per la via d’Amor passate!”

has written as follows:--

    “‘As calmest waters mirror Heaven the best,
    So best befit remembrances of thee
    Calm holy hours from earthly passion free,
    Sweet twilight musing,--Sabbaths in the breast.
    No stooping thought, nor any grovelling care,
    The sacred whiteness of that place shall stain,
    Where, far from heartless joys and rites profane,
    Memory has reared to thee an altar fair.
    Yet frequent visitors shall kiss the shrine,
    And ever keep its vestal lamp alight;
    All noble thoughts, all dreams divinely bright,
    That waken or delight this soul of mine.’
    So Love, meek pilgrim! his young vows did pay,
    With glowing eyes that must his lips gainsay.”

A higher gospel is preached in the sonnet of another American poet,
who has written too few verses,--or rather has published too few of
the many he has composed.

    “As unto blooming roses, summer dews,
    Or morning’s amber to the tree-top choirs,
    So to my bosom are the beams that use
    To rain on me from eyes that Love inspires;
    Your love,--vouchsafe it, royal-hearted Few,--
    And I will set no common price thereon;
    O, I will keep, as Heaven his holy blue,
    Or Night her diamonds, that dear treasure won.
    But aught of inward faith must I forego,
    Or miss one drop from Truth’s baptismal hand,
    Think poorer thoughts, pray cheaper prayers, and grow
    Less worthy trust, to meet your hearts’ demand:
    Farewell! your wish I for your sake deny;
    Rebel to love in truth to love am I.”

A poet who has been more than once quoted in this essay, saw no sharp
hostility between Love and Death,--those reputed foes,--but thus
addressed the last earthly benefactor of mankind:--

    “O Death! thou art the palace of our hopes,
    The storehouse of our joys,--great labor’s end.”

His friend, confronting the same inevitable guest, questioned the
dark angel, in these lines, that conform to the rule of the sonnet in
spirit, if not in rhyme:--

    “What strange deep secret dost thou hold, O Death!
    To hallow those thou claimest for thine own?
    That which the open book could never teach,
    The closed one whispers, as we stand alone
    By one, how more alone than we!--and strive
    To comprehend the passion of that peace.
    In vain our thoughts would wind within the heart,
    The heart of this great mystery of release!--
    Baptism of Death--which steepest infant eyes
    In grace of calm that saints might hope to wear,
    Whose cold touch purifies the guilty brow,
    And sets again the seal of childhood there--
    Our line of life in vain would sound thy sea,
    That which we seek to know,--we soon shall be.”

Let me now close this garland of sonnets with two choice flowers from
that garden of Elizabeth which no modern botanist and no anthologist
of ancient fame can equal in fragrance and amaranthine beauty. Both
breathe the sweetness of Love,--the first, from the “Parthenophe and
Parthenophil” of Barnaby Barnes, with some flavor of discontent,--but
the second, taken from the warm hand of Shakespeare, is full of that
noble confidence, which he, of all poets, most naturally inspires.

    “Ah, sweet Content! where is thy mild abode?
    Is it with shepherds and light-hearted swains,
    Which sing upon the downs and pipe abroad,
    Tending their flocks and cattle on the plains?
    Ah, sweet Content! where dost thou safely rest?
    In heaven? with angels which the praises sing
    Of Him that made and rules at his behest
    The minds and hearts of every living thing?
    Ah, sweet Content! where does thy harbor hold?
    Is it in churches with religious men,
    Which please the gods with prayers manifold,
    And in their studies meditate it then?
    Whether thou dost on heaven or earth appear,
    Be where thou wilt, thou wilt not harbor here.”

And now upon this delicious disconsolate strophe, hear the brave
turn and reply of Shakespeare’s antistrophe,--and take it for your
consolation, lovers and poets!--

    “Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
    Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,
    Can yet the lease of my true love control,
    Supposed as forfeit to a cónfined doom.
    The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
    And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
    Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
    And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
    Now with the drops of this most balmy time
    My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
    Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme,
    While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
    And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
    When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.”

                                             F. B. S.

  FEBRUARY 6, 1882.



“These quiet and green places, these mountains and valleys, were
created by Nature on purpose for loving hearts”.

                                           MELI’S CANZONETS.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “_Be it that my unseasonable song
    Come out of time, that fault is in the time;
    And I must not do Virtue so much wrong,
    As love her aught the worse for others’ crime;
    And yet I find some blessed spirits among
    That cherish me, and like and grace my rhyme._”



    Long left unwounded by the grisly foe,
    Who sometime pierces all with fatal shaft,
    Still on my cheek fresh youth did lively glow,
    And at his threatening arrow gaily laught;
    Came then my friendly scholar, and we quaffed
    From learning’s spring, its sparkling overflow;
    All through the lingering evening’s charmèd hours,
    Delightful fellowship in thought was ours:
    If I from Poesy could not all abstain,
    He my poor verses oft did quite undress,
    New wrapt in words my thought’s veiled nakedness,
    Or kindly clipt my steed’s luxuriant mane:
    ’Twas my delight his searching eye to meet,
    In days of genial versing, memories sweet.

    JANUARY 1, 1882.

                    PART I.

    “_O Spring, thou youthful beauty of the year,
    Mother of flowers, bringer of warbling quires,
    Of all sweet new green things, and new desires._”

                              GUARINI’S PASTOR FIDO.


    Auspicious morn, com’st opportune, unbought?
    Bring’st thou glad furtherance in thy rosy train?
    Speed then, my chariot, following fast my thought,
    And distance on thy track the lumbering wain,
    O’er plain and hillock nearing her abode,
    The goal of expectation, fortune’s road,--
    The maiden waits to greet with courtesy
    Her bashful guest, while stranger yet is he:
    From friendly circle at the city’s Court
    She’s come to cull the flowers, to toy and play
    With prattling childhood, love’s delightful sport;
    Its smile call forth, to scent the new-mown hay,
    Enjoy the wholesome laughter, simple mien,
    Of country people in this rural scene.

    “_So sweetly she bade me adieu,
    I thought that she bade me return._”



    Ah! why so brief the visit, short his stay?
    The acquaintance so surprising, and so sweet,
    Stolen is my heart, ’tis journeying far away,
    With that shy stranger whom my voice did greet.
    That hour so fertile of entrancing thought,
    So rapt the conversation, and so free,--
    My heart lost soundings, tenderly upcaught,
    Driven by soft sails of love and ecstasy!
    Was I then? was I? clasped in Love’s embrace,
    And touched with ardors of divinity?
    Spake with my chosen lover face to face,
    Espoused then truly? such my destiny?
    I cannot tell; but own the pleasing theft,
    That when the stranger went, I was of Love bereft.

“_Though the bias of her nature was not to thought but to sympathy,
yet was she so perfect in her own nature, as to meet intellectual
persons by the fulness of her heart, warming them by her sentiments;
believing, as she did, that, by dealing nobly with all, all would show
themselves noble_”.


    Not all the brilliant beauties I have seen,
    Mid the gay splendors of some Southern hall,
    In jewelled grandeur, or in plainest mien,
    Did so my fancy and my heart enthral,
    As doth this noble woman, Nature’s queen!
    Such hearty greeting from her lips did fall,
    And I ennobled was through her esteem;
    At once made sharer of her confidence,
    As by enchantment of some rapturous dream;
    With subtler vision gifted, finer sense,
    She loosed my tongue’s refraining diffidence,
    And softer accents lent our varying theme:
    So much my Lady others doth surpass,
    I read them all through her transparent glass.

    “_They love indeed who quake to say they love._”

                                SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.


    The April rains are past, the frosts austere,--
    The flowers are hungering for the genial sun,
    The snow’s dissolved, the merry birds are here,
    And rural labors now are well begun.
    Hither, from the disturbing, noisy Court
    I’ve flown to this sequestered, quiet scene,
    To meditate on Love and Love’s disport
    Mid these smooth pastures and the meadows green.
    Sure ’twere no fault of mine, no whispering sin,
    If these coy leaves he sends me seem to speak
    All that my heart, caressing, folds within;
    Nor if I sought to smother, my flushed cheek
    Would tell too plainly what I cannot hide,
    Fond fancy disenchant nor set aside.

    “_Love is the life of friendship, letters are
    The life of love, the loadstones that by rare
    Attraction make souls meet, and melt, and mix,
    As when by fire exalted gold we fix._”



    Most precious leaves the mail delights to bring,
    All loving parcels, neatly squared and sealed;
    Her buoyant fancy trims its glossy wing,
    And flits courageous o’er Love’s flowery field.
    Sure ’tis a tender and a sparkling flame
    That letters kindle and do sweetly feed;
    Wilt fly, schoolmaster, for such noble game?
    Maiden that doth all other maids exceed!
    She writes with passion, and a nimble wit,
    Void of all pedantry and vain pretence,
    With native genius forcible and fit,
    A flowing humor and surpassing sense:
    Who gains her heart will win a precious prize,
    And fortunate be in every lover’s eyes.

    “_This place may seem for lovers’ leisure made,
    So close those elms inweave their lofty shade.
    The twining woodbine, how it climbs to breathe
    Refreshing sweets around us; all beneath,
    The ground with grass of cheerful green bespread,
    Through which the springing flower uprears its head.
    Lo, here are kingcups of a golden hue,
    Medleyed with daisies white and endive blue,
    And honeysuckles of a purple dye:
    Confusion gay! bright waving to the eye._”

                            AMBROSE PHILLIPS.


    ’Tis but a half-hour’s walk the Mill-Dam o’er,
    Past Punch Bowl Inn, where, by the turnpike’s side,
    The shaded pathway winding to the door,
    The mansion rises in ancestral pride:--
    Its shaven lawn, and blossoming orchard hoar,
    And trellised vines, and hedges trim and neat,
    Show plenty and refinement here abide,--
    The generous gentleman’s fair country-seat.
    Now, whilst the full moon glances soft and bright
    O’er Mall and Mill-Dam and suburban street,
    Turn hitherward thine unaccustomed feet,
    At afternoon, or evening, or late night;
    A change of scene oft rare attraction lends
    To new acquaintance, as to older friends.

    “_If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,
    My dreams presage some joyful news at hand:
    My bosom’s lord sits lightly in his throne,
    And all this day an unaccustomed spirit
    Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts._”



    The morning’s clear, the sky without a frown,
    The dew-bespangled pastures wet the shoe;
    Sauntering full early toward the sleeping town,
    We’ll take the dry, well-trodden avenue;
    On these crisp pathways, and familiar grounds
    (Unless my flattering heart be over-bold),
    While lingering purposely amid our rounds,
    Some shady lane may love to hear all told.
    One name has captured his too partial ear,--
    (These kind, concealing bushes love invite
    No tell-tales are, nor neighbors impolite;)
    I’ll hear his suit devoid of blame or fear.
    Impatiently the moment I await;
    Who nothing ventures, stays disconsolate.

    “_Who knows thy destiny? when thou hast done,
    Perchance her cabinet may harbor thee,
    Whither all noble ambitious wits do run,
    A nest almost as full of good as she.
    Mark if to get thee she o’erskip the rest,
    Mark if she read thee thrice, and kiss the name,
    Mark if she do the same that they protest,
    Mark if she mark whither her woman came._”



    Mean are all titles of nobility,
    And kings poor spendthrifts, while I do compare
    The wealth she daily lavishes on me
    Of love, the noble kingdom that I share:
    Is it the jealous year, for emphasis,
    Sheds beauteous sunshine and refreshing dews?
    My maiden’s month doth softlier court and kiss,
    Tint springtime’s virgin cheek with rosier hues
    Fly faster o’er my page, impassioned quill,
    Signing this note of mine with tenderer touch!
    Say I no measure find to mete my will,
    Say that I love, but cannot tell how much;
    Let time and trouble the full story tell:
    I cannot love thee more, I know I love thee well.

    “_Let raptured fancy on that moment dwell
    When thy dear vows in trembling accents fell,
    When love acknowledged waked the tender sigh,
    Swelled thy full breast, and filled the melting eye._”



    Now I no longer wait my love to tell,
    As ’twere a weakness love should not commit;
    E’en did avowal my fond hope dispel,
    My passion would of weakness me acquit.
    Enamoured thus and holden by its spell,
    Evasive words disloyal were, unfit
    To emphasize the exquisite happiness
    My boldest accents falteringly express;
    Here, take my hand, and, life-long wedded, lead
    Me by thy side; and, with my hand, my heart
    Given thee long since in thought, given now in deed;
    My life, my love, shall play no faithless part.
    Blest be that hour, when, meeting face to face,
    Our vows are plighted, ours the dear embrace!

    “_Venus, thy eternal sway
    All the race of men obey._”



    Unconquerable and inviolate
    Is Love; servant and sov’reign of man’s wit:
    Though the light-wingèd fancy changeful flit,
    She rules unswervingly her fair estate,
    O’erbears mischance and error, envy and hate;
    High intellect, ambition, passion, pride,
    Endowments that capricious Fortune brings,
    By her disfranchisements are set aside;
    The mistress she alike of slaves and kings,
    Empress of Earth’s dominions, far and wide,
    Eldest of potentates, and latest born.
    Of all in Heaven above or Earth below,
    No being so illustrious or forlorn,
    That to Love’s sceptre doth not gladly bow.

    “_Ye tradeful merchants! that with weary toil
    Do seek most precious things to make your gain,
    And both the Indies of their treasure spoil,
    What needeth you to seek so far in vain?
    For, lo! my love doth in herself contain
    All this world’s riches that may far be found;_

       *       *       *       *       *

    _But that which fairest is, but few behold,
    Her mind adorned with virtues manifold._”



    Ancestral tendencies far down descend;
    They bless or blame for generations long;
    They prick us forward toward our destined end,
    Alike the weak, the sluggish, and the strong.
    When her grave ancestor, of Winthrop’s date,
    Did with the rich mint-master’s daughter join
    In wedlock, he, sagacious magistrate,
    Gained more in sterling worth than silver coin:
    So, when King’s Chapel saw, in gladsome May,
    The mild schoolmaster lead his willing bride,
    And the courtly warden give her hand away,
    Mintage of like worth had no land beside.
    True love alone nobility doth outvie,
    And character’s the sterling currency.

    “_How still the sea! behold, how calm the sky!
    And how, in sportive chase, the swallows fly!
    Sweet breathe the fields, and now a gentle breeze
    Moves every leaf and trembles through the trees._”



    Hither, the gray and shapely church beside,
    At sandy Hingham, by the sounding sea,
    From the disturbing town escaped thus wide,
    I’m come, from all encumbering care set free,
    To raise the choral song, with friends discourse,
    Roam the wide fields for flowers, or seaward sail,
    Or to Cohasset’s strand repair, where hoarse
    Tumultuous surges chant their ceaseless tale;
    Or poesy entertain, grave Wordsworth’s lays,
    Melodious musing childhood’s glorious prime,
    Shakespeare’s warm sonnets or Venetian plays,
    Or that sad wizard Mariner’s marvellous Rime.
    Here in these haunts, this lovers’ company,
    Sweet Love’s symposium hold we happily.

“_Books have always a secret influence on the understanding: we
cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas; he that reads books of science,
though without any desire for improvement, will grow more knowing;
he that entertains himself with moral or religious treatises will
imperceptibly advance to goodness; the ideas which are often offered
to the mind will at last find a lucky moment when it is disposed to
receive them_”.

                                                     DR. JOHNSON.


    My Lady reads, with judgment and good taste,
    Books not too many, but the wisest, best,
    Pregnant with sentiment sincere and chaste,
    Rightly conceived were they and aptly dressed:
    These wells of learning tastes she at the source,--
    Johnson’s poised periods, Fénelon’s deep sense,
    Taylor’s mellifluous and sage discourse,
    Majestic Milton’s epic eloquence,--
    Nor these alone her thoughts do all engage,
    But classic authors of the modern time,
    And the great masters of the ancient age,
    In prose alike and of the lofty rhyme:
    Montaigne and Cowper, Plutarch’s gallery,
    Blind Homer’s Iliad and his Odyssey.

    “_Ye blessed creatures, I have heard the call
        Ye to each other make: I see
    The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
        My heart is at your festival,
        My head hath its coronal,
    The fulness of your bliss I feel--I feel it all._”



    Not Wordsworth’s genius, Pestalozzi’s love,
    The stream have sounded of clear infancy.
    Baptismal waters from the Head above
    These babes I foster daily are to me;
    I dip my pitcher in these living springs
    And draw, from depths below, sincerity;
    Unsealed, mine eyes behold all outward things
    Arrayed in splendors of divinity.
    What mount of vision can with mine compare?
    Not Roman Jove nor yet Olympian Zeus
    Darted from loftier ether through bright air
    One spark of holier fire for human use.
    Glad tidings thence these angels downward bring,
    As at their birth the heavenly choirs do sing.

    “_Fresh as the morning, earnest as the hour
    That calls the noisy world to grateful sleep,
    Our silent thought reveres the nameless power
    That high seclusion round thy life doth keep._”



    Daughter, beloved of all, thy tender eye,
    Sweet disposition, and thy gentle voice,
    Make every heart, full soon thy close ally,
    Respect thy wishes, thine unspoken choice,--
    Hastening, unbidden, therewith to comply;
    They in thy cheerful countenance rejoice,
    Kindness unfailing, and quick sympathy.
    Peacemaker thou, with equanimity
    And aspirations far above thy care,
    Leavest no duty slighted or undone,
    Living for thy dear kindred, always there,
    Faithful as rising and as setting sun.
    Can I of lovelier mansion be possest,
    Than in thy heart to dwell a welcome guest?

    “_Stern daughter of the voice of God!
    O Duty, if that name thou love,
    Who art a light to guide, a rod
    To check the erring, and reprove;
    Thou who art victory and law,
    When empty terrors overawe;
    And calm’st the weary strife of frail humanity!_”



    When I remember with what buoyant heart,
    Midst war’s alarms and woes of civil strife,
    In youthful eagerness, thou didst depart,
    At peril of thy safety, peace, and life,
    To nurse the wounded soldier, swathe the dead--
    How piercèd soon by fever’s poisoned dart,
    And brought unconscious home, with wildered head--
    Thou, ever since, mid languor and dull pain,
    To conquer fortune, cherish kindred dear,
    Hast with grave studies vexed a sprightly brain,
    In myriad households kindled love and cheer;
    Ne’er from thyself by Fame’s loud trump beguiled,
    Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere:--
    I press thee to my heart, as Duty’s faithful child.

    “_In deepest passions of my grief-swoll’n breast,
      Sweet soul, this only comfort seizeth me,
    That so few years should make thee so much blest,
      And give such wings to reach eternity._”

                           BROWN’S SHEPHERD’S PIPE.


    ’T was not permitted thee the Fates to please,
    And with survivors share our happier day;
    For smitten early wast thou by disease,
    Whilst with thy sisters thou didst smile and play.
    Wasted by pains and lingering decay,
    Life’s glowing currents at the source did freeze;
    Yet, ere the angel summoned thee away,
    Above thy cheerful couch affection’s ray
    Did brightly shine, and all thy sufferings ease.
    Dear child of grace! so patient and so strong,
    Bound to thy duty by quick sympathy,
    They did our hearts irreparable wrong
    To break the promise of thy infancy;
    Ah me! life is not life, deprived of thee.

    “_Will’t ne’er be morning? will that promised light
      Ne’er break, and clear these clouds of night?
          Sweet Phosphor, bring the day,
          Whose conquering ray
    May chase these fogs: sweet Phosphor, bring the day._”



          LOVE’S MORROW.


    It was but yesterday
    That all was bright and fair:
        Came over the sea,
        So merrily,
    News from my darling there.
        Now over the sea
        Comes hither to me
        Knell of despair,--
    “No more, no longer there!”


    Ah! gentle May,
    Couldst thou not stay?
    Why hurriedst thou so swift away?
        No--not the same--
        Nor can it be--
        That lovely name--
    Ever again what once it was to me.
        It cannot, cannot be
        That lovely name to me.


    I cannot think her dead,
    So lately, sweetly wed;
    She who had tasted bliss,
    A mother’s virgin kiss,
    Rich gifts conferred to bless
    With costliest happiness,
    Nobility and grace
    To ornament her place.


    Broken the golden band,
    Severed the silken strand,
    Ye sisters four!
    Still to me two remain,
    And two have gone before:
    Our loss, her gain,--
    And He who gave can all restore.
        And yet--Oh! why,
        My heart doth cry,
        Why take her thus away?


    I wake in tears and sorrow:
        Wearily I say,
    “Come, come, fair morrow,
    And chase my grief away!”
        Night-long I say,
    “Haste, haste, fair morrow,
    And bear my grief away!”
        All night long,
        My sad, sad song.


    “Comes not the welcome morrow,”
        My boding heart doth say;
    Still grief from grief doth borrow;
    “My child is far away.”
        Still as I pray
    The deeper swells my sorrow.
    Break, break! The risen day
    Takes not my grief away.


    Full well I know,
    Joy’s spring is fathomless,--
        Its fountains overflow
        To cheer and bless,
        And underneath our grief
        Well forth and give relief.
    Transported May!
    Thou couldst not stay;
    Who gave, took thee away.
    Come, child, and whisper peace to me,
    Say, must I wait, or come to thee?
        I list to hear
        Thy message clear.


    “Cease, cease, new grief to borrow!”
    Last night I heard her say;
    “For sorrow hath no morrow,
    ’T is born of yesterday.
    Translated thou shalt be,
    My cloudless daylight see,
    And bathe, as I, in fairest morrows endlessly.”

            “_Shall not from these remains,
    From this low mound, dear ashes of the dead,
    The violet spring?_”



    O Death! thou utterest deeper speech,
      A tenderer, truer tone,
    Than all our languages can reach,
      Though all were voiced in one.

    Thy glance is deep, and, far beyond
      All that our eyes do see,
    Assures to fairest hopes and fond
      Their immortality.

    _Sing, sing, the Immortals,
      The Ancients of days,
    Ever crowding the portals
      Of Time’s peopled ways;
    These Babes ever stealing
    Into Eden’s glad feeling,
    The fore-world revealing,
    God’s face ne’er concealing._


    Voyager across the seas,
    In my arms thy form I press;
    Come, my Baby, me to please,
    Blue-eyed nurseling, motherless!

    All is strange and beautiful,
    Every sense finds glad surprise,
    Life is lovely, wonderful,
    Faces fair, and beaming eyes.

    Safe, ye angels, keep this child,
    Life-long guard her innocence,
    Winsome ways, and temper mild;
    Heaven, our home, be her defence!

    “_O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
    When thou art all the better part of me?
    What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
    And what is’t but mine own when I praise thee?_”



    Dear Heart! if aught to human love I’ve owed
    For noble furtherance of the good and fair;
    Climbed I, by bold emprise, the dizzying stair
    To excellence, and was by thee approved,
    In memory cherished and the more beloved;
    If fortune smiled, and late-won liberty,--
    ’T was thy kind favor all, thy generous legacy.
    Nor didst thou spare thy large munificence
    Me here to pleasure amply and maintain,
    But conjured from suspicion and mischance,
    Exile, misapprehension, cold disdain,
    For my loved cloud-rapt dream, supremacy;
    To bright reality transformed romance,
    Crowning with smiles the hard-earned victory.

    “_The hills were reared, the valleys scooped in vain,
    If Learning’s altars vanish from the plain._”



    Calm vale of comfort, peace, and industry,
    Well doth thy name thy homebred traits express!--
    Considerate people, neighborly and free,
    Proud of their monuments, their ancestry,
    Their circling river’s quiet loveliness,
    Their noble townsmen’s fame and history.
    Nor less I glory in each goodly trait,
    Child of another creed, a stricter State;
    I chose thee for my haunt in troublous time,
    My home in days of late prosperity,
    And laud thee now in this familiar rhyme;
    Here on thy bosom the last summons wait
    To scenes, if lovelier, still reflecting thee,
    Resplendent both in hope and memory.

                  PART II.


    “In sundry moods, ’t was pastime to be bound
    Within the sonnet’s scanty plot of ground.”


“_I like that friendship which, by soft gentle pauses, steals upon
the affections and grows mellow with time, by reciprocal offices and
trials of love; that friendship is like to last long, and never shrink
in the wetting_”.



    In Youth’s glad morning, when the rising East
    Glows golden with assurance of success,
    And life itself ’s a rare continual feast,
    Enjoyed the more if meditated less,
    ’T is then that friendship’s pleasures chiefly bless,
    As if without beginning,--ne’er to end,--
    So rich the season and so dear the friend,
    When thou and I went wandering hand in hand;
    Mine wert thou in our years of earliest prime,
    Studious at home, or to the southern land
    Adventuring bold; again in later time,
    Thy kindly service, always at command
    Of calm discretion, and abounding sense,
    Prompted and showed the path to excellence.

    “_Power above powers! O heavenly eloquence!
    That, with the strong rein of commanding words,
    Dost manage, guide, and master the eminence
    Of man’s affections more than all their swords;
    Shall we not offer to thy excellence
    The richest treasure that our wit affords?
    Or should we careless come behind the rest
    In power of words that go before in worth;
    When all that ever hotter spirits exprest
    Comes bettered by the patience of the North?_”



    My thought revives at utterance of thy name,--
    Doth high behavior, sweet discourse recall,
    Lit with emotion’s quick and quenchless flame,
    Imagination interfused through all;
    Then peals thy voice melodious on mine ear,
    As when grave anthems thou didst well recite,--
    Laodamia’s vision sad and dear,
    Or “Thanatopsis,” or “Hail, Holy Light!”
    Thou true Professor, gifted to dispense
    New pathos e’en to Channing’s eloquence;
    If mother tongue they fail to speak or write,
    Nor Greek nor Latin draw thy pupils thence;
    Such culture, taught by the far Northern sea,
    This scholar brings, New England, home to thee.

    “_Ascending soul, sing Pæan_”.



    Christian beloved! devoid of art and wile,--
    Who lovest thy Lord so well, with heart so true,
    That neither mist nor mote of worldly guile
    May clog thy vision, nor confuse the view
    Of that transcendent and commanding style
    Of god-like manhood; which had dazed long while
    Each purblind brother’s idol-loving eye.
    Sense overpowering doth the soul belie:
    Thou the soul’s errand and due place dost see,
    Its heavenly features to thy ken disclose,
    As when in Nazareth thy Lord uprose,
    The Father’s image in Humanity.
    A holy service thine, interpreter
    Of Lazarus rising from the sepulchre.

    “_The virtuous mind that ever walks attended
    By a strong siding champion, Conscience._”



    Channing! my Mentor whilst my thought was young,
    And I the votary of fair liberty,--
    How hung I then upon thy glowing tongue,
    And thought of love and truth as one with thee!
    Thou wast the inspirer of a nobler life,
    When I with error waged unequal strife,
    And from its coils thy teaching set me free.
    Be ye, his followers, to his leading true,
    Nor privilege covet, nor the wider sway;
    But hold right onward in his loftier way,
    As best becomes, and is his rightful due.
    If learning ’s yours,--gifts God doth least esteem,--
    Beyond all gifts was his transcendent view;
    O realize his Pentecostal dream!

“_Without oblivion there is no remembrance possible. When both
oblivion and memory are wise, then the general soul is clear,
melodious, and true_”.



    Daughter of Memory! who her watch doth keep
    O’er dark Oblivion’s land of shade and dream,
    Peers down into the realm of ancient Sleep,
    Where Thought uprises with a sudden gleam
    And lights the devious path ’twixt _Be_ and _Seem_;
    Mythologist! that dost thy legend steep
    Plenteously with opiate and anodyne,
    Inweaving fact with fable, line with line,
    Entangling anecdote and episode,
    Mindful of all that all men meant or said,--
    We follow, pleased, thy labyrinthine road,
    By Ariadne’s skein and lesson led:
    For thou hast wrought so excellently well,
    Thou drop’st more casual truth than sages tell.

    “_Not on the store of sprightly wine,
      Nor plenty of delicious meats,
    Though gracious Nature did design
      To court us with perpetual treats;
    ’Tis not on these we for content depend,
    So much as on the shadow of a friend._”



    Misfortune to have lived not knowing thee!
    ’T were not high living, nor to noblest end,
    Who, dwelling near, learned not sincerity,
    Rich friendship’s ornament that still doth lend
    To life its consequence and propriety.
    Thy fellowship was my culture, noble friend:
    By the hand thou took’st me, and did’st condescend
    To bring me straightway into thy fair guild;
    And life-long hath it been high compliment
    By that to have been known, and thy friend styled,
    Given to rare thought and to good learning bent;
    Whilst in my straits an angel on me smiled.
    Permit me, then, thus honored, still to be
    A scholar in thy university.

    “_He shall not seek to weave,
    In weak, unhappy times,
    Efficacious rhymes;
    Wait his returning strength.
    Bird, that from the nadir’s floor
    To the zenith’s top can soar,
    The soaring orbit of the Muse exceeds that journey’s length._”


    Hierophant, and lyrist of the soul!
    Clear insight thine of universal mind;
    While from its crypts the nascent Powers unrol,
    And represent to consciousness the Whole.
    Each in its order seeks its natural kind,
    These latent or apparent, stir or sleep,
    Watchful o’er widening fields of airy space,
    Or slumbering sightless in the briny deep;--
    Thou, far above their shows, servant of Grace,
    Tread’st the bright way from SPIRIT down to Sense,
    Interpreting all symbols to thy race,--
    Commanding vistas of the fair Immense,
    And glimpses upward far, where, sons of Heaven,
    Sit in Pantheon throned the Sacred Seven.

    “_The princely mind, that can
    Teach man to keep a God in man,--
    And when wise poets would search out to see
    Good men, behold them all in thee!_”


    Pleased, I recall those hours, so fair and free,
    When all the long forenoons we two did toss
    From lip to lip, in lively colloquy,
    Plato, Plotinus, or famed schoolman’s gloss,
    Disporting in rapt thought and ecstasy.
    Then by the tilting rail Millbrook we cross,
    And sally through the fields to Walden wave,
    Plunging within the cove, or swimming o’er;
    Through woodpaths wending, he with gesture quick
    Rhymes deftly in mid-air with circling stick,
    Skims the smooth pebbles from the leafy shore,
    Or deeper ripples raises as we lave;
    Nor slumb’rous pillow touches at late night,
    Till converse with the stars his eyes invite.

    “_Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
    Now the sun is laid to sleep;
    Seated in thy silver chair,
    State in wonted manner keep:
        Hesperus entreats thy light,
        Goddess excellently bright._

    “_Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
    And thy crystal shining quiver;
    Give unto the flying hart
    Space to breathe, how short soever,
        Thou who mak’st a day of night,
        Goddess excellently bright._”

                        BEN JONSON.


    Dear Lady! oft I meditate on thee,
    Noblest companion and fit peer of him
    Whom envious years, in high prosperity,
    Could blemish least, nor aught the lustre dim
    Of that fair-fashioned native piety
    Embosomed in the soul that smiles on Fate,
    And held by him and thee inviolate,--
    Fountain of youth, still sparkling o’er the brim.
    Then I recall thy salient quick wit,
    Its arrowy quiver and its supple bow,--
    Huntress of wrong! right well thy arrows hit,
    Though from the wound thou see’st the red drops flow:
    I much admire that dexterous archery,
    And pray that sinners may thy target be.

“_Upon the nineteenth day of the first month, they keep a solemn
festival to Hermes, wherein they eat honey and figs, and withal,
say these words_, ‘Truth is a sweet thing;’ _and that amulet or
charm which they fable to hang about her is, when interpreted in our
language_, ‘A true voice’”.



    Thou, Sibyl rapt! whose sympathetic soul
    Infused the myst’ries thy tongue failed to tell;
    Though from thy lips the marvellous accents fell,
    And weird wise meanings o’er the senses stole,
    Through those rare cadences, with winsome spell;
    Yet, even in such refrainings of thy voice,
    There struggled up a wailing undertone,
    That spoke thee victim of the Sisters’ choice,--
    Charming all others, dwelling still alone.
    They left thee thus disconsolate to roam,
    And scorned thy dear, devoted life to spare.
    Around the storm-tost vessel sinking there
    The wild waves chant thy dirge and welcome home;
    Survives alone thy sex’s valiant plea,
    And the great heart that loved the brave and free.

“_One knocked at the Beloved’s door, and a Voice asked from within,
Who is there? And he answered, It is I. Then the Voice said, This
house will not hold me and thee, and the door was not opened. Then
went the Lover into the desert, and fasted and prayed in solitude. And
after a year he returned, and knocked again at the door. And again the
Voice asked, Who is there? and he said, It is Thyself. And the door
was opened to him_”.

                                   PERSIAN POET.


    Priest of the gladsome tidings, old and new,
    To whom by nature fell, as the most fit,
    The saintly Channing’s mantle; brave and true,
    Thou heedst thy calling, and dost well acquit
    Thyself of the high mission. Thy sage wit
    (O brother in the Lord, and well approved
    To lead men heavenward to the Father’s throne,
    And Son’s that sits at His right hand beloved!)
    Hath ministered to every clime and zone
    Washed by Pacific or Atlantic sea,
    With chainless flow ’neath Heaven’s unbounded cope.
    Son of the Church, saint of thy century!
    Undoubting faith is thine, and fadeless hope,
    And ardent, all-embracing charity.

“_Philosophy does not look into pedigrees. She did not receive Plato
as noble, but she made him such_ ”.



    Interpreter of the Pure Reason’s laws,
    And all the obligations Thought doth owe
    These high ambassadors of her great cause;
    Philosopher! whose rare discernments show
    Apt mastery of her surpassing skill,
    And why each thought and thing is inly so
    Conceived and fashioned in the plastic Will;
    Thou Reason’s canons dost so well maintain,
    With such adhesive and sincere regard,
    That every deviator seeks in vain
    To escape thy apprehension; evil-starred,
    With Dante’s sophisters they writhe in pain.
    Then from thy judgment-seat, dismissed with ruth,
    Thou lead’st the stumblers in the way of truth.

    “_Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
    Loved the wild rose and left it on its stalk?
    At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse?
    Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
    And loved so well a high behavior,
    In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
    Nobility more nobly to repay?
    Oh, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!_”



    Who nearer Nature’s life would truly come
    Must nearest come to him of whom I speak;
    He all kinds knew,--the vocal and the dumb;
    Masterful in genius was he, and unique,
    Patient, sagacious, tender, frolicsome.
    This Concord Pan would oft his whistle take,
    And forth from wood and fen, field, hill, and lake,
    Trooping around him, in their several guise,
    The shy inhabitants their haunts forsake:
    Then he, like Esop, man would satirize,
    Hold up the image wild to clearest view
    Of undiscerning manhood’s puzzled eyes,
    And mocking say, “Lo! mirrors here for you:
    Be true as these, if ye would be more wise.”

    “_The happy man who lived content
    With his own town and continent,
    Whose chiding stream its banks did curb
    As ocean circumscribes its orb,
    Round which, when he his walks did take,
    Thought he performed far more than Drake:
    For other lands he took less thought,
    Than this his Muse and landscape brought._”



    Much do they wrong our Henry, wise and kind,
    Morose who name thee, cynical to men,
    Forsaking manners civil and refined
    To build thyself in Walden woods a den,--
    Then flout society, flatter the rude hind.
    We better knew thee, loyal citizen!
    Thou, friendship’s all-adventuring pioneer,
    Civility itself didst civilize:
    Whilst braggart boors, wavering ’twixt rage and fear,
    Slave hearths lay waste, and Indian huts surprise,
    And swift the Martyr’s gibbet would uprear:
    Thou hail’dst him great whose valorous emprise
    Orion’s blazing belt dimmed in the sky,--
    Then bowed thy unrepining head to die.

    “_Happy art thou whom God doth bless
    With the full choice of thine own happiness;
      And happier yet, because thou’rt blest
      With prudence how to choose the best:
    In books and gardens thou hast placed aright--
      Things well which thou dost understand,
      And both dost make with thy laborious hand--
          Thy noble, innocent delight._

       *       *       *       *       *

    _Methinks I see great Diocletian walk
      In the Salonian gardens noble shade,
      Which by his own imperial hands was made;
    I see him smile, methinks, as he does talk
      With the ambassadors, who come in vain
        To entice him to a throne again._”

                      COWLEY’S ODE TO EVELYN.


    Whilst from the cloistered schools rushed forth in view
    The eager Bachelors, on lucre bent,
    Or life voluptuous; even the studious few,
    Oblivious mostly, if they ever knew
    What Nature mirrored and fair learning meant;
    Thou, better taught, on worthier aims intent,
    Short distance from the Pilgrims’ sea-washed street
    Thine orchard planted; grove and garden there,
    And sheltering coppice hide thy mansion neat,
    By winding alley reached, and gay parterre;
    Where cordial welcome chosen friends shall meet,
    From courteous host and graceful lady fair;
    Then thy choice fruits we taste, thy wisdom hived,
    England’s rare Evelyn in thee revived.

    “_Thou art not gone, being gone,--where’er thou art,
    Thou leav’st in him thy watchful eyes, in him thy loving heart._”



    Bright visions of my sprightlier youthful days,
    With sunny gleams of answering friendliness,
    Thou brought’st me, maiden, in delightful ways,
    In conversation, letters, frank address;
    And these attractions did me so possess,
    The moments all were thine, and thou in sight
    By day’s engagements, and in dreams by night.
    Wished I the spell dissolved, or ever less?
    Ne’er may advancing years remove one tint
    From memory’s tablet of that happy time;
    And if thus tamely that romance I hint,
    Forgive my poor endeavor in this rhyme,
    Nor warrant give me now, my cherished friend,
    To add the more, lest I the more offend.

    Ἀστὴρ πρὶν μὲν ἔλαμπες ἐνὶ ζωοῖσιν ἑῷος,
       Νῦν δὲ θανὼν λάμπεις Ἕσπερος ἐν φθιμένοις.

    “_Thou wert a morning star among the living
    Ere thy fair light had fled;
    Now, being gone, thou art as Hesperus, giving
    New lustre to the dead._”



    Sweet saint! whose rising dawned upon the sight
    Like fair Aurora chasing mists away;
    Our ocean billows, and thy western height
    Gave back reflections of the tender ray,
    Sparkling and smiling as night turned to day:--
    Ah! whither vanished that celestial light?
    Suns rise and set, Monadnoc’s amethyst
    Year-long above the sullen cloud appears,
    Daily the waves our summer strand have kissed,
    But thou returnest not with days and years:
    Or is it thine, yon clear and beckoning star,
    Seen o’er the hills that guarded once thy home?
    Dost guide thy friend’s free steps that widely roam
    Toward that far country where his wishes are?

    “_Thus sing I to cragg’d clifts and hills,
    To sighing winds, to murmuring rills,
    To wasteful woods, to empty groves,
    Such things as my dear mind most loves._”

                                 HENRY MORE.


    Adventurous mariner! in whose gray skiff,
    Dashing disastrous o’er the fretful wave,
    The steersman, subject to each breeze’s whiff,
    Or blast capricious that o’er seas doth rave,
    Scarce turns his rudder from the fatal cliff,--
    Scorning his craft or e’en himself to save.
    Ye Powers of air, that shift the seaman’s grave,
    Adjust the tackle of his right intent,
    And bring him safely to the port he meant!
    Long musing there on that divinity
    Who to his hazard had assistance lent,
    He verses cons, oft taken by surprise
    In diverse meanings, and shrewd subtlety,
    That pass quaint Donne, and even Shakespeare wise.

    “_But else, in deep of night, when drowsiness
    Hath locked up mortal sense, then listen I
    To the celestial Syrens’ harmony
    That sit upon the nine infolded spheres,
    And sing to those that hold the vital shears,
    And turn the adamantine spindle round,
    On which the fate of gods and men is wound._”



    Romancer, far more coy than that coy sex!
    Perchance some stroke of magic thee befell,
    Ere thy baronial keep the Muse did vex,
    Nor grant deliverance from enchanted spell,
    But tease thee all the while and sore perplex,
    Till thou that wizard tale shouldst fairly tell,
    Better than poets in thy own clear prose.
    Painter of sin in its deep scarlet dyes,
    Thy doomsday pencil Justice doth expose,
    Hearing and judging at the dread assize;
    New England’s guilt blazoning before all eyes,
    No other chronicler than thee she chose.
    Magician deathless! dost thou vigil keep,
    Whilst ’neath our pines thou feignest deathlike sleep?

    “_There is a Roman splendor in her smile,
    A tenderness that owes its depth to toil;
    Well may she leave the soft voluptuous wile,
    That forms the woman of a softer soil;
    She does pour forth herself a fragrant oil,
    Upon the dark asperities of Fate,
    And make a garden else all desolate._”

                               ELLERY CHANNING.


    Still held in sweet remembrance thou, my friend,
    As when I knew thee in thy maiden prime;
    Though later years to ripening graces lend
    The graver traits, whilst we together climb
    The pathway upward to those loftier heights,
    ’Bove clouded prospects and familiar sights.
    Thy gracious worth shines brightly in mine eyes,
    Thy warm heart’s labors, thy large liberal brain,
    Ennobling studies, and broad charities,
    Thou woman worthy of the coming age!
    Whilst household duties thou dost well sustain,
    Yet ampler service for thy sex presage;
    Can aught from Memory’s record e’er erase
    Thy cordial manners, and resplendent face?

    “_So have I seen in fair Castile,
    The youth in glittering squadrons start,
    Sudden the flying jennet wheel,
    And hurl the unexpected dart._”



    Poet of the Pulpit, whose full-chorded lyre
    Startles the churches from their slumbers late,
    Discoursing music, mixed with lofty ire,
    At wrangling factions in the restless state,
    Till tingles with thy note each listening ear,--
    Then household charities by the friendly fire
    Of home, soothe all to fellowship and good cheer.
    No sin escapes thy fervent eloquence,
    Yet, touching with compassion the true word,
    Thou leavest the trembling culprit’s dark offence
    To the mediation of his gracious Lord.
    To noble thought and deep dost thou dispense
    Due meed of praise, strict in thy just award.
    Can other pulpits with this preacher cope?
    I glory in thy genius, and take hope!

    “_Many are the friends of the golden tongue._”

                                     WELSH TRIAD.


    People’s Attorney, servant of the Right!
    Pleader for all shades of the solar ray,
    Complexions dusky, yellow, red, or white;
    Who, in thy country’s and thy time’s despite,
    Hast only questioned, What will Duty say?
    And followed swiftly in her narrow way:
    Tipped is thy tongue with golden eloquence,
    All honeyed accents fall from off thy lips,--
    Each eager listener his full measure sips,
    Yet runs to waste the sparkling opulence,--
    The scorn of bigots, and the worldling’s flout.
    If Time long held thy merit in suspense,
    Hastening repentant now, with pen devout,
    Impartial History dare not leave thee out.

    “_Who faithful in insane sedition keeps,
    With silver and with ruddy gold may vie._”



    ’Twas when the land was struggling to break free
    From Slavery’s fetter and provincial ban,
    Whilst a great people dreaded liberty,--
    That the dire conflict of thine age began.
    Thy voice rang clear o’er selfish sect and clan;
    Nor politician’s, priest’s, nor tradesman’s plea
    Did aught avail to quench, but more to fan
    The flame that must consume all slavery,--
    The serf then franchised and proclaimed a man.
    Long wast thou heard amid the scoff and scorn
    Of voices potent in thy city dear;
    Steadfast didst face the storm, with heart of cheer,
    And prove thyself the freeman nobly born,
    Preacher of righteousness, of saints the peer.

    “_Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
    Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
    Dispraise or blame, nothing but well and fair,
    And what may quiet us in a death so noble._”



    Bold Saint, thou firm believer in the Cross,
    Again made glorious by self-sacrifice,--
    Love’s free atonement given without love’s loss,--
    That martyrdom to thee was lighter pain,
    Since thus a race its liberties should gain;
    Flash its sure consequence in Slavery’s eyes
    When, ’scaping sabre’s clash and battle’s smoke,
    She felt the justice of thy master-stroke:
    Peaceful prosperity around us lies,
    Freedom with loyalty thy valor gave;
    Whilst thou, no felon doomed, for gallows fit,
    O Patriot true! O Christian meek and brave!
    Throned in the martyrs’ seat henceforth shalt sit;
    Prophet of God! Messias of the Slave!

          “_O my brethren! I have told
    Most bitter truth, but without bitterness,
    Nor deem my zeal or factious or mistimed;
    For never can true courage dwell with them
    Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare not look
    At their own vices._”



    Nobly censorious of our transient age,
    Hating oppressors in thy love of man,
    Thou didst stride forward on the public stage
    With the bold liberators to the van,
    Scourging delinquents with a lofty rage.
    Iconoclast, who ’gainst foul idols ran,
    Tumbling false gods from their wide-worshipped shrine,
    To throne therein the human and divine.
    Charged was thy soul with vehement eloquence,
    Strenuous with ample reason’s manly art;
    Thy prayers were fervent, void of all pretence,
    Wrath yielded place to pity in thy heart;
    Eagerly of all learning mad’st thou spoil,
    Before thy lamp, extinguished, spent its oil.

    “_There’s not a breathing of the common wind
        That will forget thee: thou hast great allies;
        Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
    And love, and man’s unconquerable mind._”



    Freedom’s first champion in our fettered land!
    Nor politician nor base citizen
    Could gibbet thee, nor silence, nor withstand.
    Thy trenchant and emancipating pen
    The patriot Lincoln snatched with steady hand,
    Writing his name and thine on parchment white,
    Midst war’s resistless and ensanguined flood;
    Then held that proclamation high in sight
    Before his fratricidal countrymen,--
    “Freedom henceforth throughout the land for all,”--
    And sealed the instrument with his own blood,
    Bowing his mighty strength for slavery’s fall;
    Whilst thou, stanch friend of largest liberty,
    Survived,--its ruin and our peace to see.

    “_E venni dal martirio a questa pace._”


    “_Ah, me! how dark the discipline of pain,
      Were not the suffering followed by the sense
        Of infinite rest and infinite release!
      This is our consolation; and again
        A great soul cries to us in our suspense:
      ‘I came from martyrdom unto this peace._’”




    O thou, my country, ope thine eyes
    Toward what the Future holds for thee!
      See the brave stripling rise
      From lowliest hut and poverty,
          From stair to stair;
    Nor hardly fix his footsteps there,
          Ere he another round
          Doth upward bound;
    Still, step by step, to higher stair
          Forward he leaps,
    Broader his vision sweeps,
    Till he the loftiest summit gain,--
    A people’s hope to further and maintain.


    But lo! as oft befalls the great,
      The wise and good,
      There for a moment poised he stood,--
    Then passed beyond the gazing crowd
    Within the folded cloud.
          Wasted by weary pains,
          His pale remains
          Now lie in state,
    Swathed in his bloody shroud;
    Peoples and kingdoms bathed in tears.
    Hear’st thou the welcome greet his ears,
    As he his holier throne doth take?
    This brave of fifty manly years,
    Dies he not now for thy dear sake?


    O follow, thou, his leading far,
    Be thou thyself the morning star,
    Beaming thy glories round the world,
    His name emblazoned on thy flag unfurled!
    What speak the myriad bells,
    Tolling this day their mournful knells?
    “Ne’er may our weight be swung,
    Never our iron tongue
    Slavery’s base might extol
    In town or capitol;
    But o’er a people brave and free
    Ring out in happier symphony
      Garfield and Liberty!”

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Sonnets and Canzonets" ***

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